Bersih 2.0 slams EC's midweek polling date

10 Apr 2018 / 17:52 H.

PETALING JAYA: Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 has expressed disappointment with the May 9 polling date announced by the Election Commission (EC) today.
"Not only the campaigning period is at the minimum of 11 days, the polling day which falls on a school and working day would create lots of inconvenience to the public especially those who are need to return to their hometown to vote.
"Hence, Bersih 2.0 appeals to employers to give their workers time off to vote with no deductions, as required under Section 25(1) of the Election Offences Act," Bersih said in a statement.
The group added that with polling day being on a weekday, it also creates an unnecessary hassle for the party polling and counting agents and volunteer observers as they would need to get time off from work to contribute to a clean and fair election.
"With polling day on a Wednesday, we can now expect to see an even lower voter turnout and further hardship for all voters.
"As such, we call upon the caretaker federal government to announce polling day as a public holiday and for the state governments to declare public holidays on the day before or after polling day. If this is not done, all employers should allow two days of unrecorded leave for all voters," it said.
Meanwhile, former Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah also expressed disappointment with the EC's announcement.
"Setting May 9 as polling day can only be perceived as another attempt by the EC to disenfranchise voters and reduce the opportunities for overseas voters, especially those from Singapore, Brunei, Thailand, and the Philippines who may have been planning to come home to vote
"Unless May 9 is declared a public holiday, it will reduce the voters' access," she said in a statement.
PAS has expressed its disappointment over the decision by the Election Commission to hold the polling day on a mid-week workday.
Its deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said not only will this create problems for voters but may also prevent outstation voters from casting their votes.

"Although the government can announce a public holiday on voting day but the decision to allow polling in midweek should not have happened.
"It may prove difficult for the private sector to cast their votes as they may have to either take a day off or three days in a row to ensure they are able to return to their hometown to vote," he said in a statement today.

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