Brickbats and scorn for DPM’s remarks on not returning to vote

A poster encouraging people to return to vote, featuring Voon Shiak Ni.

KUCHING, April 15: The remarks by caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who told Malaysians who ‘can’t take leave then no need to come home to vote’ has irked local leaders and netizens here.

Netizens took to social media to express their dismay over Ahmad Zahid’s statement, who had reportedly said that if Singaporean employers do not allow their Malaysian employees to take leave for polling day, then the best thing for these Malaysians to do is to not return to vote.

“We have announced a public holiday on voting day, so it is up to them if they want to come back to vote or otherwise. In my view, the government neither encourages nor discourages (returning to vote) as that is an individual right.

“But if the employer from the said country (Singapore) does not permit (their Malaysian workers to take leave), then I think the best thing to do is to not come back to vote,” Malaysiakini quoted Ahmad Zahid as saying at a press conference in Kluang on April 13.

There are about 400,000 Malaysians who work and live in Singapore, and in addition to that, there are more than 250,000 Malaysians, mainly blue-collar workers, who commute daily from Johor to Singapore to work, and many of them are Sarawakians.

“This is a very irresponsible statement from Ahmad Zahid and yet he is the DPM of the country. I am shocked to hear this ridiculous statement from him,” said Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) national women’s vice-chief Voon Shiak Ni.

Voon was happy to observe that efforts and assistance are being offered across the country via social media following the Election Commission’s announcement that polling day falls on May 9, a Wednesday.

“The support came from individuals, civil societies, private sector (players) and airlines to assist voters from outstation to come home to cast their votes. But the Deputy Prime Minister not only did not offer support for these outstation voters to have a chance to exercise their democratic right to vote but discouraged them from voting,” Voon said in a statement today.

Voon said Ahmad Zahid’s irresponsible statement contravened Section 25 of the Malaysia election laws which criminalises the act of employers who do not give time or leave for their employees to go vote if there is a general election.

“If ignorance of the law is his reason for the statement, then it is a shame,” she added.

Voon thus called upon all voters not only to come out and vote but to encourage their family members to come back to vote as only a high voter turnout could reflect accurately the voices of the people in the country and to steer the country in the right direction. — DayakDaily