Federal, state govts urged to declare public holidays to enable voters to return home

Rise of Sarawak Efforts logo (Photo sourced from ROSE - Rise of Sarawak Efforts Facebook page)

KUCHING, April 11: A non-governmental organisation (NGO) here has urged the federal government to declare polling day a public day and for the Sarawak government to declare the day before or the day after as a public holiday.

Rise of Sarawak Efforts (ROSE) which has been actively training Polling Agents/Counting Agents (PACA), made the call today, echoing Bersih 2.0’s appeal, so voters can return home to vote.

Its chairman Ann Teo urged voters working or studying outside of Sarawak to quickly book their air tickets to come back home to vote.

She thanked the airline companies for carrying out their corporate social responsibility to waive re-routing and re-booking fees and other private initiative to give financial help to those coming back to Sabah and Sarawak to vote.

“Many of them either work in West Malaysia and Singapore or in the bigger cities in towns but whose polling stations is in the kampung.

“We therefore appeal to all employers in the private sector in particular those who have staff or workers who will need to ‘balik kampung’ in order to cast their vote to give them sufficient time off to go back to perform their civic duty as citizens in choosing the next or new government,” she said in a press statement today.

ROSE condemned the decision and announcement by the Election Commission that polling day for the 14th general election (GE14) would fall mid-week on a working day as it is effectively disenfranchising voters, in particular those from Sabah and Sarawak.

“They have yet to give a cogent and credible reason for fixing the said date at mid-week. Instead of encouraging voter turnout on this very important day, such a move flies in the face of what an election commission would be expected to uphold; access to the right to vote for the government of the day,” she added.

She said it is heartening to note from netizens and on social media that ordinary citizens or voters are taking matters into their own hands to overcome this challenge seemingly put in their way by the Election Commission and are starting to organise themselves to go back to vote.

Meanwhile, in line with ROSE’s vision of encouraging citizens’ participation in elections and democracy, the NGO will be conducting a PACA training and refresher workshop this Sunday, April 15, at 1.30 pm at Good News Fellowship Community Hall at Green Heights, Kuching.

To register for the workshop, email my@sarawakrose.org or SMS 016-8604998. Those who wish to serve as PACA and make a difference in the marginal seats in Sarawak, are urged to attend this training. — DayakDaily