KUCHING, April 10: A mid-week polling day has drawn flak from leaders from both sides of the political divide, saying that an expected low turnout is not serving the spirit of democracy in the country.
Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Youth Chief Michael Tiang expressed his disappointment towards the May 9 polling date as many of his party’s supporters who are working in the Peninsula are now thinking of aborting their plans of coming home to cast votes.
“I predict the turnout for this general election will be low and such a decision is not serving the spirit of democracy well,” he said.
Meanwhile, state Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) chairman Baru Bian said a mid-week polling day is a strong indicator of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s fear that United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) will lose the elections this time.
“Coupled with a short campaign period, it is obvious that the Election Commissioner is aiding in the efforts to cause a low voter turnout on polling day. It is common knowledge that a high turnout will be disadvantageous for Barisan National,” he said in a press statement today.
He said that it is the Election Commissioner’s duty to facilitate as high a turnout as possible, in the interest of allowing all citizens the opportunity to discharge their responsibilities in electing the leaders of the nation.
However, he claimed, it is clear that by choosing a working day in the middle of the week for no conceivable good reason, the Election Commissioner has no such intention in mind. On the contrary, it appears that the objective is to place obstacles in the way of a high turnout, he added.
“A Wednesday polling day will make it extremely difficult for workers to return home to vote, especially Sarawakians and Sabahans working in Semenanjung Malaysia. Travelling home to their villagers in the rural areas takes time and many will find it extremely inconvenient to make the long trip home,” the Ba’Kelalan state assemblyman said.
Baru urged all employers to allow their workers to take time off to go and cast their votes without penalty.
“Every Malaysian citizen who is eligible to vote must make the effort and sacrifice to cast his or her vote.
“This is the time for all to take seriously their duties as citizens of this country. It is imperative that we make the solemn decision and resolve to place the destiny of Malaysia above all other considerations of profit and loss. The results of the elections will have the greatest bearing on the economic well-being of every citizen, including business owners,” he said. — DayakDaily