It is not as though polling day is tomorrow and too impossible for voters to plan their journey to cast their votes. Is it necessary to be irked when the Election Commission (EC) sets a working day on Wednesday for GE14 as the polling day? Is it the first throughout 13 general elections that a working day is chosen?EC has numerous times briefed both the ruling party and the opposition representatives that voting locations are based on the address as in our identity card beginning April 2002. Therefore, if we are reluctant to update our address, who is to be blamed except ourselves.
It is rather strange when Dr Mahathir conveniently forgets that in his years, 3 general elections were held on a weekday. In 1982, the 6th general election which was also Dr Mahathir’s 1st term as the Prime Minister and again in GE9 and GE10 respectively. Yet today, he is criticising EC for violating the voters’ right. If it is true as claimed, Dr Mahathir had earlier disregarded the constitution and ignored voters’ right.
We are not surprised or even disturbed when objections come from quarters such as Marina Mahathir and Bersih as they have always failed to give reasonable grounds and their criticisms were deliberate to incite rakyat’s rage. However, EC has long informed that polling locations are based on their identity card address and they ought not to take for granted that polling day will forever fall on a weekend.
As such, this has also raised awareness to all Malaysians that it is paramount to choose a candidate capable to serve within our resident vicinity and not someone else back in our kampung where we even return home occasionally. It has been over than a decade that directive requires present resident address unless we deliberately failed to understand, indeed we will be easily inclined to incitement from the opposition blocs such as Dr Mahathir and his allies.
Nevertheless, when EC decided on the resident address as mandatory to the polling location, this could also avoid phantom voters and facilitate voters to locations familiar to them. As such, allowances given to outstation voters as practised by political parties can be undoubtedly avoided.
After all, not all states enjoy either Saturday or Sunday as their off day. States such as Kelantan and Johor, Sunday is a working day and Friday is considered as their weekend. Therefore, are the oppositions thoughtless for their supporters in those 2 states and to those who argued, who actually are being inconsiderate?
It is rather foolish to accuse a working day for polling as BN’s tactic to ensure that outstation voters do return to vote as it will not only affect the opposition voters, there are many more out there who are BN supporters too. If the opposition leaders are blaming EC for violating the democratic process for having a weekday as the polling day, is EC actually sabotaging Barisan Nasional for the same reason?
Voters have about a month to plan their journey before 9the May finally arrives and the same goes for employers. Under section Section 25(1) of the Election Offences Act 1954 mandates all employers to allow every employee (who are electors) a “reasonable period for voting”. In fact, no employer is allowed to deduct eligible voters salary and if they violate the provision, they will face a penalty of five thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for one year.
Indeed, awareness is paramount to all civil citizens and not conveniently influenced by irresponsible quarters from the opposition bloc. As it is, the opposition has constantly failed to capture Putrajaya even though election were held during the weekend for several times.
So be it if polling day falls on a weekday or a weekend, the government is considerate enough to declare 9th May as a public holiday and there should be no further excuse not to cast our votes and carry out our responsibilities.