Updated: Malaysian Government Declares 9 May a Public Holiday

“This is to let Malaysians fulfil their duties as voters.”
Wednesday 11 April 2018
Photo: iStock

[Update] The Malaysian federal government has declared a special public holiday on 9 May 2018 to allow people to vote in the elections.

The Prime Minister’s Office said: “Pursuant to the Election Commission’s announcement that the 14th general election will be on May 9, 2018, the government has set the day to be an additional public holiday for the entire country. This is to let Malaysians fulfil their duties as voters.”

It’s official; the Election Commission has announced that polling date for the 14th Malaysian General Election is 9 May 2018. You read that right – 9 May is a Wednesday.

Candidates for the 222 parliamentary and 587 state seats will be nominated on 28 April. The early voting date for police, military personnel, and voters who live overseas is set for 5 May. According to Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Mohd Hashim bin Abdullah, 14,940,627 Malaysians are eligible to vote in the upcoming elections.

What does the polling date clash with?
Bruno Mars fans are in a pickle. The singer is due to perform on 9 May at Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil – tickets reportedly sold out in under an hour after they were released last August. The concert starts at 8.30pm, so there’s no reason why eligible voters can’t get their fingers stained earlier in the day before heading off to watch 24K Magic.

Concert organiser PR Worldwide Live has assured everyone that the concert will go on as planned.

Is a weekday polling date normal?
It’s not the first time that a polling date in Malaysia fell on a weekday; the last was GE10 in 1999 and it was a Monday. The voter turnout then Mohd Hashim said in his TV1 broadcast that 9 May was decided on after the EC made sure that it doesn’t clash with any big religious or cultural events (Bruno Mars doesn’t count).

You have the right to vote
For many working Malaysians, the polling date clashes with regular office hours.

According to Malaysian law, section 25 of the Election Offences Act of 1954 has it that employers must allow reasonable time for every elector in their employment to vote on polling day, without making any deduction from the employee’s pay. Employers who refuse to do so is liable to a fine of RM5,000 or imprisonment for one year. How this takes effect in offices all over the country will determined by the individual companies, of course.

School’s out!
There will be no national public holiday, but the Education Ministry has declared that 9 May 2018 is a special school holiday to allow schools to be used as polling centres.

This article has been updated.

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