Despite mid-week date, Malaysians across Causeway raring to cast votes

13-Apr-2018 Intellasia | The Malay Mail Online | 6:00 AM Print This Post

The Election Commission’s (EC) announcement that polling day for the 14th general election will be on a Wednesday did not seem to curb the enthusiasm of Malaysian voters who are working and residing in Singapore.

While acknowledging the burden of travel costs and the risk of their leave applications denied by employers, for many the urge to return home and exercise their constitutional right trumped these hurdles set ahead of them.

“Without a doubt I will return home to vote,” Ivan Spykerman, 29, a fragrance sommelier based in Bishan, told Malay Mail.

“Honestly, if my friends from Australia and Dubai can come back to vote, I don’t see why everyone else can’t,” added Spykerman, who will cast his vote in Kota Raja, Selangor.

Spykerman said he and his wife plan to fly back home after finishing work the day before, and will have no choice but to take a return flight the next day right after casting his vote.

Taking it a step further is Ng Tzi Ni, 40, an executive originally from Penang, who purchased her flight ticket for the polling day itself.

She said her return flight tickets with Singapore Airlines that cost her over S$204.80 (RM605) was booked as soon as the EC announced the date.

“Touch down Penang and straight to polling station,” she said.

Having tried other airlines, including AirAsia and Scoot, Ng claimed the website for the Malaysia-based budget airlines were down, while the prices for their Singaporean counterparts budget flyer were almost three times normal cost.

Ng said she bought her flight tickets even before applying for leave from work. Adamant on casting her vote, she said: “Worst case, take unpaid leave”.

Existing laws under the EC states that Malaysians living in Singapore, Southern Thailand, Brunei, and Kalimantan, Indonesia, are disqualified for postal voting and are required to vote in person.

For public policy student, Azira Aziz, 31, the cost was just something she had to bear to come back and vote.

“I still plan to come back and vote even if it might end up being a costly for me,” she said.

However, system analyst Kelvin Yap, 26, said he may opt for a cheaper travel alternative.

“I might carpool with several friends from Johor to KL to beat the flight costs,” he said.

Putrajaya had yesterday announced that Malaysians will be free to exercise their democratic rights with a public holiday here on the date, but those returning from abroad have no such luxury.

The decision to take a day off seemed easy to make for some, but those in the hectic medical field admitted the opportunity to come back and vote was ultimately at the mercy of their employers.

Medical practitioner Dr Khoo Yoong Khean, 35, said he wants to return home to vote in Damansara, Selangor but it would still require leave approval.

“As much as I wish to return to vote, if my leave application is not approved due to work commitments, I do not have much of a choice but to stay back,” Dr Khoo told Malay Mail.

Similarly, Aretha Tye, 30, a staff nurse based at a private hospital there, said she is faced with no option should superiors deny her leave application.

“Even though the election day is now set for a weekday, which I am slightly surprised with, I am hoping to be able to return to vote.

“If there is approval from my superiors, I might fly or bus it back to Cheng, Melaka, where I vote,” she said.

However, some Malaysians revealed they had no choice but to watch from afar as commitments stopped them from returning home.

“I will not be coming back to vote as the announcement came too late for me to apply for leave,” said Chrissy Phoong, 29, who is also based in Singapore.

Travelling much down south, a biomedical student based in Perth, Australia, S. Murali, 26, said study commitments stopped him from travelling back to vote.

“I need to stay in Australia for a few months to obtain my graduate visa, so I will have to give it a miss this time around,” he said.

It is unclear why the EC chose to conduct polling on a Wednesday, since it had not provided any explanation. The midweek polling day is rare, but not unprecedented.

However, this would be the first-ever general election to take place on a Wednesday since 1959.


Category: Malaysia

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