Bersih 2.0 condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the announcement by the Electoral Commission today on the nomination and polling dates for the coming general election.
The Electoral Commission announced nomination day on 28 April, advance polling day on 5 May and polling day on 9 May.
This means, not only is the campaign period only the minimum 11 days, but polling day is on a Wednesday, a working day and a school day.
Bersih 2.0 appeals to employers to give their workers time off to vote with no deductions, as required under Section 25(1) of the Election Offences Act. It is regrettable that this cost is now forced upon employers.
Those who have to ‘balik kampung’ to vote will be at an added disadvantage, especially those that have to return to Sabah or Sarawak from the peninsula and vice versa. Furthermore, party polling and counting agents and volunteer observers will have to find time off work to contribute to clean and fair elections.
We can now expect to see an even lower voter turnout and further hardship for all voters. To mitigate this effect, we call upon the federal government to announce polling day as a public holiday and for the state governments to declare public holidays on the day before or after polling day. If this is not done, all employers should allow two days of unrecorded leave for all voters.
It is also questionable how schools and other public places will be used as polling centres. It adds a heavy burden on schoolchildren, parents and teachers.
Furthermore, Bersih 2.0 has, for over 10 years, demanded a campaign period of at least 21 days to give voters adequate time to assess the candidates and their manifestos. With a budget of over RM400m, the Electoral Commission has more than enough funds to make this a reality.
The Electoral Commission has therefore acted in bad faith and against the interests of democracy. The rakyat deserve a full explanation on why it has made such regressive decisions.
Bersih 2.0 steering committee