March 8 polling day to ensure no school disruption, good voter turnout

By Hamidah Atan

16 February, 2008
The Election Commission decided March 8, a Saturday, as polling day to avoid disrupting a school day and also to ensure good voter turnout. EC secretary Datuk Kamaruzaman Mohd Noor, in a four-hour media briefing on election procedures and rules at the EC head office here, said most of the EC casual workers were teachers while a big number of schools, including those in Sabah and Sarawak, would be used as polling centres.
“These were among the factors why the EC decided on March 8,” he said.
The 13-day campaigning period had nothing to do with the prime minister’s penchant for number 13. Nomination is on Feb 24. This will be the longest campaign period after the 1982 general election when there were 15 days of campaigning.
Kamaruzaman said the briefing was held to prove that the EC had nothing to hide and that it had always been fair and transparent in conducting elections. This is the first time such a briefing was held.
“You (reporters) can shoot all sorts of questions but within the parameter and legal framework of the Election Commission.”
He said the EC took about two-and-a-half years to prepare for each general election.
“We have to be at least one month ahead before the general election proper itself. There are endless ground work to be done like distributing more than 270 election items, printing 80 types of forms and so on and so forth.”
Unlike some countries which used colourful ballot papers and allowed more than one leader representing a political party to contest in elections, Malaysia’s election system was far, far more simple but transparent and just.
“As long as voters can find the logos or symbols (in the ballot paper), that should be fair enough,” he said, adding that coloured ballot papers were expensive.
Under the election rule, Kamaruzaman said deposits to confirm candidacy by political parties were allowed to be made now to the respective state election officers.
The deposit stands at RM5,000 for a parliamentary seat and RM3,000 for a state seat.
On nomination day, he said the candidates could just present their receipt of payment.
In the case of candidates who choose to pay on nomination day, he said they should not forget to bring either cash money or bank draft. Credit cards were not allowed as the election rule had no such provision.
To avoid inconveniences, he said candidates could also by now fill up their nomination paper instead of having to do it on nomination day.
Thirty political parties are registered with the EC.
For independent candidates, he said they could use any of the 20 symbols the EC had introduced, including a key, a rooster, a bell, clock, scissor, aeroplane and a fish.
For this general election, members of the public can call the EC’s call centre at 03-88856600 every day from 8am to midnight.