MEDIA STATEMENT (12 APRIL 2018): Voter Turnout Remains a Concern Despite May 9 Being Declared a Public Holiday

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0) congratulates fellow Malaysians for voicing out their protest against the EC’s decision of having polling day on a Wednesday, May 9 and the initial refusal of the Federal caretaker government to declare it a public holiday. The Federal caretaker government finally conceded as a result of an online petition to the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia on which had received more than 120,000 signatures online before the announcement was made by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
While we welcome the announcement of the PMO, we maintain that the Election Commission should have decided the polling day on weekend in the first place and the declaration of public holiday for May 9 does not address all the problems faced by voters as Wednesday falls smack in the middle of the week – a challenge for voters who will have to travel far to vote, particularly voters from Sabah and Sarawak who reside in peninsular Malaysia and vice versa.
Furthermore, voters working in Singapore, Brunei, Kalimantan and Southern Thailand (who are not eligible for postal voting) will face huge challenges as it is not a public holiday for them in their countries of residence and may encounter difficulties coming back to vote. They may have to take two days leave from their employers.
BERSIH 2.0 is concerned with possible low turnout of voters on May 9 despite it being declared a public holiday now. We call on employers in Malaysia to be considerate in approving leaves for their employees that need to travel far to vote, especially those that need to travel between Sarawak and Sabah and the peninsular Malaysia. We also appeal to employers of Malaysian citizens in Singapore, Brunei, Southern Thailand and Kalimantan to be supportive of Malaysian citizens who intend to return to exercise their duty as voters.
Voter turnout of 90% is needed for a strong representation of the ‘voice’ of the people in determining the future Malaysia and off-setting skewed redelineation. BERSIH 2.0 continues to urge voters to come out and vote in big numbers as this is the only way to minimise the many impacts of electoral fraud and to ensure the subsequent election results truly reflect the choice made by the people.
Issued by:
BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee