The date of Malaysia’s 14th General Elections (Ge14) has been set for May 9, which falls on a Wednesday. Naturally, Malaysians who want to exercise their rights to vote were up in arms due to a mid-week polling date, which is an inconvenience to some, especially those who have to travel back to their hometowns (especially in east Malaysia) to vote.
News spread like wildfire on Facebook and Twitter, forming discussions on how to go about voting on May 9. Not long after, help started pouring in, with airlines, companies, and individuals showing their support with offers to ease the burden on Malaysians to go out and vote.
Employee Rights for Voting Day
As soon as the date was announced, some took to social media to question their rights when it came to taking a day off work to vote. While for many, voting stations are typically near our homes and only a few hours are needed off work, but for those who did not change their residing address to their current locations, it would mean that they would have to travel to their home cities to vote. Soon after, images of the Election Offences Act 1954 started circulating, with some lawyers explaining and setting perimeters to the clause.
Bottom line: Employees are allowed to apply for leave to vote.
Please be informed that our factory will be closed on 7, 8 & 9 May 2018 for polling day because all our factory's staff…
Looking at the current situation, where people are clamouring to find the best way to vote, there are some companies that have announced that operations would be shut down on May 9 to allow employees to vote. Some went the extra mile and offered several days leave as well as providing flight tickets for employees to go back to East Malaysia to vote, such as Marble Emporium, as most of their employees are from Sabah and Sarawak.
Declaring 9th May 2018 a holiday for my company, to all other Malaysian employers let’s do the same. #GE14 #Malaysia
Schools have also been given the day off with the Education Ministry declaring May 9 as a special school holiday in conjunction with GE14’s polling day.
Several airlines in the region have decided to reduce their fares for several days during the polling week to ease the cost on voters who need to travel back home and vote.
First to make the offer was Cathay Pacific, announcing that it decided to waive ticket rebooking or rerouting charges for GE14, applicable for its sister airline as well, Cathay Dragon. Following suit was Malindo, saying that both the change fee and fare difference will be waived if the travel date is amended (unchanged destination) however those rerouting to a different destination, the change fee will be waived, but the fare difference will be charged.
Just after election dates were announced, AirAsia and MAS announced fare waivers as well, with AirAsia saying in a statement that they would waive flight change fees for bookings, if travel date falls on polling day. Malaysia Airlines Bhd announced flight change fee waivers, applicable as well to its sister companies, FlyFirefly Sdn Bhd and MASwings Sdn Bhd.
Twitter emerged with the #CarpoolGE14 and #PulangMengundi (meaning “return to vote” in Malay) shortly after GE14’s date was announced. User Joe Lee with the handle @klubbkiddkl started the #PulangMengundi hashtag to help out those who aren’t able to afford the trip home to vote.
Ok…. You know what.
I’m starting the hashtag #PulangMengundi.
If you have problems taking time off to vote, or can’t afford to – please use the hashtag, and maybe someone can help.
— klubbkidd™ (@klubbkiddkl) April 10, 2018
He told Malay Mail, “#PulangMengundi as of 10pm has helped at least a few dozen Malaysians to return home, and it’s testimony that Malaysians do take their responsibility and privilege to vote seriously.”
User Nizam Bakeri started the #CarpoolGE14 hashtag and later created a Twitter account dedicated to the cause, @CarpoolGE14. Those who are driving back to their hometowns and have space in their vehicles would just need to post a tweet with details of where they are travelling to, date and time, meeting point, and number of seats available. Droupr, a local ride-sharing and carpool mobile application also started a campaign in Twitter to get users home to vote.
These initiatives have also spilled over to Facebook, with people publicly sharing their travel schedule and routes for polling day.
Suffice to say that nothing is stopping the people of Malaysia from hopefully, igniting change in the country and its leaders. Here’s hoping for a fruitful GE14!