Employers and strangers are paying for working Malaysians to vote in the General Election

Reuters

A Wednesday polling date can be troublesome for many, but at least two companies in Malaysia are making sure their employees are able to cast their votes.

Malaysia’s Election Commission (EC) said on Tuesday (Apr 10) that the nation’s 14th General Election will be held on May 9, immediately giving rise to concern that working Malaysians may not be able to return to their hometowns to cast their votes.

But the leaders of two companies are taking matters into their own hands, by not only giving their staff time off work but also paying for them to travel home to vote.

Shortly after the EC’s announcement, the CEO of public relations firm Shekhinah PR announced on Facebook that the Kuala Lumpur office will be closed from May 8 to May 9. The firm will also be paying the costs of petrol and toll charges for staff driving home to vote.

Shah Alam company Marble Emporium also declared that it would be closing its factory from May 7 to May 9, and paying for their employees to return to their hometowns in Sabah and Sarawak.

“As a responsible employer we are providing air tickets, three days off and allowance for our employees to go back to their hometown to vote,” the company said in a Facebook post.

But not all employers can afford to provide their employees with such benefits.

On Twitter, the hashtags #PulangMengundi, meaning “go home to vote”, and #CarPoolGE14 have started trending.

Some users are now also offering to sponsor or share rides for those who can’t afford to pay for air and bus tickets.

While low-cost carrier AirAsia yesterday promised to waive fees for voters who wish to change their travel dates, there are now also calls for AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines to reduce their fares for polling day.

According to Reuters, a number of companies such as Google Malaysia and GetResponse Malaysia have also indicated they would be giving their staff time off to cast their votes.

Several groups, including Bersih 2.0, Parti Warisan Sabah and Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services, reportedly urged the Government to declare May 9 a public holiday.

On Apr 11, the Prime Minister’s Office declared May 9 a public holiday.