Leave frozen for Info Dept as Malaysia prepares for polls

 An election official carrying ballot boxes into a multi-purpose hall in Skudai, Johor, on 5 May 2013, the polling day for Malaysia General Elections.
An election official carrying ballot boxes into a multi-purpose hall in Skudai, Johor, on 5 May 2013, the polling day for Malaysia General Elections. PHOTO: ST FILE

PETALING JAYA • Malaysia's Information Department has frozen staff annual leave applications for overseas travel effective from May 1, in preparation for the country's 14th General Election.

This was revealed in an internal circular dated Feb 28 issued by the department's director-general, Mr Ibrahim Abdul Rahman. In a statement yesterday, Mr Ibrahim confirmed that the circular is authentic.

"It is customary for a circular to be issued one year before the end of the parliamentary term to remind the department's staff to prepare to face the general election once it is announced," he said. Malaysia's next general election must be held by August next year.

Mr Ibrahim said the circular was issued well in advance to prevent employees from purchasing flight tickets in advance for overseas travel at a time when they are required to focus on the department's activities and official government programmes. He clarified that the leave freeze only applied to the department, and does not involve all civil servants.

The Information Department is typically responsible for assisting the Election Commission during elections to ensure a smooth flow of the democratic process, from disseminating information on voter turnout and voting procedures to media engagement.

"It is the department's primary responsibility to continuously communicate information on the government's policies," Mr Ibrahim added.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 12, 2017, with the headline 'Leave frozen for Info Dept as Malaysia prepares for polls'. Print Edition | Subscribe