KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia will hold its 14th General Election on May 9, the Election Commission (EC) announced yesterday, the first time in nearly 20 years that polls are not held on a weekend.
May 9 is a Wednesday. The last time a general election was on a weekday was in 1999, on a Monday.
Nomination Day for candidates will be on April 28, after which parties can begin campaigning.
"The campaign period will last 11 days," said EC chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah.
Eleven days is the minimum campaigning period required by law.
The polling date was criticised by the opposition.
"Umno wants a low turnout because it knows a high number of voters are not with it," Mr Wan Saiful Wan Jan, a Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia supreme council member, said in a statement yesterday.
Ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN), which Umno leads, said opposition pact Pakatan Harapan (PH) had no reason to complain because weekday polls were held three times when PH chairman Mahathir Mohamad was prime minister - in 1982, 1995 and 1999.
A mid-week election is likely to affect thousands of voters hoping to return to Malaysia from neighbouring countries such as Singapore and Thailand, or those who work in urban centres on Malaysia's west coast but are registered to vote in less-developed states such as Kelantan, Sabah and Sarawak.
Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid declared a special holiday for all schools nationwide on May 9. Schools are often used as voting centres in Malaysia's elections, with thousands of teachers roped in to serve as EC staff.
A total of 14.9 million people are registered to vote in the upcoming elections, which will see three-cornered fights between BN, PH and Parti Islam SeMalaysia.