Malaysian students in higher learning institutions to get 5-day break to vote, businesses urged to grant time off

Malaysia's Election Commission has set Nov 5 for Nomination Day while Polling Say is on Nov 19. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s Higher Education Ministry has agreed to provide a five-day break from Nov 17 for students in institutions of higher learning to exercise their right to vote in the 15th General Election, news agency Bernama reported.

Higher Education Ministry director-general Husaini Omar confirmed that a circular had been issued to all public and private institutions of higher learning, including polytechnics and community colleges.

“The circular has been distributed to allow the students to return to their home towns to vote based on Undi18,” he said.

Undi18 was the campaign to lower the voting age in Malaysia from 21 to 18. An automatic voter registration system is in place, and those aged 18 to 20 will be allowed to vote at a general election for the first time.

According to the circular dated Friday, the five-day period from Nov 17 to 21 is considered sufficient for eligible students to return to their home towns to vote before going back to campus.

It stated that all classes and activities for the affected students should be postponed.

The Election Commission has set Nov 5 as Nomination Day, while Polling Day is on Nov 19.

Separately, business groups are urging employers who require workers to be on duty on Nov 19 to give them time off to exercise their right to vote.

Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers president Soh Thian Lai said that the federation would be advising employers to provide their employees with time off to vote, in accordance with the law.

“Given that Section 25(1) of the Election Offences Act states that every employer should allow every employee ‘a reasonable period for voting’ and no employer shall make any deduction from the employee’s salary or impose any penalty for such an absence, we will be advising our members based on this,” he said.

On Oct 16, Human Resources Minister M. Saravanan said employees must be given leave or time off if Polling Day falls on a working day.

He said it is the right of every Malaysian citizen aged 18 and above to vote.

“Employers must comply with the government’s directive. They must allow employees to vote – be it as occasional public holidays (cuti peristiwa), replacement leave or time off,” he said.

He added that action would be taken against any employer who does not comply with this directive. THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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