Malaysian students at tertiary institutions to get 5-day break from voting, companies urged to grant leave

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s Ministry of Higher Education has agreed to grant a five-day break from Nov. 17 for students at tertiary institutions to exercise their right to vote in the 15th general election, reports the Bernama news agency.

The Director General of the Ministry of Higher Education, Husaini Omar, confirmed that a circular had been issued to all public and private institutions of higher education, including polytechnics and community colleges.

“The circular was distributed to allow students to return to their hometowns 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 people between the ages of 18 and 20 will be allowed to vote in a general election for the first time.

According to the circular dated Friday, the five-day period from November 17 to 21 is considered sufficient for eligible students to return to their hometowns to vote before returning to campus.

He said all classes and activities for affected students should be postponed.

The election commission has set November 5 as the day for nominations, while polling day is November 19.

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

Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers chairman Soh Thian Lai said the federation would advise employers to give their employees time off to vote, in accordance with the law.

“As section 25(1) of the Election Offenses Act states that every employer must give every employee ‘a reasonable time in which to vote’ and that no employer may make any deduction from the salary of the employee or impose a penalty for such absence, we will advise our members accordingly,” he said.

On October 16, Human Resources Minister Mr Saravanan said employees were to be granted furlough or furlough if Election Day fell on a working day.

He said that every Malaysian citizen aged 18 and over had the right to vote.

“Employers must comply with the government directive. They must allow employees to vote – be it occasional public holidays (cuti peristiwa)substitute leave or furlough,” he said.

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