Malaysia declares November 18, 19 public holidays

This will give employees the opportunity to cast their vote on election day

Malaysia declares November 18, 19 public holidays

Malaysia has declared Nov. 18 and 19 public holidays to ensure that employees will be able to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming elections. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob made the announcement this week, as Malaysia is set to head to polls on Saturday, Bernama reported.

"The government has decided that Friday and Saturday will be public holidays to make it easier for voters," the prime minister said, according to Free Malaysia Today.

Earlier this year, the Congress of Union of Employees in the Public and Civil Services requested that the government make Nov. 18 a holiday so citizens can head to their voting polls in time. According to the prime minister, the move to declare Nov. 19 a holiday was due to concerns that some companies in the private sector, such as factories, will continue operations, Bernama reported. Previously, Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan warned employers against imposing any penalties or deductions on employees' salaries if their employees miss a day of work to vote.

He cited the Election Offences Act 1954, which states that employers should extend employees a "reasonable period for voting."

"Any employer who, directly or indirectly, refuses, or by intimidation, undue influence, or in any other manner, interferes with the granting to any elector in his employ, of a reasonable period for voting, as in this section provided, shall on summary conviction be liable to a fine of five thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for one year," the law said.

The Malaysian Employers Federation has yet to comment on the holiday announcement, but it previously urged organisations to give employees paid time off so they can cast their vote on Nov. 19. There are about 21.1 million people expected to cast their votes across the country on Saturday, The Star reported, after the government lowered the minimum voting age and automatically registered those who turn 18 as eligible voters.

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