Thanks to the Permatang Pauh by-election, tomorrow (August 26) has been declared a public holiday in Penang, Malaysia where I currently stay. The official explanation for this sudden holiday is "to ensure a full turnout of voters for the critical Permatang Pauh by-election," according to Malaysia’s Chief Minister Lim Guan.
Although I am all for having a day off, it seems rather strange that a holiday would suddenly be announced to cater to such an election of limited scope. The move looks even more fishy when we know that Anwar Ibrahim is one of the candidates. Anwar Ibrahim has been recently accused for the second time of sodomy.
Apparently, I am not the only one, even government officials share my sentiment. The move has been criticized by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, "I don’t see why a public holiday is needed as the by-election is exclusively for the Permatang Pauh constituency. This (declaration) must have been a political decision.""
The controversial decision has people worried that the holiday will actually reduce the voter turnout. People gladly leave work to go and vote, but when they are given a holiday to stay at home or go on a trip, they are less motivated to go and vote.
Even government schools in the Permatang Pauh area were given a special holiday on the day, so more people will opt for a family day rather than going to vote.
"Clearly, reducing the voter turnout will affect the election results as it may be seen as favoring one party over the other," even Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng thinks so.
"This is due to the participation of (de facto PKR leader) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his attempt to return to Parliament and make a bid for Federal power as the alternative Prime Minister.
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