Wednesday polling day is 'troublesome': Mahathir

PETALING JAYA - Even with polling day set on a Wednesday, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says the timing can still suit the Opposition because it “can be everywhere”.

The Pakatan Harapan chairman even quipped that he could be in three places at the same time.

On a more serious note, he said setting polling day on a weekday would be troublesome for those who are working, especially abroad.

He added that while village folk could cast their votes, it would be difficult for those working in Singapore and elsewhere.

“We have about 500,000 Malaysians working in Singapore. They should be voting but now they are deprived of their right,” he told a press conference at the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia Gallery at Yayasan Selangor here yesterday.

Dr Mahathir said during his tenure as prime minister, polling days fixed on weekdays usually coincided with holidays.

He said two political parties – Parti Melayu Semangat 46 and PKR – had opposed the dates back then, too.

He said the recent redelineation exercise also posed problems for the Opposition and he expects more “funny things” in store.

He said the Opposition would also campaign for support from the Armed Forces, which Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had already called on to support Barisan Nasional.

He told the media that Pribumi candidates would contest as independents under the PKR logo since the Registrar of Societies (RoS) ordered Pribumi to temporarily disband for 30 days last Thursday.

He said the party would obey this even though it disputed the RoS decision, and its members still have the right to contest as citizens.

“Barisan wants to exclude Pribumi from the elections, including the Pakatan chairman,” he said, leaving the room full of Pakatan leaders and the media in stitches by adding: “The chairman is a real nuisance.”

He did not give a specific answer on whether he would contest the Langkawi parliamentary seat, saying that the final decision still lies with Pakatan’s top leadership.

Dr Mahathir said he had many choices such as Langkawi, Kubang Pasu, Putrajaya and Pekan.

He also said Pakatan would meet the Election Commission (EC) for clarification on how postal voting will be carried out and voting confidentiality, so that civil servants need not fear if they do not support the ruling coalition.

“I can tell you frankly that during my time as prime minister, I could never tell my enemies from my friends. Now my enemies are my friends and my friends are my enemies,” he said.

In Kota Kinabalu, opposition politicians also expressed unhappiness with the polls date as they said it would dampen voter turnout unless May 9 is declared a public holiday.

Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said many eligible voters might be forced to stay away as they work far away from their voting areas.

He claimed that up to 300,000 Sabahans, many of whom are registered voters and working in the Klang Valley, would have to give GE14 a miss.

He said the EC had let down the electorate.

“What is wrong with holding GE14 on a Saturday?” he asked, urging the Government to declare May 9 a holiday.

Sabah STAR president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan expressed the same concern about voter turnout.

“It is inconvenient. More consideration should be given to voters working overseas or having to travel back home,” he said, echoing the call for a public holiday.

“Otherwise, it will challenging for Sabahans working out of state to come back without their employers’ cooperation.”

Sabah Pakatan Harapan chairman Christina Liew urged voters not to be deterred by the date.

“Please come home to vote for the sake of our future and the next generation. Each vote counts,” she said.