KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's federal government has declared May 9, polling day, a public holiday.
This is to allow all Malaysians to fulfil their responsibilities as voters, said the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in a statement on Wednesday (Apr 11).
“The declaration on the public holiday is made based on Section 8 of the Public Holidays Act 1951 for Peninsular Malaysia and the Labuan Federal Territory,” said the statement.
Many had expressed concern that having the vote on a Wednesday, Malaysia's first weekday poll in nearly two decades, would affect turnout at the ballot boxes.
Malaysians had reacted to announcement of the weekday polling date by taking to social media to offer transportation and funds to those who wanted to return to their hometowns to cast their ballots. Several Malaysian companies on Tuesday also declared May 9 a holiday for staff.
For the states of Sabah and Sarawak in East Malaysia, however, the PMO said that the two state governments will have to declare May 9 a public holiday based on their respective state holidays ordinance.
A day later on Thursday, the Sarawak state government followed suit and also declared May 9 a public holiday.
"The state government (has) decided that an additional public holiday be declared throughout Sarawak to enable the rakyat to exercise their democratic right to vote,” said the chief minister's office.