Aug 26 a special holiday in Penang | - Blog Hanz -
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Aug 26 a special holiday in Penang

Aug 26, the polling day for the crucial Permatang Pauh by-election, has been declared a special public holiday in Penang by the state government in the bid to boost turnout.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng made the announcement today in a press statement saying that the special holiday was to ensure a full turnout of the 58,459 voters for the critical by-election.“The Penang state government has been mulling over the decision ever since the Elections Commission fixed a working day on Tuesday August 26 as polling day in defiance of public opinion that this will reduce the voter turnout,” he said.

Many voters are factory workers

Malaysiakini has earlier reported that the Pakatan Rakyat-led state government was contemplating declaring polling day a holiday as many voters in the Permatang Pauh constituency are factory workers.However, Anwar told Malaysiakini in an exclusive interview last week that he was not in favour of the proposal.According to Anwar, calling a public holiday would send the wrong signal to investors.

However, the Permatang Pauh candidate did not mince his words in lambasting the EC for holding the by-election on a Tuesday."To me, it is not only unfortunate but irresponsible on the part of the Election Commission to conduct elections knowing that the most of them (voters), particularly the (state) constituency of Seberang Jaya ... are factory workers."Not only Seberang Jaya, up to Bayan Baru and Bagan. Which means that they have to take a half a day off, which is very difficult."

It appears that Pakatan Rakyat is not taking any chances in ensuring that employers have no excuse to stop their workers from casting their ballot.Met at the sidelines of DAP 15th congress in Kuala Lumpur, Lim avoided questions when asked if the special holiday was an abuse of his government position for party purposes."I will answer that in Penang," said Lim.

Fears of fraud and vote rigging

Lim also accused the coalition of rigging the vote by distributing money in the electorate, and holding the ballot on a weekday but giving government teachers a day off.Their actions show "that the Permatang Pauh by-election is no ordinary by-election but has crucial national significance, " he said."This is due to the participation of ... Anwar Ibrahim and his attempt to return to parliament and make a bid for federal power as the alternative prime minister."

The 10-day election campaign has been marred by accusations that the government is buying votes and stoking racial tension between majority Malays and minority ethnic Chinese and Indians.Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who Anwar has said he will oust with the help of defectors, caused controversy last week by announcing a 5.6 percent cut in petrol prices which was seen as an attempt to drum up support."I don't care what the opposition says. I will do it. That's me," Abdullah was quoted as saying by New Straits Times newspaper Sunday.

Opposition campaigners welcomed the move to declare a public holiday, but said they were still concerned that fraud and "money politics" could skew the result.Anwar held the Permatang Pauh seat from 1982 to 1999 when he was sacked as deputy premier and jailed on sodomy and corruption charges



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