GE15: Consistency needed in preparations for polls, says Gerakan VP

PETALING JAYA: There must be consistency in the preparations for the 15th General Election (GE15), says Gerakan vice president Baljit Singh (pic).

“Malaysia should declare blanket public holidays on Nov 18, 19 and the following working day after the polls to enable more Malaysians to return to their hometown to vote,” he said.

Baljit said that although polling day falls on a Saturday (Nov 19), it is not an off-day for all workers.

“In order to ensure the safety of travellers and to ease the rush back after voting, Nov 20 should be a public holiday for the states of Kedah, Terengganu, Kelantan, Johor,” said Baljit.

He added in a statement on Thursday (Nov 10) that a public holiday should be declared for all other states on Nov 21 (Monday).

Baljit said that this will give all parties – including the newly-formed government – time to organise itself and provide a small breather to travellers and other Malaysians.

He then said that the staggered announcements by various states like Selangor and Negeri Sembilan in declaring Nov 18 a public holiday was a good start.

Baljit then said that the call to enforce a mobile phone ban in polling booths should not be entertained by the Election Commission.

He said that in past elections there was no necessity for such a ban, since officers on duty do a good and diligent job of watching voters as they cast their votes.

“Where are voters expected to leave their phones for safekeeping if they do not have cars to keep the items in? They are not going to be safe if left in a locker somewhere with no proper tags or locks attached to them,” said Baljit.

The Election Commission (EC) announced on Wednesday (Nov 9) that use of mobile phones inside polling stations will no longer be allowed.

Voters are required to surrender their mobile phones to the presiding officer as they collect their ballot papers to vote.

Earlier, former prime minister and Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA) chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had called on the EC to ban the use of mobile phones inside polling centres.