Give employees time off to vote, EC tells employers

KUCHING: The Election Commission (EC) has advised employers to give their employees adequate time off to cast their votes on May 7.

EC chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Hashim Abdullah said all employers were bound by subsection 25(1) of the Election Offences Act 1954 to release their employees and those restraining their employees from exercising their rights to vote can be fined up to RM5,000 or jailed up to one year in accordance with subsection 25(3) of the Election Offences Act, 1954.

“Every employer is required on polling day to allow an adequate period for employees to exercise their rights to vote. No employers can penalise their workers by deducting their salary or allowance due to their absence during the period they went out to vote,” he told a press conference to announce the polling and nomination dates for the upcoming state polls at Merdeka Palace Hotel here yesterday.

Mohd Hashim also cautioned all political leaders, candidates as well as supporters and individuals involved in the election campaign to adhere to election laws and regulations. He warned that police would not hesitate to take strict measures against those disrupting public order during the election process.

“To ensure the smooth process of the 11th state election, all parties are required to adhere to police orders as they are responsible in upholding the peace and safety of the public.

“Leaders of political parties and supporters, election candidates, campaign workers as well as individuals involved during the election campaigning period must obey the election laws and regulations of the local authorities. They must abide by campaigning ethics at all times throughout this election process,” he advised.

Mohd Hashim added that EC would set up an election enforcement team to monitor conducts and activities of candidates and political parties. He also revealed that the commission had appointed 62 individuals from various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to become election observers throughout the campaigning period.

Among the NGOs are Orang Ulu National Association, Dayak Bidayuh National Association, Persatuan Kebangsaan Melayu Sarawak and Persatuan Kumpulan Sukarelawan Inovatif for the Kuching Zone; Sibu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Persatuan Melanau Sibu for Sibu Zone; Persatuan Cina Miri, Persatuan Dayak Miri and Federation of Orang Ulu Associations Sarawak for Miri Zone.

“These observers are appointed from local NGOs and they are allowed to make observation in nomination centres, early voting centres, polling centres, vote counting centres including monitoring the vote counting process.

“The official election observers will be given a special pass, shirts and caps that have to be worn during their observation task. EC will not recognise any organisation or individuals apart from those appointed by the commission to monitor the 11th Sarawak election process,” he explained.

Based on the updated electoral rolls on April 10, there are 1,138,650 registered voters for the upcoming state polls, with female voters making up 50.1 per cent or 570,494 of the total.

Pelawan has the highest number of voters at 32,233, followed by Pending (30,488), Dudong (29,028), Bukit Assek (28,341) and Batu Lintang (28,105). The constituency with the lowest number of voters is Sadong Jaya (6,749).