Malaysian voters will go to the polls on May 9, the Election Commission (EC) announced Tuesday, as Najib Razak’s ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition seeks to retain power in the face of a major challenge from an opposition alliance led by ex-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
In setting a mid-week date for Malaysia’s 14th General Election, the EC announced that the nomination date for candidates would take place on April 28 – kicking off 11 days of official campaigning – and absentee ballots known as postal votes would be due on May 5. Commission Chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah announced the dates after leading a special meeting at the commission’s office in Putrajaya.
The EC had to pick May 9 after considering several factors, Mohd Hashim told BenarNews.
“The campaign period will be too short if we pick May 7 for election and Sunday, May 13, has been associated with the darkest history in our country and we try to avoid the date,” he said.
The commission head was referring to race riots in 1969 that crippled the nation and led to a general election being postponed after the government declared a state of emergency.
He said the May 9 date would also give voters who are far from electoral areas where they are registered ample time to plan to travel home for the election. Malaysian voters living in southern Thailand, Singapore, Brunei and Kalimantan province, Indonesia are not eligible for postal votes and must return to cast ballots.
The announcement that a mid-week vote would follow a relatively short campaigning period drew complaints from opposition and civil rights groups, who said the schedule would favor Najib’s coalition and lead to a low turnout at the polls.
“Not only is the campaign period only the minimum 11 days, but the polling day is on a Wednesday, a working day and a school day,” electoral reform group Bersih said in a statement.
Full story: BenarNews
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