LETTER | The Malaysian Election Commission has made a decision over the general election date which going to be on May 9 which also happens to be on a weekday, a Wednesday.
Since the crucial date for Malaysians to cast their vote will fall on a weekday instead of a weekend, it would be required that those eligible voters who are working to take a break and go to vote.
Therefore, it is very important for employers to allow their employees some reasonable time to go for voting. It is not only a moral duty for employers to do so, but is also a legal duty for them to permit their own employees to exercise their basic right to become part to the country democratic process.
Such a legal duty has been clearly mentioned under Section 25 (1) of the Election Offences Act 1954 [Act 5] which states that:
“Every employer shall, on polling day, allow every elector in his employ a reasonable period for voting and no employer shall make any deduction from the pay or other remuneration of any such elector or impose upon or exact from him any penalty by reason of his absence during such period”.
This section clearly states that the employer must provide a reasonable period for their employees to go for their vote. There is no precise definition of the word “reasonable period” but it can be generally understood as a period which is reasonable given to anyone to carry out their duty to vote.
This by taking into account a number of factors like the distance between the workplace and the said employee's polling station, transportation availability and the number of workers involved.
Whatever it is, an employer should not deny workers their right to exercise their duty to cast their vote as this can be regarded as a serious offence which can be subjected to heavy punishment.
This clearly has been mentioned under Section 25 (3) which states that any employer who, directly or indirectly, refuses, or by intimidation, undue influence, or in any other manner, interferes with the granting to any elector in his employ, of a reasonable period for voting, as in this section provided, shall on summary conviction be liable to a fine of five thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for one year.
As a general election only come once in every five years, there should be no harm for any employer to allow their employees to go for their vote.
Employers also should exercise their duty by advising and encouraging their employees to go for their vote and be part of the country's democratic process.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.