Had a public holiday on polling day not been declared, it would very likely have cost the BN even more votes, writes Anil Netto.
So polling day on 9 May, a Wednesday, will be a public holiday, the government has announced.
Did this have anything to do with the overwhelming response to an online petition on change.org, which drew 123,972 signatories. This must be something of a record for an online petition relating to Malaysia, where a response of 10,000 would be considered good, 20,000 excellent and 30,000 outstanding.
Now, who says online petitions have no impact?
The petition initiator, Arveent Kathirtchelvan, has declared (moral) victory. Here is an excerpt from his update on the petition:
11 Apr 2018 — With Putrajaya declaring the 9th of May 2018 as a public holiday, our petition is ceasing. It is to be said, though, that there is no proof as yet that this decision was made due to our petition. Hence, we can only claim a moral victory, where what we wanted was achieved probably independently.
At this junction, I must thank all our supporters who, at this, number over 120,000. People like you are the reason why participatory democracy exists and is essential for it to work properly.
Before that, a string of businesses had allowed holidays and even allowances for those seeking to return home to vote. Those in Singapore were organising car-pooling to return home. The outcry over having polling on a mid-week working day couldn’t have escaped the attention of the government.
Had a public holiday not been declared, it would very likely have cost the BN even more votes.