Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How about a free shopping trip to Thailand on polling day?

PENANTI, May 27 – Some voters here may be spending polling day holidaying in either Langkawi, Haadyai or the Perlis shopping haven of Wang Kelian, near the Thai border.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Bilik Gerakan or operation centres report an organised effort to sign up voters for free bus trips to the various holiday destinations.

Suspicions are high that the bus trips are being organised by Umno to reduce voter turnout on polling day.

“They (Barisan Nasional) are afraid that their supporters will come out and vote even though they are not contesting. They would like to reduce the voter turn-out so that they can say voters do not approve of the by-election and are boycotting it,” says one PKR Penanti executive committee member.

He added that the trips are being advertised as school-holiday trips.

“If they can get 20 buses with each bus having 40 people, that is 800 people,” he said.

Penanti has a total of 15,421 voters of which 12,657 turned out in the last by-election in August last year.

Though victory for PKR is almost assured, the party still feels that that a high voter turnout is key to send a message that the party enjoys a high level of support.

Permatang Pauh Umno division chief Datuk Abdul Jalil Abdul Majid has denied being behind the bus trips.

“People have the right to go where they want,” he said when contacted by The Malaysian Insider.

Division secretary Rohaizat Othman said that the bus trips are being organised at the branch level and he is not involved.

According to some reports, the buses are to leave at 7.30am on May 31, which is polling day.

There are also unconfirmed reports that RM500 pocket money has been promised to would-be holidaymakers upon their boarding the bus.

Jalil said that he has not given any directives to Umno voters for polling day; whether to stay home, go outstation or support the independent candidates.

“It is up to them,” he said.

Asked to comment on the allegations by independent candidate Aminah Abdullah that PKR tried to bribe her to withdraw from the contest, he said: “She was one of them before. She knows what is going on in the party.”

Does he think her allegations will affect voter sentiment?

“A little bit. But the impact will not be great as people think such things are normal during by-elections.” - MalaysianInsider

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