Malaysians may differ from each other on a lot of things, but we can all agree that when it comes to lending a helping hand to one another in an effort to achieve something, they can really f**king ace it.
Their ability to mobilise movements to help each other without any help from the government is nothing short of amazing.
During the pandemic, we saw Malaysians initiate the #BenderaPutih movement where people who needed help with basic necessities could raise a white flag outside their homes, and by doing so, indicate their household needed assistance, allowing neighbours to render necessary aid to them.
Meanwhile, during the country’s massive floods last year, Malaysians organised volunteer programs to help clean up affected homes while raising funds and channeling all kinds of help to flood victims. The floods displaced more than a hundred thousand people and left 54 dead.
Now, #CarpoolGE15, an initiative created by three individuals, aims to get citizens back to their hometowns to vote in the upcoming general election on Nov. 19 by organising rides with other Malaysians.
Since the announcement of GE15, many have taken to social media to complain about expensive airfares, which may be a deterrent for those who need to return to their hometown to vote.
Raja Syazwani, 32, one of the three people involved in this initiative told Coconuts that it has been active since the last general election in 2018 (GE14) when voting fell on a weekday.
The other two people involved in #CarpoolGE15 are KhairulNizam Bakeri and Mohamad Naim Ahmad.
“Leading up to GE14, we saw a lot of complaints on social media about people not being able to return home to vote because their bosses were not allowing them to take leave on that day.”
“At first we thought of just supporting the other initiatives like #UndiRabu and #PulangMengundi since the funding was limited, however, we started receiving a lot of positive feedback on #CarpoolGE14 and that was when we decided to go ahead with our own initiative,” she said.
She said voters who are interested to hitch a ride back for GE15 can browse offered seats on their Telegram channel and scan a QR code based on the states they wish to return to.
Since #CarpoolGE15 launched last Friday, it has gained more than 2,000 subscribers. She said they expect the numbers to increase once they launch the initiative on Facebook.
She said the reception to the initiative showed that Malaysians do know their civic duty to vote. However, some may not be able to afford an airplane ticket or a bus ride back to their hometown and that is where #CarpoolGE15 intends to help.
Raja Syazwani explained that drivers who offer seats are required to provide journey details based on a form by #CarpoolGE15.
“From there we use our Telegram channel as a bulletin board where we post offered seats from the drivers so that passengers can search their destination,” she said.
However, the initiative is not without its challenges. Raja Syazwani said their main concern is missing out on carpooling requests.
“But we will try to make sure we cater to everyone’s request, just hit us up if you think we missed you,” she said.
To ensure the safety of passengers, Raja Syazwani said they highly encourage passengers to do a background check on the drivers as well as share their live location during the journey and have the police on speed dial.
“Usually, those who carpool together would meet up before travelling to discuss departure dates,” she added. Riders and drivers would also discuss the expenses with each other.
For now, #CarpoolGE15 is only limited to Peninsular Malaysia, however, Raja Syazwani said if there are requests from voters to return to West Malaysia, they will consider it.
When asked what #CarpoolGE15 hoped to gain from this movement, she said “We hope this initiative brings out the best in Malaysians to help each other to go out and exercise their democratic right. When there’s a way, there’s #CarpoolGE15,” she said.
Those interested to take part in #CarpoolGE15 may visit their website here.
On Oct 20, the Election Commission (EC) announced that the country’s 15th general election
will be held on Nov. 19 despite public concerns about another major flooding.
Meanwhile, nomination day will fall on Nov. 5 and the early voting period will be held on November 15, EC chairman Abdul Ghani Salleh told a press conference after a special governing body meeting.
As of Oct. 9, the electoral roll for the upcoming polls contained more than 21 million voters with Malaysians aged 18 to 39 comprising half or 50.3% of voters.
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Malaysia’s GE15: How to vote if you’re living overseas | Coconuts
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