Singaporeans angered by Malaysian IKEA employees given paid leave to vote in elections

Photo: Sam Greenhalgh / Flickr

Eighty or so Malaysian employees working at IKEA Singapore have been granted an extra day of paid leave on Wednesday, May 9, so that they can exercise their democratic rights and vote in their home country’s 14th General Election.

Malaysians were left worried and distraught at the announcement of the election date last Monday, as it fell in the middle of the work week, and hundreds of thousands of our country’s citizens work in areas far away from the constituencies they have registered in (often, their hometown). Singapore alone boasts a workforce of 400,000 Malaysians.

Considering the fact that so many will be affected – having to fork out airfare, factor in travel time, and ensure that they make it to the polls before they close, it’s a pretty respectable move for IKEA to think altruistically, and give these employees no added reason to not cast their ballot.

In lieu of not being able to thank you directly, we give our Billy bookcase a deep nod of respect.

However, this seems to have ruffled the feathers of at least a few Singaporeans. Apparently not content with being some of the world’s most powerful passport-holders, and citizens of streets so clean that the five-second rule could be extended another five seconds, they are crying FOUL over the “discrimination” they are suffering under the Swedish furniture purveyor.

Discrimination. Lol. That’s a really funny subject to touch on, and maybe something you’d like to bring up with your Malaysian friends and colleagues, distraught Singaporeans. They might be able to give you a few lessons on the meaning of the word.

One poster to local message board asked WHY, WHY are extra leaves given to them when none are given to Singaporeans. They have taken the initiative and written directly to their local MP, as well as the Ministry of Manpower, so that they can investigate the ghastly affront on Singaporean rights. The thread is over 50 pages long at present.

Balik kampung (returning to one’s hometown) is not for the faint of heart. First, you get to fight all the traffic to the airport, or at the border crossing. Then there’s whatever godforsaken drive you have back home from there.

Unable to get a flight to Penang? Great, you’ve got a minimum of an eight-hour drive ahead of you once you enter Malaysia. That’s not including any jam on the way. Once election day comes around, you can wait in a queue of hundred, if not thousands of people, so that you can do what is your birthright – vote for the party that represents your dreams for the future. After that, you get to stuff some food in your face before turning around and doing it all over again, because – guess what – you still have to be at work Thursday morning.

Who knew that a world of such pristine urban planning, timely public transportation, and chewing gum-free streets could also produce unfathomable dengki (spiteful) behavior?


Text: Coconuts KL 

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