By Mirudhula Thambiah
Most of the plantation youth, working in various parts of the country, are not allowed to exercise their voting rights at the upcoming Presidential Election, as their employers show reluctance to grant them leave.
Savumia Youth Foundation Chairman, S. P. Anthony Muthu told Ceylon Today that the same problem erupted during past Uva Provincial Council Elections, as many youths working in Colombo and in various other places, were not granted leave thus, they were unable to vote.
He said, more than 200,000 persons from the plantation sector are working in shops and hotels in Colombo, Dambulla, Matara, and in the North and East. They should be given a chance to cast their votes as it is a national election.
“Employers are reluctant to grant leave to these youths as they are unsure of them returning to work. They are suspicious that the youths might extend their leave up to Thai Pongal following the election,” he said.
Anthony Muthu also said that he would meet Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya on 6 December and urge him to take immediate action ordering the employers to grant leave for the plantation youths to cast their votes.
“We have already carried out awareness programmes during the Uva Provincial Elections yet it is hard to convince all employers for this election as they are in large numbers,” he said.
He also said that an amendment was proposed to be included to the Elections Act, to have polling booths in the respective place if people cannot cast their votes in their own places.