KUALA LUMPUR: After the date for the 15th General Election (GE15) was announced, the social site Twitter was filled with the hashtag #CarpoolGE15, where voters share and discuss their plans to return to their hometown to vote.

Many voters were seen to be excited to provide carpooling service and find individuals who could offer them a ride to the same destination to fulfil their voting responsibilities in GE15 next Saturday.

That being said, the safety aspect should be prioritised by users, especially women, to avoid untoward incidents.

Criminologist Datuk Shahul Hamid Abd Rahim advised those seeking carpool partners not to share personal information too easily, including their address, given that criminals are currently using various tactics to trap their victims.

"This initiative serves to provide convenience. However, as users, we must ensure that it is legal (registered). We need to check, and if we are not sure of the security level of this service, it is best not to use it," he told Bernama when contacted.

Describing personal information as valuable, Shahul Hamid, who has 20 years of experience in the field of criminology, said it should not be easily disclosed to strangers.

"This reminder is for our own safety. Nowadays, we have to be extra careful because some quarters will take advantage, especially when we are in need. We don't want people to end up getting robbed or scammed," said the 68-year-old criminologist.

Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) GE15 operations director Datuk Seri Hazani Ghazali said the police, especially the Traffic Enforcement and Investigation Department, constantly monitor the service for the benefit of consumers.

However, he advised users to opt for public transportation if they have doubts about the ride-sharing services offered.

Echoing Hazani's sentiment, Kuala Lumpur Deputy Police Chief Datuk Yahaya Othman said carpooling would make it easier for voters looking for a ride but urged them to always adhere to the safety tips issued by the service operators.

"I think there should be no problem with carpooling but, please be careful," he said.

Meanwhile, co-founder of #CarpoolGE15 Khairul Nizam Bakeri, 38, said although the service was not officially registered with the authorities, he assured that safety was always a priority.

"Alhamdulillah, there are no criminal cases involving drivers and passengers. We also share reminders and safety tips on our Twitter account from time to time. Most importantly, we often remind female drivers or passengers not to travel alone," he said.

Elaborating, he said #CarpoolGE15 was created during the last general election to facilitate voters and reduce their travel costs to return to their respective constituencies to cast their ballots.

"In GE14, polling was set on May 9, 2018, which fell on a Wednesday. I noticed that many people shared their worries in their tweets.

"Then I came up with the hashtag #CarpoolGE14 because public transport fares were expensive," said Khairul Nizam, who manages the service with his two friends, Mohd Naim Ahmad and Raja Syazwani Raja Azman.

Polling has been set on Nov 19, and early voting on Nov 15.