PETALING JAYA: Lawmakers are divided over suggestions to lower the voting age of Malaysians.
Sekijang MP Anuar Abdul Manap is among those who are against the proposal.
He said most youths would be undergoing their tertiary education or preparing to enter university life at the proposed age of 18.
“They should focus on their education and it will be better to keep the old system,” he said.
Tanjong Piai MP Datuk Wee Jeck Seng said that it was difficult to decide if 18 was a suitable voting age.
“This group are SPM leavers. I think they are too young and it will not be suitable for them to vote yet.”
Wee said voters should be mature and not be easily swayed by emotional rhetoric.
“They will be voting to decide which party will form the government. It is not a simple matter,” he said.
However, Setiawangsa MP Datuk Ahmad Fauzi Zahari said he would support a move to lower the voting age, adding that 18-year-olds are capable of making reasonable, rational and objective decisions.
“The age of 18 today is perhaps the same as those who were 25 in the past.
“Why shouldn’t we allow them? They mature very fast and have access to all kinds of information.
“We can no longer determine their maturity based on age alone,” he said.
DAP’s Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming said his party supported the lowering of the voting age and disagreed that those below 21 were not mature enough.
“It cannot be done in isolation, but has to be part of a larger, non-partisan effort to raise political awareness of our young people, especially those in secondary schools, colleges or universities,” said Ong.
PKR’s Batu MP Tian Chua said the party would support lowering the voting age if Barisan Nasional, tabled such a motion in Parliament.
He said many social organisations and political parties allowed people as young as 18 to join their organisations and hold posts.
“This in a way also expands the participation of democracy so it should be welcomed.
“We should be open enough to give them the freedom to choose, and they will have to buck up with the political knowledge to judge,” said Tian Chua.
PAS’ Bukit Gantang MP Idris Ahmad fully supported the idea.
“Youths today are very different from the past.
“I believe they are mature enough even at the age of 18,” he said.
PAS Youth chief and Pasir Mas MP Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz said lowering the minimum voting age would enable more youths to participate in politics directly and make it more democratic.