PETALING JAYA: The suggestion to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 should be seen as reasonable as an individual at the age of 18 is considered an adult in Malaysian law, says MCA Youth chief Datuk Chong Sin Woon.
He said he noted the concerns by some groups over the lack of maturity and political awareness of youths at 18 years of age.
“In this regard, MCA Youth believes that the Government can take appropriate measures to raise the awareness of youths on current issues,” he said in a statement yesterday.
He said this included incorporating the teaching of civics in the secondary school curriculum, as well as allowing the Election Commission to organise activities to improve the students’ general understanding of the country’s constitutional and electoral systems.
“It is also good for the Government to take the initiative to inculcate the correct civic awareness and general knowledge of students, which will in turn encourage more young voters to take part in the country’s democracy and make them more concerned about regional affairs,” he added.
Chong, who is also MCA Education Consultative Committee deputy chairman, said 18 is the legal age of adulthood in Malaysian law, and 18 is considered an age to take full responsibility for one’s actions, such as being eligible for a driving test, marriage or to sign contracts.
“Offenders at 18 years of age are also subject to criminal law procedures and measures, where those found guilty will be tried in court and have to take full responsibility,” he said, adding that 18-year-olds are legally regarded as adults.
Chong said the voting age for the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, India, Iran, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Cambodia has been lowered to 18.
Only Malaysia and Singapore still retain the voting age at 21.
“This shows that once Malaysia sets the minimum voting age at 18, it will have plenty of examples to refer to, ” he said.