PUTRAJAYA: In the next general election, Malaysians can exercise their rights to vote even if they are aged 18, said Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (pic).
The Youth and Sports Minister said this following a Cabinet decision yesterday to lower the voting age from 21.
“Amendments will be made to the Federal Constitution in line with this decision.
“We will also work with opposition MPs as a two-thirds majority is needed to see changes to the law,” he told a press conference.
Syed Saddiq said he would work closely with youth leaders from all political parties and members of the Youth Parliament to discuss and gather views on the matter.
He expressed confidence in getting the cooperation of the opposition parties, saying that he had already initiated informal discussions with some of them.
“They know what the aspirations of young Malaysians are. I held informal discussions with the opposition leaders and they too are keen on this,” he said.
Syed Saddiq pointed out that Umno had lowered its membership age from 18 to 16, and this reflected the party’s acknowledgement on the importance of exposing the young to politics.
Asked if the amendments could be debated in the coming Parliament session, the Muar MP said this was unlikely as the sitting would focus more on the budget.
“We are also looking at amending other related laws to ensure free and fair elections.
“I have met with representatives from the Election Commission, as well as the Attorney General (Tommy Thomas), who said amendments could be done with a two-thirds majority. By the next general election, 18-year-olds should be able to cast their votes,” he said.
Syed Saddiq said to prepare youths for this responsibility, his ministry would propose programmes on cadreship, leadership and politics.
Under the country’s laws, 18 is the legal age of adulthood, and is considered an age to take full responsibility of one’s actions, such as being eligible for a driving test, get married or to sign contracts.
In countries such as the United States, Britain, Australia, India, Iran, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Cambodia, the voting age has been lowered to 18.
Only Malaysia and Singapore still retain it at 21.
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