KUALA LUMPUR: The Youth and Sports Ministry will work with other ministries and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in educating and preparing young people to vote in the next general election, its deputy minister Steven Sim said.
“If you want a youth to start voting at 18, political awareness must begin maybe in high school itself. We are going to work with different ministries, for example, the Education Ministry and also NGOs to create an enabling environment where people are free to express themselves,” he said after the closing ceremony of Malaysia Book of Records Live! here on Sunday (Sept 30).
“We are not talking about joining political parties. But creating the political awareness of democratic participation in our country,” he said.
The Cabinet has decided to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 last week.
The decision was made at its weekly meeting on Wednesday (Sept 19), and work on amending the Federal Constitution will begin soon, according to Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.
“It is not just about changing the numbers in the law or in the Constitution from 21 to 18. There is so much work to be done,” Sim said.
“Programmes are being planned but more importantly we are working on the technicalities on how do we change the Act.
"The Minister has already announced that he is going to set up a bipartisan parliamentary committee to discuss with MPs, ask them for feedback on how we can do this in the best way possible. So this is the way forward for us,” he said.
Amendments will be made to the Federal Constitution in line with the decision and the Government will need to work with opposition MPs as a two-thirds majority is needed to see changes to the law.
Activist Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan reportedly said there was no point for the government to amend the voting age without preparing future voters to make informed decisions.
She also mooted political education for school students in line with the proposal to lower the voting age.