Opposition to support 18 voting age Bill, only if there's automatic registration


KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition MPs will not support Pakatan Harapan’s Bill to amend the Federal Constitution to lower voting age to 18, if they do not allow for automatic registration of voters, says Opposition chief Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

“We support the move to lower the voting age to 18.

"However, the amendments should also include automatic registration of voters.

“If Pakatan tables the proposed amendments to include the automatic registration of voters, then we will support it. Otherwise, we have to oppose it,” said the Bera MP to reporters at the parliament lobby on Wednesday (July 3).

He said the amendments should also allow those eligible to vote at 18 to qualify as candidates in the general election, in line with Article 47 of the Federal Constitution.

He added that the Opposition was calling for amendments to the Bill to be tabled on Thursday (July 4), after a closed-door briefing for lawmakers on Wednesday (July 3).

“We are making this announcement through a press conference, in hope that Palatan will take heed of our request and make the necessary changes to their proposed Bill.”

PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, who’s also Kubang Kerian MP, said MPs of the Islamist party was not totally against the proposed amendments, but insisted on automatic registration of voters being included.

“They should focus on registering the estimated four million unregistered voters instead of just lowering the voting age.

“It will only increase the number of unregistered voters if they lower it to 18 without automatic registration,” he said.

Representing Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) was Yusuf Abdul Wahab, who said that it was crucial to have automatic registration if Pakatan wanted to lower the voting age.

“We have voters in the rural areas of Sarawak, and this may pose a problem for them to be registered as voters.

“It will be better if they were registered automatically.”

There are almost 15 million registered voters and four million unregistered voters in Malaysia. Automatic registration would see the number of voters increased by about three percent.

Meanwhile, Ismail Sabri said that the Opposition will be tabling a Private Member’s Bill soon for amendments to Article 119(1) and Article 47 of the Federal Constitution to lower the age of voters to 18 and allow them to stand as candidates, including automatic registration.

Last year, the Pakatan Harapan government announced its plan to lower the legal voting age to 18.

Other countries that have lowered their voting age to 18 include the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Iran, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia and Australia.

In April, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said the government would table a Bill to amend the Federal Constitution and lower the voting age from 21 to 18 years at the next Parliament meeting.

The Dewan Rakyat is in session until July 18.

The Opposition has 77 MPs in the Dewan Rakyat, out of a total of 222 seats.

Pakatan has 139 MPs and requires a two-thirds majority of a 148 votes in the House to amend the Federal Constitution.
   

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