KUALA LUMPUR: The Pakatan Harapan government could be branded as anti-rural voters, if it does not want to allow for automatic registration of voters in its Bill to amend the Constitution to lower the voting age to 18.
According to Santubong MP, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, this was because 45% of Sarawakians lived in rural areas, where accessibility was an issue.
“Imagine people in rural areas, particularly Sarawak, you have to travel miles and miles. The best thing would be automatic registration.”
“You must consider this. If Pakatan does not want to do that, then we can brand them as being ‘anti-rural people voting’,” said the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) MP.
Dr Wan Junaidi was speaking to reporters during a press conference on Thursday (July 4).
He added that “many people who are working from morning to night, seven days a week and 30 days a month”.
“You can’t blame them because money is scarce,” he said.
Dr Wan Junaidi, who is part of the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), said he supported the bill to lower voting age to 18, regardless of the automatic registration issue.
“We support this Bill because many countries in the world, almost 90%, have changed (minimum voting age) to 16, 17, 18, so we cannot be left out.
“Second, young people are reaching the stage whereby they can understand what’s right and wrong. They should be mature enough to understand what voting is for.”
On Wednesday (July 3), Opposition chief Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said they would not support Pakatan’s second bid to amend the Federal Constitution, if it did not allow for automatic registration of voters.
Ismail also said that those eligible to vote at 18 should also qualify as candidates in the general election, in line with Article 47 of the Federal Constitution.
The Bill to lower voting age to 18 from 21, which will require the approval of two-thirds of Parliament, was tabled for its first reading in Parliament on Thursday (July 4).