KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition MPs will not support Pakatan Harapan’s Bill to amend the Federal Constitution to lower the voting age to 18 if they do not allow for automatic registration of voters, said 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,” the Bera MP said to reporters when met at Parliament lobby yesterday.
He added that 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 said the Opposition is making known its stand after a closed-door briefing for lawmakers yesterday on this issue.
“We are making this announcement through a press conference with the hope that Pakatan will take heed of our request and make the necessary changes to their proposed Bill,” said Ismail Sabri.
PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, who’s also Kubang Kerian MP, said MPs of the Islamist party insisted on automatic registration of voters must be included as part of the amendment.
“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,” he said.
Representing Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) was Yusuf Abdul Wahab, who said it was crucial to have automatic registration if Pakatan wants to lower the voting age.
“We have voters in the rural areas of Sarawak and these 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 will 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.
In April, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said the government will table a Bill to amend the Federal Constitution and lower the voting age from 21 to 18 years at the next Parliament meeting.
The Opposition has a total of 77 MPs in the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat.
Pakatan has 139 MPs and requires a two-thirds majority of a 148 votes in the House to amend the Federal Constitution.
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.