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.
Santubong MP Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the matter was pertinent in Sarawak as 45% of the people lived in rural areas where accessibility was an issue.
“Imagine people in rural areas, particularly in Sarawak. You have to travel (for) miles and miles. The best thing would be an automatic registration.
“You must consider this. If Pakatan does not want to do that, then we can brand them as being anti-rural people,” he said at the Parliament lobby.
Wan Junaidi, who is part of Gabungan Parti Sarawak, said he supported the Bill regardless of the automatic registration issue.
“We support this Bill because many countries in the world, almost 90%, have changed (the minimum voting age) to 16, 17, 18. So, we cannot be left out,” he said.
“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.”
Election Commission (EC) chairman Azhar Azizan Harun said an amendment to the Federal Constitution would be needed to allow automatic voter registration.
He said Article 119 (4) of the Federal Constitution and the Election Regulations (Voter Regulation) 2002 would need to be tabled in Parliament first without debates.
He said the amendments only needed to be tabled and did not require the approval of the House.
“All the laws that touch on automatic registration must be amended,” he told reporters.
The government is expected to table a Bill to amend the Federal Constitution in a bid to lower the voting age.
Azhar said that similar to lowering the voting age to 18 years old, automatic registration was a structural matter.
“The EC is neutral on such matters and we will follow the rule of law and function based on the need of the law.
“If there are laws to allow 18-year-olds to vote and automatic registration, we will do it,” he added.
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