KUALA LUMPUR: A fresh Bill to amend the Federal Constitution to lower the voting age to 18 and allow for automatic registration voters was tabled in Parliament on Thursday (July 11).
The Constitution (Amendment) 2019 Bill was tabled by Youth and Sports Minister, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, and seeks to amend Article 47 and Article 119 of the Federal Constitution.
Besides lowering the voting age and enabling automatic registration of voters, the proposed amendments will allow those turning 18 to contest as candidates for the general election.
The amendments under Article 47 will see the words 21 years substituted with the words 18 for a person to be a member of the legislative assembly.
This will allow those turning 18 to qualify as candidates for the general election.
Amendments to Article 119 involves Clause (1) by substituting for the words 21 with the words 18 with regard to the voting age.
The amendments also involve Clause (4) by substituting for the words “applies for registration” with the words “is registered” to denote automatic registration of those turning 18.
The Bill is expected to be debated and passed this July 16.
The government had initially tabled a Bill last Thursday (July 4) to amend the constitution to lower the voting age to 18. However, the Bill was withdrawn on Wednesday (July 10) to allow the government to tweak it, following requests by Opposition lawmakers to include automatic registration of voters and lowering eligibility of election candidates.
On Wednesday (July 10), Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government agreed to tweaked the Bill in line with requests made by opposition lawmakers.
The Bill requires a two-thirds majority vote of the 222 seat in the Dewan Rakyat to be passed, and Dr Mahathir expressed confidence that it would be supported by the Opposition, after the government acceded to their demands.
Currently, there are 222 seats in the Dewan Rakyat, with Pakatan Harapan having only 139 MPs, while the Opposition has a total of 77 lawmakers.
Other countries have also lowered their voting age to 18, including the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Iran, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia and Australia.