A FRESH Bill to amend the Federal Constitution to lower the voting age to 18 and allow for automatic registration of voters has been tabled in Parliament.
The Constitution (Amendment) 2019 Bill – to amend Article 47 and Article 119 of the Constitution – was tabled by Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.Besides lowering the voting age and the automatic registration of voters, the proposed amendments will allow those turning 18 to contest as candidates.
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 elections.
Amendment to Article 119 involves Clause (1) by substituting the words 21 with the words 18 with regard to the voting age.
The amendment also involves Clause (4) by substituting 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 on July 16.
The government had initially tabled a Bill on July 4 to amend the Constitution to lower the voting age to 18.
However, the Bill was withdrawn on July 10, to allow the government to make further changes following requests by Opposition lawmakers to include automatic registration of voters and lowering the age eligibility of election candidates.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government agreed to tweak the Bill in line with requests made by Opposition lawmakers.
Although the Bill requires a two-thirds majority vote of the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat to be passed, Dr Mahathir expressed confidence that it would be supported by the Opposition after the government had acceded to their demands.
Currently, Pakatan Harapan only has 139 MPs, while the Opposition has a total of 77 lawmakers.
Other countries have also lowered their voting age to 18.
Among them are the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Iran, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia and Australia.