KUALA LUMPUR: The Bill to amend the Federal Constitution to lower the voting age to 18 has been passed at the Dewan Rakyat.
The Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 to lower the voting age was passed with a total of 211 votes in Parliament on Tuesday (July 16).
The Bill requires a two-thirds majority of at least 148 votes from the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat to amend Article 119 and Article 47 of the Federal Constitution.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the amendment was proof of Pakatan Harapan's commitment to realise the promise it made in its Buku Harapan as part of its election manifesto.
Dr Mahathir said that with the passing of the Bill, qualified Malaysians who are 21 and above but have not been registered, will be automatically registered as voters.
He also said that the Government at this point does not plan to make voting compulsory during general elections.
"Early studies have shown that countries that have made it compulsory to vote did not get 100% voters (turnout).
"Singapore only achieved 93.56%, Australia 91.89% followed by Belgium (88.3%) and Austria (80%).
"The Government will instead increase awareness of voters to encourage them to go out and cast their votes," he said in his winding-up debate on Tuesday (July 16).
Some 59 lawmakers took part in the debate that lasted more than four hours.
Both sides of the political divide expressed their support to lower the voting age, however, the Opposition had some reservations on the mechanism to implement the changes.
In addition to lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, the amendments also sought to lower the eligible age of electoral candidates to 18, and to enable automatic registration of voters by the Election Commission.