KUALA LUMPUR: MCA is supporting the amendment to the Federal Constitution to lower the voting age to 18, hailing the bipartisan effort as a new chapter in the history of the Malaysian Parliament.
MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (pic) said the party was supporting the government’s move, owing to the bipartisan approach taken in the matter.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, said the Ayer Hitam MP, met Opposition leaders to discuss and negotiate support for the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 before it was tabled.
“The Prime Minister called us to sit down and discuss the Bill and we managed to resolve this in 20 minutes.
“Also commendable was the effort by the young Muar minister (Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman), who personally met the MPs for their support, irrespective of their differing views.
“This is the mature politics and bipartisan approach that needs to be put forward in the New Malaysia,” he said when debating the amendment in Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
Dr Wee also suggested the setting up of a bipartisan committee to ensure the smooth implementation of automatic registration.
“The Election Commission (EC) has a lot of work to do and must work closely with the National Registration Department on this matter.
“I propose that a bipartisan committee be set up to look into the issues which may arise,” he said.
He also suggested that the government amend relevant laws to make the age of maturity consistent with the age of voting.
He cited Section 12 of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 – which is only applicable to non-Muslims – that still stated 21 as the legal age of marriage.
Under the provision, those aged between 18 and 21 will need to have their parents’ consent before marriage while those aged 21 and above do not need parental consent.
“How can a young person at 18, who is able to vote, become the prime minister and choose the government, still requires parental consent to get married if below 21?
“We need to streamline the laws to make the age of maturity consistent,” he said.
Dr Wee urged the government to implement the amendments to lower the voting age and the automatic registration of voters simultaneously and not in stages.
He expressed his concerns that should automatic registration be implemented in stages, this would later run into problems.
The Bill was earlier read for the second time by Dr Mahathir.
Besides lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, the amendments also seek to lower the eligible age of electoral candidates to 18 and to enable automatic voter registration by the EC.