Khairy: Delay of Undi18, automatic voter registration unacceptable

PETALING JAYA: The reasons given to delay the implementation of Undi18 and automatic voter registration (AVR) are unacceptable, says Khairy Jamaluddin (pic).

The Science, Technology and Innovation Minister said the movement control order was not a good excuse for the two initiatives to be deferred.

“The excuse that the MCO has affected the plans and preparations of the Election Commission (EC) is something that does not make sense considering that the MCO has been implemented since more than a year ago, ” he said in a statement on Friday (March 26).

The EC recently announced that the lowering of the minimum voting age and implementing AVR can only be done by Sept 1,2022.

Khairy pointed out that in November last year, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan had said the two initiatives were expected to be implemented in July this year.

“The minister’s answer during the Dewan Rakyat in November still maintained the July 2021 target for the implementation of Undi18 and AVR.

“No more than five months after this answer is given, the EC has announced the delay of the implementation to more than a year later, which is Sept 2022, ” he said.

Khairy, who was previously the Youth and Sports minister, said the EC’s statement about their need to engage political parties and NGOs raises questions.

“The EC should give a further explanation about this engagement session as this process is no longer an issue because Undi18 has been agreed upon by the highest level of the lawmaking process in the country, which is the Parliament.

“The lowering of the age from 21 to 18 as well as implementing AVR is not only the wish of the previous government, but it has gotten the nod from all political parties through their MPs who have passed amendments to the Federal Constitution, which requires a two-thirds majority of the House, ” he said.

On July 16,2019, Parliament unanimously passed the amendment to allow AVR, lowering the voting age to 18, and to make 18 the minimum age for a Malaysian citizen to run for public office.

However, the AVR and lowering of the voting age to 18 have yet to be completely incorporated into the federal legislation.

The Star recently reported that while all systems are on track for these initiatives to kick off, the EC is facing tremendous challenges in gazetting the new electoral roll after the expiry of the objection period.

Constitutional law expert Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi had pointed out that for 18-year-olds to vote in the next general election, and for AVR to take effect, consequential changes must be made to the Election Offences Act 1954, the Elections (Conduct of Elections) Regulations 1981 and Elections (Registration of Electors) Regulations 2002.

As of Friday (March 26), Perlis, Perak, Kelantan, Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak have amended their state constitutions to allow those aged 18 and above to stand in elections.

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