PETALING JAYA: Umno Youth has threatened to take the Election Commission (EC) to court if it does not retract its statement and put into place the necessary steps to start registering youths aged between 18 and 20 as voters.
The EC’s statement that this can only be done in September next year goes against the constitutional amendment to enable 18-year-olds and above to vote, said movement executive council member Muhammad Nur Aizat Noor Azam.
“Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said on Feb 4 that the general election will be held as soon as the pandemic has passed, not in 2022 or 2023.
“Youths aged between 18 and 20 now have a right to vote under the Constitution. On that basis, the EC statement on March 25 can be challenged.
“The EC also has to provide an explanation on how its decision to implement Undi18 only in September 2022 was reached after discussions with the Cabinet.
“It should retract its statement or get ready to be taken to court, ” said Aizat in a statement.
In Kuala Lumpur, MCA Youth’s civil society movement coordination bureau chairman Heng Zhi Li said Undi18 should be implemented swiftly.
Any further legislative amendments to enable voting reforms could be done via the executive branch instead of having to go through Parliament as these were mostly subsidiary legislations, he added.“There is, however, some debate about the Election Offences Act, with some academics arguing that it is required to be amended (through Parliament).
“In my opinion, that is not necessary. The only section that may require amendment touches on the age of the candidate’s election agent.
“We think this amendment can be done later when Parliament has convened, ” said Heng, a lawyer, during a press conference at Wisma MCA yesterday.
Constitutional law expert Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi had previously argued that for 18-year-olds to vote in the next general election, and for automatic voter registration (AVR) to take effect, consequential changes must be made to several laws.
“The Attorney General’s Chambers or the EC can enlighten us on whether amendments to the Election Offences Act 1954, Elections (Conduct of Elections) Regulations 1981, and Elections (Registration of Electors) Regulations 2002 have already been accomplished.
“The last two laws are subsidiary legislations and can be altered by the executive without the need to go to Parliament.
“But there is a real problem about updating the Election Offences Act 1954 and State Constitutions, ” he had written earlier.
Heng also said the issues in implementing AVR could be ironed out by utilising young people’s identity card information through the National Registration Department.
Undi18, a youth empowerment movement that advocates for lowering the minimum voting age, said even if the EC needed more time to implement AVR, it should still allow the lowering of the voting age.
Undi18 said it would initiate legal action on April 2 against the Malaysian government to compel the EC to allow 18- to 20-year-olds to register as voters.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Youth Council president Jufitri Joha said adequate time must be given to the EC to make the relevant legislative amendments.
“I am confident that the government is committed to bringing about the implementation of Undi18, as it will be a huge credit to the government because it would be seen as taking the rights and voices of the young seriously.
“To grow the maturity of our youth, all parties such as schools, family institutions and youth movement groups should double their efforts in (providing) democratic education to youth.
“All parties must help and guide the youth who have their voting rights to get adequate information before they make the decision to vote, ” he added.
But Jufitri recommended that in the meantime, the EC should let youths aged 18 to 20 register manually to vote while they worked out the processes for AVR.