PETALING JAYA: The Perikatan Nasional government is committed to enabling 18-year-old youths to vote as soon as possible, says Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan (pic). However, there was no time frame given.
This commitment to uphold the lowering of the eligibility age from 21 to 18 years old was agreed unanimously during the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, said the law minister.
“Following this decision, EC will act quickly to settle some matters with regard to legal provisions and technical issues, including that of updating the needed software.
“This decision shows that the government is committed to giving an opportunity to youths aged not younger than 18 years old to be voters in the 15th general election or any other by-elections and state elections, ” said Takiyuddin.
“The government is confident of EC’s preparedness to handle elections, be it logistics, human resources and the SOP during the movement control order, ” he said.
On July 16,2019, Parliament unanimously passed the constitutional amendment automatic voter registration (AVR) to lower the voting age to 18 and to make 18 the minimum age for a Malaysian citizen to run for public office.
Last November, Takiyuddin had said the two initiatives were expected to be implemented in July this year.
But not more than five months after this, the EC announced a delay, stating that the lowering of the minimum voting age and AVR could only be done by Sept 1,2022.
This caused some Perikatan ministers, opposition and youth groups to question the government’s commitment to allow 18-year-olds to vote.
Meanwhile, Malaysian United Democratic Alliance Party (Muda) said that the statement by Takiyuddin lacked commitment.
Muda vice-president Lim Wei Jiet said that any date after July 2021 will not be acceptable as it goes against what the government had stated initially.
He said even if it was implemented by July 2021, it takes a few months for voters aged between 18 and 20 years old to register and they may not be able to vote in the next general election.
In Port Dickson, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the Election Commission has been given enough time to implement the lowering of the voting age from 21 to 18.
“The decision to lower voting age was made more than one-and-a-half years ago and I reiterate that it is clear incompetence and dereliction of duty on the part of the Election Commission if it is not able to perform.
“The decision has been made. Parliament has endorsed it and it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that the EC performs its task, ” said the Opposition leader and PKR president.