High Court grants leave over Undi18 to proceed with judicial review

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court has granted leave for 18 youths to proceed with their legal action to challenge the government's delay in implementing a lower voting age in Malaysia.

Justice Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid, in his decision delivered via Zoom, said the plaintiffs had successfully passed the threshold for leave to commence a judicial review against the government's decision.

He said the constitutional amendments for lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 have been passed in Parliament and have received royal assent.

"The only outstanding issue is the timing in which the same comes into effect," the judge said on Thursday (June 17).

The court agreed with the applicants' argument that the amendments to the relevant acts and regulations were a secondary issue which should not stand in the way for the constitutional amendment to come into effect.

"It is my view that the applicants' case is not frivolous or vexatious.

"This court should allow the matter to proceed to the substantive stage and allow the respondents to provide an explanation by affidavit and thereafter only decide on whether a case has been made and what reliefs are appropriate," Justice Ahmad Kamal said.

He then allowed the application by the youths and did not make an order as to costs.

The court also fixed July 1 for case management via e-review.

The date for hearing for the judicial review is yet to be fixed.

Lawyers Datuk S. Ambiga and Datuk Dr Gurdial Singh Nijar represented the applicants while Senior Federal Counsel Shamsul Bolhassan represented the respondents during the online proceedings.

On April 2, the youths filed their legal action seeking several court orders arising from the respondents' delay in the implementation of Undi18, a move to lower the voting age to 18 and to enable automatic voter registration (AVR).

They named Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the government and the Election Commission (EC) as respondents.

In the application, the group sought a declaration that the government's action to delay the enforcement of lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 was irrational, illegal, disproportionate and a form of voter suppression.

They want a declaration that those aged 18 to 20 have a legitimate expectation that they will have the right to vote on or before July 2021.

The youths, aged between 18 and 20, are also seeking a declaration that the decision of the respondents to delay the enforcement of Section 3(a) was a form of voter suppression of those aged 18 to 20 in July 2021.

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