KUALA LUMPUR, Msrch 27 — The Election Commission’s (EC) announcement on the implementation of Undi18 (lowering of voting age to 18) and automatic voter registration has received mixed reactions from political leaders.
Some of them supported the decision, saying that voting does not only depend on voters’ age but also the their maturity, while there are leaders who express disappointment over the postponement.
On July 16, 2019, the Dewan Rakyat passed the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019, which reduces the voting age in national and state elections from 21 years to 18 years.
Ten days after the bill was passed at the Dewan Rakyat, the amendment was approved by the Dewan Negara on July 25, 2019.
PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said that maturity is not dependent on age.
“Voting depends on maturity (of voters). We cannot be influenced by the West. In Islam, it is called ‘sinnu rushdi’ or the year of maturity.
“An individual can reach his or her maturity at 16 , 18 or 25 years old. There are people who have reached 40 years old but are still immature. Unfortunately, we are guided by the concept of Western democracy, in terms of age and not maturity,” he said.
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said the implementation of Undi18 still needed to go through a long process as it required amendments to the provisions of the election law, including at the state level.
He said although the matter had been tabled in Parliament to be debated and passed, it does not mean the process has been completed as it needs to be gazetted not only at the Federal level but also at the state level.
“It is not possible if we want to allow (the implementation of Undi18) at the parliamentary level only but not at the state legislative assembly level. It is learnt that only one state has gone through the process.
“The EC has also explained…it happens to be there is a Movement Control Order which may disrupt the process. Therefore, they need more time for the process,” he said.
Meanwhile, DAP national organising secretary Anthony Loke Siew Fook said the move seems to be an act of disrespect to the Parliament institution as the matter had been enacted and amended since 2019.
“But now, EC said that it is still not prepared and needs another year. It does look as though it is denying the right of young voters if the general election is held in the near future,” he said.
Loke said the Pakatan Harapan Secretary Council had sent a letter to the EC today, requesting for a meeting to be held to discuss the matter.