Opposition must not sabotage move to lower voting age to 18

Khoo Poay Tiong

26 Jun 2019, 8:42 am

Updated a year ago


MP SPEAKS | I refer to the announcement by the Election Commission chairperson regarding the parliamentary motion to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 years old.

As a Pakatan Harapan member of parliament, I wholeheartedly welcome the announcement and look forward to the tabling of the motion in the upcoming parliament session.

The lowering of the voting age to 18 is expected to add 3.7 million youths as eligible voters. This is a significant amount considering that the total registered voters in the last general election was 13.9 million.

The proposal to lower the voting age has been part of Harapan’s manifesto. The right to vote is a fundamental human right enshrined in our Federal Constitution.

The move to lower the voting age is part of the new government’s commitment to empowering the youth with the right to vote and allowing them to participate more directly in the democratic process.

Some stakeholders have expressed disagreement over this proposal as they are concerned over the capacity of these new voters to make an informed decision on voting. However, I respectfully disagree with such arguments.

The legal age of a major in Malaysia is 18 years old. At this age, a person is deemed to be an adult with sufficient capacity and capable of making important decisions. It is time for us to trust our youths and treat them as adults by empowering them with the right to vote.

Malaysia is among the few countries left in the world with such a high voting age. In the Asean region, only Malaysia and Singapore have a voting age of 21. On the other hand, Indonesia and Timor Leste have the lowest voting age at 17.

The parliamentary motion to lower the voting age would require a two-thirds majority since it involves amending the constitution. I call upon MPs from all political parties to support the motion.

There are very little reasons, if any, for Umno, PAS, and GPS to not support the motion, unless they intend to sabotage Harapan’s reform agenda, politicise the issue and suppress the people’s will.

The opposition has been doing so in the past year, by rejecting the constitutional amendment to restore the powers of Sabah and Sarawak, and the abolition of the Anti-Fake News Act.

All political parties and MPs should take a bi-partisan approach to this motion and vote overwhelmingly to empower our youth.

KHOO POAY TIONG is the MP for Kota Melaka.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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