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PETALING JAYA, Sept 28 ― The right to vote should not be predicated on perceived maturity, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman said in defending lowering the voting age to 18.
Syed Saddiq ― a strong advocate for lowering the voting age, which is expected to add 3.7 million people to the electoral roll ― talked about the importance of youth’s voices in an era where issues like the fourth industrial revolution put jobs for fresh graduates at risk.
“The right to vote should never be based on a presumption of immaturity and intellect,” the 25-year-old said in a debate with former Malaysian Bar president Ragunath Kesavan last night at Pesta Harapan Malaysia 2018.
“I believe it is degrading to simply mislabel young people as immature or not having the same maturity and intellect as those who are older because if you go down that path, how do you make that personal assessment?”
Ragunath argued that lowering the voting age would be pointless if laws such as the Sedition Act 1948 and the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 continued to exist, as they prevented young people from freely expressing political opinions.
He said reforms were needed to create suitable platforms for the youth to formulate and express their political opinions, and only then can the issue of lowering the voting age take precedence.
The debate titled “Undi 18, Are We Ready” is part of a series of events from the youth-focused Pesta Harapan Malaysia 2018.
The Cabinet has agreed to lower the voting age to 18 from 21, but this requires amending the Federal Constitution, which means the Pakatan Harapan government must reach across the aisle to get two-thirds majority in Parliament for this.
International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking spoke earlier at a policy discussion about the fourth industrial revolution and the potential threat artificial intelligence poses to the workforce in certain industries.
He reassured the audience that the workforce will always require emotional intelligence and cognition which robotics cannot replicate.
“The one thing that automation cannot and will never be able to [replicate] is emotion,” Leiking said.
“That is something we know should be emphasised in some industries where you will always need that particular skill to ensure that automation is still controlled by man and woman.”
Malay Mail is the co-official media partner for Pesta Harapan Malaysia 2018 organised by Malaysiakini and [email protected]