KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 — The Opposition bloc today promised to support an amendment to lower the voting age to 18 if the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government includes automatic registration as part of the reform Bill.
Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob told a press conference in Parliament that the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, PAS and Sarawak-based GPS have discussed the matter and agreed to support the Bill, but with a condition.
“The right to vote is the right of all Malaysians. We should give that opportunity to the public. Now there are those who are not registered, they are not using their right to vote. But with automatic registration, everyone can vote.
“If they don’t want to make voter registration automatic, we will not support their constitution amendment,” he said of the government.
He added that it will be a private member’s Bill and the opposition bloc is in the process of drafting the bill.
Ismail Sabri related that in some rural areas, Sarawak as example, geographic and logistical challenges posed physical barriers to Malaysians registering themselves as voters.
He said the problem would be solved with automatic registration.
PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man who was also present at the news conference echoed Ismail Sabri that the Opposition will reject the amendment if its Bill is not included.
The Kubang Kerian MP said that currently there are four million unregistered voters and automatic registration should include them all.
Tuan Ibrahim disagreed to a suggestion that the government may be moving towards automatic voter registration in stages, by first lowering the age.
“The government doesn’t need to amend the Bill two or three times. If we can resolve this issue once and for all we might as well do it.
“We are confident that if the government wants their Bill to pass, if they want their motion to pass, they must also follow the views of the Opposition. We support lowering the voting age to 18 but automatic voter registration will mean more for the public,” said Tuan Ibrahim.
Regarding the ministerial briefing earlier on lowering the voting age, Ismail said that the Opposition bloc had made their proposal of automatic voter registration to the government but apparently it was rejected.
The Opposition bloc intends to amend Article 119 (1) of the Federal Constitution to achieve this goal.
It is also in line with Article 47 of the Federal Constitution where the voting age will be lowered to 18 years old.
*Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article contained and error which has since been corrected.