KUCHING, July 5 — Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today said that it is up to the Sarawak Legislative Assembly whether it wants to adopt the federal government’s definition of “youth” to be applicable to the state.
He said it is not necessary that Sarawak agrees with Putrajaya since “youth” is a Concurrent subject under the Federal Constitution.
“It is up to the state. So we have to bring it up to the State Legislative Assembly to agree or otherwise,” he told reporters after handing over Petronas sponsorships to Sarawakian students here.
Abang Johari was asked if the state would follow the federal government’s definition of the term “youth” to be someone aged 15 to 30 years old after an amendment to the Federal Constitution is approved by Parliament in its current session.
The chief minister said in Sarawak, youth is someone aged 15 to 40 years old.
He said youth bodies in the state are registered with the Registrar of Societies (RoS), instead of with Registrar of Youths as in Peninsular Malaysia.
“If we are registered with Registrar of Youths, our assets will have to be registered in Kuala Lumpur,” he said, adding that as far as “youth” is concerned, it is the state’s autonomous right and that assets of youth organisations cannot be registered in Kuala Lumpur.
However, the chief minister said the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government supports the federal government’s move to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 years.
“I don’t think it is a problem, except some people who are questioning on the issue of maturity.
“That is all. If the world has set 18 (as voting age), why not us?” he asked.
However, the chief minister said it will be good if automatic voter registration comes with the change in the voting age.
He said during his meeting with GPS Members of Parliament, they are of the view that there should automatic voter registration.
“After all, you are given a choice to vote. Universally, a lot of countries where people aged 18 can vote so we just follow them.”
“Of course, we prefer automatic, but the choice to go out and vote, then it is up to them,” he said, adding that the Election Commission has to work with the National Registration Department for this automatic voter registration exercise to work.
“As soon as the youths have reached the age of 18 years on their birth certificate, then they should automatically be registered as voters,” he added.