KUALA LUMPUR, July 16 — Malaysian youths are mature enough to pick and vote for the country's leaders, the prime minister said today urging lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to vote for a constitutional amendment to lower the voting age from 21 to 18.
In his personal plea for the bipartisan support needed, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the change would give the country’s future generation a direct say on Malaysia’s direction via the ballot.
“I am confident in the capability of our youth to make wise and rational decisions in the matter of choosing leaders.
“Their young age does not at all hinder them from possessing mature consideration in the efforts to contribute towards the country's development. Being qualified to vote for the youths is an important catalyst for us to make this intention a success together,” he wrote in a letter dated June 28 that was made available to the media today.
In the same letter, Dr Mahathir said youths are the beacons of hope who will chart the country's future, noting that they should be recognised as partners in nation-building.
“This group should be given wide space to be directly involved in the democratic process, especially in fulfilling the trust of choosing the country's leadership through the ballot box,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said he hoped the support of MPs would translate into votes in favour of the Bill, which he described as a historic moment in the country.
Separately, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman also wrote to all MPs in his bid to rally support for the Bill dubbed “Undi 18”.
The government is expected to table today the Bill for the proposed constitutional amendment to lower the voting age for debates in the Dewan Rakyat.
As the Bill requires the amendment of the Federal Constitution, a two-thirds majority vote in support is required.
The ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition and its ally Parti Warisan Sabah only has a simple majority, which means votes from the federal opposition lawmakers are required for the Bill to be realised.
The Bill is being tabled anew after the Opposition insisted that it must be accompanied by automatic voter registration before they would support it.