PM tables historic Undi 18 Bill in Parliament

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad made a final plea across the aisle for the supermajority necessary to amend the Federal Constitution to allow youths aged 18 and over to stand for elections. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad made a final plea across the aisle for the supermajority necessary to amend the Federal Constitution to allow youths aged 18 and over to stand for elections. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, July 16 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad tabled today his government’s ambitious Bill to amend the Federal Constitution and lower the voting age from 21 to 18.

The proposed amendments also include allowing youths aged 18 and over to stand for elections and the automatic voter registration that the Opposition had made conditional for their support of the Bill.

Acknowledging that the Bill will need the Opposition support, the PM made a final plea across the aisle for the supermajority necessary to amend the Federal Constitution.

“We appreciate bi-partisan action that prioritises the good of the nation.

“I call for all of us to ensure that this amendment is passed by giving it more than two-thirds majority support and create history for Malaysia. Democracy is alive in Malaysia and it should be strengthened with the energy and intellect of youths,” said Dr Mahathir.

He added that the government was confident in the political maturity of today's youth, saying they have become highly exposed to the politics and were more informed due to the advent of social media.

The prime minister also noted that many developed democracies including most Commonwealth states have given 18-year-olds access to the ballot, and Malaysia was now among the remaining few countries that still restricted voting to those aged 21 and over.

Dr Mahathir also highlighted that his administration responded positively to the Opposition suggestions to include automatic voter registrations and lowering the age limit to be federal lawmakers as part of the reforms.

“If automatic voter registration is implemented together with lowering the voting age to 18, the government predicts an additional 7.8 million new voters will be included in the voter registration until 2023.

“The government also estimates that in 2023 the number of voters will increase to more than 50 per cent to around 22.7 million when compared to 14.9 million in the 14th General Election,” said Dr Mahathir.