KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — DAP’s Liew Chin Tong has praised Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman for rallying MPs from both sides of the aisle to work together for the successful push to lower the voting age in Malaysia.
Commenting on the historic constitutional change dubbed the “Undi 18” Bill that was unanimously passed in the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday, Liew highlighted the 26-year-old minister’s performance.
“Syed Saddiq displayed what a young person could do, which was to ignore the naysayers and just keep pushing and engaging,” the deputy defence minister was quoted as saying by local daily New Straits Times.
Liew also pointed out that the Pakatan Harapan administration was a “reformist government” and was unfazed by the federal Opposition’s initial conditional acceptance of the Undi 18 Bill.
“The Opposition thought they could scare the Pakatan government by setting conditions on automatic voter registration and (election) candidacy on 18-year-olds.
“The Pakatan Presidential Council gladly accepted the conditions. The Opposition would lose credibility if they didn’t follow through with their promise,” he was quoted saying by NST.
Liew noted, however, that Malaysian politics was now permanently changed and the new landscape will force all parties to develop new strategies from scratch as all previous elections, polling data and assumptions were now irrelevant.
In the same report, NST quoted Syed Saddiq as saying the whole process to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 started last September 19 after the federal Cabinet gave its approval for the bid to start.
Syed Saddiq said discussions were held with youth leaders from all political parties and under the Youth Development Council.
He reportedly said the real campaign to push for the lower voting age started after Hari Raya, where he personally wrote to and met federal lawmakers to seek their support.
“I reached out to the leaders personally. Sometimes, I would meet them in Parliament. For some, I would arrange a meeting over coffee,” he said, having even flew to Sarawak to meet the Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Abang Openg and even meeting Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
History was made on Tuesday as the Undi 18 Bill is the first successful constitutional amendment under the PH government to have received support from both sides of the political divide.
All 211 MPs present during the debates voted in support of the Bill, which is more than two-thirds majority of the 222-member Dewan Rakyat that is required for Bills with amendments to the Federal Constitution.
Malay Mail has also written a simplified explanation of the Undi 18 Bill.