Cabinet will discuss registering 18-year-olds for Sarawak polls, other by-elections, says youth minister

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman speaks to reporters after a football programme with tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan in Kuala Lumpur September 20, 2019. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman speaks to reporters after a football programme with tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan in Kuala Lumpur September 20, 2019. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 ― The registration of 18-year-olds as voters in time for the Sarawak state election due by 2021 and other possible by-elections will be discussed in Cabinet.

However, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman did not indicate a timeline, saying instead that such matters were the jurisdiction of the Election Commission (EC).

“Before anything, we will discuss this in the Cabinet. But for that, you have to ask EC. I am not them,” he told reporters here after a football programme with tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan.

Electoral reform watchdog Bersih 2.0 has been pushing for the registration pending automatic registration, after the government agreed to lower the voting age from 21 to 18.

Syed Saddiq, who brought the #UNDI18 movement to lower the voting age, to Parliament earlier this year also commented that the EC has been doing their job towards the automatic registration before the next general election.

“We are confident in the EC’s ability to ensure that this will be finalised by the next general election,” he said.

On September 3, EC Chairman Azhar Harun said the time frame to implement lower voting age from the current 21 years old to 18 years (Undi18) is expected to take 18 and 24 months.

He said the commission was setting a time frame as amendments to the Federal Constitution had yet to be gazetted and enforced.

“In the event any citizen who has not registered as a voter and elections are held before Undi18 is implemented, they cannot vote in polls,” he said in a statement.

In July, MPs and Senators unanimously adopted several amendments were made to the Federal Constitution such as;

― Article 119 (1) of the Federal Constitution to reduce age limit eligibility of voters from 21 to 18.

― Article 47 and Section 5 of the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution to lower the age from 21 to 18 to become election candidate.

― Article 119 (4) of the Federal Constitution to implement automatic voter registration.

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