KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 2 — The MCA Youth today quizzed the Election Commission (EC) on why Malaysians aged 18 can contest in the upcoming Tanjung Piai by-election in Johor, but are unable to vote despite recent efforts to lower the voting age from 21.
MCA Youth chief Nicole Wong Siaw Ting urged the EC to explain the reason for this situation.
“The EC should give a clear explanation to justify this discrepancy which has surely doused the enthusiasm of youths looking forward to fulfil their civil duty in casting their ballots,” she said in a statement today.
Yesterday, national news agency Bernama reported EC chairman Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun as explaining that the Federal Constitution’s Article 119 amendment — which would lower the voting age from 21 to 18 — had yet to be gazetted.
Bernama reported that the Federal Constitution’s Article 47 amendment which lowered the election candidate age to 18 years old had however received the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s consent on September 4 and had been gazetted on September 10.
While Wong did not cite local daily The Star’s report that appeared to support her assertion on the dates, she claimed today that both amendments had received royal assent on September 4 and had been gazetted on September 10.
“Is this due to technicalities? Or an issue of competence? I believe many youths would like to know the answer. If the EC chairman Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun does not properly explain the situation, it would be a rather irresponsible move,” she said when asking about the EC’s differing dates.
On September 26, Azhar was also reported saying that the legal changes to enable those aged 18 to vote had yet to be gazetted, as time was needed for certain arrangements to be implemented such as the introduction of an automatic voter registration system.
In a September 3, 2019 fact sheet on the Undi18 initiative to lower the voting age to 18, the EC had among other things said that Parliament had approved three amendments to the Federal Constitution—on July 16 at the Dewan Rakyat and on July 25 at the Dewan Negara.
The three constitutional amendments were to Article 119(1) to bring down the voting age from 21 to 18, Article 119(4) to implement automatic voter registration, Article 47 and Section 5 of the Federal Constitution’s Eighth Schedule to reduce the candidate eligibility age from 21 to 18.
Although Parliament had approved these legal changes, they will only become law after receiving royal assent and after being gazetted.
The EC had on September 3 however said it would study related matters such as further legal changes, the EC’s technology upgrading and costs for the full implementation of the Undi18 initiative, adding that the complete implementation of Undi18 would take 18 to 24 months.
It is unclear if Malaysians aged between the ages of 18 to 20 have sought to register as voters in the electoral roll, but the electoral rolls to be used in the Tanjung Piai by-election were finalised and gazetted before September 2019.
For Malaysia’s elections and by-elections, the last gazetted electoral roll prior to the election is used.
In a government gazette dated yesterday, the EC chief registrar Datuk Mohamed Elias Abu Bakar announced that the Tanjung Piai by-election will see the use of the principal electoral roll for 2018 (gazetted February 20, 2019), the supplementary electoral roll for 2019’s first quarter (gazetted May 30, 2019), and the supplementary electoral roll for 2019’s second quarter (certified August 22, 2019 and gazetted August 23, 2019).
Nomination day for the Tanjung Piai by-election is on November 2, while the early polling date falls on November 12 and the polling day is November 16.