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KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 ― Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 has demanded today for Election Commission (EC) chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh to resign immediately for delaying the implementation of lower voting age (Undi18) and automatic voter registration (AVR).
In a statement, Bersih 2.0 accused the EC’s action of akin to betraying the young voters and robbing them of their rights to the shape the future of the country.
“EC chairperson Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh should immediately resign to make way for a successor who has the integrity and competence to implement the lowering of voting age to 18 and AVR by July 2021 as planned.
“The EC’s decision is a robbery of the rights of about four million Malaysians aged 18-20 to shape the direction of the country at the polls, when the next federal, state or by-election is called,” it said in a statement.
“Riding on the Covid-19 pandemic is absurd because it has nothing to do with the implementation of Undi18 as the necessary information already exists in the database of the National Registration Department (JPN),” it added.
Yesterday the EC said the pandemic had caused delays in implementation of these initiatives and they needed to evaluate new obstacles and persisting issues as well account for the various movement control orders (MCO) that are in place.
It asked for time to evaluate the situation pandemic wise and would come out with an interim report regarding the automatic voter registration and Undi18. This report is expected to come out in September 2021.
Bersih 2.0 argued that these reasons are fabricated and have no connection to anything happening currently adding that the pandemic should not alter implementation of these initiatives.
“Abdul Ghani Sallah’s lame excuse on Covid-19 is a blatant lie to confuse the public by mixing Undi18 and AVR. There is no technicality whatsoever involved in registering voters aged 18-21.
“It could have been implemented in 2019 after the Constitutional Amendment was gazetted. Undi18 was delayed only because PAS had demanded for Undi18 and AVR to be commenced concurrently,” said the group.
Federal lawmakers crossed the political aisle voted unanimously to amend the Federal Constitution in July 2019 and lower the minimum voting age from 21 to 18.
Undi18 can only take effect once it has been gazetted, which had been scheduled for the second half of this year.
De facto Law Minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan had also confirmed in Parliament that Undi18 would be implemented latest by July 2021 but now joins part of the chorus how are not committed to these changes.
As such, Bersih 2.0 said the EC must be responsible for answering to the public what had changed that precipitated the deferment of these initiatives.
“The EC needs to be upfront and transparent, or it will be considered as a yes-man to the ruling party, whose senior leaders have expressed reluctance to see Undi18 being implemented.