Muda veep rebuts Rais Yatim’s claim on Undi18, says Elections Act doesn’t need amending

Referring to Dewan Negara President Tan Sri Rais Yatim’s recent statement claiming so, he said the Act or any other regulations do not mention the age of voters and therefore do not need amending. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Referring to Dewan Negara President Tan Sri Rais Yatim’s recent statement claiming so, he said the Act or any other regulations do not mention the age of voters and therefore do not need amending. — Picture by Choo Choy May

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 2 — Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) vice-president Lim Wei Jiet has explained that there is no legal requirement for a statute to be amended first before a constitutional amendment can come into force, such as for the proposal to lower the voting age to 18 dubbed Undi18.

Referring to Dewan Negara President Tan Sri Rais Yatim’s recent statement claiming so, he said neither the Act nor regulations mention the age of voters and therefore do not need amending.

“Let me be crystal clear: there is absolutely no basis in law for Rais’ views. So what is there to amend?

“I challenge Rais to cite me a specific section or regulation which states that voters are defined as 21 years old, and therefore needs to be amended,” Lim said in a statement.

He added that even if Rais’ remarks are true, there is no legal requirement for a statute to be amended first before a constitutional amendment can come into force.

“In fact, the constitutional amendment ought to be enforced first to pave the way for amendments to statutes. 

“It is very disappointing for the President of the Dewan Negara and a former legal practitioner to make such statements which are devoid of legal basis, for the sake of political positioning,” Lim said.

He said such remarks are indicative that Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, to which Rais and Prime Minister Tan sri Muhyiddin Yassin belong, and the Perikatan Nasional government are simply not genuine in implementing Undi18, and have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for baseless excuses to justify this delay.

Yesterday, Rais was reported as saying that Undi 18 cannot come into force since the Elections Act 1958 and election regulations have not been amended yet.

Earlier today, a symbolic 18 Malaysian youths sued the prime minister, the federal government and the Election Commission (EC) in a bid to ensure those aged 18 to 20 can register to vote by July 2021 instead of only after September next year.

One of the court orders that the 18 youths are seeking in the lawsuit is for the court to compel the government to immediately enforce the constitutional amendment for the lowering of voting age — Section 3(a) of the Constitutional (Amendment) Act 2019 — on or before July 2021.

In the Constitution (Amendment) Act 2019 which was gazetted as law in 2019, Section 3(a) lowers the voting age from 21 to 18, while Section 3(b) enables automatic voter registration to replace the current method of Malaysians having to register themselves as voters.

Both Section 3(a) and Section 3(b) have yet to be enforced yet, as the date for when these two provisions come into force has not been gazetted yet.

The Undi18 movement argues that the lowering of the voting age can be implemented earlier and separately from the automatic voter registration provision.

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