KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 — Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 today demanded that the government provide a clear date with regards to the implementation of Undi18 and automatic voter registration (AVR) which was unanimously agreed in Parliament in a bipartisan manner in 2019.
Bersih said the remark made by Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan who is the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department handling the law and Parliament portfolio was open to interpretation and failed to inspire confidence on all sides.
It also called into question the conflicting statement made by Takiyuddin and the Election Commission (EC) of the aforementioned initiative’s implementation, further disputing whether EC was still a body independent of the executive.
“The government and the EC must give an explanation as to why only a month ago they claimed Undi18 would not be able to implement yet Takiyuddin’s recent statement states that it will be done at the earliest.
“Is the government intentionally delaying the implementation of Undi18 and prevent young adults aged 18 from casting their votes?
“Is the EC chairman also following the instructions of the Cabinet to delay said implementation?” Bersih asked in a statement.
The non-governmental organisation also urged the government and the EC to carry out AVR by mid-year as promised under then EC chairman Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun since ample time has been provided and should not be delayed further without any reasonable excuses.
In 2019 and under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration then, MPs voted to amend Section 3(a) of the Federal Constitution’s Article 119(1)(a) to lower the voting age from 21 to 18, and Section 3(b) of the Federal Constitution’s Article 119(4)(b) to allow for automatic voter registration to replace the current system where Malaysians have to apply to be registered as voters.
However, both these two constitutional amendments — Section 3(a) and 3(b) — have not come into force in Malaysia yet, as they will only come into operation on a date to be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong via a notification to the public through a government gazette.
While the EC and the Malaysian government has repeatedly said before that the implementation of the lowering of the voting age to 18 and the automatic voter registration was expected to be done by July 2021, the EC had on March 25 said that both matters could only be implemented after September 1, 2022.
In the same statement, Bersih also reiterated its call for the resignation of Election Commission chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh for his failure to implement Undi18 and AVR, stating that the latter was incompetent and not qualified to shoulder the huge responsibility in implementing said policies.
“His previous excuse of saying that Undi18 could only be implemented in September next year shows that he is incapable of navigating this important institution.
“Bersih 2.0 urges him to step down honourably now before his bad reputation leads to the downfall of the EC once again,” it added.