KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 ― A Malaysia United Democratic Alliance (Muda) leader pressed the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government today to allow 18 year olds to vote by July, saying vague pledges to implement it soon were inadequate.
Responding to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan’s statement this morning, Muda vice-president Lim Wei Jiet noted that this did not contain any specific date or timeline to lower the voting age from 21 to 18, also known as Undi18.
“To be honest, the PN government should commit to implementing Undi18 in or before July 2021. This is the date that has been promised many times before.
“People should not accept any date later than the promised July 2021 as if it is implemented later, the voter registration for those between 18 and 20 would take months and they may not be able to vote in the upcoming 15th general elections (GE15),” Lim said in a statement.
Lim then praised Datuk Seri Reezal Merican and other Cabinet members who have openly expressed support for the timely implementation of Undi18, adding that the stance could not have been achieved without the efforts of the youth and sports minister and his associates.
Earlier today, Takiyuddin asserted that the Election Commission (EC) needed to resolve some legal and technical issues including updating its software systems before it can lower the voting age from 21 to 18.
He said that the EC would undertake this immediately and stress that the PN government was committed to implementing Undi18.
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 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.
This then led to the filing of the court challenge by 18 youths.
On April 2, the 18 youths — who are of various ethnic backgrounds and come from several states including Johor, Sarawak and Kelantan — filed their lawsuit via a judicial review application at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur.
In the lawsuit filed by the 18 youths, they are seeking for 14 court declarations and orders, including a certiorari order to quash the prime minister and Malaysian government’s entire decision of not enforcing Section 3(a) — the constitutional amendment to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 — immediately or on or before July 2021.
They are also seeking a mandamus order from the courts to order the prime minister and the Malaysian government to enforce Section 3(a) — the constitutional amendment of lowering the voting age to 18 — within a reasonable period of time and on or before July 2021.
The court declarations that the 18 youths are seeking include declarations that the decision by the prime minister and the Malaysian government to bind the enforcement of the lowering of voting age to 18 and automatic voter registration together is unreasonable, wrong in law, and disproportionate.
In the same lawsuit, the 18 youths also want the courts to declare that they have a legitimate expectation that Section 3(a) — the constitutional amendment which lowers the voting age to 18 — will come into force on or before July 2021, and a declaration that the delay in implementation of Section 3(a) is a form of voter suppression on those aged 18 to 20 years old.