Law minister says Sarawak youths still can't vote in Dec 18 state poll despite Undi18 gazette

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar in Parliament, November 16, 2021. — Bernama pic
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar in Parliament, November 16, 2021. — Bernama pic

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KUCHING, Dec 2 — Eighteen-year-old Sarawakians will not be able to cast their votes in the state election this year even though the Undi18 law has finally been gazetted, federal minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said today.

The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Parliament and law said that even though the Constitution (Amendment) Act 2019 that reduced the voting age from 21 to 18 was gazetted on November 25 and comes into effect on December 15 -- three days before the Sarawak election -- the implementation date is only from January next year. 

“The gazettification [sic] is just a process in order to make use of Undi18 by January next year.

“No, it doesn’t mean that it can be used for the Sarawak state election on December 18 much as we want and actually the state government is willing to accept it,” he told Malay Mail.

As such, he said the Sarawak poll will use the electoral roll that was passed before the State Legislative Assembly dissolved on November 3.

Sarawak goes to the polls on December 18 with official political campaigning kicking off on December 6, which is nomination day.

Wan Junaidi, who is also Santubong MP, explained that the gazettement was made so as to meet the deadline of December 31 as ordered by the High Court.

“Its implementation is still on January 3 next year,” he stressed.

“The electoral roll is not as simple as that. It is just a list because we have to eliminate those who are in prison, who are mad and those who have died.

“You may not realise it, that in Sarawak it is not compulsory to report deaths,” Wan Junaidi said.

“As a result of that, there are names of people aged over 100 years old because nobody reported their deaths,” he said, adding that this explains why their names are still on the list.

He said the Election Commission (EC) will have to see the families to check and verify if those over 100 years old are still alive.

“Once this is done, only then the electoral roll can be considered as acceptable and confirmed in accordance with the regulations,” he said.

“Once it becomes automatic next year, can you imagine everybody will go in automatically into the list and every quarterly, the EC will examine the list  nd confirm it,” he said.

Wan Junaidi said he knows that many Malaysians, especially those who are now 18-year old, are excited about the prospect of voting for the first time in the state election.

He said he has received many phone calls from people who wanted to find out if the 18-year olds can vote after the gazette notification was viralled in social media.

The gazette on the Constitution (Amendment) Act 2019 was signed by Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali dated November 25, 2021.

It stated that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has appointed December 15, 2021 for which the amendment to the Constitution to allow 18-year-olds to vote and automatic voter registration to come into effect.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by subsection 1(2) Constitution (Amendment) Act 2019, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong appoints December 15, 2021 as the date on which Section 3 of the Act into operation,” said the gazette.

The implementation of Undi18 and the automatic voter registration is expected to see some 5.6 million additional voters, comprising 4.4 million aged 21 and above; and another 1.2 million aged between 18 and 21 by December 30.

The federal government under Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had repeatedly stated that Undi18 and automatic voter registration will come into effect by December 30, 2021.

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