THE Election Commission (EC) recently announced that Malaysia would not implement a new lower voting age as scheduled this year, triggering off discontentment from various quarters.
The EC said in a statement on March 25 that the recent spate of nationwide lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic had affected its preparation to implement the new rule, which was due to have gone into effect in July.
Under the previous Pakatan Harapan administration in 2019, Parliament unanimously approved to lower the voting age to 18 from 21 years.
EC said the implementation of the voting age rule, commonly referred to as ‘Undi18’ or ‘Vote18’, and also the automatic voter registration system that was also due to kick in this year – would now take effect by September 2022 at the latest.
The EC said there are 1.2 million people between 18 and 20 years old in Malaysia and all would have to wait another year to be eligible to vote.
Several people from various background and different age groups interviewed by Buletin Mutiara shared their thoughts on the EC’s delay of ‘Vote18’ implementation.
Below are their views:
Judith Kavithra, college student, 21.
“I believe that at the age of 18, an individual is capable of deciding what is good for them. This is the age that they would be making most of the important decisions for their life. For instance, determining the education path or their career path.
“They know what is happening in the community and nation as a whole, especially in this digital era where they are exposed to their surroundings and the political arena.
“So why don’t we entrust them with the task to provide a better future for the country by giving them the voting power.
“They deserve to be included in one of the most important decision-making processes in the country. We need to hear their voice. Let them fight for their rights by voting.”
Norliza Mohd Ali , lawyer, 34.
“According to the Malaysian law, the age of majority is 18 years old; so below than 18 years old is considered as minor.
“The Age of Majority Act 1971 clearly states this. It was enacted to amend and consolidate the law relating to the age of majority.
“With our education system which has now changed tremendously coupled with technological advancements, I believe the thinking of an 18-year-old now is equivalent to the thinking of a 25-year-old many years ago.
“Therefore, I conclude that they can make a wise decision and they should be given the rights to vote!”
Sivanathan Govindaraju, engineer at Jabil.
“By granting the rights to vote as early as the age of 18, young people will have an early exposure to democratic process.
“It would encourage them to become more aware of matters concerning the society like issues pertaining to education loan, cost of living, socioeconomic status of youth and so on.
“They will also tend to take notice on the governance of the country as well as show their active participation.
“An in-depth understanding on what’s happening around them will lead them to make better choices for the future of the country.
Siti Humaira Mohamed Yasin, a personal assistant, 25.
“If at the age of 18 they can get a driver’s licence, get married or even join a political party, why can’t they vote?
“Based on my observation, an individual, who is 18 years old in this modern age, is totally different compared to their counterparts decades ago.
“They now have the privilege of having all kinds information at their fingertips.
“I also hope that the Emergency period would end soon for the Parliament sittings to reconvene. It is important as we can hear the voices of young people who have all the rights to vote.
“This in tandem with the amendment of the Federal Constitution which was approved in July 2019.
Afdhal Adni, student at a public institution of higher learning, 19.
“I was disappointed when the Election Commission decided to postpone the implementation of ‘Vote18’.
“Those who reach the age of 18 should be given permission to choose because they can think maturely.
“It is just like the permission granted to them to get a motorcycle and car licence at the age of 16 and 17 years old. It was permitted with the rationale that they are capable of handling it well.”
Jason Raj, Seberang Perai City Council (MBSP) councillor.
“18 years old is definitely a suitable age to vote because at this age,I believe they are mature enough to think and make relevant decisions.
“They are able to analyse situations – the pros and cons.
“Politics should be also treated like a subject that we learn in school. In fact, in tertiary studies, a degree in political science is offered. So why don’t we teach this subject in schools to equip students with the knowledge about our country’s constitution.”
Story by Tanushalini Moroter