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Voting at 18

  • It is hoped that elected reps on both sides of the divide will set aside their differences and arrive at a consensus over this matter.

Sin Chew Daily

The cabinet has agreed to lower the statutory voting age for Malaysians from 21 to 18, enabling many youngsters to cast their sacred votes to elect their leaders.

The cabinet's decision is consistent with the prevalent global trend whereby many countries have fixed their voting age at 18.

Among Asean countries, Malaysia and Singapore are the only ones with statutory voting age still at 21, while Indonesians can vote as young as 17.

It is time to move with the times and allow our young people to vote and participate in the country's development.

Despite the fact that the statutory age of majority is 18 in this country, the voting age is set higher at 21. If an 18-year-old is considered an adult, then he or she should be able to assume full legal responsibility for themselves and should therefore not be denied the right to vote.

While some are concerned that an 18-year-old may not be mentally matured enough and are easily influenced by external elements, this can be resolved through enhanced democratic education and other channels. There is no necessity to deny his or her voting right.

Generally speaking, lowering the statutory voting age to 18 is an advisable move. That said, the government must draw up plans to encourage young people to register as voters before implementing this policy.

Notably, there were as many as 3.6 million Malaysians reaching the age of 21 but failing to register themselves as voters, as of September last year.

Once the statutory voting age is lowered, we are bound to see a surge in the number of young voters who collectively form a remarkable force that will impact the winning chances of political parties reluctant to change and reform.

Political parties have no choice but to reform themselves to meet the needs of the younger generation, build up positive rapport with them and seek their endorsement.

As such, a lower voting age helps catalyze the rejuvenation process of Malaysia's political parties.

Even though the cabinet has agreed to lower the voting age, this can only become a reality with the consent of at least two-thirds of all members of parliament as it involves the amendment of the Federal Constitution.

In other words, the PH government requires the support of opposition reps in order to lower the statutory voting age.

The youth and sports ministry will set up a committee comprising ruling and opposition reps to discuss the amendment of the Federal Constitution.

It is hoped that elected reps on both sides of the divide will set aside their differences and arrive at a consensus over this matter, so that young people reaching the age of 18 can participate in the country's development and determine the country's future.

 

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