Bill to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 has been sanctioned by the Malaysia’s government. The reformasi movement will now be continued by the next generation of Malaysian youths.
211 out of 222 members of parliament voted in favour of amending Malaysia’s federal constitution, allowing the changes to be introduced, after several hours of debate. No objections were recorded.
Six decades after the Federation of Malaya first held elections, the Malaysian parliament made two sweeping modifications to the Constitution.
First: to automate the voter registration process.
Second: to allow citizens who are 18 and older to vote, starting with the next general elections due to be held before mid-2023.
The earlier 21-year-old age limit was previously set in line with the practice in the United Kingdom at the time independence was granted to Malaya, in 1957.
The automatic enrolment will cover 18-year-old as well as 21-year-old youths who have not registered as voters. Mahathir said the government welcomed the opposition bloc’s proposal that youths aged 18 not only be allowed to vote but also be permitted to contest the elections.
Mahathir said the matter would be given priority by the Election Commission in the execution of automatic registration of voters. He also informed that, a political education will be held soon as the lower age would not guarantee a greater youth vote.
He added, however, that automatic voter registration would have to be undertaken carefully and only after considering the technical disputes and its outcome on the maintenance of electoral rolls and constituency sizes.