The Cabinet’s recent decision to begin work to amend the Federal Constitution to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 is a step in the right direction.
Malaysia’s democracy can only be strengthened by expanding the electoral franchise in this manner.
This step also brings Malaysia in line with electoral practices in most countries of the world.
18 is the legal age of adulthood for Malaysians. At this age, young Malaysian women and men can sign contracts, join the military and even be sentenced to death.
As such, it is entirely appropriate and just for them to get the vote.
It is simply the right thing to do.
Moving forward, Pakatan Harapan Youth hopes that the Federal Government will ensure that the process of amending the Constitution be done transparently, with proper consultation of all relevant stakeholders—including youth wings of Opposition parties and civil society—and with due dispatch.
Once this is done, all parties in both houses of Parliament should back the amendments without hesitation or unnecessary obstruction.
The relevant authorities should also undertake measures to make voting easier for all Malaysians, including automatic registration and radically improving the overseas postal voting process.
Exercising one’s rights as a citizen should be simple, not difficult. Let us think outside the box: we should not shy away from radical measures like opening polling stations in unconventional places like airports or even shopping malls as practised in other countries.
We also eagerly await updates on the government’s pledge to reintroduce local council elections, particularly for Malaysian voters in the Federal Territories, who have thus far had to make do with only one vote.
Moreover, better civic education must now be introduced in Malaysian schools to prepare the next wave of votes for their new responsibilities. I hope that the Education Ministry will look into and act on this quickly.
I strongly believe that the upcoming generation of young Malaysian voters will continue to make a positive contribution to our country.
We must hence work all the harder to ensure their aspirations are not disappointed.
NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD
PAKATAN HARAPAN YOUTH LEADER
PARTI KEADILAN RAKYAT YOUTH LEADER
SETIAWANGSA MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT