Bill to lower voting age: Wan Junaidi to follow GPS’s decision

Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, June 26: When the bill to lower the voting age from the current 21 to 18 is tabled in Parliament, probably on July 4, Santubong MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said he would vote according to the collective decision of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) MPs.

“GPS will decide once the leaders give us an indication on our stand as a group.

“Of course, we take note of the fact that more than 80 per cent of countries of the world practising democracy have reduced the voting age to 18 or 17 years of age.

“We can agree with this voting age, but we also needn’t have to agree even the whole world chooses to follow. Personally, I have no problem either way,” Wan Junaidi told DayakDaily.

Yesterday, Election Commission chairman Azhar Azizan Harun said a proposal to amend the Federal Constitution to lower the voting age from the current 21 to 18 was expected to be tabled in Parliament on July 4.

The proposed bill, Azhar pointed out, would be put through the crucial stages, including parliamentary debate, discussions and vote to pass it.

Wan Junaidi pointed out that for the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to pass the amendment of the Federal Constitution’s Article 119(1)(a) to lower the voting age, two-thirds majority support is required, which the PH government does not have.

“The government is required to consult and discuss with all the groups of MPs in Parliament. So far, as far as I know, they have not formally approached us for our views and stand on the issue,” he said.

Wan Junaidi observed that the PH government did not seem to understand the meaning of discussion and consultation: it is a universal parliamentary culture that the government seeks views and support for their policies, which is a form of the reformative spirit.

“This is not the 1980s and 1990s era of ramming (down) the throat of everyone with new ideas, no matter how good the intention. Now, if truly they are reformists, behave like one — approach everybody.

“Their ministers and MPs must do their work. This is really the parliamentary work and government’s work if they want to portray themselves as world-class MPs, as some DAP (Democratic Action Party) leaders said then.

“Don’t ask their officers to approach MPs. It is not proper and wrong to ask government officers to do their political work,” opined Wan Junaidi. — DayakDaily