EC told to fine-tune registration process for 18-year-olds before State Election

Abdul Karim (centre) speaks to reporters about the Kuching High Court's decision to order the Federal government to implement Undi18 amendments by Dec 31, 2021.

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By Nur Ashikin Louis

KUCHING, Sept 4: The Election Commission (EC) has been urged to fine-tune the registration process for those aged 18 and above in Sarawak before they can participate in the coming State polls.

State Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the Undi18 Bill has been unanimously passed in Parliament and it is now the EC’s task to implement the amendments so that those aged 18 and above can register as voters.

“As it is, I fully support individuals aged 18 and above to be allowed to participate in the voting process but the procedure must first be fine-tuned so that they can register.

“I am worried if there are cases where those 18-year-olds want to register themselves but they are informed that they cannot do that yet because the procedure has not been properly updated,” he said in a 6-minute video uploaded on his Facebook page today.

In the meantime, Abdul Karim who is also the State Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister praised the five Sarawakian students who filed a judicial review against the Federal government after the latter announced delay in implementing Undi18 to September 2022 from its promised date in July 2021.

“It is true that we are in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic but the EC must show that there is progress taking place in implementing the Undi18 amendments,” he added.

Yesterday (Sept 3), Kuching High Court’s judicial commissioner Alexander Siew How Wai had ruled that the government and EC’s action to delay Undi18 as “irrational, illegal, disproportionate and amounts to voter suppression”.

The court had also granted an order for the Federal government to expedite implementation of lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 latest by Dec 31 this year.

To this, Abdul Karim said it is up to the Federal government and EC to decide whether they wish to make an appeal against the ruling if they think it is necessary for them to explain the delay in implementing the Undi18 amendments.

“For me, it is up to any parties in the government or the opposition to engage with the new group of voters because every vote is important.

“I know some quarters are saying that majority of the new group of voters would vote for the Opposition but there is no proof of that yet because when we (Ministry) conducted the youth survey index, many of those aged between 16 to 18 expressed their satisfaction towards the ruling government, especially in Sarawak,” he emphasised. — DayakDaily