Five Sarawakian youths sue PM, EC for Undi18 delay

The participants of the Undi Sarawak virtual press conference.

By Nur Ashikin Louis

KUCHING, May 4: Five Sarawakian youths representing Undi Sarawak are filing a judicial review against the Prime Minister, the federal government, and the Election Commission (EC) over the delay in the implementation of Undi18, which entails lowering the voting age from 21 to 18.

The young Sarawakians who will be named in this legal action as applicants include Ivan Alexander Ong, 19; Sharifah Maheerah Syed Haizir, 20; and Chang Swee Ern @ Grace Chang, 19.

This isn’t a first, as a similar lawsuit was also filed against the same respondents by 18 Malaysian youths at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on April 2 via a judicial review application, seeking 14 court orders.

Undi18 was initially set to be implemented by July this year and subsequently enable youths aged between 18 to 20 the right to vote.

However, EC chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh on March 25 had announced that the lowering of the voting age will be pushed until after September next year, meaning that only Malaysians aged 21 and above will be able to register to vote this year.

Lawyers Kamek 4 Change (LK4C) director Simoh Siah who is also the five applicants’ legal counsel, explained that the lawsuit was filed a little later than the one by the 18 Malaysian youths because they had to gather participants to become applicants in the case.

“We (Undi Sarawak) had 90 days period to file a lawsuit from the day the EC’s statement was made on March 25. Up until now, we have gathered the five case applicants.

“Right now, the Court has given us the e-review date which is on May 24 but generally, the judicial review application will be heard before the Judge,” he said during the Undi Sarawak virtual press conference today (May 4).

He also said Undi Sarawak will be serving the papers to the State Attorney General Chambers (AGC) in the next few days.

“We will ask them (AGC) if they have any objections to our application and we will try to get the hearing date on May 24 itself or earlier,” he added.

When asked if there is enough time to achieve the immediate execution of Undi18 before the Sarawak state election, Simon did not rule out that possibility.

“Legally, we can actually have a decision before the Sarawak state election which we predict would take place in between August and October. So I think we can achieve that (hearing) date before the state election but it really depends on the Attorney General (AG)’s decision,” he pointed out.

The Undi Sarawak lawsuit applicants are seeking declarations that the government’s action in delaying the implementation of Undi18 is irrational, illegal, disproportionate and amounts to voter suppression; and that 18 to 20-years-olds have a legitimate expectation that they will have the right to vote by July this year.

The applicants are also seeking to quash the government’s decision to delay the Undi18, which would affect approximately 125,000 to 135,000 Sarawakian youths as the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN) has passed a bill lowering the minimum standing age from 21 to 18 in December last year.

Hence, the lawsuit also seek to compel the named parties to immediately bring into operation Section 3(a) of the Constitutional (Amendment) Act 2019 or, in any event, on or before July this year. — DayakDaily