Lowering voting age gives youths a voice, says NGO

Ann Teo

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, July 2: The lowering of the voting age from the current 21 to 18 will empower youths to have more say about their needs and aspirations, said Rise of Sarawak Efforts (Rose) chairperson Ann Teo.

“As stated before, Rose welcomes this proposal. It’s about giving youths the right to choose the leaders they want and it’s also about having a say on matters that affect them. They have more to lose if they do not participate in the electoral process as politicians and lawmakers might make decisions that do not favour young people if their interests are not represented,” Teo told DayakDaily here today

However, she stressed that lowering of the voting age must, of course, be supplemented by effective civic literacy and citizenship modules at the secondary school level.

On the declaration of assets for Members of Parliament (MPs), Teo said such a move was considered a step forward in inculcating the culture of transparency and checking of abuse of power among lawmakers.

“This is not too late, although these MPs would have already been one year into their office. It will also be a helpful tool and indicator for civil society groups who are monitoring or doing work on transparency and anti-corruption related work or advocacy.

“The government also needs to look at the big picture, which is that laws on political financing, including election campaign financing, need to be created or tightened,” she opined.

The motion to compel MPs to declare their assets was tabled by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department-cum-de facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong in Parliament yesterday, and it was duly passed by lawmakers without any dissenting voice vote.

Under the said motion, those who failed to declare their assets would be hauled before the Parliament’s Select Committee on Rights and Privileges Committee.

MPs who make false declarations will be subjected to prosecution under Section 3, Act 783 (Statutory Declaration) and Section 193 of the Penal Code, which carries a jail term not exceeding three years or a fine.

Liew also stressed that the motion was based on the principle of accountability and transparency.

The asset declaration, once approved, will compel all Dewan Rakyat members to declare their property, including that of their spouses, children and trustees in a Statutory Declaration, as prescribed by the Speaker.

The Statutory Declaration shall be submitted to the Speaker of Parliament within three months from the date this motion is agreed upon and copied to the chief commissioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

“The list of the members of the Dewan Rakyat who have declared their property shall be displayed on the MACC portal and only the details of the declaration of the property of that member shall be posted on the portal for a period of three months from the date of receipt of the Statutory Declaration by the MACC,” added Liew.

Currently, there is no law to compel lawmakers to declare their assets. — DayakDaily