Opposition parties differ on lowering voting age issue

Choice. — DayakDaily.com file pic. //Photo: Pixabay

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, June 27: Local political parties hold divergent views on the issue of lowering the voting age from the current 21 to 18, with State Reform Party (STAR) all for it and Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK) against it.

STAR president Lina said if the legal marriage age for Malaysians is 18, youths aged 18 should be allowed to pick the government of their choice.

“Yes! 18-year-olds can choose husband or wife, so they should be able to choose the government,” Soo told DayakDaily.

Apart from advocating lowering the voting age to 18, Soo also called for automatic voter registration. She also hoped to see subjects such as government and politics to be included as part of the secondary school curriculum.

Lina Soo

“Voter registration should be automatic. It only needs registration to be linked to the Election Commission. What is so difficult about that?

“Another thing is to include government and politics subjects in the school curriculum in secondary schools, so students can learn their responsibilities as voters and as citizens. This will lead to a politically matured society,” reckoned Soo.

Meanwhile, PBK president Voon Lee Shan opined that the voting age should be lowered to 20, not 18.

He reasoned that 18-year-olds still lack an overall understanding of the social and political scenario and, thus, are unable to make independent judgements.

“They can be influenced easily. Eighteen is too young. These youths are still very immature. They are still in school. Twenty will be okay. It is too early to expose them to politics at 18,” said Voon, who is a practising lawyer.

Voon Lee Shan

He opined that at age 18, what is most important to the youths is to receive a good and sound education.

“They must learn about true history, not selective history. Currently, our younger generation do not even know there were White Rajahs before,” said Voon.

Election Commission chairman Azhar Azizan Harun said in Kuching recently that 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.

He said the proposed bill would be put through the crucial stages, including parliamentary debate, discussions and vote to pass it.

The amendment, which will involve amending the Federal Constitution’s Article 119(1)(a), will need a two-thirds majority for it to pass. This means it needs the support of opposition MPs as Pakatan Harapan (PH) has a simple majority only. — DayakDaily