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KUCHING, March 27: Some 135,000 Sarawakian youths aged between 18 to 20 years old will be deprived of their rights to vote in the upcoming 12th Sarawak State Election (PRN12) with the delayed implementation of lowering the voting age to 18 years old (Undi18).
Rise of Social Efforts (Rose) said this is an immediate impact to Sarawak where the young ones will be excluded from the coming state elections which are widely expected to be held after the end of Malaysia’s Emergency order on Aug 1.
Not only that, it said there will exist a long gap in time before any Sarawakian youth is inspired to run for public office at the state level when only a mere 1.3 per cent of 76 members of the State Legislative Assembly (ADUNs) in Sarawak are 40 years old and below.
“It also makes a mockery of the constitutional amendment passed by Sarawak DUN last November in lowering the age of candidates running for the state elections from 21 to 18 years old,” it said in a statement today.
Prior to Election Commission (EC) chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh on March 25, Rose said adding on that there has been no indication that this amendment to both the Federal and State Constitutions would be implemented at a later time than July 2021.
This deadline was first affirmed by de facto Law Minister Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan in November 2020 during the Parliamentary sitting.
Then, EC deputy chairman Dr Asmi Sharom said he was told that both the automatic voter registration (AVR) and Undi18 are on track and would be ready by July 2021.
In September 2019, Rose pointed out a statement by EC that a timeline between 18 to 24 months was required, but by September 2022 it would have been 36 months and the 15th General Election might already be over.
“EC must therefore explain why they now need 36 months for implementation. Why the sudden U-turn?
“Unless it does so, it will not be able to rid itself of the public’s perception that they are deliberately delaying the Undi18 at the behest of the executive or ruling parties and that EC is not independent and free from executive influence,” said Rose. —DayakDaily