KUCHING, July 17: Civil society organisation, Persatuan Pemangkin Daya Masyarakat (ROSE), urged the government to implement the automatic voter registration in time for the 12th state election due in 2021.
Its chairperson Ann Teo said the lowering of voting age to 18 would result in an increase of 820,000 voters from the electoral roll in Sarawak for GE14 to an estimated 2.04 million.
The state recorded 1.22 million registered voters for the 14th general election last May.
“ROSE has called on the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to ensure the effective implementation of the amendments to the Federal Constitution, which bill was approved in the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday (July 16),” she said in a statement.
The Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 dubbed simply as ‘Undi 18’, which sought to lower the voting age from 21 to 18, was passed by all 211 lawmakers present.
The amendments to Article 119(1)(a), to reduce the minimum age at which a person could vie for political office to 18 and Article 47 for automatic registration as a voter on reaching the age of 18, were also passed.
“Now the responsibility and job lies on the experts in the relevant authorities and agencies concerned like Election Commission, National Registration Department, the police, as well as the Armed Forces, to sort out the technicalities and roll out and implement the changes in the law,” she said.
Teo believed it was of equal importance for the increase in the electorate of young people, as there is a great need for them to know their democratic rights as citizens and voters.
“For real enfranchisement of the young, it is imperative for relevant agencies and stakeholders to deliver comprehensive voter information and education, including civic and citizenship education starting from secondary school,” she said.
ROSE also called on the government to carry out another round of delineation exercise of constituencies in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Constitution to address the issue of malapportionment in electoral constituencies.
“This exercise would add an approximately 7.8 million voters to the electoral roll,” she said.
ROSE congratulated all members of the Dewan Rakyat for unanimously supporting and voting for the constitutional amendments intended to pave the way for more young Malaysians to have greater participation in democracy.
“So we applaud the historical bi-partisan efforts in the making of laws that affect our country and the lives of the people.
“It is hoped that this would be a forbearer of the style of law and policy-making in the times to come including the ones to restore status of Sarawak and Sabah, which unfortunately did not get such consensus earlier,” she continued. — DayakDaily