An analyst says there should be no further dispute over the lowering of minimum voting age from 21 to 18 since the bill in question was unanimously passed by Parliament in 2019, as the Election Commission (EC) prepares to implement the move following a High Court ruling in Sarawak last week.
Hisommudin Bakar, executive director of Ilham Centre, said any objections to the bill were no longer relevant as it had been passed in the Dewan Rakyat.
“The main question now is how the government and EC will implement the act and prepare for the 15th general election,” he told MalaysiaNow.
Yesterday, law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said no instructions had been received so far on filing an appeal against the decision of the Kuching High Court ordering the government to implement Undi 18 by Dec 31.
He said the government would comply with the court order to lower the minimum age of voting before the set date.
The Kuching High Court had on Sept 3 ordered the government to implement Undi 18, paving the way for some 135,000 youth in Sarawak to vote in the state election to come.
The decision was a victory for the five youths who had filed a judicial review to compel Putrajaya to implement the lowering of the voting age from 21 to 18.
On the question of political maturity put forth by those who oppose the move, Hisommudin said this would vary from individual to individual based on their level of political exposure.
“Certainly, political education will be the main basis for this group to possess the level mindset needed to determine the fate of the ruling government,” he said.
“While there is some political exposure in schools, this is mostly in the context of history classes or general studies. The question is how they view politics in real life.”
The Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 was passed in the Dewan Rakyat in July of that year, in an agreement to lower the minimum age for voting and candidacy, and to implement automatic voter registration.
Hisommudin said it was normal for youth to show a disinterest in politics, adding that such trends were the case even in developed countries.
He said the youth tend to see politics as a negative issue and to look down on careers in the field.
“Ilham Centre conducted a study specifically on youth in 2015 which found that it is difficult to get them involved in political parties,” he said.
“This is a complaint common of all political activists regardless of whether they are from the government or opposition. They all face the same problem in recruiting youths.”
He said clarification is needed by parties from both sides of the divide to clear the minds and perceptions of the youth as part of efforts to make politics attractive.
He also noted a preference among the group for independence, without being tied to a particular party.
But he saw no problem with youths contesting in elections, especially if they are qualified and able to rally the support of the electorate.
“That’s the advantage of the country’s democratic system,” he said.