The government breaking its Undi 18 promise – lowering the voting age to 18 and automatic voter registration – is something young Malaysians will not forget, said former prime minister Najib Razak.
The federal government’s excuse it needs three years to ready Undi 18 is “illogical”, he said on Facebook.
“I am disappointed that the promises given in Parliament are not kept because it is not logical for the government to take three years to implement Undi 18,” the convicted but still-influential Umno lawmaker posted.
“I believe that young people will not easily forget this. I had expected that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government would be less willing to implement this, as I wrote earlier this month,” he said, having previously commented PN’s unwillingness to move forward with Undi 18 would be the biggest insult to Parliament and the democratic process.
Legal amendments to lower the voting age and to conduct automatic voter registration were passed unanimously by MPs in 2019.
Najib said previously that PN likely did not want to make the change because it feared that the majority of young people now are angry at the current government.
Yesterday, the Election Commission (EC) said it was postponing implementation of Undi 18 until September next year.
This is a departure from earlier statements by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law) Takiyuddin Hassan, who said it was on track for July this year.
The EC said the movement control order (MCO) had affected its planning and preparations to lower the voting age.
Meanwhile, Undi 18, the youth organisation which campaigned and lobbied for the bill to pass two years ago, urged for Malaysian citizens aged 18 to 20 to be given their voting rights immediately.
“The EC has also stated that the number of Malaysian citizens aged 18 up to 20 years only accounts for 1.2 million people, compared to 4.4 million aged 21 and above.
“We are of the opinion that this statement is trying to belittle the voting rights and voting impact of those below 21,” said co-founders Qyira Yusri and Tharma Pillai in a statement.
“Every vote is meaningful for democracy, so the delay of this right will only affect the spirit of young people to continue engaging in Malaysia’s democratic system,” they said, adding that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was part of the cabinet that approved the bill.
DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang also said EC chairman Abdul Ghani Salleh should resign since he had failed to ensure the law was fully introduced. – TMI