The group protesting the delay in the implementation of Undi 18 were exercising their rights and there is nothing for police to investigate, said former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“I do not know what is there to investigate as they were just exercising their rights as a citizen of this country,” he said, making a surprise appearance outside the Dang Wangi police station today.
“Parliament is closed, we have to find other ways to voice our opinion, hence there shouldn’t be an issue for this protest.
“There is no reason for the delay (in introducing Undi 18) and as we have one, it shows that it is a deliberate delay to prevent young people from taking part in the general election.”
The Langkawi MP arrived at the station to show support for lawmakers and people the police want to interview regarding the Undi 18 protest outside Parliament last week.
The four people the police wanted to interview today were Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh, former education minister Maszlee Malik, Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah and human rights advocate Ambiga Sreenevasan.
Last weekend, about 300 young people gathered outside Parliament and held a symbolic 18 minutes of silence to protest the delay to September 1, 2022, in lowering the voting age to 18 and automatically registering voters, a bill that was passed into law by both houses of Parliament in 2019 and the federal constitution amended accordingly a short time later.
The two measures are popularly known by the Malay phrase Undi 18 (Vote 18).
Some opposition politicians were also present at the protest, along with other civil society groups such as Bersih 2.0 and Demokrat Nasional.
While Undi 18 is technically law, other election-related legislation has not been amended to enable automatic voter registration of 18-year-olds, as Parliament has been suspended due to the ongoing state of emergency.
Dr Mahathir claimed that the delay in lowering the voting age to 18 in Malaysia is a deliberate move by the government to stop the country’s youth from having their say in the next general election.
He said it was inconceivable that in the age of big data, the government did not have the time to make this a reality after it was unanimously passed by Parliament in July 2019.
“In the first place, there is ample time to do everything, especially now, when everything is recorded and you can access records at any time, so you know where the people are, their IC and name. There should not be a delay.
“If there is a delay, then it is deliberate. They are trying to stop young people from taking part in the election, and that is unfair.”