The upcoming Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election could potentially feature 18-year-old candidates for the first time in the country’s history.
This follows the amendments to Article 47 and Section 5 of the Eighth Schedule of the Federal Constitution to lower the age for election candidates from 21 to 18.
In announcing this, Election Commission (EC) chairman Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun said political parties could field an 18-year-old candidate as the amendment to the constitution had already been gazetted.
“According to the gazette and the bill that was passed, they are eligible to contest,” he said
Checks with the Attorney General’s Chambers website show that the amendment was gazetted on Sept 10.
However, Azhar added that on nomination day, the Returning Officer (RO) had the power to decide whether 18-year-old candidates were qualified to register and contest.
But, he said, 18-year-olds would not be allowed to vote in the by-election in view of the fact that legislation allowing for the same had not yet been gazetted.
On July 16, the Dewan Rakyat had unanimously approved the amendment to reduce the age limit eligibility of voters from 21 to 18.
The other amendment was to Article 119 (4) of the Federal Constitution for implementing automatic voter registration.
Azhar said the EC would have by-partisan meetings with political parties soon to discuss the matter further.
Back in July, Azhar stated that the EC would not rush the implementation of these amendments and estimated it would take 18 months to prepare a new system for automatic voter registration, compile data from multiple federal agencies, synchronise data into the existing electoral roll, plus clean up the roll.
For the upcoming Nov 16 by-election, the EC will be using the electoral roll from the second quarter of the year, which was updated and gazetted on Sept 23.
Earlier report: Oct 1, Tg Piai By-Election on Nov 16, Nomination on Nov 2