‘Undi 18’ debate continues online as bill set for tabling tomorrow

Youths on social media argue that they are not too young to be allowed to vote

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE proposed motion to lower the legal voting age from 21 to 18 remains a trending topic across social media platforms as Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (picture) is set to table it in the Dewan Rakyat tomorrow.

He said this motion would empower youths to partake in the democratic process.

“The Youth and Sports Ministry wants to thank all parties who supported the ‘Undi 18’ campaign and amendment to the Federal Constitution to lower the voting age from 21 to 18, which will be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat,” he said in a statement yesterday.

“The government is also studying the automatic registration of voters, as well as other ways to enhance the involvement and roles of youth.”

The Cabinet agreed to lower the voting age last September, where an amendment to the Federal Constitution is required for it to be enforced.

Social media users argued that while the move would give more room for youths to be heard, they also demand for a better education system that can accommodate for the campaign, such as implementing political literacy in schools.

Twitter user @sarrashslhn, 18, shared that while she and her roommates may not be on the same page over this, they agree that they are exhausted from being considered “too young” and discredited as such.

She shared an anecdote of an event that occurred when she was 16, where she got into a debate with her Uber driver regarding the existence of gender inequality in Malaysia.

“At the point in which he believed I was making some valid points, he complimented me then asked me where I was working.

“After hearing that I was 16, he laughed and said I was too young to talk about this and everything I said carried no weight because I haven’t got a chance to experience the world. On the flip side, I sympathised with how narrow his world was,” she said on her Twitter.

“I’m open to learning; all you have to do is give me the platform to learn. All you have to do is have some faith in me, and guide me through all this.

“It’s unfair that you want me to grow up and learn when all you’ve been doing is brushing me aside and claim ‘I’ll learn it soon’.”

Twitter account @Undi18My co-founder Qyira, or @takterqyira, maintained that voting is a right, not a privilege.

“Everyone regardless of educational background should have the right for their voices to be heard. It’s not an exam you sit for,” she tweeted.

She also called out people’s reluctance to give voting rights to those who are 18 years old, but will allow those of the same age to get married and start a family. Both issues, she added, are about taking ownership and responsibility for each decision.

“But a more significant point is that 18 is the age of majority in Malaysia — hence it is only logical that the human right to vote is 18 years old,” she tweeted.

To counter the argument that 18-year-olds are “too uneducated”, she said the government and the Election Commission are working on political literacy, which was announced on June 26 by the Election Reform Committee (ERC).

“The ERC is of the opinion that the lowering of the voting age should be streamlined with the enhancement of civic and voting education among students and youths.

“The strategy and syllabus for the subjects should be enhanced to ensure young voters are informed and responsible,” the committee stated.

Subsequently, Federal Territories Mufti Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri also published an article regarding the Shariah’s perspective on lowering the voting age to 18.

“The involvement of youths in politics is an obligation. It is part of their role in the state government called siyasah syar’iyyah.

“We are of the opinion that 18 years old is a suitable age for voting,” he said.