YOUTH and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (picture) will table a revised bill to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 today, to include conditions set out by the Opposition.
The minister, who has been rallying support from both sides of the political spectrum, described the inclusion of automatic registration for those who have reached the age of 18 and reducing the age of candidacy to 18 in the revised bill as a “win for all”.
“I want to thank the Opposition for agreeing to work together on this matter. This requires give and take. After receiving various feedback on the initial bill, I have brought the matter to the Cabinet and the Pakatan Harapan Presidential Council where it was deliberated and agreed upon.
“This is a win for all, not just for the government or Opposition, but for the people, especially the youth,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday.
The tabling of the bill is a test to the current government as it would require the support of two-thirds or at least 148 members of the house, from the total 222 elected representatives.
If passed, about 3.8 million Malaysians will be able to cast their vote in the 15th General Election. Currently, there are 15 million registered voters in the electoral roll.
Syed Saddiq, who is also the youngest federal minister at 26, said reducing the voting age to 18, would allow the voice of the youths to be clearly heard and become the foundation to the nation’s formation.
Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had earlier chaired a meeting with the Opposition leaders, the Attorney General Chambers, Election Commission (EC) and Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) to lower the voting age. The 94-year-old expressed confidence of garnering two-thirds majority for the bill.
Meanwhile, Deputy Minister in the PM’s Department (Law) Mohamed Hanipa Maidin told the Dewan Rakyat there will be a revamp to the current electoral registration system to meet the requirement of mandatory registration.
“If this bill is passed, it will definitely require a massive exercise on the existing system. Whether or not we will be able to fully clean up the electoral roll, I think it is a bit premature to comment.
“I have spoken to the EC and the ERC about this, and yes, they have stated that there will be a lot of work to be carried out if the amendment is made. At the moment, I cannot give a guarantee as it requires an in-depth look into the system,” he said.
Hanipa was responding to a question by Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh (Pakatan Harapan-Ledang) on whether there is a rejig on the electoral roll to include the omission of phantom voters and those who are deceased.
In November last year, EC chairman Azhar Azizan Harun said there were 73,000 voters above 90 years old, with the oldest being at 150 years old. Out of the figure, he said only 11,000 had voted.