Undi18’s automatic voter registration likely to increase voter count to 21.5m

The implementation process is not easy as it requires data coordination with 3 govt departments, but it is workable, says Syed Saddiq

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK/ pic by ARIF KARTONO

THE lowering of the voting age and automatic voter registration are expected to increase the number of voters to 21.5 million in the next general election.

Minister of Youth and Sports Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (picture) said the majority of the new voters would be the youth.

“In the last general election, we had approximately 14 million voters, and it has been estimated that with Undi 18 and the automatic voter registration, that number will increase to 21.5 million,” he said after his debate session with “Sophia”, the first social humanoid robot in Malaysia, at the Beyond Paradigm Summit 2019 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Syed Saddiq acknowledged that the implementation process is not easy, as it requires data coordination with the National Registration Department, Health Ministry and the Prisons Department.

He explained that if automatic voter registration is going to be implemented, it would register all qualified names by age.

“However, if you refer to the Constitution, you are not allowed to vote if you have been detained as a person of unsound mind or serving a jail sentence during a certain period,” he said.

Article 119 of the Federal Constitution refers to the “certain period” as the date in which electoral rolls are prepared or revised.

The minister added that a lot of the electoral rolls will require cleaning up,

but the technical details are workable. “The most important part is that it can be done and other countries have made it happen, which means they had to undergo what we are experiencing and they did it successfully.
“That’s democracy. We are doing this in order to ensure that our democracy is truly inclusive,” he said.

Meanwhile, commenting on the global decline of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talents and graduates, Syed Saddiq said efforts should be underway to encourage more participants in the industry.

“We need to look into the whole ecosystem, industry and academia together, and take action to resolve the problem,” he said.

“We always see people complaining about the lack of STEM talents, but are there any efforts being done to make it easier for them to be a part of the industry?”

Among the major issues in the industry is the low salary that STEM graduates are expected to accept.

“Among the requirements that they always see are five to 10 years of experience, but chances are, they could have not been given the opportunity to receive that much (experience),” he said.

“To some of them, they might think they’re better off doing a whole other course where the immediate returns are lucrative, or go overseas instead because of the market.

Syed Saddiq also expressed hope that Malaysia would be able to manufacture creations like Sophia the robot in the future.

“Meeting Sophia was a one-of-a-kind experience, and because of that, I hope that more organisations in Malaysia will attempt to manufacture a robot like Sophia and improve on her, or manufacture a cheaper version.

“We don’t want to just be a buying nation, we also want to become a nation that can create new technology or contribute its parts,” he said.

Malaysia Digital Economy Corp CEO Surina Shukri also said the STEM subjects are perceived as more challenging compared to others.

“But there shouldn’t be any fear towards these subjects, as well as the issue of salary because there is a big possibility that the trajectory (of the pay) could be higher,” she said.