Senator calls for GE15 to be held after Undi18

This will give opportunities to more voters, especially millions of young voters to express their right, says senator

pic by BERNAMA

SENATOR Ismail Yusop (picture) has called for the next general election (GE) to be conducted after the automatic voter registration system and the lowering of the voting age to 18 (Undi18) are implemented.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Shabudin Yahaya, in response to Ismail’s question in the Dewan Negara yesterday, reiterated that preparations to extend the right to vote will be completed within 18 to 24 months from the date of approval by the Senate on July 25, 2019. The latest implementation date is set for July 2021.

Ismail said this would give opportunities to more voters, especially millions of young voters and 4.2 million Malaysians aged above 21 who have yet to register as voters, to express their right.

“We have to give them the opportunity to realise their responsibility in choosing a government. Surely, we can wait for a few months to practise a healthy democracy,” Ismail told reporters in the Parliament.

“Besides, the current political landscape is not ripe for a convincing win.” Senator Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah and Senator Liew Chin Tong also expressed their support for the proposal.

Liew said many had fought for this agenda since 2007.

“We have waited for 13 to 14 years for this. The government should not call for an election until it is time,” he said.

Malaysia’s next GE is scheduled for 2023, but deep divisions within existing coalitions have fuelled speculation of an early poll. Law Minister Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan last month said a snap GE would cost about RM1.2 billion.

Former Election Commission (EC) Chairman Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun, who now serves as Dewan Rakyat Speaker, had previously said the EC would look into matters such as costs, election facilities and the requirement of additional personnel in preparation for a snap poll.

The former Pakatan Harapan administration estimated that 7.8 million new voters would be added to the electoral roll by 2023. It also estimated that the number of registered voters would reach 22.7 million in 2023, compared to 14.9 million in the GE14.

Separately, Liew said the lack of media coverage on the recent visit by China’s Defence Minister Wei Fenghe to Malaysia on Monday was unusual as both China and US were two superpowers with vested interests in the region.

“Which is why I am not sure why the visit was not covered in Malaysia to a point that local media got it from Chinese sources,” he said.

China’s state news agency Xinhua reported that the meeting between Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Wei took place on Monday in Kuala Lumpur. The report included pictures of Muhyiddin’s meeting with Wei.

Xinhua reported that China had expressed its commitment in military cooperation with Malaysia, among others. Muhyiddin was reported to have congratulated and thanked China for successfully addressing the Covid-19 pandemic and for assisting Malaysia in the effort.