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Voting at 18

  • It is illogical to think that these people are not mature enough when it comes to exercising their civic responsibility and deciding who should form the government.

Sin Chew Daily

The government is prepared to table the Constitution (Amendment) 2019 Bill today at Dewan Rakyat to amend Clause 1 of Article 119 of the Federal Constitution to lower the voting age to 18.

If the bill is eventually adopted in the Parliament, we will have some 1.5 million new voters aged between 18 and 20 come the next general elections.

The amendment bill can only be passed with the support of two-thirds of MP's. This means that Pakatan Harapan, which does not yet have a two-thirds majority advantage in Dewan Rakyat, will need the support of MP's from BN, PAS and GPS as well.

From what we know, the opposition still has reservations about the bill at this moment.

It has become a global trend to fix the voting age at 18. Many countries in Asean have already done so. This will mark a major milestone in Malaysia's democratic development, and the government's move to amend the Constitution should be strongly supported by all.

Allowing younger Malaysians to vote and have a say in this country is a good beginning. They are the future of this country, and their views are very important and must be appreciated.

The opponents to this motion are worried that 18-year-olds are not mentally mature enough and could be easily influenced by other people, especially comments on social media sites.

Nevertheless, we have already set the statutory adulthood age at 18 whereby young people at this age can get their driving licenses, and be responsible for their own actions, including marriage.

It is therefore illogical to think that these people are not mature enough when it comes to exercising their civic responsibility and deciding who should form the government.

A person's age may not necessarily reflect his or her political awareness and maturity. Indeed, today's young people have higher political awareness compared to their seniors, and they are also better equipped, psychologically and physically, to decide for the future of the country as well as their own.

If we are concerned about these young people being influenced by social media, we should concurrently enhance civic and political education at school at the same time of lowering the voting age, so that students can be instilled with the right attitude towards political participation and the modus operandi of a democratic regime.

At a time the Malaysian politics is still confined in a deadlock and as race politics takes charge, lowering the voting age provides a new outlet for more rejuvenated politics.

Young people will have the opportunity to more actively participate in politics, injecting more youthful ideas, vibrancy and energy into Malaysia's democratic politics.

Once the amendment bill is adopted and the voting age is lowered from 21 to 18, not only will the political thinking of our young people be stimulated, political parties will also be forced to introduce necessary changes to keep up with the time through the recruitment of more new blood, failing which they will not be able to understand how young Malaysians think, or meet the needs of democratic development of a new era.

 

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