Opposition lays 2 conditions for supporting bill to lower voting age

Opposition leader Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

KUALA LUMPUR: The opposition bloc today announced it will unanimously support the lowering of the voting age from 21 to 18 — but with two conditions.

Opposition leader Ismail Sabri Yaakob said they wanted it to go in tandem with automatic registration of all those aged 18 and above.

“We also want those aged 18 and above to be allowed to contest in elections. The present minimum age to contest is 21,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby.

He said this was because everyone had the right to vote but many rural folk faced problems registering as voters because the registration counters were far from their homes.

“This is especially so in the interiors of Sarawak,” he added.

Ismail said the opposition would only support the government’s amendment bill to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 if Putrajaya agreed to these demands.

He said the opposition bloc of PAS, GPS and Barisan Nasional were in the midst of drafting a bill related to this.

“We will submit it as a private member’s bill,” he said, adding that the amendments would be under Article 119 (1) of the Federal Constitution.

On June 29, de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong had said more than 50% of Malaysians would be eligible to vote in the next general election if amendments to the law were passed to lower the voting age from 21 to 18.

He had said it would be the most important historical development post-Merdeka, as those aged 18 and above would be eligible to decide on the next government.

Liew had expressed the hope that opposition MPs would support a government motion to amend the law, as it needed two-thirds majority support in Parliament to pass it.

He had said the government was nine MPs short to ensure the amendments were passed as PH only had 139 MPs.