Bersih backs lowering election candidates’ age to 18

Bersih says voters can decide whether an 18-year-old would be able to represent the people.

PETALING JAYA: Bersih has voiced its support for the opposition’s call to lower the age requirement for election candidates to 18.

“It encourages young people to get involved in nation-building,” said Thomas Fann, chairman of the election watchdog group.

Fann told FMT he believed lowering the minimum age for candidacy would be consistent with the proposed lowering of the voting age and the recognition that 18 is the age of majority.

“The question as to whether an 18-year-old can be a good elected representative can be left to voters to decide,” he said.

Kota Bharu MP Takiyuddin Hassan, commenting yesterday on last week’s tabling of a constitutional amendment bill to lower the voting age to 18, said the opposition would vote for it only if changes were made to allow for the automatic registration of voters and the lowering of the age of candidacy.

On Monday, the prime minister announced that the Pakatan Harapan Presidential Council had agreed to include automatic registration in the amendment.

The bill will be tabled for second reading next Tuesday.

A constitutional amendment requires a two-third majority or at least 148 votes. Pakatan Harapan has 139 MPs.

MCA president Wee Ka Siong said it would be strange if an 18-year-old were allowed to vote but barred from contesting in an election.

Fann noted that 18-year-olds in many parts of the world were already voting and some had stood in elections.

“What needs to change is our condescending attitude towards young people,” he said. “We need to start having faith in their ability to think and decide. We need the idealism and passion that young people can offer.”

He repeated a call he had made earlier for the commencement of civic education at the primary school level.