Will new voting age be in time for Sarawak elections?

Sarawak tourism, arts, culture, youth and sports minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah at the Best of Asean Designers’ 2019 press conference yesterday.

KUCHING: A Sarawak minister wonders if the proposed new voting age of 18 will come into force in time for the Sarawak state elections, which must be held by 2021.

Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, who is state tourism and youth minister, says the Bill, which was approved by the Dewan Rakyat, must still go through the Dewan Negara, receive royal assent before it could be gazetted.

Fadillah Yusof

“It also depends on when the law will be made applicable. The date could be pushed forward,” he said, pointing to the new age of 30 years for those in youth associations. It would only begin in December 2021,” he told reporters after attending a fashion design exhibition here.

Sarawak non-governmental organisation Rise of Sarawak Efforts urged the federal government to ensure that automatic voter registration and other amendments are put in place in time for the Sarawak state elections.

In a statement, the organisation quoted Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad as saying that automatic voter registration and the lower voting age to 18 years would result in Sarawak having an increased electorate of an estimated 2.04 million voters.

“This is an increase of 820,000 from the roll at last year’s general election, it said.

The group called for comprehensive voter information and education, beginning with secondary schools.

Petra Jaya MP Fadillah Yusof said he believed that the new voting age should only be enforced after all technical matters were resolved.

He said the police, home ministry, Election Commission, Prisons Department and National Registration Department’s systems must be standardised so that only those who were eligible to vote would be listed.

On Tuesday, the Dewan Rakyat passed a bill to amend the Federal Constitution to allow 18-year-olds to vote and stand as candidates in elections.

A total of 211 MPs were in favour of the amendment to lower the voting age from 21.