By John Isaac
YOUTH and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican needs to give a clear assurance that the PN Government is committed and not delay the implementation of the Undi18 amendments to allow more youth to be part of the electoral process.
Bandar Kuching MP, Dr Kelvin Yii said it is disheartening to hear deputy minister Senator Wan Ahmad Fayshal say that youths are not ready to vote which puts the current historic Undi18 amendments in limbo.
“This is after two years since it received unanimous support from both the government and opposition under the Pakatan Harapan government in the midst of a highly partisan political climate,” he said.
He said a young leader such as himself should have been in the forefront to push for such empowerment and for youth to have a bigger say in our country’s democratic process, rather than playing-down the readiness and roles of the youth.
If the bill is passed, then by 2023, when the next general election is due, there will be about 3.8 million youths between the ages of 18 to 20 eligible to vote.
The arguments used most commonly against this which was echoed by the deputy minister is that the young people, especially 18-year-olds, are not mature enough.
“The fact is, in our country, under the Age of Majority Act 1971, 18-year-olds are considered “adults,” assuming full legal capacity and are liable for their own actions.
“In Malaysia, at 17-years-old, a person can get a driving licence, while an 18-year-old is allowed to get married, work and pay taxes, enter into contractual obligations, or even serve the country in high-risk jobs such as the police force, fire brigade and the army,” said Dr Kelvin.
From this perspective, we can no longer disenfranchise 3.8 million adults from the formal democratic process of our country.
Young Malaysians are not naïve, nor are they immature. They are part of the most educated generation and grew up in an age of hyper-information.
More young Malaysians are well informed with the current situation in the country especially with the influx of information through formal and informal media.
The burst of social media usage and political discussions including the recent “ClubHouse” sensation has proven that our youth are not just interested in nation building but have substantive opinions and suggestions about the future of our nation.
“That is why the Undi18 amendments under the PH government was a historical moment and a game changer enabling the youths to independently think and act on issues about their lives, surroundings, and futures.
“We must not take a step back. Taking the voices of the youth for granted and denying them the rights to vote is an outright regressive move,” he added.
Dr Kelvin urged the PN Government not to delay the gazettement and implementation of Undi18 any longer.
“We need to push for a more progressive, constructive, and participatory politics as we welcome our youth into the arena.
The harder you try to silence the youth, the louder they will fight back,” he stressed.