By Emma Victoria
THE automatic voter registration of 18-year-olds needs to be implemented as soon as possible due to the current political scenario in the country, which is “very toxic”.
Geostrategist Associate Professor Azmi Hassan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia said even if the movement restrictions or the Covid-19 pandemic had disrupted the Election Commission’s preparations to implement the act, it should not be delayed for another year.
“It is the responsibility of the EC to ensure those aged between 18 and 21 are able to vote, latest by the end of the year. Otherwise, it is against the spirit of democracy.” he said when contacted.
He said the people, including those in Sarawak would feel betrayed if the young voters are unable to vote in the next general election. These young people wanted to have a say in deciding who to represent them.
However, he said, the situation would be slightly different when it comes to the Sarawak state election.
Azmi said the act was passed in Parliament in 2019, and it is expected the Undi18 will be implemented by July this year – while the state assembly expires in June. Hence, those in the age group didn’t expect to cast their votes in the state polls but in the general election.
However, he acknowledged that was the situation before the Covid-19 and the declaration of emergency, to postpone all elections in the country.
“Even if the young voters manage to vote in the Sarawak state election, it does not affect the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) ruling government as they have a strong base of support. Hence, they don’t necessarily need the support of the new voters; neither do they have to be worried.”
“But in Peninsular Malaysia, most of the parties don’t have the large majority and they need the new voters to increase their support.”
Yesterday, EC chairman Abdul Ghani Salleh said the automatic registration of 18-year-olds as voters was expected to be delayed until after September 2022.
He said the movement restrictions due to the pandemic had disrupted the EC’s preparations to implement the act which was passed in Parliament in July 2019.