KUALA LUMPUR: Ten days after the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 to lower the voting age was passed at the Dewan Rakyat, the amendment was approved by the Dewan Negara today with a two-thirds majority.
With the passing of the bill, the 15th General Election will now see Malaysians aged 18 eligible to vote, as opposed to 21 before this, besides being automatically registered as voters when they turn 18.
The amendment drew support from 47 of the 68 Senate members, which was more than the two-third majority required, while 24 senators took part in the debate session.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong, when tabling the bill, said the decision to lower the voting age to 18 was in line with global democratic practices, with many developed nations such as the United Kingdom and Germany having done the same.
“Following this development, Malaysian youth were moved to also want the same rights, and this decision will give them the opportunity, room and voice to join forces and shape the nation’s democratic process through the ballot box,” he said.
Liew, when winding up the debate on the motion, said the process of implementation for the new voting age would require comprehensive planning and the commitment of various government agencies, the private sector, political parties and non-governmental organisations for ideas when policies and programmes are drafted.
He said the Election Commission (EC) will continuously engage all stakeholders to ensure targetted groups are given the necessary exposure and understanding of the country's democratic process as well as the importance of fulfilling their responsibilities.
Liew also gave his commitment to study the e-voting system proposed by several senators to ease the voting process as a result of the projected surge in the number of voters.
Speaking to newsmen later, Liew said the amendment was a significant achievement in the nation's political landscape, and expressed his appreciation to all 47 senators, although regretting the fact that 20 of them were absent during the voting process.
He said the government's next move was to table amendments to the Elections Offences Act 1954 (Act 5), the Elections (Conduct of Elections) Regulations 1981 and the Election (Registration of Electors) Regulations 2002 at the Dewan Rakyat in October.
““So the headache has just begun for the EC, we will have to start working to ensure all the mechanism (is on the right track), to ensure a clean and fair election is held in the upcoming general election,” he said.
The Senate sitting continues on Monday. — Bernama