PETALING JAYA: The Election Commission (EC) will take immediate steps to implement Undi18 following a decision by the Cabinet yesterday, de facto law minister Takiyuddin Hassan said.
He gave an assurance the government is committed to lowering the voting age to 18 in line with a Federal Constitution amendment, passed unanimously in Parliament with bipartisan support in 2019.
In a statement, Takiyuddin said the EC will first need to resolve a few more matters involving provisions in several laws, and other technical issues, including upgrades to its computer software.
He said the government is confident the commission is prepared to manage election processes in terms of logistics, human resources and also adjustments relating to Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) under the new normal.
“It is clear through this decision that the government intends on allowing youths who are not younger than 18 years old the opportunity to become voters in the 15th general election, and in other by-elections and state elections,” he said.
There had been a public outcry over the delay in the Undi18 implementation, with many parties saying the government wanted to suppress young Malaysians from voting in the upcoming election.
EC chairman Abdul Ghani Salleh previously said its preparations had been hampered by the pandemic, forcing it to delay the implementation to September next year at the earliest.
In November last year, Takiyuddin had been reported as saying that automatic voter registration for 18-year-olds was expected to be in place by July this year at the latest.
Meanwhile, MUDA pro tem vice-president Lim Wei Jiet said Takiyuddin’s statement did not outline specific timelines or commitments on the implementation of Undi18.
He said the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government must aim to enforce the constitutional amendment “in or before July”, the date “promised many times before”.
Lim said the public “should not accept any implementation date beyond July”, arguing that even if it was enforced then, the registration of those between 18 and 20 years would need to take another few months.
“It is still possible that they may not be able to vote in GE15.”