The Malaysian government is currently looking into lowering the minimum voting age from 21 to 18, said Youth and Sports Minister, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.
In an interview with Bloomberg, he said that the new Government is aiming to work with the Attorney-General’s Office in an effort to identify the relevant laws and policies that will require revision or amendments.
Saddiq also said that lowering the minimum voting age to 18 will potentially increase the number of voters by 3.7 million people, or approximately 25 per cent, in the next election, in comparison to the previous election on 9 May this year.
The Election Commission’s findings have shown that around 40 per cent of voters in the last General Election consisted of Malaysians aged 21 to 39, which was twice the number of voters over 60 years of age.
Saddiq suggested that this is an indication that the youth “cannot be sidelined in the Malaysian political scene anymore”.
“The youth care about two primary issues,” he said.
“One is about bread and butter issues, which is cost of living, affordable housing, good employment opportunities, and quality of life.”
The increasing difficulty of obtaining and sustaining the above necessities was said to be one of the primary factors that led to the downfall of the Barisan Nasional government under the helm of Najib Razak.
In a last-minute bid to win over younger voters, Najib had pledged income tax exemptions for youths aged 26 and below.
Currently, unemployment among Malaysians aged 15 to 24 stood at 10.8 percent last year, according to statistics by the World Bank.
Malaysia’s youngest Minister to date also added: “Young voters are the true kingmakers in the elections — they were the ones who brought us into government.”
“But also a word of caution, they could also be the ones who take us out from government, because they are not loyal to any political party,” he said.
Reducing the voting age, according to Saddiq, will also greatly assist in breaking the “youth glass ceiling”, on top of cultivating political consciousness and encouraging political activism among the younger generation.
As the Minister of Youth and Sports, Saddiq also plans to rid the government of political appointees in sports.
Saddiq is also keen on pushing for more futuristic, technologically-oriented student initiatives centred on coding, automation, and artificial intelligence.