The Malaysian Cabinet has agreed to lower the voting age from 21 to 18. Youth & Sports Minister Syed Saddiq said at a post-Cabinet press conference last week that several amendments will have to be made to the Malaysian Federal Constitution for the move to take effect. This will require Pakatan Harapan to reach across the aisle to the opposition party in order to secure a two thirds majority in the lower house of parliament.
The Youth & Sport Minister said that he is working on setting up a youth caucus with the young MPs to gather input from every party on the voting age as well as other issues involving the youth.
“We need their support. The voting age of 18 has been long-awaited by young Malaysians. Although we have different political views, I am sure we can be united in youth empowerment,” said Mr Saddiq.
How soon until the proposed amendment to the Constitution is tabled remains a mystery. But the Minister assured the public of his confidence that voting age will be lowered in time for the nation’s 15the general election due in 2023.
Earlier this year, Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad voiced his support for lowering the voting age to 18, saying that the high number of young voters in the last election shows that the country is ready. Lowering the voting age to 18 was also part of the Pakatan Harapan manifesto in the last election.
Once the amendments are passed, Malaysia will join the ranks of almost all other Southeast Asian countries that have 18 as the minimum voting age. The voting age in Timor-Leste and Indonesia are 17 while in Singapore it still remains at 21.