Malaysia tables Constitution (Amendment) 2019 Bill for first reading to lower voting age

The Malaysian government has tabled the Constitution (Amendment) 2019 Bill in the Dewan Rakyat, the Lower House of the nation’s Parliament, in a bid to lower the voting age for Malaysians.

The Bill, which was introduced for its first reading on Thu (4 Jul) by Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, will amend Clause 1 of Article 119 of the Federal Constitution if it is passed.

As a result, the voting age will be lowered from 21 to 18.

“With this amendment, more Malaysian citizens would be entitled to vote and elect a government through an election, which is in line with a progressive democratic system,” according to the Bill, which is poised for its second reading on 16 Jul.

A two-thirds majority of 148 votes will be required in order for the amendment to be passed, The Star Online noted.

Opposition leader Ismail Sabri Yaakob earlier said that while the government’s move to lower the voting age is a positive one, an automatic registration system should be put in place, due to the massive number of eligible voters — around 14mil — who have not registered themselves due to factors such as logistics, New Straits Times reported on Wed (3 Jul).

Speaking to reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday, Ismail Sabri said: “We support the motion by the government to lower the voting age to 18 years old. But, we will not support if it (voter registration) is not done automatically.

“Everyone has the right to vote and we should not deter them from doing so … At the same time, said Ismail, the age of candidates contesting in elections should also be lowered to 18,” he added.

Other countries in the Asean region that have lowered their voting age to 18 include the Philippines, Thailand, and Cambodia. Indonesia’s minimum voting age is 17. Singapore’s minimum voting age currently remains at 21.