by Lee Hsien Yang
It is way past time for Singapore to involve young people in democracy, political participation and their own future.
Singapore is one of only seven countries in the world where voters have to be 21 or older.
Singapore keeps company with Oman, Samoa, Tonga, Kuwait, Lebanon and the UAE, only 3 percent of countries.
In 95 percent of countries, the voting age is 18 years or younger. In Wales and Scotland, 16 year olds can vote in Welsh and Scottish parliamentary elections.
In Germany, they can vote in some state elections and municipal elections. In ASEAN, only Singapore maintains the age limit at 21. Singapore is an outlier.
At 18, Singaporean males must enter National Service. Indeed, they could even volunteer to be enlisted six months after turning 16. We clearly consider them old and responsible enough to bear arms, kill an enemy, die for our country.
Since 2010, Singapore lowered the age of contractual capacity to 18, enabling young Singaporeans to set up companies, become directors, borrow money, raise hundreds of millions of dollars and employ people to work for them. Of course, if they earn any income, they must pay taxes.
An 18-year-old Singaporeans can drive, and be allowed on the road, responsible for the safety of not just their own lives but also other road users.
At 18, Singaporeans are considered old and responsible enough to buy and consume alcohol. At 16, Singaporeans can have sex, and presumably have children.
At the age of 10, Singaporeans are considered old enough to bear criminal responsibility. Young persons who commit a violent crime will be charged in court like other adults, and not in a juvenile court, even though they are under 21.
18-year-old Singaporeans can bear arms, fight and die for their country, they have contractual capacity and accountability, they have criminal accountability, they are considered responsible enough to drive, have sex, drink alcohol.
Why deny our young men and women the right to vote? A right to have a say in their own future and the future of their country?
This write up was first published on Lee Hsien Yang’s Facebook page.