Teens as young as 18 can now vote and even become MPs, thanks to changes in Malaysia’s highest law

Eighteen-year-olds can now vote, as well as become MPs and state lawmakers.
Reuters
  • Malaysians aged 18 and above can now vote in elections, thanks to a Bill passed in Parliament on Tuesday (July 16).

  • They can also run for MP or state assemblyman positions.

  • Before this, the minimum age for both these actions was 21 years old.

  • Previously, the youngest MPs were former PM Najib Razak and Batu MP P. Prabakaran, who were both elected at 22 years old.

All Malaysians aged 18 and above will be automatically registered for voting from now onward, Prime Minster Mahathir Mohamad announced on Tuesday (July 16) following news that Parliament had passed a bill to lower the voting age from 21 years old, Bernama reported.

In total, about 7.8 million new voters are expected to be automatically registered in the electoral roll over the next five years, Bernama quoted the PM as saying.

This includes 3.9 million youth aged 21, who have not yet registered as voters.

The government expects this change to increase the total number of voters to 22.7 million in 2023, compared to 14.9 million in GE14, Bernama said.

Reducing the voting age was one of the promises Pakatan Harapan made at GE14.

All of the 211 MPs in the Dewan Rakyat (Lower House of Parliament) present during the debate on Tuesday agreed to amend Malaysia’s highest law, the Federal Constitution, to allow 18-year-olds to vote, as well as become MPs and state lawmakers.

Previously, Malaysia’s youngest MPs were former PM Najib Razak and Batu MP P. Prabakaran, who were elected at 22 years old, Malay Mail reported.

The current youngest MP is Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman, who joined the Cabinet at age 25, the report added.

Mahathir added that the Government had lowered the voting age in line with “developments worldwide”, referring to how several countries had reduced their minimum voting age to as young as 16 years.

Deputy defense minister Liew Chin Tong said in an article for The Star that this meant political parties now had to appeal to Malaysians as young as 14, as they would become potential voters at GE15.

He added that this would put pressure on the Government to address issues such as education, job opportunities, and public transportation.

Mahathir previously said that having younger voters would help strengthen democracy in Malaysia, as youth today were more mature, politically aware, and well-informed, Bernama reported.

The PM added that the election commission should be given time to update the electoral roll, as the government would not tolerate any errors in voter registration.

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