KUALA LUMPUR, June 21 — Lim Kit Siang pressed the country’s federal lawmakers to make history in the first parliamentary session of this term by lowering the voting age to open up the ballot to greater swathes of society.
Seizing on Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s remarks supporting the call to open voting to Malaysians aged 18 and over, the DAP parliamentary leader said he has pushed for such reforms for nearly five decades.
He also noted that Malaysia was part of only a handful of holdouts including Singapore that still insist on retaining a voting age of 21 and over.
“Youths at 18 ought to have the right to vote and to have a say about the way in which their lives are governed and the country is being run, as society expects them to assume adult social responsibilities whether conscription when there is war or national emergency, even to die in the defence of the country,” he said.
The Iskandar Puteri MP noted that in the region Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar all made the ballot available to those aged 18 and above while Indonesia was even more inclusive with a voting age of 17.
He said while such a change would require a constitutional amendment and bipartisan support, Lim expressed belief that the developments since the historic 14th general election have provided the right atmosphere to do so.
“Let the opening meeting of the 14th Parliament in July make history by amending the Constitution to lower the voting age to 18.”