18 youths haul PM, govt to court over Undi18

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18 youths haul PM, govt to court over Undi18
18 youths haul PM, govt to court over Undi18

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and two others were hauled to court over the postponement of lowering the voting age.

18 Malaysian youths, representing the Undi18 movement, today filed a judicial review against the premier, the Malaysian government, and the Election Commission (EC).

On March 26, it was reported that the group planned to take the government to court over the delay, which was pushed to September 2022.

The postponement is likely to result in 1.2 million 18- to 20-year-olds unable to vote in the 15th general election if it is called this year.

This is despite the fact that constitutional amendments for it were gazetted into law in 2019.

In a media statement today, the Young Voters Association, also known as the Undi18 group, said the legal action seeks a court declaration that the government’s act of delaying the amendment of the voting age is “irrational, illegal, disproportionate, and amounts to voter suppression”.

The group said they seek a declaration that 18 to 20-year-olds have a legitimate expectation that they will have the right to vote by July 2021.

They also seek to quash the government’s decision to delay the lowering of the voting age and compel the government to implement the policy by this July.

They seek for the government to bring into operation by July this year the provision, Section 3(a) of the Constitutional (Amendment) Act 2019.

Promulgated during the previous Pakatan Harapan federal administration in 2019, the provision seeks to amend Article 119 of the Federal Constitution to lower the minimum voting age from 21 to 18.

“Undi18 holds firm to our belief that youths aged 18 to 20 are owed their constitutional right to vote,” the group said.

In the same media statement, Elisa Shafiqah, one of the 18 judicial review leave applicants, contended that it should not be a matter of maturity. She said many of her peers aged 18 to 20 already study at universities, pay taxes, and are married with children.

“We have the same responsibilities as someone who is 21 years old and above. 18-year-olds now can also run for office.

“The government has given us the trust to govern, so why can't we exercise the basic form of democracy in our capacity, that is to vote?

“Delaying the lowering of the voting age not only denies our right to contribute to the country. It also gives leeway for further injustices,” Elisa, 19, said.

In the statement, the group’s lawyer New Sin Yew said the legal action is for the approximately 1.2 million youths, aged 18 to 20, who are currently disenfranchised.

“If we succeed, the cabinet must immediately bring into force the constitutional amendment which lowers the voting age to 18.

“This must be done as a matter of urgency given that Parliament may be dissolved at any time and all adults must be allowed to choose the government,” the lawyer said.