Sarawak's Youth and Sports Minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah has voiced support for Friday’s Kuching High Court decision requiring the Election Commission (EC) to implement the lowering of the voting age to 18 by the end of this year.
According to the Borneo Post, he also called for the process and procedures for youths to register to be fine-tuned.
“They still cannot vote even if they have reached 18 years old if they have not registered themselves as voters,” Karim (above, left) said, adding that the move by five youths from the NGO Undi Sarawak to take the case to the High Court was because they did not see EC action on the matter.
The PBB lawmaker said he believed that the state's ruling GPS coalition will support any move in the Dewan Rakyat to facilitate this.
He noted that some have urged the government on social media not to appeal the High Court decision.
“We cannot stop anyone from appealing because that is an offence, and our courts have their own hierarchy,” Karim added.
Meanwhile, Sarawak Pakatan Harapan secretary Alan Ling Sie Kiong said he hoped the federal government will not appeal against the decision.
“Undi18, in my view, shall be Ismail Sabri Yaakob's first test as prime minister and his pledge in making institutional reforms happen,” he said.
Ling expressed hope that the PM will not give instructions to the attorney-general to appeal and thus allow the EC to be more independent, effective and efficient in executing its duty.
“In fact, the EC has no reason to further delay as the passing of Undi18 under the previous Harapan government was one of the historical, constitutional changes (it made).
"It is definitely a new turning point and game-changer for youths in our democratic system,” he added.
Ling also commended the five courageous Sarawakian students who filed the application against the federal government and the EC as they have made history and showed their concern for the nation and its future.
The Kuching High Court on Friday ordered the government to implement the lowering of the voting age to 18 nationwide by Dec 31.
Judicial commissioner Alexander Siew How Wai allowed a judicial review application by five Sarawakian youths from Undi Sarawak to compel the federal government to implement the lowering of the voting age from 21 to 18.
The three respondents targeted by the judicial review are former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, the EC and the government.
Through the legal action filed on May 3, the five youths sought to compel the federal administration to implement the 2019 constitutional amendment to lower the voting age nationwide by July this year.
Previously, Undi Sarawak contended that delays in Undi18 would deny the rights of more than 125,000 Sarawakian youths to vote in the state election.
On March 25, the EC announced the postponement of the implementation of Undi18, including automatic voter registration, to Sept 1 next year.
The decision means that youths aged 18 to 20 will likely not be able to vote in the next general election.
Subsequently, a group of 18 Malaysian youths, representing the Undi18 movement, filed a judicial review on April 2, against the premier, the government, and the EC. This legal action is before the Kuala Lumpur High Court and will come up for decision on Oct 21.
The amendment to Article 119 of the Federal Constitution was passed during the Harapan administration two years ago.