Pandemic being used to justify 'multiplicity of sins' - Kit Siang

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Pandemic being used to justify 'multiplicity of sins' - Kit Siang
Pandemic being used to justify 'multiplicity of sins' - Kit Siang

Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang said Putrajaya is using the pandemic as a convenient excuse to justify its controversial decisions - from the suspension of Parliament to postponing the lowering of the voting age.

"The Covid-19 pandemic is used as a convenient excuse to commit a multiplicity of sins - from the suspension of Parliament to denying voters aged between 18 and 21 the right to vote in the next general election," he said in a statement.

Lim (photo, above) said the Election Commission (EC) should have been able to register those aged between 18 and 21 as voters immediately after the constitutional amendment was given royal assent and gazetted on Sept 10, 2019.

"Why was this not done?" the DAP lawmaker asked.

The constitutional amendment to lower the voting age was unanimously approved by the Dewan Rayat in July 2019.

The EC chief at the time was Azhar Azizan Harun, who resigned in July 2020 to take up the position of the Dewan Rakyat speaker. He was then replaced by Abdul Ghani Salleh.

Lim said Ghani should resign for failing to implement the lowering of the voting age in a timely manner.

He also urged the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on agencies under the Prime Minister's Department to summon Ghani for a hearing.

"The PSC should summon Ghani to explain why the EC is not capable of fulfilling Parliament’s mandate to lower the voting age to 18 years in the next general election when other countries like the United Kingdom could implement the measure in less than a year half a century ago.

"While Parliament has been suspended, PSCs have not been suspended, and so long as a majority of the MPs in the PSC agree to continue their deliberations - even without parliamentary allowance - they should not be prevented from continuing their work.

"The question is whether there will be a majority from the seven-member PSC who will agree to summon the EC chairperson to explain why the EC is unable to fulfil Parliament’s mandate to lower the voting age of 18 in the next general election," he said.

The seven members on the PSC on agencies under the Prime Minister's Department are Abdul Latiff Abdul Rahman (PAS-Kuala Krai), Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (Umno-Pasir Salak), Mohd Nizar Zakaria (Umno-Parit), Anyi Ngau (GPS-Baram), Shaharizukirnain Abd Kadir (PAS-Setiu), Khoo Poay Tiong (DAP-Kota Melaka), and Mohd Azis Jamman (Warisan-Sepanggar).

The EC announced on Thursday (March 25) that it was delaying the lowering of the voting age to next year, despite de facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan previously stating that it was on track to implement the new policy in July this year.

The election is widely speculated to be called in August when the emergency proclamation expires.

The delay came amid criticism from Bersatu's Dewan Negara speaker Rais Yatim who disapproved of the change and called it impractical.