PRESS RELEASE: ELECTION COMMISSION SHOULD NOT DELAY UNDI18 ANY FURTHER
25th March 2021
The KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific (KSI) deeply regrets the Election Commission of Malaysia’s (EC) decision to defer the lowering of the voting age to 18 years of age (Undi18) and automatic voter registration. This move is an unnecessary delay towards improving Malaysia’s fundamental democratic process and a blow to the nation’s universal suffrage efforts.
Undi18 was historic for empowering the youth vote and was unanimously approved by Parliament with the support of both government and opposition MPs on 16th July 2019. While there are understandable operational issues for EC (e.g. updating electoral roll, verification) before July 2021, delays by the EC to September 2022 on the pretext of COVID-19 and movement control orders (MCO) is unacceptable. EC may be given more time to implement the automatic voter registration. However, there is no justification to delay the rights of voters between 18 and 20 years from manually registering to be a voter with the EC. With the government aggressively championing the 4th Industrial Revolution, the EC needs to be innovative and creative in using technology to address operational challenges.
The decision by the EC to delay Undi18 will cause Malaysian youths to feel further disenfranchisement against the government. To encourage young Malaysians to be involved in the national affairs, and therefore national development, their involvement in the vote should be expedited with urgency, not delayed. Undi18 is a human right and human rights must be upheld. A right delayed is a right denied.