The Election Commission (EC) is being taken to court over its decision to postpone the implementation of 'Undi18' to until after September 2022, which was previously announced to be done by July 2021
In a statement, Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) said that they are managing efforts to file a court case as soon as possible against the postponement of the implementation of the Undi 18 Bill.
Officially known as Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019, it was passed by the Dewan Negara with support from all Members of Parliament (MPs) in July 2019 and gazetted two months later.
The Bill lowers the voting age from 21 to 18 with automatic voter registration for them.
However, its implementation has been delayed. In July last year, the Dewan Rakyat was told that implementation of 'Undi18' and automatic voter registration will be done by July 2021. However, the EC yesterday announced that 'Undi18' is expected to be implemented only after September next year.
Following the EC's announcement, a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) Undi 18, named colloquially so after the bill, told Free Malaysia Today (FMT) that they, too, plan to take the government to court over what it deems as a "failure" to gazette the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2019.
The reasons given by the EC to delay the implementation of 'Undi18 were "unacceptable and ridiculous", according to one of Undi18's co-founders
Qyira Yusri told FMT that de facto Law Minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan had confirmed in November last year that the process to implement 'Undi18' was on track for July 2021.
"It makes no sense that the EC is now talking about delays and the challenges it is facing, after almost a year and a half into the pandemic," she was quoted as saying.
MUDA, too, said that the reasons for the delay don't make sense and that the registration process shouldn't take more than two years
"The reasons given are absurd and seem to fool Malaysians," MUDA said.
"It does not make sense when during the movement control order (MCO) and the state of Emergency, students still have to study from home, the people must earn a living to pay bank debts but government agencies give trivial excuses for bureaucratic issues," the political party added.
"We see this postponement as violating democratic rights and it is against the constitution of the country, more than 2/3 of the elected representatives have supported this motion, so it is true that the government of the day is afraid of young people. The government seems determined to oppress young people."
The announcement by the EC comes two weeks after Dewan Negara president Tan Sri Rais Yatim said 'Undi18' is not practical for now
According to Rais, this is due to various time-consuming constraints faced by the relevant agencies in implementing 'Undi18' before the country is really ready to allow 18-year-olds to register as voters.
The 78-year-old Bersatu politician said that while the Undi 18 Bill has been passed in terms of legislation, in terms of readiness, there are many gaps and would take time.