Weekly Highlights

Hadi makes u-turn on UNDI18

Most shocking that Hadi still opposes giving the right to vote to those above 18 years old when I had called for such a right to be given to 18 year-olds in Parliament fifty years ago

I am thoroughly shocked that the PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang still opposes giving the right to vote to those above 18 years old when I had called for such a right in Parliament 50 years ago on Human Rights Day on 10th December 197l.

This means that when Hadi voted for the constitutional amendment in 2019 giving voting rights to Malaysians above 18 years old, it was not a genuine vote of support.

Supporting the delay in the implementation of the 2019 parliamentary unanimous vote for the constitutional amendment to give the right to vote to those above 18 years in the next general election, Hadi said voting needs maturity and that voters who are not mature will pick an immature government.

Interview with Datuk Hadi Awang at Parliment house

He said: “Voting depends on maturity, don’t just rely on being 18, there must be maturity. We must not be influenced by the West.

“In Islam, we speak of sinnu rusydi, the age of maturity. Maturity can come at 16, 18, can happen at 25, and some people are 40 but are not mature.

“Unfortunately, we follow Western democracy, (where voting rights are) based on age, not maturity.”

He said PAS supports the delay in lowering the voting age, adding that it would not have any impact.

Can Hadi explain why PAS opposes conferring the right to vote to Malaysians above 18 years?

How can Hadi be so ignorant as not to know that some  90 per cent of the 57 countries in the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) have voting age at 18 years old – including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Algeria, Libya and Palestine?

In fact,  the voting age in Iran for parliamentary elections in 1980 was lowered from 18 to 16, and later lowered to 15, though it was changed back to 18 after 2007..

Around 2000, a number of countries began to consider whether the voting age ought to be reduced further to 16.

In 2007, Austria became the first country to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in national elections, with the expanded franchise first being consummated in the 2009 European Parliament election.

A study of young voters’ behaviour on that occasion showed them to be as capable as older voters to articulate their beliefs and to make voting decisions appropriate for their preferences. Their knowledge of the political process was only insignificantly lower than in older cohorts, while trust in democracy and willingness to participate in the process were markedly higher.

Countries where the voting age is 16 years include Austria, Brazil, Ecuador, Cuba, Nicaragua, Scotland and Argentina.

I do not expect Hadi to  explain why he is against lowering the voting age to 18 years although he had voted for the constitutional amendment for that purpose in Parliament in 2019, just as I do not expect him to explain his previous  thesis  that a corrupt Muslim leader is better than a clean, honest and non-corrupt non-Muslim leader.

 Lim Kit Siang

MP for Iskandar Puteri

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