VOTING 18: Does Perikatan Nasional care?

Although the bill to lower the voting age to 18 has been passed in Parliament, there is still no news of initiatives or programs organized by the Perikatan National government through the Ministry of Youth & Sports for the awareness of new voters, especially high school students.

On 25 July 2019, Parliament passed a bill to lower the voting age from 21 to 18. With the amendment to the Federal Constitution, the next election will see 18-year-old voters automatically registered and they will be able to cast their votes. However, what initiatives have been put in place to raise awareness for these 7.8 million new voters?

The current Minister of Youth & Sports does not seem to want to continue the initiative that the Pakatan Harapan government implemented before. Malaysia Leaders Future School is one of the initiatives of former Youth & Sports Minister, YB Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman, to build many leaders among students. MLFS has several key elements in training young people and new voters to understand Malaysian political concepts and systems.

At the beginning of 2018, Akademi Pilihan Raya (APR) was introduced by the Election Commission to increase the political awareness, concepts, and role of voters among high school students. University students also participated in the programs to facilitate by planning exciting political activities with fun and interesting modules for the school students. However, the program was discontinued by the end of 2018 without knowing the reasons behind it.

Perikatan Nasional through the Ministry of Youth and Sports now seems to be in a deadlock because since they became government (though not legally elected by the people), they have not received good response from the youths. Until today, no new initiative or introduction of political awareness has been announced to introduce UNDI18 to new voters. Coupled with the situation of the country undergoing Covid-19, this has further worsened the voting awareness of new voters. As a result, when the General Election comes, it is unlikely that these new voters will cast their votes because they do not know the importance of their votes for the future of Malaysia.

In a forum discussion of UNDI18 organized by University Utara Malaysia in September 2019, I was personally invited as a panel speaker to discuss the importance of voting with the new entry students for the 2019-2020 session. This topic was hotly debated among panelists and university students themselves. I emphasize that new voters need to understand the political concept very thoroughly and make the right decision by choosing the right candidate as a law maker.

To the Perikatan Nasional government, I humbly advise that if you do not have a clear policy to drive the country better, then return the government to the people elected by the people.

Farid Maulud
DAP Publicity Secretary for Flat Uda
Member of Malaysian Youth Parliament

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