The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) refers to the statement issued by the Electoral Commission on 3 September 2019 that sought to clarify issues relating to #Undi18.
These include the lowering of voting age to 18 from 21 (Undi18), the lowering of the eligibility age for an election candidate to 18 and implementation of automatic voter registration.
Bersih 2.0 welcomes the clarification by the Electoral Commission, which was comprehensive and honest in detailing out the various considerations that are needed before #Undi18 can be implemented, by the Electoral Commission’s estimation, between 18 and 24 months from now.
Nonetheless, Bersih 2.0 believes the registration of those who have turned 18 but are still under 21, can be and should be carried out as soon as possible using the existing registration process of filling out Form A (Borang A) at Electoral Commission offices, post offices and with appointed assistant registration officers and online through mysprdaftar.spr.gov.my
The historic multi-partisan consensus that was achieved in both the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament on 16 and 25 July 2019 respectively to amend Article 119(1) and 119(4), Article 47 and Section 5 of the 8th Schedule of the Federal Constitution, together with the assent by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, meant that it should be lawful for those 18 and above to register as voters as soon as possible.
While Article 66(5) of the Federal Constitution does state that “no law shall come into force until it has been published (gazetted)”, even if the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has assented to it, Bersih 2.0 believes that the expectation of the public, especially those who have or are turning 18 soon, is that they should be able to cast their first vote if there is a by-election in their constituency and for those living in Sarawak, to participate in the state election due by 5 August 2021.
After all the publicity and heightened expectations surrounding the success of lowering the voting age to 18, it would come as a major disappointment to these young voters if they are denied their right to vote in by-elections and the Sarawak state election.
There should not be any further delay for the government to gazette the amended laws for enforcement and to pave the way for young voters to register using the current registration process until the automatic voter registration mechanism is sorted out.
Bersih 2.0 recognises that the implementation of automatic voter registration is a multidisciplinary process involving legal amendments, ICT upgrades, inter-agency connectivity, assignment of localities, resource allocations, budgeting and many more considerations. As it involves the integrity of the electoral roll and the smooth conduct of elections, the implementation must not be rushed and there must be enough time for initial teething issues to be resolved before the next general election, due by 13 September 2023.
As such, Bersih 2.0 proposes that the registration of voters between 18 and 21 should commence as soon as possible while time is given to implement automatic voter registration by the next general election as they are two separate issues. The amendment to Article 119 should be gazetted as soon as possible with enforcement date.
Bersih 2.0 calls upon all political parties to support the immediate implementation of Undi18, longed by the youth, while the mechanism for automatic voter registration is being worked on by the Electoral Commission. If there is no objection, the Attorney General’s Chambers should have the amendment gazetted with enforcement date as soon as possible.
Once again, Bersih 2.0 would like to congratulate the lawmakers of the 14th Parliament for their bipartisan cooperation in achieving a key electoral reform that recognises the youth and empowers them in the process of nation-building.
There are still many more electoral and political reforms that require constitutional amendments and we hope that such bipartisanship would continue so that we can have a robust and mature parliamentary democracy. We deserve nothing less.
Satukan tenaga, Malaysia Baru!
Bersih 2.0 steering committee