CM says Sarawak welcomes Undi18

Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg at the launch of Hybrid City Alliance at a leading hotel here on Friday (Oct 22). Photo: Ghazali Bujang

KUCHING: The notion thytat the state government is rushing its state election to avoid the implementation of Undi18 is pure nonsense, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said Sarawak was among the first states to amend its Constitution to enable those aged 18 to 20 to vote in line with Undi18.

“Our position is clear, there is democracy here – we also respect Undi18. The Sarawak government has amended its state Constitution to allow 18-year-olds to vote.”

Abang Johari said Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government needed a fresh mandate from the people to govern in line with democracy.

“At this time we are actually in ‘injury time’. We don’t have the mandate. We are expired, waiting for ‘penalty kick’,” he said using the football jargon.

Abang Johari said he knew for a fact that there were other states that had not amended their state constitution (to facilitate Undi18),

He told reporters this when met after officiating the Kuching — Hybrid City Alliance programme at a leading hotel here on Friday (Oct 22).

He was responding to statements from opposition parties and leaders who alleged that GPS was rushing the state election before Undi18 is implemented, was akin to depriving young voters to exercise their democratic rights.

Last month, youth movement Undi18 called upon six states to amend their Constitutions to allow those aged 18 and above to be able to vote and become candidates in the next general election.

The six states are Kedah, Pahang, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor. The movement commended the state governments of Perlis, Perak, Kelantan, Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak and most recently, Penang, for amending their constitutions.

Sarawak amended its State Constitution last year, lowering the minimum age for electors and voters, from 21 years old to 18 years old.

On September 3, the High Court in Kuching quashed the government’s and EC’s decision to defer the implementation of the constitutional amendment — which includes Undi18 and automatic voter registration (AVR) — to after September 2022.

High Court judicial commissioner Alexander Siew How Wai also gave a court order that required all necessary steps to be taken for the constitutional amendments to come into operation by December 31, 2021.

As of early this month, the federal government has not filed any appeal against the High Court’s order for it to implement Undi18 by the end of the year.