Youth NGO expresses gratitude on court ruling

Ivan Alexander Ong

KUCHING: UndiSarawak, a youth non-governmental organisation (NGO) has expressed their utmost gratitude to the Kuching High Court in compelling the federal government to expedite the implementation of lower voting age from 21 to 18 by Dec 31 this year.

“This monumental decision is significant for Malaysian youths to exercise their constitutional right as citizens.

“The implementation of lower voting age will allow approximately 125,000 to 135,000 Sarawakians aged 18 to 20 to vote in the forthcoming state election,” it said in a statement today (Sept 3).

Ivan Alexander Ong, aged 19, who is one of the applicants in the suit against the Federal government, said he was grateful for the decision made by Justice Alexander Siew How Wai and the High Court of Sarawak.

“It will enable Malaysian youths to exercise their constitutional right to vote in the next election, especially for Sarawakians.

“There are 125,000 to 135,000 youths in Sarawak who will be able to vote in the upcoming state election once the localised emergency ends. Undi 18 created history where for the first time ever a constitutional amendment which restored the voting rights for millions of youths was agreed by all political parties.

“Going into this lawsuit, our main goal was not to win but more towards sending a message, saying that delaying the implementation of the Undi 18 Bill is irrational, illegal, disproportionate and amounts to voter suppression. “Therefore, my fellow applicants and I are beyond jubilant by the outcome of the ruling today.

“In the upcoming general elections, there will be approximately eight million new voters, which is a significant figure that can change the course of an election. 1.2 million new voices will be heard, and new policies and reforms will take place in line with these new voices,” he said after the court ruling on Friday (Sept 3).

Another of the litigant, Grace Chang Swee Ern, aged 19, welcomed the decision saying youths between the ages of 18 to 20 in Malaysia will be recognised as those who have the right to decide the country’s fate and future.

“The right to vote at the age of 18 is one of the fundamental processes which is instrumental in the development of a healthy democracy. Youths are concerned about the decisions that are vital for their future, and voting should be one of the best ways to voice their concerns.

“This is not about partisan politics. This is about our voices and our rightful role in Malaysia’s democracy. Thus, I strongly believe that lowering the voting age to 18 years in both federal and state elections will lead Malaysia ahead to a better nation,” she stated.

Meanwhile, the Kuala Lumpur High Court will decide on a similar suit filed by 18 Malaysian youths on Oct 21.

“We hope the verdict made today will set a precedent for the Kuala Lumpur chapter and become a hallmark achievement for Malaysian youth.

“With that, Malaysian youths can finally exercise their fundamental constitutional rights bestowed upon them by the Federal Constitution, in creating a much more prosperous Malaysia,” it added.