Mahathir government ponders reducing voting age to 18 from 21
Malaysia’s youngest ever minister, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, said the government plans to reduce the voting age from 21 to 18 before the next elections in 2023, New Straits Times Malaysia Online reported on Monday.
In an interview with Bloomberg in Kuala Lumpur, the 25-year old Cabinet member said the government would ask the Attorney-General’s Office to look into what laws to be amended to reduce the voting age to 18 which would add an another 3.7 million voters or an increase of 25 percent from the election in May.
Voters aged 21-39 make up around 40 percent of the Malaysian electorate, twice the number of voters over 60, according to the Election Commission data.
“That means the youth vote block becomes bigger and stronger, and therefore, they cannot be sidelined in the Malaysian political scene anymore,” said Saddiq, a member of Mahathir’s political party.
“The youth care about two primary issues,” said Saddiq. “One is abut bread and butter issues, which is cost of living, affordable housing, good employment opportunities, and quality of life. The second is getting their voice heard in the nation-building process,” said the minister.
About 75 percent of younger voters backed the opposition, according to Ibrahim Suffian, the executive director of pollster Merdeka Centrem whick tracks voter sentiments. The Merdeka Centre estimated a voter turnout of about 81 percent for youths with urban areas of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor seeing more young people outplace their elders in casting ballots.
“Young voters are truly kingmakers in the elections – they were the ones who brought us into government,” said Saddiq. “But also a word of caution, they could also be the ones who take us out from government because they are not loyal to any political party.”