#Undi18: What is the movement about and why does it matter?

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PC: Malaysiakini

PRETTY sure, most of you are aware of the on-going #Undi18 campaign. But, do y’all really know what is up with Undi18? Okay, let me explain. Basically, Undi18 is a bill that was passed in parliament two years ago by the Harapan government with YB Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (the former Minister of Youth and Sports) being the strong advocate for the cause. It was a calling for lowering the voting minimum age of voting from 21 to 18 years old. The bill was passed after 211 MPs voted for it back then and in fact it is the only bill in history that received 100% of votes from all parties.

Article 119(1) of the Federal Constitution to reduce the minimum voting age in Malaysia from 21 to 18 years old.

Despite getting a remarkable victory and the bill was passed but it is still not in force because a date needs to be determined by the Federal Government and this has to be notified by the gazette.  Things went haywire recently, because few national leaders associated with the ruling government including Youth and Sports Deputy Minister Wan Ahmad Fayshal Wan Ahmad Kamal made negative comments about it. Many of them are against #Undi18 as they presume it to be a bad decision because those below the age of 21 are still too immature to vote (apparently).

“If not now, then when?” Syed Saddiq, Former Minister of Youth and Sports 

Do take note, that some of these ministers including our current Deputy Minister was one of the supporters of the bill in 2019 when he was still a part of the Pakatan Harapan government. He is now part of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government. So, y’all faham la!  But in all fairness, he did clarify his statement and stressed that he is still in support of Undi18. And that his only concern is that youth under the age of 21 need to be more politically aware so that they can be better informed when it comes to voting. He also emphasized on the need of a more institutionalized form of political education to be implemented.

Below, I’ve gathered everything you need to know about #Undi18 movement and how you can be part of it. Let’s be frank here, in Malaysia, at 18, who can get a driving license, get married, enter into contractual obligations, or even serve the country in high-risk jobs like police force, fire brigade and the army. So, if we think that 18-year-olds are mature enough to pick up arms to defend the country, it is then illogical to say that they are not mature enough to decide who runs the government, correct?

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What’s Happening with Undi18?

Senator and Youth & Sports Deputy Minister Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal allegedly said that Malaysians are not ready to vote at 18 years old despite the bill being passed Parliament in July 2019 that made history as the first successful constitutional amendment that received support from both sides of the political divide.

Why Is Undi18 Not In Effect Yet?

The “Undi 18 Bill”, officially known as Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019, was passed by Dewan Negara on 25 July 2019 and officially gazetted on 10 September 2019. However, it is not yet in force as the date is to be determined by the Federal Government. Election Commission deputy chairman Azmi Sharom also explained that the law can only come to effect after the automatic voter registration is sorted out, which is estimated to be completed by July 2021.

Why Undi18 Matters? 

Mainly because Malaysian youth have a right to determine their nation’s political future, including choosing a government to run the country. With the on-going COVID-19 pandemic that has left a significant impact on the youth, especially in terms of job prospects and unemployment, there isn’t a better time to hear youth’s voice in politics than now.

How Can You Help?

Join hands with the MUDA team and let’s call Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to state his commitment in implementing this Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019, and to confirm whether such implementation will really happen in July 2021. Share this post and spread more awareness of the importance of youth participation in politics. Together we can make a difference.

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Lastly, I strongly believe #Undi18 is more than a call for democracy, it is a democratic achievement in the true spirit of youth empowerment. Because youth are not just the leaders of our future, but we are the leaders of today. Youth issues are national issues and that is why the youth must be involved in decision-making structures and processes! So, let’s hope #Undi18 becomes the role model for the implementation of real and genuine youth empowerment.

References: 

  1. https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/485483
  2. https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2021/02/16/deputy-minister-reiterates-supports-for-undi18-says-only-concerned-about-vo/1950190
  3. https://www.therakyatpost.com/2021/02/15/undi-18-dep-minister-says-msian-youth-not-ready-while-the-passed-law-sits-in-limbo-for-almost-2-years/
  4. https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2021/02/666910/time-govt-gazette-undi18-bill
  5. https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/undi-18-will-empower-and-give-youth-confidence-says-saifuddin
  6. https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2021/02/14/cold-feet-among-perikatan-as-parties-gear-up-for-early-ge15-undi18-voters-r/1949578
  7. https://www.astroawani.com/berita-malaysia/undi18-apa-status-pindaan-had-umur-mengundi-282324

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