Media Statement by YB Kelvin Yii:
The current Youth & Sports Minister YB Dato’ Sri Reezal Merican should come out and give a clear assurance that Perikatan Nasional(PN) Government is still committed and not further delay the implementation of the Undi18 amendments to allow more youth to be part of of the electoral process.
It is disheartening to hear a statement from the Deputy Minister YB Wan Ahmad Fayshal stating that youth are not ready to vote which puts the current historic Undi18 amendments in a limbo even after 2 years since it received unanimous support from both the government and opposition under the Pakatan Harapan government even in the midst of a highly partisan political climate.
By right, a young leader such as himself should have been in the forefront to push for such empowerment agenda and for youth to have a bigger say in our country’s democratic process, rather than playing-down the readiness and role of the youth that he supposedly represents.
If the bill is passed, then by 2023, when the next general election is due, there will be about 3.8 million youths between the ages of 18 to 20 eligible to vote.
The arguments used most commonly against this which was echoed by the Deputy Minister is that the young people, especially 18-year-olds, are not mature enough.
The fact is, in our country, under the Age of Majority Act 1971, 18-year-olds are considered “adults,” assuming full legal capacity and are liable for their own actions.
In Malaysia, at 17, a person can get a driving licence, while an 18-year-old is allowed to get married, work and pay taxes, enter into contractual obligations, or even serve the country in high-risk jobs such as joining the police force, fire brigade and the army.
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.
From this perspective, we can no longer disenfranchise 3.8 million adults from the formal democratic process of our country.
Young Malaysians are not naïve, nor are they immature. They are part of the most educated generation and grew up in an age of hyper-information. More and more young Malaysians are more informed with the current situation in the country especially with the influx of information through formal and informal media.
The burst of social media usage and political discussions including the recent “ClubHouse” sensation has proven that our youth are not just interested in nation building but have substantive opinions and suggestion about the future of our nation.
For a long time, youth in Malaysia were alienated from the political process. In 1971, the then Barisan Nasional government introduced the Universities and University Colleges Act which, among others, banned students from taking part in politics.
That is why the Undi18 amendments under the PH government has a historical moment and a game changer including enabling the youths to independently think and act on issues about their life, their surroundings, and their futures.
That is why we must not take a step back. Taking the voices of the youth for granted and denying them the rights to vote is an outright regressive move.
Youth empowerment should be central to the governments agenda and they must embody the fact that the youth are not just the leaders of our future but are also the leaders of today.
We have seen so many young people across the globe taking to the frontlines to take up responsibility to lead and make a change for their country. Young Malaysians are capable of doing so, and they deserve every opportunity of doing so.
That is why I urge the current PN Government not to delay the gazettement and implementation of Undi18 any longer. We need to push for a more progressive, more constructive, and more participatory politics as we welcome our youth into the arena.
The harder you try to silence the youth, the louder they will fight back.
Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen
MP Bandar Kuching