The opposition parties will only back the constitutional amendment to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 if all their demands on the matter are met. -- NSTP/MOHAMAD SHAHRIL BADRI SAALI

KUALA LUMPUR: The opposition parties will only back the constitutional amendment to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 if all their demands on the matter are met.

These are to allow automatic voter registration and to allow 18-year-olds to run in elections as candidates said Pas secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan.

The Kota Baru member of parliament stressed that opposition parties would only give their support if the government agreed to amend the Bill before it was tabled for second reading on July 16.

“We will support the proposal to amend Article 119 of the Federal Constitution to lower the voting age with conditions.

“If Tun (Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad) amends the bill, then we will vote in (favour of it).

“At this point of time, the government has only proposed to reduce the voting age from 21 to 18.

“If the government does not agree with all three demands, the opposition will table a Private Member’s Bill.

“We will wait until it is tabled on July 16.

“This Bill could (still) be amended before it is tabled for the second reading.

“They don’t have to withdraw, just tender the amendment to the Bill,” he said, adding that there would be a briefing by the PM to all MPs on the Bill.

Meanwhile, MCA president Wee Ka Siong also said that he would support the amendment “if the opposition’s proposals are accepted by the government”.

“It will be strange if those allowed to vote at that age (18-year-olds) are barred from contesting as candidates,” he said.

“Second is the automatic voter automatic, if there is issue with (voter) registration, why not make it automatic?” he said.

Wee said the prime minister’s announcement yesterday showed that the government was willing to accept the opposition’s proposals.

“This means it is no longer like what it used to be, being stubborn with constitutional amendments and not consulting the other side,” he said.

The Bill to amend Article 119 of the Federal Constitution to lower the voting age was tabled by Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman last Thursday.

On Monday, Dr Mahathir said the Pakatan presidential council had agreed to allow automatic voter registration and 18-year-olds to contest as candidates in general elections.

At the moment there is no provision in the Federal Constitution for automatic registration of voters.

Article 47 (b) states that the age qualification to become a member of the Dewan Rakyat, the candidate in question must have attained the age of 21.

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