Press release (17th July 2019): Let Historic Vote To Lower Voting Age Be The Beginning Of A New Malaysia

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) congratulates the members of the Dewan Rakyat for their whole-hearted support to amend Article 119(1) and 119(4) of the Federal Constitution to lower the eligible voting age to 18 and pave the way for automatic voters’ registration at the same time. History was made yesterday as it was the first time in our country that bipartisan cooperation saw the successful amendment to the Constitution, where a two-thirds majority was required. 

Bersih 2.0 is heartened that lawmakers from both sides of the divide demonstrated a rare unity on an issue that has such big electoral implication in our nation. We believe that the inclusion of younger voters into the process of electing political representatives would encourage their participation in issues that affect their daily lives as well as national issues. 

Bersih 2.0 also wishes to congratulate the PH government and in particular the Minister for Youth and Sports YB Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman for pushing through this amendment in a consultative manner, acceding to the request of the Opposition for automatic voter registration and lowering the age of candidates to 18 to be included as well. This surely sends a clear message that the days of bulldozing through laws and policies are over and that consultation and building consensus is the way to go.

Bersih 2.0 believes that it is the hope of every Malaysian that our elected Members of Parliament would continue to place the interests of our country above partisan interest and that they would continue to cooperate on legislating and amending laws that would protect the rights of all and strengthen the public institutions that serve us. 

Bersih 2.0 wishes to highlight several other key areas that require constitutional amendments that are also part of the Buku Harapan, the manifesto of the Pakatan Harapan government. The Opposition should apply pressure on the government to secure these reforms. These are:

  1. The PH manifesto Promise 17 stated that there will be a fair ratio in future delimitation exercises and announce transparently to the public the formula being used to determine the number of voters and the size of each constituency. The scale of malapportionment of constituencies would now be exacerbated through the lowering of voting age and automatic voters’ registration. Therefore, the Sabah Redelineation Report that is going to be debated in Parliament today should be withdrawn or rejected as once passed no delineation would be possible for the next 8 years. Amending Article 46 of the FC to change the allocation of seats to the states in the Federation would trigger a much needed redelineation exercise to rectify inter-state malapportionment.

  2. While it is not a PH manifesto promise, the lawmakers should consider amending the FC to allow the implementation of a new electoral system to replace or improve the First-Past-The-Post system so that electoral outcomes would be more representative and inclusive of Malaysia’s diverse communities.

  3. Limiting the term of office of the PM to two terms and removing the Prime Minister’s ability to manipulate key institutions by creating stronger check and balance mechanisms. The PM’s power to unilateral make key appointments or interfere in the appointment process of key public institutions such as the Election Commission, the Judicial Appointment Commission, the Chief Justice, the Human Rights Commission, the Attorney-General, Chief Justice, Auditor-General and MACC Chief, has to be restricted and the role of Parliament must be elevated so that it can be an effective check and balance to the Executive led by the PM. Amendments to Article 40, 114, 122, 145 and other laws may be required to incorporate the role of Parliament in the process of major appointments.
  4. Separating the office of the Attorney-General and that of the Public Prosecutor by amending Article 145 and 183 of the Federal Constitution and amendment of the definition of Public Prosecutor in the Interpretation Acts 1948 and 1967.

  5. Ensure that the number of Senators appointed by the states is always higher than those appointed by the Federal Government so that the interest of the states are always protected by amending Article 45 of the Federal Constitution.

  6. Restore Sabah and Sarawak to their rightful status in accordance with Malaysia Agreement 1963 by amending Article 2(1) to its pre-1976 wording and other laws that would elevate the status of the two regions in the concept of federalism as agreed in the MA63.

Once again, 16th July 2019 will go down in our nation’s history as a major milestone when politics took a back seat and national interest came first. Bersih 2.0 earnestly hope that such bipartisanship will become a new norm and that laws will be amended and enacted that would strengthen our parliamentary democracy and institutions so that the dream of a new Malaysia could be fully realized. 

Satukan Tenaga, Malaysia Baru!

Statement issued by:
Steering Committee of Bersih 2.0