Separating Undi18, automatic voter registration: Bersih demands answers

Electoral watchdog, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0), is demanding answers from Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s cabinet on the proposal to separate the implementation of lowering the voting age to 18 years (Undi18) and automatic voter registration (AVR).

Following reports last week that the cabinet meeting on April 7 was going to discuss the matter, Bersih is questioning the lack of a statement on the issue.

“The good news that Malaysians have been waiting for a week did not happen.

“Bersih 2.0 questions whether the two cabinet ministers – Youth and Sports Minister Reezal Merican; and Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin – had actually presented this proposal to the cabinet as promised according to media reports on March 31,” it said in a statement today.

Bernama on March 31, reported that Reezal said his ministry hoped that the Election Commission (EC) could implement the proposal after the cabinet had unanimously expressed its support for Undi18 to proceed.

“The amendment (to the Federal Constitution in July 2019) comprises various matters, so I think we have to start with the low hanging fruit,” he said, adding that he would submit a letter to the EC and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Takiyuddin Hassan on the respective proposals.

Questioning the silence following the meeting, Bersih is now demanding that Takiyuddin state his stand as the de facto law minister as well as PAS’s stand on the separation of Undi18 and AVR.

“Undi18 could have already been enforced in August 2019 if not for PAS’s demand to implement both at the same time.

“If PAS is not afraid of the youth votes, then Takiyuddin should support Reezal and Khairy’s proposal to enforce Undi18 immediately while waiting for the AVR hurdle to be resolved.

“With this separation, Malaysians who have reached the age of 18 and above can register as voters for any upcoming by-election, state election or federal election,” said Bersih.

It reminded the PN government that deliberately delaying Undi18 would appear to be a despicable act to suppress youth voters and will only ignite waves of anger like the tactic of holding GE14 on a Wednesday.

“Youths, who are already hampered by various education, economic and social issues, will not sit idly by while being bullied by hypocrite politicians who are trying to delay Undi18 now, after approving the constitutional amendment in the Dewan Rakyat unanimously on July 16, 2019, without any doubt of the maturity of youth at that time,” said Bersih.

It also demanded the establishment of an independent committee comprising representatives of government parties, opposition and the civil society to investigate the delay in the completion of the AVR, claiming that EC chairperson Abdul Ghani Salleh has misled the people with fake news that the delay was due to the movement control order.

“This independent panel should be authorised to open files and submit information including contracts and costs of AVR preparation, the tender process by the EC, reasons for delay and contractor responsibilities, and compensation to be paid for failure,” it added.

Bersih said that Abdul Ghani’s excuses would undermine the public’s confidence in the competency or integrity, or both, of his leadership.

“The EC chairperson is urged to salvage his dignity by resigning and give way to a more competent and honest successor,” it said.

Malaysiakini is attempting to contact ministers present at yesterday’s meeting to verify if the proposal was discussed there or not.

(First published by Malaysiakini, 8 April 2021: