Malaysian youth sue gov’t over delay in lowering the voting age

Youths posing with ‘Where are our votes?’ signs after filing the lawsuit. Photo: Qyira Yusri/ Twitter
Youths posing with ‘Where are our votes?’ signs after filing the lawsuit. Photo: Qyira Yusri/ Twitter

After staging a protest with hundreds of supporters over the weekend, a coalition of Malaysian youths went to the courts over the government’s failure to make good its promise to lower the voting age.

The group, drawn from various student bodies and organizations such as the Malaysian Youths for Education Reform and Undi18, filed papers in court naming Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, the federal government, and the Election Commission today over its delay in lowering the age to vote to 18, which was supposed to be implemented by July – potentially preventing them from participating in the next election. 

While 18- to 20-year-olds may cast ballots from September 2022 onward, they would not be eligible to vote in an election held soon after the state of emergency is lifted on Aug. 1.

Today’s lawsuit seeks a declaration by the High Court that the government’s delay is “irrational, illegal, disproportionate,” and akin to voter suppression. The young would-be voters want those rights extended to those under 21 by July, as promised July 2019.

Hundreds attended a Undi18 rally in front of the Parliament building Saturday on Jalan Parlimen Road, carrying placards and chanting slogans such as, “Where are our votes?” and “Let us have our right to vote!”

On Tuesday, the police questioned at least eight people involved and say they plan to call in four others including former Education Minister Maszlee Malik later today, who are accused of not notifying the authorities of the gathering. Even so, more than a dozen police officers and armed soldiers were present Saturday.

Other stories to check out:

Undi18: Dozens gather outside KL police station to support protesters

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