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The High Court in Kuching ruled that the government and Election Commission (EC) must take steps to implement Undi18 by the end of this year, to enable Malaysians aged 18 to vote in the next elections instead of waiting until they turn 21. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng
The High Court in Kuching ruled that the government and Election Commission (EC) must take steps to implement Undi18 by the end of this year, to enable Malaysians aged 18 to vote in the next elections instead of waiting until they turn 21. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 3 ― Five Malaysian youths who took the government and the Election Commission (EC) to court for delaying lowering the voting age to 18, won today.

The High Court in Kuching, Sarawak ruled that the government and Election Commission (EC) must take steps to implement Undi18 by the end of this year, to enable Malaysians aged 18 to vote in the next elections instead of waiting until they turn 21.

High Court judicial commissioner Alexander Siew How Wai ruled that the EC and government had acted “illegally” and “irrationally” when they decided to delay the Undi18 implementation from the promised date of July 2021 to September 2022.

Following his decision that the EC and government had failed to act with “all convenient speed” to implement the lower minimum voting age of 18, Siew granted two court orders.

The first court order is to quash the EC and government’s decision to delay the implementation of Undi18 until after September 2022.

The second court order is a mandamus order that compels the EC and government to “take all necessary steps” for the constitutional amendment which includes Undi18 to “come into operation as soon as possible and in any event by December 31, 2021”.

Today was the delivery of the High Court’s decision for five Malaysian youths’ lawsuit or judicial review application to seek the immediate enforcement of a 2019 Constitutional amendment, which had lowered the minimum voting age in Malaysia from the initial 21 to the new age of 18.

The five youths — all aged 18 to 20 — had named the lawsuit’s three respondents as Tan Sri Mahiaddin Md Yasin in his capacity as prime minister, the government of Malaysia, and the Election Commission.

The five Malaysian youths — who are also part of the Undi18 movement that successfully advocated for the lower voting age and include four Sarawak-born youths — who filed this lawsuit are Ivan Alexander Ong, Viviyen Desi Geoge, Tiffany Wee Ke Ying, Chang Swee Ern and Sharifah Maheerah Syed Haizir. Their right to vote is directly affected as they are aged 18 to 20.

They had filed the lawsuit on May 4, and had obtained leave for judicial review on May 28, which led to the hearings on July 27 and August 13 of the judicial review application on its merits, and to the decision today.

Separately, 18 Malaysian youths also aged 18 to 20 and also part of the Undi18 movement had on April 2 filed a similar lawsuit in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur, and had on June 17 won leave for judicial review. The court is scheduled to deliver its decision on the youths’ judicial review on October 21.

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