KUCHING, Sept 3 — Sarawak’s Opposition politicians today urged Putrajaya not to appeal against Kuching High Court’s decision to compel the federal government and the Election Commission (EC) to take steps to implement Undi18 by the end of this year, to enable Malaysians under 18 to vote in the next elections, instead of waiting until they turn 21.
State PKR information chief Abun Sui Anyit said the court’s ruling will become academic if the appeal is allowed in the higher court.
“I hope the federal government and the EC will not appeal against the high court’s decision.
“If they want to appeal, then it is within their right in law,” Abun, who is also a lawyer, told Malay Mail.
He also hoped that the petitioners would put up a cross-appeal to expedite the Order of Mandamus to a date much earlier instead of December 1, 2021.
Bandar Kuching Member of Parliament Dr Kelvin Yii, while welcoming the court’s decision, congratulated the five Sarawakian youths and youngsters nationwide who stood up and worked hard to file the judicial review against the federal government and the EC.
“Their commitment, courage and diligence have set an example for us all that youths can take a forefront in fighting for what is right for our country.
“Their act has catalysed a monumental decision which is significant for all Malaysian youths and a recognition for their important role in our country’s democratic system,” he said.
He said the ruling also showed that the initial decision by the Perikatan Nasional government to delay the implementation of the Undi18 constitutional amendments was illegitimate, without basis and a form of voter suppression, especially to deny the youths of their voice and right to vote.
“That is why I urge the federal government to not delay the implementation anymore, not just in respect for the High Court decision, but also in respect to the spirit of Parliament where such constitutional amendments were passed in the House unanimously across political lines even in the midst of a highly partisan political climate,” he said
“We need to push for a more progressive, more constructive, and more participatory politics as we welcome our youth into the arena.
“The youth empowerment must be central to the government’s agenda, and they must embody the fact that the youths are not just the leaders of our future but are also the leaders of today.
“I also urge the prime minister and the Attorney General (AG) not to appeal the decision to respect the wishes of our youth and instead focus all energy and resources to implement it as soon as possible,” Yii said.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, however, hoped that EC will appeal to properly determine the law to the highest tribunal or apex court and untainted by political and other inclinations.
The five youths — all aged 18 to 20 — had named the lawsuit’s three respondents as Tan Sri Mahiaddin Md Yasin (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s legal name) in his then 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.
Kuching High Court Judicial Commissioner Alexander Siew How Wai, in his ruling, granted an order of certiorari quashing the decision of the respondents to defer the implementation of Section 3 of the amended Federal Constitution to after September 2022.
He also ordered an order of mandamus that the respondents take all steps necessary for Section 3 to come into operation as soon as possible and in any event by December 31, 2021.