Saturday, December 12, 2009

Time to introduce automatic registration of voters and to lower voting age from 21 to 18

At 9am today, i launched the voter registration exercise at the Bidor(Perak) market in the presence of A.Sivanesan( Assemblyman of Sungkai) and fellow supporters.
The following is my speech made at the event.

In the 2008 general election, 4 million voters could not exercise their constitutional right to vote simply because they were not registered voters. 4 million is not a small figure and this constitutes about 25 % of the eligible voters.

In November last year, the EC deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar revealed that there will be two million young people who will be eligible to vote at the next general election, in addition to the 4 million who did not register before the 2008 general election.

Despite the Election Commission (EC) having implemented all year round registration of voters since 2002, , it has not been successful to get 90 % of eligible citizens to register as votes. The problem will continue to occur again come next general election where it will again fail to register 90 % of the eligible people.
There are many reasons for the EC's past and consistent failures. An obvious and effective solution to this problem will be to introduce automatic registration of voters.

However, despite claims by BN government that it is committed to a vibrant democracy, it has not supported such a proposal made by the DAP many years ago.

A vibrant democracy will involve the active participation of eligible voters in the polling process and I see no valid ground for the BN government not to support the automatic registration of voters, except that it continues to fear that automatic registration will increase the number of young voters who are seen as anti establishment, therefore being detrimental to the BN's political interest.

But political interest cannot be the ground why the government continues to reject the proposal of automatic registration of voters.
In fact, since the nation has seen 12 general elections , it is also time that the minimum voting age at general election should be lowered from the present age of 21 to 18.

If we can let our young people of 18 years to drive motorcycles and cars, surely we can trust their maturity and ability to make political choices and decisions.
More importantly, this is the internet era where so many young people have become internet savvy and are very aware and concerned with political issues and development in the country.

The time has therefore come for the country to trust our youths' maturity and respect their right to participate in the election process.

M.Kula Segaran, Chairman Voters Registration Campaign DAP Perak.

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