KUALA LUMPUR (July 16): "This is a historic day in Malaysia," Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad declared at a press conference, after the Dewan Rakyat unanimously passed a bill to lower the voting age to 18.
"It didn't happened before; I have been in this Parliament for a long time, but this is the first time where a law was passed by all members of Parliament. Not even a vote objected to it, far higher than the two-third majority that we needed," he added.
The constitutional amendment bill was supported by all 211 MPs present today, including former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who managed to get the High Court to adjourn his trial early, so he could vote for the bill.
The bill includes constitutional amendments to lower the voting age, ensure uniformity between the voting age and candidacy age, and automatic voter registration.
Dr Mahathir said the outcome today reflects the maturity of Malaysian citizens.
"This shows the maturity of Malaysian citizens because firstly, when there was a change of government, there was no riot or violence of any kind, transition was very smooth. And this time, for the first time in history, we have achieved bipartisanship, a total bipartisanship, this is an achievement by the people of Malaysia, in their choice of their representatives," he said.
He noted that the amendment to the Federal Constitution would result in an increase in the country’s voter base by an additional 7.8 million people in the next general election. The total number of registered voters in the 14th general election last year was 14.9 million.