KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Parliament on Tuesday passed a landmark bill that lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.
It marked the first time that lawmakers from the government and opposition parties were able to work together for constitutional change.
“Let us create history for Malaysia today,” said Prime Minister Mahathir Muhamad in his closing speech in Parliament.
“We may have political differences, but we can agree on the wellbeing and prosperity of Malaysians.”
The law will be called the Constitution (Amendment) Act 2019. Mahathir told MPs that the amendment is evidence that the government is serious about fulfilling its election promises of lowering the voting age and “implementing automatic voters’ registration through the National Registration Department.”
The 2018 general election witnessed 14.9 million registered voters. The government hopes that the bill will increase the number of registered voters to 22.7 million by 2023.
The bill also enables Malaysians to run for the House of Representatives and the State Assembly from the age of 18 instead of 21.
The country’s previous voting age had hindered many young people from participating in political change.
Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq, a millennial, described the passing of the bill as “historic.”
Cooperation between lawmakers had “significantly shaped the democratic foundation of the country for young people on a par with other democracies in the world,” he said.