THERE is a need for serious thinking on the matter of lowering the voting age from 21 years to 18 years. For voting is a serious responsibility and should be exercised in an informed manner.
Most 18-year-olds are just out of school and may be continuing with their tertiary education while those not in schools are preoccupied with their own vocation. At this age the school students are cocooned with the experiences of curricular studies, tuition and examinations. They do not have the maturity or the time to reflect on the political needs of the country as their focus has been on achieving good grades as expected by their parents.
As is wont of young people they are more inclined towards engaging in social interactions and creating impressions among their peers. Any awareness if at all in politics varies significantly between the rural and urban youths.
Twenty-one-year-olds, on the other hand, would have at least made the transition from the protected school environment to a vocation or progress in thoughts as university students. They would have been exposed to the realities of life and would have matured to a certain extent and could exercise their voting rights in an informed manner and would not be accused of gullibility.
Aligned with this proposal of lowering the voting age is the rather incomprehensible suggestion that the 18-year-olds be allowed to stand for election. Yes, if one is allowed to vote, one has the right to contest for election, but common sense would dictate that 18-year-olds are not a logical choice to represent the electorate. That would be a fiasco and a farce.
There have been cases of young MPs, who in some cases gained their positions by default, have not lent voice to issues in the august house.
It is imperative that the authorities reconsider their proposals to lower the voting age. Such a move may provide profit for some political parties but may negatively affect the composition and sanctity of the Parliament that needs credible representatives elected by well-informed electorate.
Mohamed Ghouse Nasuruddin
Centre for Policy Research and International Studies
Universiti Sains Malaysia