The unanimous parliamentary support for the constitutional amendment to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 years is a historic occasion for Malaysia and a wish come true for me 48 years after my first raising the issue in Parliament in 1971.
In 1971, when I raised the issue in an adjournment speech, the countries which had already given the right to vote to their 18-year-olds included the United Kingdom, Turkey, Poland, Canada and Germany.
The countries which had lowered the voting age of 21 to 18 since my speech in Parliament on the issue in 1971 included the Netherlands, United States, Finland, Sweden, Ireland, Philippines, Australia, France, New Zealand, Italy, Trinidad and Tobago, Denmark, Spain, Peru, Belgium, India, Switzerland, Austria, Estonia, Hong Kong, Liechtenstein, Jordan, Pakistan, Morocco, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia and Japan.
If the DAP is a racist Chinese political party which dominated the Pakatan Harapan government, as is preached by leaders of an irresponsible political alliance of klepto-theocracy, the DAP would have stopped the constitutional amendment in its tracks, as there would be a greater increase of Malay voters as compared to Chinese voters because of the demographic composition in the country.
It is time however for Malaysians to think of themselves not just as Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans and Ibans, but even more important, think of themselves as Malaysians who share the common dream to make Malaysia a top world-class nation which is respected by the world for our democracy, good governance, social justice and economic prowess.
It has been said that the lowering of the voting age to 18 will be beneficial to the opposition and detrimental to the government of the day, as youths are generally anti-establishment and anti-government, and this was why the Malaysian Constitution was never amended in the past six decades to empower the youths.
But the Pakatan Harapan government has demonstrated that it will act in the best interests of the country, although it might be detrimental to the interests of the Harapan coalition with the talk that Pakatan Harapan is committing political suicide with the passage of the constitutional amendment yesterday.
The enfranchisement of Malaysians from 18 year-olds will be a reminder and challenge to the Pakatan Harapan government and leadership that Pakatan Harapan must deliver on the promise in the 14th General Election as set out in the Election Manifesto to reset nation-building policies to build a New Malaysia which is a top world-class nation respected by the world for our democracy, good governance, social justice and economic prowess.
The Pakatan Harapan government and leadership must embark on a programme to engage the youths in the country and enlist their support in the building of a New Malaysia.
It is not possible to undo the corruption, abuses of power and injustices of six decades in a year or two, as it is a mission which will take more than one election cycle.
But we must be able to convince all Malaysians, including the newly enfranchised and empowered youths, that Pakatan Harapan is on track to build a New Malaysia, and that the five pillar-promises as contained in the Pakatan Harapan election manifesto in the 14th General Election remain our lodestar and guiding principle.
The five pillar-promises of a New Malaysia are: