KUALA LUMPUR: Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), along with an independent MP from Sabah, has given its nod to lower the voting age to 18, boosting the chances of the Pakatan Harapan government’s bid to amend Article 119 of the Federal Constitution to enable the move.Pakatan, which has 139 seats in the House, needs nine more votes to meet the 148 required for a two-thirds majority to amend the Federal Constitution. There are 222 seats in the Dewan Rakyat.

GPS, a coalition made up of Sarawak-based parties – Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu, Parti Rakyat Sarawak, Parti Demokratik Progresif, Parti Rakyat Bersatu Sarawak and Parti Sarawak Bersatu – has 18 seats in the House.

When contacted, GPS parliamentary chief whip Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said it would support the proposal on the condition that it came with automatic voter registration.

“We can consider the viability of fielding 18-year-olds as candidates in elections later.

“We have suggested for a proper study on this matter while considering the various views of stakeholders,” he said.

Another supporter of the amendment is Sipitang MP Yamani Hafez Musa.

The Sabah lawmaker said lowering the voting age to 18 would mean empowering youth to have more say in their country’s future.

“Being a former youth leader, I believe in youth empowerment so together with automatic voter registration, we have the potential to make the electoral process more democratic and inclusive,” he said, adding that automatic voter registration was important to reduce human error and the perception of phantom voters.

GPS and Yamani have echoed the views of other Opposition politicians on the proposal to bring down the voting age from 21 to 18.

Last week, PAS secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said the Opposition would support Pakatan’s bid to amend the voting age only if it also allowed automatic voter registration and 18-year-olds to run in elections as candidates.

On Monday, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the Pakatan presidential council had agreed to allow automatic voter registration and 18-year-olds to contest as candidates in general elections.

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, who was present at the council meeting, said there would be three constitutional amendments within the current parliamentary session to implement the changes.