The 1st local youth parliament in Penang was held at the City Hall on Monday morning as the first event of the ‘Local Democracy Week’. 30 youths were gathered at the City Hall as council members to present their views on several issues pertaining the democracy, economy, infrastructure, education and rights.
Majority of the youths were agreeable to lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 years old. Ivy Kwek presented the first proposal, saying that youths today are well-informed and internet savvy enough to elect their representatives and leaders.
Her proposal was seconded by Chris Lee, who says that those who are in the armed forces are also expected to take down the enemy if necessary even if they are only 18 years old.
However, Satees Muniandy only agrees to the proposal in part he feels that teenagers are easily influenced, especially with the propagandas found in mainstream media and the government programme called Biro Tata Negara (BTN). He further cautioned that more studies and research needs to be made before lowering the voting age.
Among other youths present yesterday were Ong Jing Cheng, Rozaimin, Haris Zuan, Ivy Kwek, David Seow, Chris Lee, Dalbinder Singh, Syed Mikael, Liew Man Lee, Yow Chong Lee, Kumaresan, Amir Ghazali, Muhb Syahid and Rich Too.
Rich Too, made an early exit after several members in the youth parliament openly criticized him. He had also stumbled in his speech in Bahasa Malaysia.
Meanwhile, all others conversed fluently in the national language especially Yow Chong Lee who sounded almost like a native speaker.
There were six women altogether, making up a fifth of the members. However, only three of the women spoke.
Speaker Abdul Halim suggested that the Youth Parliament be open to youths from aged 11 to 20 or those below voting age, as is done in the UK.