Straits Times: Should 18-year-olds get to vote? WP youth forum to debate issue

BY JEREMY AU YONG

LET 18-year-olds vote – this notion will be the focus of a public forum organised by the Workers’ Party (WP) youth wing on Saturday.

The question may not traditionally have been a major political point, but WP youth wing organising secretary Bernard Chen, 22, said that the topic was chosen because it is one that is “close to his heart”.

“If youth had a chance to vote at a younger age, I think the likelihood is greater that they will get involved and interested in government and politics,” he said.

He disagreed with the notion that the young may not be serious enough for such a responsibility.

Currently, the official voting age is 21.

The forum will be the first in a series that the opposition party has named YouthQuake, meant as a platform for raising youth-centric issues.

“We feel that youth in Singapore seldom have a voice, so this is a place where they can speak up,” said Mr Chen.

Three young speakers have been lined up for the inaugural forum.

They are: Mr Choo Zheng Xi, 21, who runs online political blog The Online Citizen; full-time national serviceman Khairulanwar Zaini, 19; and student Anne Tan, 17.

None of the three is a WP member although Anne is the daughter of WP member Eric Tan, who was part of the party’s team that stood in East Coast GRC in the previous election.

Mr Choo said he agreed to speak at the forum because he feels the issue of voting age is an important one.

“More important than the endpoint, whether the law is changed or not, is the process of getting young people to reflect on politics and public discourse,” he said.

Organisers are expecting around 60 people to attend the two-hour forum on Saturday at the WP headquarters in Syed Alwi Road, near Lavender MRT station.

According to Mr Chen, the group has been spreading word about the forum through e-mail, blogs and via social networking website Facebook.

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