Coming from a family personally involved in social justice and hoping his voice can help create change in society, Tharma Pillai’s sense of justice was partially shaped by his aunt Dr Selva Vathany, who lifted the lid on the systematic abuse of the welfare system for Orang Asli. Lowering the voting age to 18 is an issue of justice, says Tharma, who co- founded Undi 18, a youth-led movement dedicated to democratic reforms, with Qyira Yusri whom he met at a Malaysian student leadership conference in the United States. Despite the law recognising 18 years old as the age of majority, youth between 18 and 21 were not allowed to vote. It was the case for Malaysia until recently when the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 was passed, permitting those who are between 18 and 21 years old to have a say in determining the government.
According to him, the implication of introducing 7.8 million of new voters into the electoral rolls, thus making voters below the age of 40 the biggest and most influential bloc, is that politicians must now be aggressive in solving issues such as unemployment, housing and wages affecting the youth due to their lower allegiance to party politics. With this development, “I believe we have a golden opportunity to transform how we educate young Malaysians,” he says. “If we start thinking of young Malaysians as future voters, it means we will encourage the youth to speak up, allow space in university for critical debates and more critical thinking in our education syllabus.”
Tharma is wearing the HUBLOT Big Bang Meca 10 Titanium