One of the least talked about flaws of Singapore’s political and governmental system is the high voting age of 21. This is 3 years higher than the age of 18 used by the rest of the world. This voting age has been put in place since Singapore’s independence and has received very little dialogue or criticism. Having a high voting age by itself would not be a huge flaw, however, when this combined with another feature of Singapore’s society national service, It becomes inexcusable. Despite Criticism, Singapore is a democratic republic that derives its legitimacy from the people. A government can only be formed by a vote of MP’s, representative of the people and our head of state derives his legitimacy from being democratically elected by the people. Our former chief justice Young Pung How stated that “The right lies in the people to determine if any law passed be [sic: by] Parliament goes against the principles of justice or otherwise. This right, the people exercise through the ballot box” when questioned about who has the ultimate authority to grant rights.
Singapore as a state also rely on a conscript military in order to defend itself against threats in the region and National service forms a key backbone that allows the state of Singapore to continue to exist. The government has launched programs to remind us of the way our society relies on Ns men but as we do that. Despite the fact that they are expected to risk their lives for the good of society, they are still denied the right to vote on the grounds of immaturity and the idea that 21 year old “would then be in a better position to assess the quality of the candidates and to make considered judgments about the national issues at stake in the political debate”^1 in the only defense the government has offered of the high voting that I am able to access.
If we expect 18-year-olds to be mature enough to handle heavy weaponry and military training, why exactly are we unable to trust them with the basic right to vote ?. There is little evidence that people become better informed as they age and terrible leaders of turn the elderly into their base of support.All arguments against youth voting could almost equally be applied to the elderly but because of vested interests, any proposal to strip them of their voting rights would be met with mockery. The Idea that young people are politically disinterested and ignorant are red hearings given widespread disinterest and ignorance present in almost every voting demographic. If we wish to exclude the ignorant and disinterested using the imprecise tool of age being against the implementation of a voting test is the height of intellectual dishonesty and stupidity.
We should be able to extend the most basic of civil rights to those who are charged with defending those rights without worrying of their immaturity or ignorance gave their responsibility to defend them. A counter argument some might make is that male youths do NS and while in an ideal world both genders would do NS, it’s best to extend the franchise to those charged with defending even if it extends the franchise to some who don’t. In summary reducing the voting age would be a simple reform that would greatly reduce the structural hypocrite found in Singapore political system while most arguments against allowing youths to vote are baseless deflection that could be used to ban any demographic from voting