Raising the voting age to 21 would be a retrograde step for our society

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 January, 2014, 5:10am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 January, 2014, 5:10am

I do not support those who are calling for the raising of the voting age to 21.

In Hong Kong, 18 is the threshold of adulthood as it is conceptualised in law. An individual is then bestowed with the right to vote. Why society sets the legal age as 18 is that residents are recognised to be mature enough to think and act independently once they have passed this milestone. In most developed countries, such as the UK and the US, the voting age is 18 and there seems to be a wide consensus on this.

Now comes the question: are students who have just completed their secondary school education not mature enough to vote? A spoon-feeding style of education in Hong Kong can stifle the independent thinking of these students. But does this imply that most of them are unable to take a clear stance on their political view, or even distinguish between right and wrong?

At least liberal studies teachers may agree with me. Having sat in liberal studies classes since Secondary Four, I have been exposed to countless social issues, which altered me from being politically apathetic to reading a newspaper daily. Thus, I truly believe that those youngsters who have registered as voters do not lack the wit to select their ideal political representatives after graduating from secondary schools.

Are young people nowadays politically apathetic? I think not. As they realise that politics is in fact related to their daily life, they tend to express their political views via the internet, or even put them into practice. This is not an occasional phenomenon but is in fact a general political awakening of Hong Kong students.

A civilised society should appreciate the social participation of youngsters. Why should some young adults in Hong Kong be deprived of their voting rights? Isn't that a retrograde step for society?

Samuel Lo Chun-yin, Sai Ying Pun