Youth voting advocate Tharma Pillai is among seven Malaysian youths who were recently placed in the esteemed Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2021 list.

In response to the honour by the US business magazine, Tharma, 27, tweeted that it was a "crazy huge honour" to be chosen to the list.

Tharma co-founded the Undi18 movement with Qyira Yusri, whom he had met at a Malaysian student leadership conference in the United States in 2018.

The outfit, which started as a student movement in 2016, had been fighting for the amendment of Article 119 (1) of the Federal Constitution to reduce the minimum voting age from 21 to 18, and to lower the minimum age for elected representatives in both federal and state elections to be 18 years old.

On top of this, Undi18 had also been pushing for the implementation of an automatic voter registration system, which would create an additional eight million (or 25 percent) voters, nationwide.

According to a report in the Prestige magazine, Tharma's thirst for justice was partially shaped by his aunt, Dr Selva Vathany, who exposed the systematic abuse of the welfate system for the Orang Asli.

Lowering the voting age is a similar cause, he told the magazine, as Malaysian youths between 18 and 21 are not allowed to vote despite the law recognising 18 as the age of majority.
Other Malaysians included in the list are Ittify founder Tan Guan Sheng, Ogilvy creative director Jaz Lee, Women Photographers Malaysia co-founder Annice Lyn, Ento founder Kevin Wu, and JomStudy founder Ong Yong Xun. 

For the record, the consititutional amendment to lower the voting age was passed unanimously in both the Upper and Lower Houses of the Parliament and was set to be implemented in July this year, but it has been delayed.

Earlier this month, the movement filed sued the prime minister, the federal government, and the Election Commission (EC), to ensure that those aged between 18 and 20 will be able to register to vote by July this year, instead of only after September next year.

This after EC announced last month that the lowering of the voting age will only be implemented after September 2022.

The Attorney-General's Chambers has objected to the suit, calling it "premature".

Kudos to Tharma and Qyira for making the Forbes list, and for coming this far with their cause.

May this recognition motivate them to achieve more success in the future.

Source:, The Rakyat Post, Malay Mail
Photo source:, Malay Mail