The suitable age at which a child should learn about politics is from the moment he or she can talk," she said.Smith, who is attending the 54th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre here, was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a plenary session on democratic elections.
She said in her country, the voting age had over the years been reduced from 25 to 21, and more recently to the age of 18."Age does not determine maturity."There are a lot of older people who do not vote responsibly as well."
Smith said it took her 17 years and six attempts to win her seat in 1989, and that she had received a lot of support from young people.
"There're schoolchildren who say to me 'Hey, I voted for you'. I said, 'No you didn't. You're just 5'. "Then the child said 'No no, it's my family who voted for you'. "That's how involved they are. You know, you can't wait until people are 16 to 18 to talk to them."
She also said it was important for schools to teach civics. Through civics, they should teach children about the importance of voting and what it means to be contributing citizens."But I don't think they should teach partisan politics. I think politicians in each constituency should be doing what they can do to ensure that the children are involved.
"Let the young people speak to other young people. Start from within the family. Let them talk to their friends on what they understand about politics.
MES: Saya setuju dengan pendapat Smith di atas. Bukanlah kita nak mempolitikkan anak kecil ni. Tapi pendedahan seumpama ini amat baik. Ada sahabat saya yang berkata waktu mesyuarat-mesyuarat cawangan inilah kita perlu membawa nak kecil kita . Kerana supaya mereka akan dibiasakan dengan suasansa perjuangan Parti UMNO.Biar mereka biasa dengarkan lagu UMNO. Agar mereka tahu apa itu perjuangan orang lama. Kita yang besarkan mereka... mereka Pewaris kita.. Kalau bukan mereka...siapa lagi? Kalau bukan sekrang... BILA LAGI?.. Seperti saya selalu katakan pada diri saya sendiri... yang baik kita jadikan tauladan..yang buruk kita jadikan sempadan.....
Mereka bakal pemimpin masa depan..jadi kita coraklah mereka sebaiknya-baiknya.....