PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry will seek a meeting with tech company Facebook Inc over the blocking of its hotline number on WhatsApp for the public to forward complaints of people smoking at eateries.
The ministry had set up the 010-860 8949 hotline via WhatsApp to facilitate complaints by the public who want to report errant smokers.
The public can also send in their complaints with photographic evidence of those who flout the smoking ban.
However, messages sent to the hotline currently are unable to go through, as there is no “double tick” sign on the user’s WhatsApp to show that they have been received.
It is believed that the privacy complaints regarding the hotline was the reason why the number was being blocked.
In response, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the ministry would seek a discussion with Facebook representatives over the issue.
“The Health Ministry will be having a discussion with Facebook in the earliest possible time to find a suitable solution,” he said yesterday.
He explained that the purpose of the hotline was to enable the public to make reports to the ministry should there be smokers lighting up in public places that have been declared no-smoking zones.
“Besides that, the hotline was provided as a means to make it easier for the public to get information, make enquiries or obtain advice about the matter,” he said.
Under the smoking ban, which started on Jan 1 this year, smokers can only light up 3m away from an eatery.
The Health Ministry recently extended the six-month educational enforcement period to the end of this year.
Starting Jan 1 next year, smokers who violate the smoking ban can face a compound of up to RM250.
Offenders who fail to settle the compound can be hauled to court and slapped with a RM10,000 fine or two years’ jail.