GEG Bill must be back in Parliament by October

KUALA LUMPUR: The proposed generational end game (GEG) anti-smoking laws must be brought back to the Dewan Rakyat in October, says Khairy Jamaluddin.

The Health Minister said this was one of the conditions attached to a motion tabled in Dewan Rakyat to refer the Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022 to a Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) for further scrutiny.

“The PSSC has to prepare its proposal to improve the Bill to regulate tobacco products, substitutes and devices within a month.

“The PSSC can extend the duration if there is a need but it cannot go beyond the first day of the Third Meeting of the Fifth Term of the 14th Parliament,” he said.

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The next meeting is scheduled to start on Oct 26.

Khairy, who will chair the 13-member PSSC, said the committee would be tasked with looking into the enforcement clause and proposed penalties under the Bill.

“This will include recommendations by Members of Parliament during the debate,” he said.

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The PSSC is also allowed to invite legal experts, members of civil societies, including individuals, to give their views, he said.

Khairy asked that the Bill be slotted as the first order of business in the House once the committee has completed its work.

“I wouldn’t say the Bill is being delayed but that it is being referred to the PSSC.

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“I hope we will all support the Bill when it is brought back to the House,” he said before tabling the motion which was later passed unanimously by a voice vote.

He said that while waiting for the Bill to be tabled again, existing laws must be enforced.

“It can be detrimental if we continue to let people sell without checking the contents of what is being sold,” he said, referring to vape liquid with its contents currently unregulated.

Besides Khairy, the members of the PSSC are Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim (BN-Baling), Datuk Mohd Nizar Zakaria (BN-Parit), Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (BN-Pengerang), Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin (PN-Masjid Tanah) and Ahmad Fadhli Shaari (PN-Pasir Mas).

Other members are Lukanisman Awang Sauni (GPS-Sibuti), Dr Kelvin Yii (PH-Bandar Kuching), R. Sivarasa (PH-Sungai Buloh), Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (PH-Kuala Selangor), Datuk Seri Madius Tangau (PH-Tuaran), Datuk Ignatius Dorell Leiking (Warisan-Penampang) and Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir (Pejuang-Jerlun).

Before the motion was tabled, Khairy acknowledged that there were differing views among MPs on the proposed law.

“We have agreed to refer the Bill to a PSSC. We don’t want important Bills like this to be passed without thorough fine tuning.

“If we enforce (voting) now, there may be some who will be forced to agree or disagree,” he said.

The Bill was tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat last Wednesday and came up for a second reading on Monday with the goal of passing it yesterday.

However, there was still resistance to the Bill even though several tweaks were made to it.

On Monday, Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim wrote to the Prime Minister asking to refer the Bill to the PSSC.

Several MPs have voiced their reservations over the enforcement of the law.

Under the proposed Bill, children born from Jan 1, 2007 onwards are prohibited from smoking, buying or possessing any type of smoking products, including electronic cigarettes or vape products, even after they reach the age of 18 years old.

The law is targeted for implementation by 2025. Those flouting the law may be punished with a maximum fine of RM500, a reduction from the RM5,000 proposed initially.

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