Bung claps back at Khairy on GEG Bill, says Bill takes away people's rights

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 07 Jun 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: Kinabatangan MP Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin (pic) has clapped back at former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin for labelling him an “enemy of public health” in an Instagram story on Tuesday (June 6).

“It’s up to him what he wants to say. Who is he to judge others? Is he friendly to public health?” he said when met at Parliament on Wednesday (June 7).

Taking a further jab, Bung said the Bill by Khairy was also something that took away people’s rights.

“He has no more platform and is just left with being a DJ,” he said.

Bung was responding to the Instagram story by Khairy, who had read that Bung wanted to oppose the law to control smoking products.

“Enemy of public health. Opposed it when I was minister. Still opposes it. Probably thinks smoking doesn’t cause cancer. Luckily Sabah didn’t fall to you (Nasib baik Sabah tak jatuh kat kamu),” read the story uploaded by Khairy, with a picture of Bung also attached.

On Tuesday (June 6), Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa told a media briefing that the anti-smoking bill dubbed the Generational Endgame (GEG) will be tabled for the first reading in the Dewan Rakyat on June 12 (Monday).

In response, Sungai Buloh MP Datuk Ramanan Ramakrishnan said a more in-depth impact study should be carried out before tabling the Bill.

“If we can allow 18-year-olds to vote, why can’t we let them decide on whether they choose to smoke?

“There was previously strong advocacy towards Undi18, allowing youths that turn 18 to decide on the future and government of the country.

“Yet, you don’t feel they are responsible enough to decide on whether or not to smoke?” he asked when met here.

Ramanan said the tabling of the GEG should also not be rushed, citing concerns with the Bill.

“To make it clear, I am totally against the younger generation smoking nor advocate it but the fact is that it is their fundamental right.

“As far as I know, there are 4,000 vape shops alone nationwide and about 15,000 employees not including those at other layers, such as logistics and transportation.

“What is the cost and effect if the Bill is implemented, and how many jobs will be lost? Are they okay with this initiative?

“We need to be realistic and logical in the decisions we make,” he said.

He also cited concerns towards enforcement measures, adding that as per Malaysian law, only enforcement personnel can request to view identification documents.

“Are we now going to allow shopkeepers, who may be foreign nationals, to check identification documents to verify a person's age?

“Can we guarantee there will be no data breaches? Who is ensuring the data is protected?” he asked, adding that a more in-depth impact study should be carried out before tabling the Bill.

Julau MP Datuk Larry Sng, meanwhile, said he was all for the Bill, and would vote for it when the time comes.

“I will give it my support. This is a move in the right direction and the way forward.

“The law also does not impact existing smokers so there is not much need of concern for them,” he said.

Under the Bill, children born in 2007 and subsequent years would be prohibited from smoking, buying or possessing any type of smoking product, including electronic cigarettes or vape products, even after reaching the age of 18.

Under the revised Bill, the enforcement in relation to the registration, advertising, packaging, sale and use of conventional tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, loose tobacco and rolled cigarettes would come into effect for the GEG generation once the Bill was passed.

Meanwhile, the enforcement of the sale and use of products which uses smoking devices such as vape, tobacco and other non-tobacco products such as tea cigarettes—for the GEG generation would come into force at a later date.

The 2023 Bill would maintain the standard fines at RM500 and would involve community service instead of a prison sentence.

The previous Bill tabled by then health minister Khairy last year was referred to the Special Parliamentary Select Committee (SPSC).

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