KUALA LUMPUR, June 19 — The Ministry of Health’s public hotline on WhatsApp to help people lodge complaints and report on non-compliance with the government’s smoking ban in restaurants and public places, appears to have been blocked by the mobile messaging app.
Messages sent to the hotline number currently show no indication of successfully going through. There is no double tick to indicate that a message has been received by the recipient.
Free Malaysia Today reported that complaints over privacy concerns have been lodged with WhatsApp which may have prompted the blocking of the hotline number.
The ministry hotline enabled members of the public to report on those who smoke in public places and eateries, as part of its enforcement efforts to enforce these areas as no-smoking zones. These reports would require inclusion of photos and the location of where these incidences occured.
The smoking ban was imposed on Jan 1, with fines of up to RM10,000 or three years’ jail on patrons as well as premise owners who fail to implement the rule.
Under the existing regulation, smokers may only smoke three metres away from the threshold of restaurants. Failing to adhere to the ban would result in fines of up to up to RM10,000 or three years’ jail.
A grace period on enforcement of the regulation is currently in effect up to the end of the year.