MOH Views Act 342 Amendment As ‘National Security’

The government considers all infectious diseases beyond Covid-19 to be an issue of national security; notifiable diseases under Act 342 include food poisoning, dengue, measles, gonorrhea, HIV etc.

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 20 – The Ministry of Health (MOH) will not undertake a Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) before tabling amendments to Act 342 in Parliament, Khairy Jamaluddin said today.

This is because the government considers all infectious diseases regulated by the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) as a matter of “national security”, which is an exemption provided for in the RIA process, according to the health minister.

The list of notifiable illnesses set out under Act 342 contains 25 diseases, including dengue fever, malaria, food poisoning, measles, whooping cough, polio, rabies, typhoid fever, and Ebola, as well as sexually transmitted illnesses like gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV.

“In view of amending Act 342, we have referred to the Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC), the lead agency for RIA, on the need for RIA based on the factors below:

“The amendment to Act 342 is considered a matter of national security; the amendment to this Act is not focused on businesses, investment, or trade per se; the Act 342 is amended based on the provisions in the Emergency Ordinance and Regulations under Act 342 that have been disclosed,” Khairy told a press conference today.

“The response from the Malaysia Productivity Corporation was that the amendment to Act 342 does not need to go through the RIA process as it is included in matters relating to national security. However, we need to submit a Regulatory Notification to the MPC for documentation, so that other matters do not arise in the future.”

A Regulatory Notification is when a ministry or government agency notifies MPC about a proposed law, regulation, or policy, before deciding whether or not to undertake an RIA.

Nine business associations representing retailers, small and medium businesses, and housing developers yesterday called for a RIA – which may require a cost-benefit analysis before legislation or policies are enacted or implemented – before the government tables the Act 342 amendment Bill in the upcoming Dewan Rakyat meeting.

When CodeBlue asked why the government considered Covid-19 to be a matter of national security, despite plans to transition into the endemic phase of the disease, Khairy stressed that Act 342 is a law that regulates infectious diseases beyond just the coronavirus.

“We’re trying to future-proof the Act. It’s for all infectious diseases. That’s the problem – people think Act 342 is Covid Act. It is not; it’s an infectious disease Act.”

When asked to clarify if all infectious diseases are considered a matter of national security, Khairy replied: “Absolutely.”

MOH and the health, science and innovation special select committee chaired by Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii are currently working on the Act 342 amendment Bill.

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