KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 – The federal government has failed to push forward legislation to create a smoke-free generation in Malaysia, amid heightened speculation that Parliament could be dissolved before Budget 2023 is tabled tomorrow.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin was scheduled to re-table the revised tobacco bill in the current meeting following a bipartisan review of the legislation by the parliamentary special select committee (PSSC).
Khairy previously said the PSSC’s approval signalled strong support in favour of the revised tobacco bill as members of the committee represent nearly all political parties in Parliament. Several MPs have since expressed their optimism and support for the new tobacco bill.
However, Khairy did allude to the possibility that the tobacco bill could be stalled until a new government is elected, if elections are called soon.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mas Ermieyati Samsudin today made a motion that the Dewan Rakyat will not adjourn until the three bills ahead of the Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022 are debated and decided.
The three bills are the Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2022, the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board (Amendment) Bill 2022, and the Land Public Transport (Amendment) Bill 2022.
“The House will then adjourn until 4pm on Friday, October 7th,” Mas Ermieyati said. The motion was supported by Deputy Health Minister Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali and passed by a voice vote.
This was decided amid news that Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob will have an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong at 4pm, including to possibly seek the King’s consent to dissolve Parliament. Speculation is also rife that Budget 2023, which is scheduled to be tabled tomorrow evening, will not be tabled before Parliament is dissolved to pave way for the 15th general election.
The 13-member tobacco bill PSSC, in their statement yesterday, said they’ve agreed to maintain the prohibitions on smoking or vaping, or use of tobacco or vape products, for future generations, but is against penalising possession.
The committee’s proposed amendments to the bill include reducing the maximum fine for GEG offenders to RM500 from RM5,000, with possibility of community service, limiting enforcement powers to the manufacturing, packaging, storing, delivery, distribution, and sale of tobacco products, and including a mandatory review clause that will see the legislation revised every five years.
The PSSC also argued that the GEG was constitutional as smoking is an act of “personal choice” and not a “constitutional right” as safeguarded under the Federal Constitution on fundamental liberties.