KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 9 – Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has appointed Sibuti MP Lukanisman Awang Sauni, a second-term MP from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), as deputy to Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa.
Although Lukanisman was a member of the health, science and innovation parliamentary special select committee (PSSC) from the 14th Parliament, the Sarawakian legislator rarely made public statements about health issues.
Lukanisman was also a member of the PSSC for the Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022 that had proposed several revisions to the contentious legislation that proposes a ban on smoking and vaping for generations born from 2007.
According to Sinar Harian’s 15th general election profile of Lukanisman, the 40-year-old previously worked at the Special Affairs Department (Jasa) before entering politics.
Health Minister Dr Zaliha, meanwhile, is a 58-year-old freshman MP from PKR representing Sekijang in Johor.
This means that the Ministry of Health (MOH) – which regularly receives the second biggest allocation from the federal government’s annual budgets, is led by two junior lawmakers in the unity government – amid multiple health crises in the country.
Besides the lasting impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the health care system, including undocumented long Covid cases, Malaysia is also dealing with the crises of non-communicable diseases, ageing, and mental health.
In her first media interview yesterday as health minister, Dr Zaliha did not detail specific plans for the health care system, repeatedly talking to Bernama Radio instead about being the first woman health minister.
She also said that she would review details of the implementation of the proposed tobacco and vape generational end game (GEG) before deciding on the tobacco bill that is pending in the Dewan Rakyat.
In a statement earlier today, the first-term Sekijang MP again reiterated her gender, without specifying which health care issues she would focus on.