Sarawak smoking ban too slow — MP

Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING, Jan 25: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii is incensed with Sarawak government’s delay in implementing the smoking ban at all eateries in the state.

He said the Ministry of Local Government and Housing announce the ban only yesterday but would only enforce it on March 1, while the federal government enforced it on Jan 1 this year and Sabah will follow suit on Feb 1.

In announcing the ban yesterday, Minister of Local Government and Housing Dr Sim Kui Hian also highlighted that the first six months from March 1 would be the `educational enforcement’ period.

“I see no reason for the delay and why the ban cannot be implemented starting from Feb 2, especially since they already had the meeting with their own relevant authorities and ministries on Jan 9,” he said in a statement today.

Dr Yii said this showed Dr Sim or the state government was either playing politics or did not consider this issue as important even though it involves public health.

He opined that the state government had been trying to mislead the public in terms of the state’s autonomous powers on the matter.

“While I am all for the autonomy that we enjoy in Sarawak, but while the state government has autonomy over the operation of all coffee shops and eateries in Sarawak, but that autonomy does not nullify the operation and applicability of federal laws in these eateries.

“The prohibition against smoking at eateries was provided in the Control of Tobacco Product (Amendment) Regulations 2018 under the Food Act 1983, which is applicable to all states.

“So to somewhat create a perception of autonomy when there is none is somewhat irresponsible, and in this instance, done at the expense of the health and security of the public here in Sarawak,” he shared.

Dr Yii said the state government had ample time to discuss this matter as the federal government had expressed its intention to introduce this nationwide policy since May last year.

In urging Dr Sim not to delay adopting policies that are good for the people of Sarawak, he said: “Our autonomy is there to safeguard our interest and not to be used just as a show of power against the interest and detriment of the people of Sarawak.” — DayakDaily