Voon: Smoking and plastic straw bans signifies govt’s commitment to public well-being

Voon Shiak Ni

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KUCHING, Jan 2: Kicking off the new year with two new laws which banned smoking and plastic straws in eateries throughout the country, demonstrates the Malaysian government’s commitment in caring for the environment to improve the people’s health and well-being.

Highlighting this, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Sarawak vice-chairwoman Voon Shiak Ni opined it takes a government with strong political will to proceed with implementing these unpopular policies.

“I am proud that the government ushered in the 2020 new year with enforcement of the two important bans which are good for the environment.

“It is indeed a bold step taken by the government as they were not popular measures. Both policies proposed in the initial stage had triggered much protest and dissatisfaction on the ground since last year,” according to Voon in a press statement today.

She was commenting about the bans on smoking and single-use plastic straws in all eateries nationwide which came into effect on the first day of the new year (Jan 1).

In 2019, Malaysia implemented a smoking ban in all eateries, both air-conditioned and open-air, where smokers were required to stand three metres away at a minimum from eateries to smoke. Full enforcement of the ban began yesterday.

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye disclosed that 5,000 personnel have been deployed nationwide to enforce the ban.

Voon noted that the smoking ban faced resistance and protests especially from coffeeshop owners and smokers.

“But it is a positive measure towards a cleaner and healthier environment. The ban will certainly be an inconvenience for smokers but creating a smoke-free environment will have a long lasting positive impact on the overall health and well-being of the people,” she added.

Meanwhile, Malaysia also stopped eateries from providing plastic straws for drinks starting this year, with exemptions for the handicapped and others with special needs, in an effort to eliminate single-use plastic by 2030.

In 2019, the plastic straw ban was introduced in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan and the effort was boosted with awareness campaigns throughout the year, before the ban was fully enforced on licensed traders and food operators in 2020.

Voon emphasised that Malaysia’s ‘Roadmap Towards Zero Single-Use Plastic by 2030’ was a good initiative to manage, protect and conserve the environment and ecosystem for wellness of present and future generations.

“Plastic pollution in the seas have severely threatened the marine ecosystem and caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of marine creatures each year. It was reported that approximately one million sea birds were killed due to plastic waste pollution.

“As plastic waste takes a long time to decompose, it leads to long-term environmental health hazards threatening living things on earth. As such, the use of plastic has to be reduced from now on,” she pointed out.

Noting that it will take time to change mindsets, she however urged people to consider the fact that their resistance to change would slowly fuel a global disaster for mankind.

“Putting in an effort to accomodate the ban and avoid using plastic in our daily activities is in fact a noble act,” she added. — DayakDaily