Kuala Langat MP questions guarantee of liberty for non-Muslims over provisions in anti-smoking Bill

·2-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 2 — Kuala Langat MP Datuk Dr Xavier Jayakumar today questioned if the provisions under the proposed Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022 would later be extended to also cover alcohol consumption and gambling activities, raising concerns about the issue of policing freedoms of non-Muslims in the country.

Dr Xavier pointed to several issues with the Bill, including personal liberty, and expressed worry that the law would not sit well with the Orang Asli and other indigenous communities in rural areas both here and in Sabah and Sarawak.

He then questioned the protection of liberty for non-Muslims to purchase alcohol and gamble.

“So Speaker, I am in doubt. No one should be singled out for prosecution under this law. Because we are not making cigarettes illegal in the country. We are only making it illegal for a certain generation only. Other generations will be allowed to smoke at will.

“The individual liberty of a person in the country is at stake. Today, you say it is cigarettes. Tomorrow, what is the assurance that it won’t be for alcohol and gambling? MPs must understand that in Malaysia, 70 per cent are Bumiputera-Muslims. We do this law now. What is the state of my liberty as a non-Bumiputera, but a Malaysian?” he questioned.

Dr Xavier said that in his area, there are 13 Orang Asli villages and if he were to tell them to not smoke or drink, there would be problems.

“I am a doctor. I do not smoke. Neither am I a member of any cigar club. I have no problems with my friends who smoke. That is their choice. They have the liberty to do what they want. But at the same time, when we bring a Bill to Parliament, we must make sure we can enforce it forever. Forty years is a long time, Speaker. I am not going to be around after 40 years to see if it is a success.

“This is an experiment in progress. I want to mention it here because there are no countries which have done this. Scandinavian countries themselves have not started this,” he added.

Dr Xavier also expressed hope that the Bill will be referred to a parliamentary select committee before it is passed into law.

The Bill was tabled for second reading yesterday and MPs continued debating the proposed Bill, which they lamented contains glaring issues.

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