Bakri MP: "Why give so much power to enforcement officers under GEG?"

KUALA LUMPUR: Bakri member of parliament Yeo Bee Yin has questioned the need to confer wide-ranging powers to enforcement officers under the proposed tobacco generational endgame (GEG) bill.

The former Energy, Green Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment minister also made a detailed comparison between the Health Ministry's proposed Tobacco Product and Smoking Control Bill to that in New Zealand.

New Zealand, she said, has only allowed enforcement officers to enter non-residential premises for investigations and requires them to obtain a warrant before carrying out other enforcement actions.

She said the GEG bill in Malaysia has proposed to grant enforcement officers the powers to enter any premises, seize baggage, stop, search and seize conveyance as well powers to search and seize without warrant, including a body search by officers of same gender.

"Why do enforcement officers in Malaysia need so much power that the New Zealand officers don't?

"Do these clauses infringe personal privacy and human rights?

"I do not have definite answers to most of these questions and would like to listen to more views, other than from the Health Ministry.

"I believe most MPs wish to do that too and may have more questions to the bill that require answers before we can make an informed decision.

"New Zealand MPs are given four months to consider amendment to an existing law, but Malaysia MPs are expected decide in less than a week for an entirely new bill.

"Is it right for Malaysia MPs to support a bill without much deliberation in the name of good intention?

"The public should note that there is no Regulatory Impact Assessment report made available to the MPs to consider," she said in a statement today.

Yeo, therefore, urged the bill to be sent to three parliamentary special select committees (PSSC), namely the Health, Science and Innovation committee, Women, Children and Social Development committee and the Fundamental Liberty and Constitutional Right committee, for further deliberation with different stakeholders.

The Health Ministry, she said, should also conduct a comprehensive regulatory impact assessment on the bill and table the report in Dewan Rakyat.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin tabled the Tobacco Product and Smoking Control Bill on July 27 for first reading and the second reading is scheduled to take place today.

The bill, among others, seeks to ban those born in 2007 onwards from smoking, purchasing or possessing tobacco and vaping products.

Two PSSC has since raised concerns over the bill.

Health, Science and Innovation PSSC chairman Dr Kelvin Yii (DAP-Bandar Kuching) recommended for the ministry to postpone enforcement of the GEG law for three years to pave way for effective implementation.

Meanwhile, the Women, Children and Social Development PSSC said it wanted to evaluate whether the proposed bill was in line with the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child.

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