TOURISM, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing has taken a swipe at former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin, placing the blame squarely on him for the purportedly flawed generational endgame (GEG) bill.
Tiong contends that Khairy’s hasty drafting of the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023, colloquially known as the GEG bill, rendered it both “unconstitutional” and “unenforceable”.
Moreover, Tiong criticised Khairy’s handling of the bill, asserting that it contained numerous weaknesses that, if passed, could lead to additional complications.
“Who will be blamed? Ironically, during (Khairy’s) stint as health minister, apart from seeking popularity and sprucing up his image, what has (Khairy) done for the public health system?
“He should not be pointing fingers at (the present crop of) ministers, including myself for the failure to pass the GEG bill.”
The GEG bill introduced in July 2022 included provisions prohibiting individuals born after 2007 from purchasing and consuming tobacco and vape products. Tiong expressed concern about the bill’s punitive nature and argued that a focus on education and awareness would be more effective in discouraging smoking.
Furthermore, the minister challenged Khairy’s assertion that the B40 group (the bottom 40% income earners) was predominantly affected by cancer, heart disease and lung diseases due to smoking.
“The truth is, many cancer patients do not smoke or are affected by second-hand smoke… How will their experience with cancer be explained?” asked Tiong.
The recent clash between the ministers surfaced after health watchdog CodeBlue reported that the GEG bill encountered obstacles in the cabinet.
The Attorney-General (AG) Datuk Ahmad Terrirudin Mohd Salleh advised the cabinet that the GEG provisions were “unconstitutional,” violating Article 8 of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees equality before the law.
“To (the AG’s Chambers), there will be two sets of laws for two different groups of citizens based on age,” a source told CodeBlue.
Yesterday (Nov 15), Khairy pointed fingers at Law and Institutional Reform Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, Tiong and an unnamed individual he called “the gaffer” possibly referring to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for obstructing the bill’s progress. – Nov 16, 2023