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Saturday, July 30, 2022

PSC seeks to scrutinise anti-smoking bill from child rights view


The Parliamentary Select Committee on Women, Children and Social Development has requested involvement in determining whether provisions under the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill 2022 are in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

While noting the government's aim to reach a generational endgame on tobacco products, committee chairperson Azalina Othman Said highlighted concerns that certain provisions on enforcement of the law could be abused or misinterpreted, leading to an unjust punishment.

"Section 24 empowers a minister to appoint any individual to be an officer enforcing the law," said Azalina in a joint statement with eight other committee members.

Members of the on PSC Women, Children and Social Development comprise Rompin MP Hasan Arifin, Kota Samarahan MP Rubiah Wang, Kemaman MP Alias Che Alias Hamid, Sik MP Ahmad Tarmizi Sulaiman, Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh, Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil, Lanang MP Alice Lau and Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh.

Referring to the appointed officer, Azalina said the PSC raised further concerns over the individual's scope of duty.

"Whereby the person is empowered to investigate, enter a premise, retrieve samples, stop, search and seize with or without a warrant and other actions, as provided for under Section 24, 26, 27, 28, 32 and 33.

"The PSC also raised concerns as this enforcement will involve minors and so handling of this group requires trained officers who are sensitised to children, in line with international norms," said Azalina.

Aside from the enforcement, Azalina said the PSC found that Section 54(1) on the prescribed compound also requires further scrutiny over its implications on minors.

In welcoming the government's move to refer the bill to the PSC on Health, Science and Innovation before being tabled for first reading on July 27, Azalina said her PSC is open to sharing their views before its second reading, from the perspective of child rights.

Among others, she said her PSC voiced support for PSC on Health, Science and Innovation suggestion for the bill to not jeopardise the future of youth by criminalising them for possession of tobacco.

As it stands, the law proposed to criminalise the purchase or possession of tobacco and smoking products for those born on Jan 1, 2007, onwards with a fine of up to RM5,000. - Mkini

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