The former health minister says the bill was considered constitutional based on the assessment of the Attorney-General’s Chambers when it was drafted.
PETALING JAYA: Former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin says political pressure, not legal questions about the constitution, led to the halting of a controversial tobacco control bill sometimes called the generational endgame bill.
He questioned why the current bill, which remained much the same as the one he had previously tabled, had suddenly been considered unconstitutional by the Attorney-General Ahmad Terrirudin Salleh, despite previous legal opinions suggesting otherwise.
“I’m not sure where the AG’s consistency as legal advisor to the government is, as we have already studied this bill,” he said in the latest episode of the Keluar Sekejap podcast today. He said legal experts had supported the bill, arguing that as long as there is no discrimination within a designated segment of the population, the law would not be unconstitutional.
“They said that as long as there is no discrimination within a certain designated class of people…so those born after 2007 (would be considered) one class of people, and among that group there is equality under the law, it’s not unconstitutional.
“If the Cabinet uses the reason that (the bill) violates the constitution, I think it is not a stand that has a legal basis but has more to do with political pressure,” Khairy said.
The Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 seeks to ban smoking among those born after the year 2007 and restricts the sale of tobacco and vape products to this age cohort.
Last week, the government said the tobacco control bill was to be scrutinised again after the attorney-general was reported to have deemed the age provision in the bill to be unconstitutional as violating guarantees of equality under the law. Khairy had later accused two unnamed ministers and their leader for causing setbacks to the bill.