Due to the cost of treating NCDs and the lack of availability of such interventions, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam and the MOH developed key policies to address the country’s health issues.
According to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, “13 policies on a healthy living environment were discussed by the Cabinet Committee for a Healthy-Promoting Environment for implementation in 2018 and 2019.”
However, just last week on 11 January, the MOH’s director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah denied any plans to impose sugar tax to control NCDs – despite reports of the MOH considering it since June 2016 – saying, “We have not discussed and no plan for implementation.”
Other reportedly controversial proposals include soda tax, limiting eateries’ operation hours to midnight, and making NCD risk a criterion for hiring and promotion in the civil service.
Many give thumbs up for new policiesEven though the MOH denied any concrete plans, many are advocating for the policies to be carried out.
SM Mohamed Idris, the President of Consumer Association of Penang (CAP) said that the MOH’s new proposals are timely. He also urged the MOH not to bow to pressure from restaurant groups – as they will be the most affected by the change of policy.
President of Malaysian Dietitians Association, Professor Winnie Chee, agrees, stating that, “If eating out is less accessible to
“Nevertheless, if we don’t have as many eateries, it can encourage
“Prevention is better than cure and this is a good initiative, making people start with the government’s nudge,” echoed Datuk Dr Marimuthu Nadason, President of Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (Fomca). “If the government do not take actions now, it will be a burden in the future as the younger generation will keep falling sick and this could affect the country’s productivity.”
Prioritise education and awareness instead, experts urgeHowever, other experts beg to differ, stating that education and awareness should be prioritised instead. As Rozanna M Rosly, Head of Dietetic Services at UM Specialist Centre said, rather than blaming the country’s health problems on late-night eateries, holistic solutions such as early education on healthy cooking at home should be pushed for.
Commenting from the religious point of view, Datuk Seri Syed Ibrahim Kader, President of the Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress (Kimma) said that 24-hour restaurants and
Similarly, Datuk Nadzim Johan, Chief Activist of the Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia, questioned the need to impose a sugar tax.
“I don’t know if there is a need to have such a tax. You need a while for machinery to handle that. It is better to educate people,” he expressed.
He also urged that more research needs to be done to determine, clearly, what the objectives of these policies are – as the actions need to be justified.
Policies disrupt economic activities, consultation
The differing reactions from health experts and the public
from relevant parties needed
He also urged the MOH to “start within the ministry first before applying it to everyone in the service”.
Sime Darby Property Bhd’s chief operation and transformation officer, Wan Hashimi, also agrees that the government should have organised a dialogue with stakeholders first before making the policies.
“We do not want it to be just another knee-jerk reaction but one that is successful,” he advised.
Dr Jacob George, President of the Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam, Selangor (Cassa) also urged for initiation
“When you make policy decisions which can disrupt economic activities, you are inviting trouble and public resentment,” Dr George said. MIMS
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