KOTA KINABALU (Jan 7): Sabah’s decision to postpone the smoking ban at all eateries in the state has become the benchmark for the state government in exercising its right to make decisions based on local government ordinance.
It is also in line with the principles adopted by the new Sabah government led by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, who prioritises Sabah’s Rights as stated under the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
Only Sabah and Sarawak have yet to enforce the ban, which came into effect nationwide from Jan 1, as they await the decisions of their state Cabinets.
State Health and Wellbeing Minister Datuk Stephen Wong said several matters had to be considered and done before the ban could be implemented.
He said although the ban was generally good for the public, but its implementation in Sabah required some coordination and standardisation of the existing local government ordinances.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew, on the other hand, called for a detailed study to be done first as it involved tourist arrivals to the state.
She said the ministry was concerned with the ban as the tourism industry was crucial in generating income for the state’s coffers.
Her view was echoed by Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang, who called on the state government to be careful in deciding on the implementation of the ban so as not to affect the state’s tourism sector.
For the record, 3.5 million locals and foreigners visited Sabah in the first 10 months of last year.
But, then again, just as many want the ban to be enforced immediately in the state, including Sabah Youth Council president Ahmad Farid Sainuri and Sabah West Coast Coffee Shops Association chairman Yong Chee Yu.