Note: The Prophet and the angels is a sign for us to take a breather from political commentaries. Perhaps for the rest of the year, which will be good for our well-being. We won't be lacking issues to explore: journalism, health, sports, business, books, movies, cycling ...
|Courtesy The Star|
I'm an ex-smoker, so I shouldn't care about the smoking ban at eateries (including open air ones) come the New Year, right? The Health Ministry says it will "help make Malaysia tobacco-free", so that's a good thing, kan?
Nope. On the contrary, I think it's a damn stupid ruling the Ministry is trying to justify with the darndest "make Malaysia tobacco-free" excuse. If you want to make Malaysia tobacco-free, the thing to do is stop the sale of tobacco altogether. Wage war against cigarettes, like we have been waging the war on drugs. Ciminalize smoking and hang the tobacco smugglers.
But the government is not doing that. Why? Because the government makes money from cigarettes. A lot of money. Every year it collects over RM1 billion in cigarette taxes and now that "the government has no money" (or so says the minister Khalid Samad; [refer to the clip in my previous posting h e r e] we can expect it to up the taxes so that it can earn even more.
Well, if it means more government revenue, I say go ahead and collect more taxes. But, please, let's not be hypocrites by like banning smoking at Q Bistro and telling people like me who go there frequently and co-exist with smokers who sit peacefully in their designated smoking area that it will help make this country tobacco-free. Because that's not what you want.
And what good does a smokeless environment do? Just look at the ban on smoking in Parliament. Have that made our politicians cleverer or their debates healthier? If anything, it's the contrary. Again, the antics of Khalid Samad comes to mind. And have you not been paying attention to what the likes of Mazlee Malik and Mujahid Yusuf have been spewing lately?
Not forgetting Yeo Bee Yin, who have refused repeated requests from Lynas workers to visit them at their workplace and choosing instead to write them a most-condescending open letter to employees in this country, telling them that she had it equally tough if not tougher growing up on a farm and that she sympathised with the workers if they lose their jobs because of her crusade for a larger good.
Ah, but I digress ...
Back to the ban. It won't hurt business, says Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye. "I don't see why their business will be affected, as customers go to the restaurant to eat, not to smoke," he said. The eateries are claiming otherwise: the ban will discourage smoking patrons from coming and that will affect their business.
My greatest problem with the ruling is that it makes me feel that we are becoming such a regimented nation all of a sudden. Macam Singapore, pulak. Why can't we leave it to the eateries to decide. Their decision will be dictated by patrons and not by government or politicians. As a regular patron of eateries that have smoking and designated non-smoking sections, I have always found the arrangement a happy one for both. Why fix something that ain't broke?
Plus, the Ministry should focus on bigger and more urgent healthcare issues.