KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 — The Johor government will risk losing votes in the next general election if it does not return the vape products confiscated yesterday during several raids in the southern state, a local business group warned.
Pertubuhan Ikatan Usahawan Kecil dan Sederhana Malaysia (Ikhlas) president Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah said it was unethical and unfair of the authorities to conduct raids in Johor when the January 1 ban on the state’s vape trade has yet to come into effect.
He also threatened legal action against the authorities, after pointing out that the affected vape stores would suffer major losses because of the raid.
"If they do not return the seized goods soon, which amounts to losses between RM50,000 and RM100,000, we will not hesitate to take legal action against these agencies," he said when contacted this afternoon.
According to Mohd Ridzuan, a joint raid was conducted on three vape stores in Johor Baru yesterday by the Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry, police and the local council.
He held press conference in Johor Baru earlier today to respond to the matter.
Mohd Ridzuan also said the state and federal governments should not have contradictory policies on the vape business, adding that it was the duty of the Johor mentri besar to advise the state Sultan on the issue.
"Putrajaya is allowing vape outlets to operate and Johor is banning this. Why is there a different view between the state and federal government?
"The Johor MB is responsible to advise the Sultan and it could be that he is advising the Tuanku the wrong thing.
"I hope the Johor state government solves this matter amicably or else they will risk losing Malay votes in the next general election," he said.
The Johor government has confirmed it will prohibit the sale of vape products starting January 1, after the state ruler called for such outlets to be closed down.
In an interview with The Star published late last month, Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar said he wanted vape outlets to be shuttered by January 1 over health concerns.
The Health Ministry later commended the Johor sultan’s call to ban vape outlets, but did not say if Putrajaya will move to ban vaping.
News reports later quoted Johor state housing and local government committee chairman Datuk Abdul Latiff Bandi as saying that traders who sold electronic cigarettes after January 1 would face a fine of up to RM2,000 and risk having their licenses revoked and goods confiscated.
According to Malay news portal Sinar Online today, the Kelantan government has also decided to ban vape stores in the state and has given sellers 14 days to clear out their premises.