DECEMBER 18 — As Sarawakians elect their new responsible state assemblymen and a new responsible state government, let a call be made to the federal government and Opposition to be responsible on the proposed amendments to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342).
I have, in an earlier article, suggested that the amendments are needed and necessary. The parliamentary Bill — the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Amendment) Bill 2021 [DR 20/2021] cannot wait to be tabled and passed in the next Parliament sitting, which is six months away because as Health Director General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said, the provisions — taken from the Emergency (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases) (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 (EO) which has been annulled — have proved to be effective in curbing the spread of Covid-19 affecting more than 2.6 million Malaysians.
I suggest that both sides of the political divide look at the Bill (DR20/2021) and the EO together and compare the two as they are set out below:
The differences are shown in shaded yellow. An important provision that has been totally overlooked amid the opposition against the astronomical compound sums is new section 14A which makes provisions for the isolation or surveillance of infected persons and suspects.
This is an important countermeasure which the law needs to provide for. This is why Dr Noor Hisham said that the amendments to Act 342 could not wait as the country needed to be ready “to face a possible increase of cases in two or three months or cases involving new variants such as Omicron spreading in our country.”
I propose that the federal government and Opposition agree to have the EO principally as the Bill, including amendment to the definition of “Medical Officer of Health”, section 15A(3) (offence for tampering tracing device), the provisions on seizable offence and power to arrest, as well as the new section 14A — all shaded in yellow.
Let us not cripple the health ministry.
Let’s be responsible.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.