Malaysia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was widely praised around the world. The nation held response meetings were held in December as part of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative. The government placed early orders for diagnostic chemicals and equipment, and hospitals were mobilised to a prepared footing to maximise “surge capacity” before many other countries had even begun to contemplate their response.
Malaysia identified at an early stage that anti-inflammatories would be needed during treatment and conducted mass testing in high density population areas. Experience with dengue and tuberculosis meant the nation had a well-developed contact tracing protocol.
Part of the action on COVID-19 included mask wearing, and Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein can be seen with his in a video of a recent debate. What isn’t shown in the film clip are the “No smoking, no vaping” signs to be found around the parliament building or at the main vehicle entrance.
The clip is taken while Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong is summing up a position statement. It depicts Hishammuddin taking a sneaky stealth vape under his mask.
Video on Twitter - [link]
The Consumers Association of Penang typified the over-reaction to Hishammuddin’s vaping: “Parliament was declared on October 2018 as a non-smoking area. So whoever was found smoking must be charged according to the law. Hishammuddin should be a role model for others. He cannot escape from the hands of law. He should he fined or compounded.”
In Malaysia, anybody breaching no smoking regulations faces a fine of between £90-1800 (approx.), a possible prison term of up to two months, or a combination of both.
Kluang MP Wong Shu Qi referred the matter to Deputy Speaker Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon as she believed Hishammuddin had breached Standing Order 41 (d).
Hishammuddin took to social media to make his apologies.
"Sorry, I didn't realise – it's a new habit. I apologise to the Dewan and promise not to do it again," he tweeted. [link]
Wong is not content with that and has demanded a formal apology to the house – despite the fact that nobody noticed until the clip appear online.
POTV would like to congratulate Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein for managing to quit smoking by switching to vaping and would encourage the Malay parliament to focus on the harm reduction potential of vaping.