After Dine In Tussle Sabah Says Has Constitutional Right To Enact Own Health Laws Amid Covid 19
Datuk Jeffrey Kitingan speaks during a press conference in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah September 22, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus LatifKOTA KINABALU, July 1 — As the wait for Putrajaya to “green light” its latest dine-in and other SOPs continue, a senior Sabah leader said the state should move to enact legislation that will give it power over its own public health legislation in the future.
Deputy chief minister Datuk Seri Jeffrey Kitingan said that currently there was a need for “discussions” with Putrajaya before the state can implement its own SOP decisions because public health comes under the “concurrent” list, which means it falls under both state and federal jurisdiction.
“The problem Sabah is facing now is that it has failed to specify the details of its jurisdiction under public health as it does not have its own enactment on the subject.
“We need an enactment to back us up. We need to strengthen our legal side. We have the constitutional right to develop our own SOP. However, we need to strengthen this further because it is currently quite vague,” he said in a statement.
Kitingan explained that, while public health is on the concurrent list, only the federal side has enacted legislation, while Sabah has not.
“This means only the federal law has the authority, necessitating discussions to have the SOP eased for Sabah. If we passed an enactment, for example, under a pandemic situation, Sabah could do such and such steps, then we can implement such enactment using concurrent powers,” he said.
Sabah had jurisdiction over its medical and health matters until late 1970 when it was put under the concurrent list.
Kitingan’s statement comes as there is an apparent stalemate over the state’s decision to ease current lockdown restrictions and allow for dine-in, hairdressers, certain non-contact sports and industries to open up.
Senior federal minister in charge of defence Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob has said that there should be more uniformity in the SOPs to allow easier management and has discouraged the different states from wanting to implement its own SOPs.
Chief Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor issued a statement that the new SOPs could be in place by Tuesday but the matter is being held back at the federal level, causing some friction in federal-state relations, and prompting all political leaders from both sides of the divide to back the state on the issue.
Kitingan said that the united front was a good sign for bigger things to come as the state aspires to gain more autonomy from the federal government.
“This unity shows that we can work together to advance our demands. When it comes to common interests, Sabahans will band together, regardless of political parties or ideologies.
“This shared interest is not limited to a mere SOP to control Covid-19. Under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), we all have common interests, and I have no doubt that this government will fight to the death for the rights of Sabah and its people,” he said. - malaymail
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