According to Khairy Jamaluddin, it was not legal questions about the constitution, but political pressure that had halted the passing of the controversial tobacco control bill, sometimes called the generational endgame (GEG) bill, which he had created when he was serving as the health minister.
I don't know about that. Even if the bill is cancelled for now, I don’t think that we have heard the last of it.
The way I see it, the bill's progress has probably been halted because if it passed, it would give Khairy a legacy, and nobody in the unity government wants to give Khairy a legacy.
Dr Mahathir Mohamad did not lift a single finger to build Putrajaya. He did not spend a single cent of his money on its construction and it was most likely not even his idea. But as long as Putrajaya remains the capital of Malaysia, everybody will remember Mahathir as the person who created it, simply because Mahathir was successful in establishing a hard-to-erase legacy.
If you have legacy, you have sealed your political legitimacy. Even if you fall out of power and accrue the disdain of your former supporters, your name will still have currency in the political landscape of the nation, forever.
It is because no one in Pakatan Harapan wanted Najib to be remembered as a hero that his 1Malaysia initiatives like BR1M were cancelled and replaced with the Bantuan Sara Hidup scheme almost immediately after he was toppled.
In the same way, I reckon that the GEG bill will likely be replaced by a similar scheme but with a different name sometime in the future.
In my mind, the GEG bill will probably be put in cold storage for a couple of years until everybody forgets about it, and then a new health minister will reintroduce it after tweaking it here and there, and claim the initiative as their own legacy.
Khairy, however, doesn’t seem to have taken kindly to his bill being delayed.
With guns blazing, he has named the Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Tiong King Sing, law minister Azalina Othman and someone called the "gaffer", which is British slang for the boss, as the ministers responsible for placing unnecessary obstacles in the passing of the bill.
Personally, I don’t understand why he named two ministers while merely hinting at who the third person could be. Does Khairy think that Anwar Ibrahim is Lord Voldemort, a "You-Know-Who" or "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named", whose name cannot be said openly?
In any case, if Khairy thinks that people are going to react to him naming the ministers by pressuring or shaming them to stop placing obstacles in the passing of the bill, I think he is going to be sorely disappointed.
Just because a trio of ministers have stopped the passing of the bill, we don’t see them as the enemy of the people who are bent on causing Malaysians to suffer from lung cancer.
For better or worse, this bill is not something that we wanted. It is a bill that was imposed on us by our government and ministers, ostensibly for our own good. We don’t strongly object to it because nobody thinks that smoking is a good habit, but at the end of the day, it is still not a bill that we wanted, for us to get upset about it not being passed.
Personally, I think this is just a personal problem between Anwar and Khairy. For all you know, Anwar might just be upset that Khairy gave such a fawning interview to Anwar’s archnemesis, Mahathir, on his podcast "Keluar Sekejap" a few days ago.
After that stunt, what was Khairy expecting Anwar to do? Bring him tea and sweets, and ask how everybody in his family is doing?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.