KUALA LUMPUR – The Health Ministry has denied having plans to implement a tax on sugary drinks to curb non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
“We have not discussed and no plan for implementation,” Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah told Malay Mail.
New Straits Times (NST) reported last month that the federal government was planning to introduce a slew of policies to fight NCDs that are responsible for 73 per cent of Malaysian deaths, such as hypertension, diabetes and heart problems.
NCDs are linked to lifestyle habits like smoking, unhealthy diet and lack of exercise.
Among the reported controversial government proposals were a soda tax, limiting eateries’ operation hours to midnight, and making NCD risk a criterion for hiring and promotion in the civil service.
National newswire Bernama quoted the Health Ministry as saying last November that diabetes was on the rise in the country, with more than 10 per cent of the population, or 3.6 million Malaysians, suffering from it.
According to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit last June, Malaysia has the highest obesity prevalence in Southeast Asia at 13.3 per cent, while overweight prevalence was 38.5 per cent.
NST reported that obesity cost Malaysia between RM4.26 billion and RM8.53 billion in 2016, equivalent to 10 to 19 per cent of the country’s health care spending.
PAKATAN TO INTRODUCE RM100 UNLIMITED TRAVEL PASS IF IT WINS GE14, MP SAYS
KUALA LUMPUR – Opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) plans to introduce a monthly RM100 unlimited travel card for public transportation commute, should they come into power, DAP’s Ong Kian Ming said.
The Serdang MP said the initiative was needed to ease the burden of the people and increase ridership as well as usage of public transportation.
Citing statistics from the Ministry of Transport, Ong said there was a spike in ridership last August when the government introduce a 50 per cent rebate on all fares.
This phenomenon however did not last for the subsequent months, he said, showing that riders were price sensitive.
“This is why it is necessary to introduce an affordable monthly public transportation pass to allow passengers to have unlimited rides on the LRT, MRT, Monorail and Rapid KL buses as a way to increase public transportation usage,” the elected representative said in a statement.
“I am confident with the introduction of this pass (RM100 unlimited travel pass), public transportation usage especially on the LRT, MRT and Rapid buses will increase significantly, perhaps even beyond the daily ridership figures set in August 2017 when the LRT and MRT fares were reduced by 50 per cent,” he added.
Based on the statistics, Ong pointed that the ridership for LRT Kelana Jaya line peaked in August with 262,606 riders during the promotional month and dropped by 43,038 riders in the subsequent month.
This same trend was also noted with other lines with the LRT Ampang line recording the second highest decline in ridership, followed by MRT and KL Monorail.
Last October, Ong had highlighted this similar case, stressing that something had to be done to the increase the lack of ridership on the rail system.
He had said that billions of ringgits were spent for these projects and that they should not be gone to waste by allowing such a scenario to occur.
– Malay Mail