Kuala Terengganu MP Ahmad Amzad Hashim has alleged that cigarette packs were handed out by Pakatan Harapan (PH) during its election campaign in the by-election.
Ahmad Amzad – who retained his seat in the by-election for the federal seat last Saturday that was held simultaneously with six state elections – noted that Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa had stumped for his opponent from PH, Azan Ismail, throughout the campaign.
“How could she close her eyes to open bribery, including the giving of cigarettes?” Ahmad Amzad posted on Facebook yesterday.
“Giving cigarettes, nuts, and mineral water is corruption. Isn’t there a Ministry of Health warning on every cigarette pack about the dangers of smoking?”
The former science, technology and innovation deputy minister from PAS posted photographs of pink plastic bags, as well as a pack of cigarettes, a pack of nuts, and a bottle of mineral water, along with election posters of Azan and Armi Irzan Mohd, the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate for the Bandar state seat in Terengganu.
It is unknown if the packs were given out to voters or campaign volunteers, or both.
“Now, the people are facing the prevalence of vape because YB Dr Zaliha used her ministerial powers to amend the Poisons Act schedule to remove [liquid] nicotine from the Poisons Act schedule,” Ahmad Amzad said.
“She had said that this was to enable the Finance Ministry to collect tax revenue from nicotine vape.
“Previously, we really wanted future generations to no longer get involved with smoking through the generational end game (GEG),” he added, referring to the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023.
Last June, the government referred the tobacco and vape control bill to a parliamentary special select committee after first reading in the Dewan Rakyat instead of taking it through debate and passage. This meant that e-cigarettes continued to be legally accessible to minors aged below 18 due to the absence of any regulations on vape, following the declassification of liquid nicotine from the Poisons Act 1952 as a scheduled poison last March 31.
Throughout the two-week election campaign, Dr Zaliha frequently posted about her stump for PH’s Kuala Terengganu candidate Azan, BN’s Bandar candidate Armi Irzan, as well as BN’s Ladang candidate Mohd Sabri Alwi in Terengganu.
Ahmad Amzad won the Kuala Terengganu by-election with a majority of more than 47,000 votes, exceeding the majority he secured for the seat during the 15th general election last November with a majority of nearly 41,000 votes.
The by-election for the parliamentary seat was called after the election court nullified his victory in the 2022 general election on grounds of bribery allegations.
CodeBlue has requested comments from the health minister’s office.