Sabah has constitutional right to enact its own health legislation, says Sabah leader

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A senior Sabah leader said that the state must take action to enact its own public health legislation in the future. Deputy chief minister Datuk Seri Jeffrey Kitingan said that as public health falls under both the state and the federal jurisdiction, discussions must be made with Putrajaya first before Sabah can enact its own health laws.

In a statement, he said that Sabah has not been able to provide specific details of its jurisdiction under public health as it does not have its own enactment on the matter which is a problem that the state is currently experiencing.

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He added that the state needed an enactment as support in order to build up their legal aspect. He asserted that Sabah has the constitutional right to develop its own SOP. However, as it is currently unclear, it must be strengthened further.

Kitingan also noted that despite having the public health under both the state and the federal jurisdiction which means that is on the concurrent list, only the federal law has the authority over health legislation.

He said that this means, only the federal law has the authority, necessitating discussions to have the SOP eased for Sabah. And in the case that they pass an enactment, for example, under a pandemic situation, Sabah could do such and such steps, then they can implement such enactment using concurrent powers.

Until the state had been put under the concurrent list in the late 1970, Sabah had jurisdiction over its medical and health matters.

His statement came due to a standoff 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.

According to senior federal minister in charge of defense Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob, uniformity in the SOPs is necessary such that it will make the management easier and will discourage other states into wanting to enact their own SOPs.

Chief Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor said that by Tuesday, the new SOPs could be ready. However, the matter is being withheld at the federal level which gave rise to conflict within the federal-state relations, prompting all political leaders of both sides to support the state regarding the matter. Kitingan said that the united front is a positive indication for bigger things to come as the state aspires to gain more autonomy from the federal government.

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