KOTA KINABALU: Sabah needs to enact its own laws to have jurisdiction over public health matters, says Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.
He said that at the moment, the state’s powers were still unclear on health matters which came under the concurrent list (shared jurisdictions of the state and federal).
“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 SOPs (standard operating procedures).
“However, we need to strengthen this further because it is currently quite vague,” he said when marking Sabah STAR’s fifth anniversary celebrations Thursday (July 1).
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 presently, ” he said in explaining why Sabah had to seek approval from the Federal Government for the SOPs.
“If we passed an enactment, for example, under a pandemic situation, Sabah could carry out such steps such as setting its own SOPs,” he said.
However, he said Sabah political leaders’ unity and throwing their support behind the Chief Minister for more liberal Covid-19 SOPs could spark the need to push for bigger things.
“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 for the rights of Sabah and its people,” added Kitingan.