PETALING JAYA: It was a casual chat among several smokers which sparked a legal suit to challenge the ban on smoking in eateries.
This was revealed by Mohd Hanizam Yunus, 52, who leads a group of seven smokers labelled the “Smokers Rights Club” who were granted a judicial review by the High Court to challenge the ban.
“The idea to sue the Health Ministry was not something we initially planned. We were having a chat on the issue sometime last November when one of us suggested challenging the ban through a legal suit,” he said.
Hanizam said the seven resorted to legal action after failing to secure an appointment to meet Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad to discuss the ban.
Hanizam, 52, said lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla agreed to take up their case for free on the condition that they did their own research to support the challenge.
He said the group was so committed to the task that they even tried to register their movement with the Registrar of Societies (RoS) in Terengganu in late November but the bid was rejected.
Hanizam said the group made a second attempt to register with the RoS in Putrajaya.
He said the group also set up a Facebook page titled “Pertahankan HAK Perokok” (Defending Smokers’ Rights) on Dec 19.
Hanizam, a former bank auditor, said the group’s decision to challenge the ban was not politically motivated or backed by the tobacco industry.
“I am a Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia member and fully support the Pakatan Harapan government.
“In the New Malaysia under Pakatan, we as smokers should also have a right to agree to disagree,” he added.
Last Tuesday, the High Court granted leave to the seven in their bid to initiate a judicial review.
The court, however, dismissed the group’s application to stay the smoking ban pending the disposal of the lawsuit. The court has fixed Feb 12 for mention.