Kuala Lumpur—After a video of Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein vaping in Parliament was circulated on social media, he issued an apology over Twitter.
He wrote, “Sorry, I didn’t realise – it’s a new habit. I apologise to the Dewan and promise to not do it again.”
The clip is believed to have been recorded on Monday, August 3, during a speech by Dr Wee Ka Siong, Malaysia’s Transport Minister.
Sorry, I didn't realise – it's a new habit. I apologise to the Dewan and promise to not do it again 😔 https://t.co/2BdUl6D9K2
— Hishammuddin Hussein 🇲🇾 (@HishammuddinH2O) August 6, 2020
A masked Mr Hishammuddin can clearly be seen sneaking a vape in the clip.
Aside from his apology, the Foreign Minister paid a fine to the health ministry, since former health minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad declared Parliament to be a non-smoking area in October 2018. Transgressors may be fined between RM500 (S$163.50) to RM10,000 (S$3,270), be jailed for two months, or both.
However, some believe that further action must be taken against Mr Hishammuddin, namely the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP). CAP’s anti-tobacco activist band and education officer, N.V. Subbarow called the minister’s actions shameful and shocking, particularly for Malaysians who are fighting against smoking.
“In this case, Hishammuddin should be charged with violating the law. He cannot simply say sorry. He is a minister and a lawmaker. He should be a role model to others. He cannot escape from the hands of law. He should be fined or compounded. There should be no compromise.
We urge the authorities to take action against him for violating the law in the august house,” Mr Subbarow said.
Reactions from netizens have been mixed, with some outraged over the Minister smoking in Parliament, and others expressing approval that he apologized so quickly.