MO,18/1/2018, PUTRAJAYA: Multi-sectoral agreement is needed to limit the operating hours of mamak restaurants and hawker stalls, said Health Minister Datuk Seri S Subramaniam. Apart from the Health Ministry, he said the move needed agreement and approval from Tourism Ministry, Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry, Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry, among others, for the proposal to see implementation.
“Only if everyone agrees can we move forward to implement it,” he told reporters after delivering his New Year’s Message to the ministry’s staff and officers today. Besides limiting operating hours, Dr Subramaniam said the ministry had also suggested limiting the number of 24-hour restaurants in an area. “If the area has 10 shops, maybe only two or three will be allowed to be open in a day. However, all this is still under discussion,” he said.
Medically, he said, people were advised against eating in the middle of night as it was not healthy. “This is the reason why we (Health Ministry) proposed the move. We hope to bring some control on the issue, by reducing the number of people who are overeating at the wrong time,” he said. Last month Dr Subramaniam revealed to the New Straits Times a 13-point guideline to promote a healthier nation, which includes limiting restaurants’ operating hours to midnight.
He said it also covered the ban of advertisements on food and drinks with high fat, salt and sugar content that could lure children into buying them. Dr Subramaniam had also suggested taxing sweetened beverages, exempting sports equipment from import duties and exempting gymnasium operators from paying corporate tax.
On a separate matter, he said the ministry was currently discussing the technical aspect of implementing the ‘bundling mechanism’ to address the rising cost of private healthcare. He said the implementation was still pending as there were still numerous technical aspects to be overcome.”Upon reaching an agreement, we have to go through legal process to make it enforceable by law,” he added.
Under the bundling model, healthcare providers and facilities were paid a single payment, for all the services performed to treat a patient undergoing a specific episode of care. “This means patients will have the option to choose from packages based on their ability to pay,” he said.
He said only the professional fees charged by doctors was controlled by a schedule under the ministry through the Private Healthcare Facilities Act.”But we don’t control hospital fees such as bed charges, food charges, charges for CT scan, X-Ray fee and Operation Theatre fee. “When the bundling mechanism is implemented, the high cost incurred by patients at private hospitals could be addressed,” he added.