Thursday, May 22, 2008

In a quandary over council’s status - The Star

May 22, 2008 By DERRICK VINESH

THE state government will consult the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry on the status of the Penang Consumer Affairs Council.

State Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Abdul Malik Abul Kassim said he would seek the ministry’s stand on whether it should continue to operate.

“For now, there is a a state exco committee on consumer affairs, of which I am the head.

“I will find out what will happen to the Penang Consumer Affairs Council now that Pakatan Rakyat is ruling the state,” he said in an interview yesterday.

The council, which came under the ministry’s purview, had about 30 members, mostly from non-governmental organisations, including trade and manufacturing organisations, chambers and guilds.

Under the previous state administration, the state Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs committee chairman was automatically appointed the council president.

Among the council’s past presidents were Lau Chiek Tuan, Datuk Dr Loh Hock Hun and Tan Sri Dr Sak Cheng Lum.

The council also has branches in each district, whereby Barisan Nasional assemblymen were appointed to co-chair the district consumer affairs councils with the respective district officers.

Penang Consumer Protection Association president K. Koris said members of the council, including him, were in the dark about its operations since the Opposition wrested the state government.

“In 2004, former Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon presented me a certificate stating that I was appointed a council member till 2010.

“But, is the appointment still valid under the new state government? he asked, adding that the council last met a few months before the general election in March.

Former South Seberang Prai Consumer Affairs Council co-chairman Tan Cheng Liang said the Federal Government should continue with the council, as it benefited the people.

“The council is an important forum, especially to spread consumer awareness among households, businessmen, youths, housewives and schoolchildren.

“It also monitors the prices of goods and handles complaints against errant traders,” she said.

Tan said the ministry should re-strategise the state Consumer Affairs Council and appoint district officers solely to head its district-level branches in Penang, Kedah, Perak and Selangor

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