Set up dedicated agency for consumer affairs

Shoppers at the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.
Shoppers at the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

I applaud the move by the Ministry of Trade and Industry to strengthen our consumer protection laws through the proposed amendments to the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act ("Move to expose errant retailers"; July 21).  

In particular, the possible appointment of a dedicated government agency to take action against errant traders is a laudable proposition.

Presently, the responsibility of protecting consumers in Singapore is shouldered by multiple agencies, and it might be time for the Government to explore letting this new agency have investigative and enforcement powers so it can comprehensively advance the interests of consumers here.

For instance, Spring Singapore looks after many children's products, such as toys and apparel, but many other such products fall under the purview of other agencies: Children's car seats, for instance, come under the care of the Traffic Police.

Similarly, while drugs and other pharmaceutical products are within the purview of the Health Sciences Authority, the agency's regulatory ambit also extends to cosmetic products.

With new consumer products appearing in the market every day, some new inventions may slip through the bureaucratic cracks.

Having a single government agency with the necessary mandate over all consumer products would quickly make it popular with the public, and put it in a good position to work together with the Consumers Association of Singapore.

Marco Low Choon Zhu

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2015, with the headline 'Set up dedicated agency for consumer affairs'. Print Edition | Subscribe