Case found to be wanting yet again

Does it surprise the average Singaporean anymore that whenever there is an issue on consumer protection, the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) is found to be toothless and wanting?

The latest case in point is its inability to act with gusto on hundreds of complaints lodged against the defunct bike sharing firm oBike (oBike told to remove bikes by Wednesday; June 29).

Case issued its all-too-familiar template pronouncement "Case is deeply concerned about...".

The constant refrain of Case is that it is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that acts as a watchdog and has no legislative powers.

If an NGO cannot bite, then why has the Ministry of Trade and Industry allowed it to operate for decades? It has just resulted in frustrated and angry consumers.

Importantly, given that there was well-publicised news for months about many cases of defunct Chinese bike-sharing companies refusing to return bike renters' deposits, why did the Ministry of Transport not see it fit to proactively ring-fence the deposits and protect the innocent renters?

Critically, couldn't the Government see that it had to set proper rules and regulations upfront for the bike-sharing game to protect the interests of all stakeholders?

Cheang Peng Wah

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2018, with the headline 'Case found to be wanting yet again'. Print Edition | Subscribe