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9 Recommendations to the Malaysian Government on Consumer Policy

Following the recent dissolution of the Malaysian Parliament, an official administration will be formed following the 15th General Election to be held on 19 November 2022. The Consumer Choice Center argues that any new government elected should focus on pro-consumer policies, especially in allowing choices.  

The Consumer Choice Center lists 9 recommendations to the new government to be researched and implemented according to the best method.

Consumer data protection – Over 25 million sets of personal data have been stolen so far this year alone, 2022. To prevent this from happening again, the Personal Data Protection Department and the commission must be placed under the responsibility of Parliament instead of the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia.

A mechanism needs to be established to manage compensation or damages to all victims of personal data theft crimes. Victims need to be notified that their personal data has been leaked. In addition, we also recommend personal liability of company directors who fail to address data protection risks. 

Make cars more affordable! – Excise duty in Malaysia starts from 60 to 105 percent calculated based on the type of vehicle and engine capacity. Manakala import duty can reach up to 30 percent depending on the country of origin of the vehicle. CCC encourages the lowering of taxes to allow cars to be imported and exported easily – less cost and can be enjoyed by a wider market. This taxation puts consumers at a disadvantage while having to pay more for a better-quality car.

Reduce barriers to research in medical marijuana – More clinical studies on the use of medical cannabis should be done. Until today, there remains a lack of research on its effects for Malaysian patients. Globally, over 40 countries have legalized medical use of cannabis, including Thailand and Sri Lanka. One study in Denmark finds that medical cannabis is frequently used as a substitute for prescription drugs, particularly pain relievers, antidepressants and arthritis medication. 

Recently, local researchers from public universities have failed to study cannabis due to legal restrictions imposed by the government on “civil servants” and not “public officers” by the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA) 1952. Besides, Malaysia’s Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 only uses the term “cannabis” and does not make the distinction between hemp and marijuana.

Cryptocurrency and innovation – Regulation needs to be developed without stifling innovation, with a careful balance required between weighing the need to protect consumers with the benefits of a new technology with huge long-term potential. Regulation is a vital part of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, as it lifts global and local standards, sets barriers to entry for operators and provides consumer protection. Regulatory standards in a country are critical because it provides consumers with a good indication that they can trust that company with their funds. Overregulation of the industry may also deter innovation.

Adopt harm reduction approach – Adopt the harm reduction method as a concept in reducing the number of smokers. Harm reduction laws must be based on scientific-backed solutions and every consumer has the right to receive accurate information in making a decision for himself. For instance, Public Health England stated that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking and the government needs to ensure that the information can be reached by the public.

Aviation – Enforce existing consumer protection laws by making it easier to get refunds of canceled flights. In addition, when the plane is canceled, the consumers should have the option of receiving either a cash refund or a travel voucher to rebook a new flight in the future.

Food chain – Empower genetic engineering efforts in Malaysia to diversify food sources, adapt to climate conditions and reduce import dependency. The production of food commodities from within the country is important to ensure sufficient food supply in the country. Incentives for food production projects should continue with tax exemptions for the producing industry. 

Brands matter – Maintain intellectual property protection and brand protection in order to help consumers to distinguish between fake products that might be harmful for them and original products. Esports – Maintain the plan on policy or incentive of income tax exemption on winning prizes they receive in any competition starting in 2023. In addition, any company that in any form of winning while representing the country through official games such as the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games or SEA Games can apply for tax exemption in the country.

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