Are laws designed to protect consumers or businesses?

Andy Yong


LETTER | Are our laws (which are inclined towards protecting consumers) fair to the business and e-commerce community?

Last year, Bank Negara Malaysia reported a drop of nearly 50 percent in reported online scams but the same is never conducted on the losses of the genuine related business.

The drop did not stop Bank Negara or the Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry from implementing new acts and investigating cases to minimise online fraudsters, scams and illegal activities.

Basically, most measures taken by the authorities are to protect the consumers. This is apparent with such laws as Direct Sales and Anti-Pyramid Scheme Act 1993, Consumer Protection (Electronic Trade Transactions) Regulations 2012, and Electronic Commerce Act 2006.

So, businesses must comply with a myriad of federal and state consumer protection laws. These laws are designed to protect consumers from unfair, deceptive or fraudulent practices by businesses. Businesses that violate such laws may be subject to lawsuits, financial penalties, and negative publicity.

As a lawyer, I have represented many businesses but often found that some business owners make mistakes that would leave them legally vulnerable.

If a genuine company can fall victim to business schemes, or is seen in a negative light (especially by online critics), think about how much more vulnerable a tech startup or new e-commerce or online shopping might be.

Online businesses want more shoppers to visit and buy products from their websites. They want consumers to recommend their websites to their family members, friends, and strangers.

If the business is transparent in its transaction in order to gain trust but is manipulated or discouraged by the consumers or users or even the government, how are we going to attract more investors to build an innovative and developed nation?

Or is our country keen in assisting cronies and proxies only?

As business becomes more complex as technological breakthroughs continue, the dual nature of the government's relation to business may become increasingly more regulatory and collaborative at the same time.

There must be a balance. The government's action, therefore, must benefit both businesses and consumers.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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