Ensuring safety of consumer goods a priority for gov’t

KUALA LUMPUR – On his way back from work recently, civil servant Ahmad Erwan Othman stopped at a pasar malam (night market) in the city centre to buy a doll as a birthday gift for his five-year-old daughter.

Walking past the long line of stalls, he paused at one of the stalls to take a look at the children’s toys on display there.

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His gaze fell on a blonde-haired doll dressed in a green coloured princess outfit and he knew his daughter would be delighted to receive it as a present. It had a RM15 price tag.

When he was about to pay for it, he suddenly realised that the doll did not have the MC (Malaysian Conformity) mark, which is an indicator that a particular toy supplied or sold in Malaysia has conformed to the safety standards prescribed by the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP).

Needless to say, Ahmad did not buy the doll as he was worried that the toy, particularly the materials that were used to make the doll, may not be safe for his daughter.

Must have MC mark

Under the Consumer Protection (Certificate of Conformance and Conformity Mark of Safety Standards) Regulations 2010, the MC mark must be affixed to all toys that are manufactured locally or imported into the country.

Commenting on this, KPDNHEP Consumerism Standards Division assistant director Salman Salim said children’s toys are among the six types of consumer goods that are regulated by the ministry and have to comply with the mandatory safety standards to ensure the safety of consumers.

“All toys for children aged below 14 that are sold in the market must have the MC mark to ensure their safety,” he said, adding that toy manufacturers or importers must affix the mark to their products before they are made available in the market and after applying for a certificate of conformance (COC) through the ministry’s MYSAFE system.

MYSAFE, which can be accessed via https://mysafe.kpdnhep.gov.my, is an end-to-end system to enable applicants to apply for the COC online.

Salman also said that primary batteries (that cannot be reused) in the AA, AAAA, C, D and 9V categories must also have the MC mark, as provided for under the Consumer Protection Act 1999 (CPA).

“CPA was drafted to protect the rights of consumers and to regulate all matters related to consumerism. The (provisions of the) Act is also in line with the functions of the ministry’s Consumerism Standards Division which was established to study, formulate and draft policies and regulations linked to the safety of goods in Malaysia,” he added.

Those found guilty of selling consumer goods without the MC mark can be penalised under Section 25 of CPA. Corporate entities guilty of committing the offence face a fine of up to RM250,000 but for the second or subsequent offences, they face a fine of up to RM500,000.

Non-corporate bodies found guilty of committing an offence under the same section face a fine not exceeding RM100,000 or maximum three years imprisonment or both. For the second or subsequent offences, the maximum fine is RM250,000 and jail term six years or both.

Four automotive products

The Consumerism Standards Division also regulates four automotive goods, namely vehicle brake lining, pneumatic tyre, motorcycle safety helmet and safety glass for motor vehicles, said Salman.

He said these goods come under the Trade Descriptions Act 2011 that was drafted for the purpose of promoting good trade practices by prohibiting false trade descriptions and false or misleading statements, conduct and practices in relation to the supply of goods and services.

“Brake linings are regulated by the Trade Descriptions (Marking of Replacement Brake Lining Assembly) Order 2014 which requires all replacement brake linings sold in Malaysia to have the MS SIRIM mark or E-Mark to indicate that the products have been tested and certified by recognised bodies such as SIRIM,” he explained.

Pneumatic tyres, which are tyres filled with air under pressure used in motor vehicles, are regulated by the Trade Descriptions (Marking of Pneumatic Tyre) Order 2012 while motorcycle helmets are regulated by the Trade Descriptions (Marking of Motorcycle Safety Helmet) Order 2012.

Meanwhile, the safety glass for vehicles, such as the front and rear windscreens and side mirrors, are regulated by the Trade Descriptions (Marking of Safety Glass for Motor Vehicles) Order 2017.

Consumer safety prioritised

To ensure the safety of consumer goods, the Consumerism Standards Division conducts various advocacy programmes periodically or on an ad-hoc, and also gets involved in programmes organised by other divisions and agencies, to educate the public on consumer safety.

“These advocacy programmes are implemented each time our ministry issues a new policy related to consumer safety. We also engage with the industry regularly to obtain their feedback on matters regulated by our division or on other new matters. This is to ensure that the industry’s action is in line with government policies,” Salman said.

Department of Standards Malaysia director-general Shaharul Sadri Alwi, meanwhile, said his department works closely with KPDNHEP to ensure the involvement of various stakeholders – including the ministry, department, agencies, academic groups, industry associations and consumer associations – so that the standard of goods produced is comprehensive and meets market demands, as well as the requirements of enforcement and regulatory bodies for the purpose of enforcement and post-market surveillance activities.

“Apart from that, we also identify and conduct awareness programmes in the form of seminars, workshops and standards implementation programmes every year in accordance with current needs and requirements of the parties concerned.

“Among the seminars related to consumerism Standards Malaysia has held is the MS 2626:2016 – Consumer Product Safety and Recall – Guidance in the Supply Chain,” he added.

Fulfil international standards

Fauziah Fadzil, who is senior general manager at SIRIM QAS International’s Product Certification and Inspection Department, said her department helps KPDNHEP in the certification, testing and labelling of products process, in addition to conducting market inspections from time to time on goods that have been certified.

“We also conduct a surveillance audit on manufacturers at least once a year. All products certified by SIRIM QAS International have met both Malaysian and international standards,” she said.

If a manufacturer or licensee is found to have misused the SIRIM label or if the product concerned does not meet the certification standards or conditions, the certification licence for the product will be suspended. The manufacturing company’s failure to take appropriate action will lead to its licence being revoked and the firm will also have to recall the products concerned from the market and those that have been sold.

Malaysian Automotive Component Parts Manufacturers Association president Peter Lim pointed out how important it is for companies to ensure the quality and safety levels of the automotive parts they produce.

He said the parts have to be in line with the National Automotive Policy (NAP) 2020 which stresses on the safety of vehicles and users, as well as reducing the road accident rate.

“NAP 2020 has introduced elements of consumerism to protect the rights of consumers in relation to vehicle spare parts and services, including maintenance and towing services (in case of problems).

“Hence, manufacturers can play an active role in assisting in the standards development process by ensuring that the industry firmly adheres to the safety conditions and protocol and continue producing goods that are of high quality and meet the required standards,” Lim added.

— BERNAMA