THE validity of the law can be questioned if the drafting of the law does not take into account the basic rights of consumers.
A case in point is the Tobacco and Smoking Products Control Bill 2022 which culminated in the Generation End Game (GEG) has somehow curtailed the right of consumers to choose with the state apparently controlled consumer choices and actions.
“(If this happens), it is not impossible that the way we cut our hair and wear it will also be controlled in the future. This is a dangerous precedent and a wrong move by the Government,” opined Arunachala Research & Consultancy Sdn Bhd’s principal consultant R. Paneir Selvam.
“The highest law in Malaysia is the Federal Constitution which recognises the fundamental rights of all Malaysians. If we do not focus on this matter, the validity of the law will be questioned.”
According to the think tank founder who was the main panellist at the online webinar entitled Ending Generation End Game, Rules of Law and the Constitution organised by the Consumer Choice Centre (CCC) Malaysian chapter, the law enacted must uphold the principle of equality and consumer rights must be prioritised.
“The law must be fair for all generations and every group of society. The law cannot only give one advantage to one generation and deprive it of another,” asserted Paneir Selvam.
“This (tobacco) bill needs to be postponed and discussed again with stakeholders, especially consumers. Consumers need to be given the right to choose and that right cannot be taken away by the government in any way.”
Paneir further stressed that if the Government wants to enact any policy in the future, fundamental freedom in the Federal Constitution need to be given an important emphasis according to the rules of law to guide the legislators.
In addition, he also opined that the Government should switch to a more effective strategy in an effort to reduce the number of smokers in Malaysia, notably by educating the public instead of making it a crime.
Meanwhile the aim of the CCC webinar was to examine and evaluate the Federal Constitution’s rule of law regarding the essence of the GEG.
According to the CCC Malaysia representative Tarmizi Anuwar, individual freedom for consumers in the Federal Constitution was not given serious attention in the implementation of the GEG.
“Very little was discussed about fundamental rights or individual freedom in this matter. Until recently, Tun Zaki Azmi, the former Chief Justice, also touched on the issue of individual freedom in his statement,” he pointed out.
“We can have many laws enacted but what is more important is whether the law aims to achieve the goal of justice and equality.” – Sept 21, 2022