LETTER SENT TO THE STRAITS TIMES (SINGAPORE) AND THE BUSINESS TIMES (SINGAPORE) ON 30 SEPTEMBER 2007
A public consultation was launched for proposed amendments to consumer protection legislation last Friday.
If the amendments eventually make it into legislation, the changes will affect millions of consumers in Singapore. One can reasonably argue that it will be a step forward for human rights in Singapore since the consumer will now enjoy wider protection.
At the same time, compliance with the legislation may mean higher expenses for consumer-centric businesses in Singapore, especially the financial services sector that will be affected uniquely by these changes.
Yet, for such an important piece of legislation, the Ministry of Trade & Industry has only permitted a mere 10 working days for members of the public, including interest groups, businesses and others affected by the legislation, to respond to the changes.
This leads one to question the sincerity of this exercise. How serious is the relevant law-maker about incorporating public feedback into the exercise?
And even if one can justify the law-maker is serious, the short time period is extraordinary and appears irrational.
Most public consultations - especially those that impact millions of Singaporeans - are held over at least one whole month. If the changes are controversial, such as the one we are seeing in the case of the longevity insurance scheme, a longer time period for public consulation is given.
The Ministry of Trade & Industry should extend the period of public consultation. If not, it should provide compelling reasons to support the exceptionally short time period of public consultation.
Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this?