“National Consumer Council” calls for a clause on independent consumer protection body in the Draft Constitution
Academics and consumer networks in Thailand said they could not accept the recent draft constitution which reflects a downward trend in consumer protection. The “National Consumer Council” today calls for a clause that stipulates the establishment of an independent consumer protection body in the draft. The council is also supporting legislations on recalls and defective new products.
15 March 2016, Bangkok – The Independent Organization for Consumer Protection committee, Health Consumer Protection Program, Foundation for Consumers, and Thai Drug Watch celebrate World Consumer Rights Day today at a national seminar held at Amari Donmuang Airport Hotel, Bangkok.
Assoc. Prof. Jiraporn Limpananont, chairperson of the Independent Organization for Consumer Protection committee, said the draft constitution must have a clause on the establishment of an independent consumer protection body. The latest draft shows “the constitution is moving backward to the time before 1997”. Limpananont called for an inclusion of a clause from the 2007 Constitution which stipulates the establishment of an independent national organization for consumer protection. “The independent body will be tasked with providing recommendations to government agencies, assisting and supporting government work in consumer protection, as well as empowering consumers”, she said.
Foundation for Consumers’ secretary general Saree Aongsomwang said consumer organizations nationwide together with individual consumers, academics, and related agencies have agreed to the establishment of the “National Consumer Council”. The council consists of 61 committee members – consumer representatives, provincial representatives, consumer protection workers, and university lecturers. Aongsomwang said “The first meeting of the National Consumer Council today is where consumer groups and consumer protection agencies get together to decide the roles and directions of the National Consumer Council which will be an important mechanism for the monitoring of law enforcement, consumer protection policy implementation, as well as the establishment of an independent national body for consumer protection.”
Assoc. Prof Vithaya Kulsomboon, director of Chulalongkorn University’s Social Research Institute and manager of Health Consumer Protection Program, said Thailand has gone through several reforms in the past year, especially in terms of consumer protection. There have been movements such as the call for an independent consumer protection body as required by the previous Constitution, the laws and mechanisms on product recalls, warnings on dangerous goods, and compensation on defective new products. “The fact that the latest draft constitution limits consumer protection work to only government’s agencies can be seen as a violation of consumers’ rights. There is no mentioning of an independent body that will represent consumers like in the previous constitutions. This is against the core principle of the constitution to wipe out corruptions. More often than not, businesses with their huge financial power can manipulate the government to make decisions in their favor. Thus, this draft constitution will take the country down the “reform” road where citizens, or in this case consumers, have no part in”, Kulsomboon said.
Asst. Prof. Dr. Niyada Kiadyingangsulee, President of Thai Drug Watch – said drug resistance has caused health crisis worldwide and the issue must be dealt with immediately. In 2030, approximately 105,600 tons of antibiotics will be used in agriculture/husbandry, compared to 63,200 tons in 2010. She calls on all sectors to support the 8th National Health Assembly’s resolution No. 5 where farm operators are required to have a clear policy to reduce and finally stop the use of antibiotics on their farms. This also means the public declaration on the policies and practices of the businesses and the labeling requirements that will help consumers make safe and healthy choices.
To celebrate this year’s World Consumer Rights Day (15 March) with consumers all over the world on the issue of antibiotics, the network of consumer organizations in Thailand have submitted letters to KFC, Subway, Sizzlers, McDonald, and Chester Grills in the country to ask them to stop using meat contaminated with the substances. Besides, in order to guarantee access to healthy food for consumers, The letter asks each company to verify the source of animal meat to be used in their food products, urges the companies to have a concrete plan to reduce and stop the use of meat from animals fed with unnecessary antibiotics, and requests an opportunity for inspection and public report every three month by independent parties.
By Sasiwan Parinyart, Foundation for Consumers (FFC)