A glimmer of hope for the Lemon Law in Malaysia

 

It is with much joy we took note of the decision by Sessions Court Judge Mabel Sheela Muttiah that led to a consumer (Poratha Corporation Sdn Bhd) justly winning against the car company (FA Wagen Sdn Bhd).

Over the years, the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) has received numerous car complaints from owners of brand-new cars with multiple defects that should not be present in a new car. Any attempt on our part to reason with the car company and remind them of their duty to provide cars that are fit for the purpose (of use) as stated in the Consumer Protection Act 1999 is promptly shut down by the company. They insist that there are no manufacturing defects as everything is within “specification”, including issues such as persistent grinding and squeaking noises that not only cannot be rectified but their origin cannot even be identified; and that the complainant should just keep bringing their car in for servicing. This is no doubt a means for the car company to wash their hands of the problem once the warranty period has ended.

This kind of irresponsible behaviour exhibited by car companies that operate in Malaysia is horrifying as it is apparent that they have no regard for human life. Any vehicle with an inherent defect that is driven on the road is potentially putting the driver and other road users’ lives at risk.

For us, receiving car complaints is particularly frustrating as the people who come to CAP,more often than not,do not have the financial ability to sue the car company in court, which seems to be the only course of action against the unreasonable car companies.The Manager of Poratha Corporation action of suing the car company is a rare exception. Consumers are often left with a defective big-ticket item that they do not dare use because it could endanger their lives.

On this note, the point Judge Mabel Sheela Muttiah brought up about the Lemon Law is a very important one. CAP has been advocating for introducing the Lemon Law as part of our CPA 1999. In 2018 CAP issued a statement pointing out how having the Lemon Law would benefit consumers. For instance, if there is a defect that appears within a certain period of time (Singapore is the first 6 months and in the US time frame differs by state) and cannot be fixed then the car company cannot insist on endlessly “servicing” the car but must replace it immediately.

It is high time the Ministry properly look into implementing the Lemon Law in Malaysia.

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