On 10 November 2018, the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) was conferred the inaugural Ibn Khaldun Award for Global Social Transformation by the Minister of Education, YAB Dr. Maszlee Malik, who is also the President of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).
The award was given to CAP for its contribution to the Malaysian society in championing consumer rights, interests of underprivileged and marginalised members in the community and promotion of sustainable development for almost 50 years.
IIUM Rector Prof. Emeritus Tan Sri Dzulkifli Abdul Razak said that this is the first time the university conferred an award to an organisation.
The award was received by Mr SM Mohd Idris President of CAP at the 34th IIUM Convocation ceremony.
Below we reproduce the citation of the Award for CAP.
IBN KHALDUN MERIT AWARD FOR GLOBAL SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION
Inspired by the universal stature of Ibn Khaldun and his ideas about kinship, solidarity and the relationship between culture and environment, the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) introduced the Ibn Khaldun Merit Award to honour his scholarly legacy. This Award is intended to highlight the value of organisations within the community and promote its achievements as positive role models for both the government and non-governmental organisations in delivering community service. The Award recognises those who promote sustainable development in the community and endeavour either directly or indirectly to render service to the community.
Recipient of the Inaugural Ibn Khaldun Merit Award 2018
The recipient of the Inaugural Ibn Khaldun Merit Award 2018 is the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP). CAP The Consumers Association of Penang is chosen to receive the Ibn Khaldun Merit Award in recognition of its contributions in championing consumer rights, interests of underprivileged and marginalised members in the community and promotion of sustainable development for almost 50 years.
CAP’s efforts towards promoting sustainable development through participation, advocacy, demonstration campaigns, monitoring and research, as well as cooperation and networking with other NGOs and government departments have brought various benefits to Malaysian society as a whole, and also globally.
In recent years, the range of activities undertaken by CAP has broadened. They now undertake a much wider range of activities than simply raising consumer and environmental protection awareness and or acting as pressure groups. Their activities now include environmental monitoring; promoting environmental education, training and capacity-building; implementing demonstration; conducting advocacy work in partnership with other agencies; and the promotion of regional and international cooperation on consumer rights and environmental protection. CAP’s involvement in the practical management of conservation areas, has been able to promote community or individual action and campaign for greater accountability on the part of the government and corporate sector.
History of Establishment and Contributions of CAP
Since its establishment in 1970, CAP has championed the rights and interests of Malaysians from all walks of life especially the underprivileged and marginalised members of society. It has undertaken the responsibility to solve innumerable problems faced by individuals, communities and the natural environment.
The motto ‘giving a voice to the little people’ is very apt for this non-profit, independent organisation, where the main concern is ensuring the right of consumers to food, housing, health care, sanitation facilities, public transport, education and a clean environment. This is at a time when such awareness was still very low.
CAP carries out research in various areas to collect evidence to support claims and to provide information to policy makers in formulating consumer policies as well as to make informed decisions, conduct awareness programmes to educate the public.
CAP manages between 3,000 to 4,000 complaints from the public annually ranging from issues of poor quality consumer products and food adulteration, delivery of services and affordable and quality housing. It has successfully managed to resolve nearly 100,000 cases since its establishment and this is not an ordinary feat especially for an NGO with limited funding. It has more than 300 affiliated members. One of its affiliate Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) is established with the principal objective of protecting the environment.
CAP. in serving the cause of the consumers in Malaysia, has managed to create awareness on consumer protection and has been carrying out this task professionally at par with the international consumer protection standards. CAP, in addressing the globalised and digitalised changes at the global level, is committed to ensuring that the voice of consumers is as powerful as the governments and corporations they interact with. Achieving this will ensure that everyone can realise the benefits of our increasingly globalised and digital world. At a time when companies often have huge global reach, CAP educates the consumers in the need to think big and act together to ensure the consumer protection is not outpaced.
CAP’s dynamic team of 35 staff members is led by Haji S.M Mohammad Idris, a 92-year-old outspoken veteran who is devoted to upholding the need to promote educational reforms to build national unity and reduction of poverty, disparity and polarisation. CAP with its affiliates, Sahabat Alam Malaysia and Third World Network are dedicated to work together to create a vibrant, dynamic, fair and just society by urging the creation of relevant policies and institutions rooted in the diverse traditions, values, cultures and beliefs of Malaysian society. Building on this foundation, CAP has made immense contributions through the fight for consumer rights, social justice and environmental integrity which it has helped to pioneer in recent Malaysian history.
CAP produces bi-monthly editions of Utusan Konsumer in English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil. Utusan Konsumer has been an important tool for disseminating valuable information based on research and evidences to all members of society throughout Malaysia. Some of the notable achievements of CAP are:
- Since its establishment, helped raise consumer awareness and the importance of their rights to quality products and make informed choices in purchasing consumer products.
- 1975 onwards assisted the fishing communities whose livelihood were affected by the encroachment and pollution near Kuala Juru.
- In 1982, CAP’s constant exposure of the environmental degradation issues led to the establishment of the Ministry of Environment to focus on managing pollution and promoting environmental quality in Malaysia.
- Assisted in improving social benefits, welfare and working conditions of workers in the country.
- Since the 1980s, conducted studies to expose 20 types of hazardous drugs that have been marketed in Malaysia that was ultimately banned by the Ministry of Health.
- In the 1990s, launched the Save Penang Hill campaign together with other civil society groups and saved the Penang Hill from indiscriminate development and thus helped conserve the environment.
- In 1994, established the Penang Inshore Fishermen’s Network (PIFWA) to defend the welfare and interests of the inshore fishing community.
- CAP continuously work with schools in various parts of Malaysia to establish Consumer Clubs to ensure an early start in consumer and environmental awareness education for the Malaysians.
- Successfully lobbied the Government to introduce new laws to protect consumers, house-buyers, tenants and the environment; and to reform and enforce outdated law culminated in the amendment to the Specific Relief Act in 1992 to protect the tenant from being evicted by the landlord without a court order.
- Continuously promoting awareness by organising campaigns on numerous issues affecting public health, including safety of food, products, the price of medicine and anti-smoking.
- Provided continuous support to residents threatened by indiscriminate and hillslope developments threatening their property and life.
- Organised Conference on Decolonising University in the attempt to reshape a more relevant institution of learning for the future to promote interaction with the society which is now termed as “Quadruple Helix” in the academia.
- Sahabat Alam Malaysia submitted evidences to the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment (MESTECC) to expedite the investigations into the operations of Lynas Corporation Bhd located in Gebeng, Pahang and to take all measures to close the plant and remove all the wastes, including the products made from the wastes which are hazardous to public health and the environment.
CAP has been honoured with the Right Livelihood Award, an international award to “honour and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing mankid. The prize was established in 1980 by German-Swedish philanthropist Jakob von Uexkull, and is presented to those who have made contributions to environmental protection, human rights, sustainable development, health, education, and peace. In 2014, CAP’s president Haji S.M Mohammad Idris was bestowed with the prestigious Tun Abdul Razak Award in recognition of the services by CAP to the community.
CAP’s Commitment to the Community
Despite having achieved many accolades of success, in consumer protection, CAP is committed to creating awareness of consumer protection, increasing the existing avenues to resolve consumer grievances, promoting and protecting consumer rights as well as championing environmental rights; to continuing their noble mission in, managing consumer complaints to seek redress for their rights that are violated; assisting residents and communities facing problems arising from indiscriminate pollution, indiscriminate deforestation and hillslope development; supporting families, schools and associations in growing organic vegetables and fruits adopting CAP’s organic farming model. It has continued the conservation activities of Penang Hill and natural environment, protection of the beaches, water sources and coastal resources, and simultaneously preserving the cultural heritage.
It seeks to develop plans for ensuring food security, improved health services and cheaper medication and health services; expand the role in monitoring the inflation and unscrupulous commercial behaviour that impacts the increase in pricing of consumer products; assist and support workers’ organisations, farmers’ and fishermen community, residents’ associations and environmental protection organisations in pursuing their rights that have been affected; establish active networking and collaboration with other civil society organisations to promote active and effective participation in the review of the Penang Structure Plan, Transport Master Plan, Sea reclamation projects, Local plans and various other plans; promote public interest action litigation by enforcing existing laws and introducing new laws to protect consumers and the environment.
CAP is committed to touching the lives of Malaysians from various walks of life beyond consumer rights and protection to promoting Sustainable Development Goals (2016-2030). Indeed, it has been instrumental in shaping the idea since its inception as a contribution to the future of humanity.