The Consumers Association of Penang or CAP, is a unique consumers association which has not only caught the imagination of many in Malaysia but also many outside Malaysia through its unique approach towards consumerism – a combination of activism and popular approaches. CAP is also different from the consumer associations in the developed countries. There their main focus is telling consumers what is the best value for their money – i.e. telling them what are the best brands or models of cars, mobile phones or TV to buy. Here we try to give consumers the best value for people – our focus is on people, not on money, or what to buy – our focus is on whether something is good for people or not. Hence our focus on what is safe, what is hazardous, how not to be cheated, how to protect your rights and so on.
Our model of a consumer association is today being transferred to many developing countries. Only 3 days ago we were training Laotians on how to set up consumer associations in their country. Similarly we have trained the Burmese, Thais, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Indonesians, Chinese, Indians, Bangladeshis and others.
The purpose and contents of the website
CAP embarked on this journey of creating the website with a main objective in mind, that is, to put up a website which will put together our experiences, stories, perspectives, tips, campaigns and more – for the purpose of creating critically-aware consumers. Consumers who will know their rights, updated on the latest issues and who can make wise decisions in their lives – whether it is about food, health, medicines, housing, insurance, debt, get-rich-quick schemes (these are popular stuff which are related to our daily living) to issues like development, environment, waste, transport, education, farming, animal rights, healthcare, food security and other fields which are less popular and may seem more distant to our daily lives. But they are equally important if we are to create a harmonious, sustainable and peaceful place for Malaysians to live in. These development and environmental issues could in fact, be more important because they not only affect some people but EVERYBODY.
We have tried to collect the best of our databank for the website – from our archives of over 40 years of experience in trying to give Malaysian consumers a better deal, educating them, articulating their needs and fighting for their rights.
The CAP website has many topics which will interest readers. And it also has many consumer tips for consumers to take charge of at least some major parts of their lives – their money, home, food, health and their environment.
The Focus section has special interest topics like “Sugar linked to many diseases”, “No-fault insurance”, and “The benefits of cycling”. The topics are selected for their current interest and they contain several articles on each topic.
The website also has informative slides which highlight issues in a visual form through posters on popular issues like sugar and trans fat.
On the societal level it has many features on the physical, socio-economic and cultural development. These features question many assumptions on the present development patterns and offer many insightful and critical perspectives. For example, we question “Why GDP is not a good measure of economic prosperity?”, “What is trade justice?”, “What’s wrong with trade?” and see “Development as a form of theft”. On physical development, for example, we look at “The price we pay for our beloved cars” and “Modern transport do not save time”. And there are more of other interesting and alternative viewpoints in the website.
For booklovers, there is a complete listing of CAP books and guides on the website. The details of each book are also there. Purchases of the books and subscriptions for the Utusan Konsumer can be made on the website.
That in a brief way describes the website. We hope that all of you present today and all Malaysian consumers will take some time to look at the website and give us your comments and suggestions.
The website address is www.consumer.org.my and our email is email@example.com