Face Off: Acid Abuse and Consumer Rights

By Talib-Khalid, Kartini Aboo; Yusoff, Sakina Shaik Ahmad et al. | Asian Social Science, October 2015 | Go to article overview

Face Off: Acid Abuse and Consumer Rights


Talib-Khalid, Kartini Aboo, Yusoff, Sakina Shaik Ahmad, Ismail, Rahmah, Isa, Suzanna M., Asian Social Science


Abstract

The misuse of acid for personal revenge is a gruesome issue. Several cases were reported and the year 2011 marked the greatest number of cases for such violent attacks. This article discusses the safety issues within the scope of socio-legal perspectives. The scope of the study examines the misuse of acid in Malaysia over the years and the legal aspects pertaining to authorities, consumers, and victims. This study applies a qualitative method with descriptive and critical analyses and evidence. Cases and legal acts are cited accordingly. The law is used as a control mechanism to halt repeating cases by providing jurisprudence for prosecution. Discussions include a few laws such as Consumer Protection Act of 1999 and the Environmental Quality Act of 1974. Findings reveal that the law is significant when the issue becomes rampant and out of control. However the law may not provide justice when punishment is not a deterrent. Although penalties are paid and jail sentences served, these consequences do little to change the felon's behavior. Thus, strengthening the law without a clear implementation or follow up procedures will keep consumers' safety at risk. Instead, providing continuous support systems and preventive programs would help create awareness and enhanced personal safety in Malaysian society.

Keywords: acid, consumer, socio legal, safety, preventive

1. Introduction

The right to purchase goods for personal use is not controversial, but the misuse of this right for personal revenge that causes harm to others is. Goods such as chemical substances are subject to safety procedures (Note 1) only when they are used in industries or manufacturing businesses. An individual holding a position as an employee of a company finds herself or himself to the company rules and regulations. Thus, non-employees are excluded from such a guarantee of safety or coverage of safety provided by a company. It is understandable that non-employees have no coverage for such safety, but access and exposure to hazardous chemicals are not limited to industrial workers. Non-employees are vulnerable throughout the community and most of them are women and children.

Acid revenge refers to a growing number cases in which acidic substances are used to cause injury to another person. Most of these cases have personal issues attached to them and the remaining few are related to robbery, suicide attempts, and accidents. These instances trigger several related issues including safety procedures, consumer rights, and criminal acts. First, safety procedures require an evaluation by parties including the government, manufacturers, vendors, sellers, and consumers of toxic substances. In the basic free market principal, the government would very much like to act as the invisible hand allowing competition to determine the supply and demand for a product. Any intervention to the free market competition could bring harm to the cost and price of the product. Here the manufacturers, vendors and sellers would support such a market environment conducive to learning profit. It is very common and rational that the government will only intervene when the market situation hurts the wellbeing of people or creates a severe economic recession.

For manufacturers, vendors and sellers a standard safety procedure is implemented by the manufacturing industry and an information guide is provided to those selling and handling the hazardous chemical substances. Also a user guide in the form of a pamphlet or a note is provided for those vendors and sellers that purchase the chemicals in a package. However when goods are sold separately or in small proportions, the information becomes detached from the original package. Buyers now are depending on verbal explanations from the sellers that frequently elicit a negative reaction upon request. On the other hand, for consumers, they are depending on the availability of information on a purchased item. …

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