New Case chief to focus on errant online retailers
For nearly 15 years, Mr Seah Seng Choon, 64, had been the face and voice of local consumer rights.
In 2003, a year after Mr Seah joined the Consumer Association of Singapore (Case), it had to stand up to insurance giant AIA after more than 700 customers complained that it had continued to deduct premiums for longer than was originally agreed.
Eight years ago, he had to defend Case in court after two private schools sued it for $10 million over their 23-day suspension from an accreditation scheme. The schools eventually lost the suit.
More recently, Mr Seah had to deal with criticism that the consumer watchdog was a "toothless tiger" at the height of the Sim Lim Square saga involving seemingly out-of-control errant mobile phone dealers.
Mr Seah, who also saw the implementation of the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act and the Lemon Law, admitted that these were some of Case's most challenging times.
"But over the last 15 years, the efforts that we put in are beginning to show results. The total number of complaints have gone down over the years," he told The New Paper.
On Jan 1, Mr Seah handed over the baton to Mr Loy York Jiun, 43.
Mr Loy, who joined Case as its deputy executive director last April, told TNP that he initially thought Case was just about handling "complaints, grievances and refunds".
"To most, consumer protection might be our most obvious (work), but a core strategy of Case involves fair trading.
"At the end of the day, it is not in anyone's interest for the marketplace to decline because of lack of trust.
"Case is not out to 'get' businesses. Instead, we have every interest to see a thriving business place, which allows best value for money for consumers. But in the process of (creating) a thriving marketplace, consumers must be fairly treated."
Mr Loy plans to focus on e-commerce, which has seen rising complaints, as well as consumer education.
He said: "People tend to have short memories, and we can't blame them because of information overload nowadays.
"It's a matter of continuously reinforcing and enhancing our messages, as well as providing seasonal advisories to consumers."