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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Stung by criticisms, Putrajaya raps The Star for sensationalising minister’s comments

Minister Datuk Seri Hasan Malek's comments were said to have been sensationalised by The Star in a report on price hikes. - December 29, 2013.Minister Datuk Seri Hasan Malek's comments were said to have been sensationalised by The Star in a report on price hikes. - December 29, 2013.The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry moved to head off more criticisms about price hikes today by ticking off The Star newspaper, saying "such sensationalisation of news and eye-catching headlines should not be at the expense of misinformation that may create the wrong perspective".
The Star reported Minister Datuk Seri Hasan Malek as saying on Friday that the ministry had not received any complaints and this meant there was support for the price hikes. But the online version of the news report has been now been edited and carries a new headline.
"In the report published on 27th of December 2013 titled 'No complaints proof that Malaysians support price hike', we the ministry and on behalf of the Minister find that this is very misleading," the ministry said in a Facebook posting today.
Several activists and groups are calling for protests from New Year's Eve over the price hikes while the opposition pact, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) are organising rallies next year against the hikes.
Even former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has come out to align himself with consumers, saying the government should cut costs instead of raising prices.
"Now, the minister understands that like all newspapers, especially with the current news climate, The Star has to compete with very strong competitors to garner readership and market share, especially in the ever competitive online English news segment.
"However, we also believe that such sensationalisation of news and eye-catching headlines should not be at the expense of misinformation that may create the wrong perspective," the ministry said in the posting.
The posting said the headline was derived from the minister's remarks explaining that the ministry had not received many complaints about price hikes through its hotline and online channel.
"We would like to clarify that what the minister meant, and as reported by other news portals, is that he would like to ask the consumers to work together with the ministry in dealing with this issue, that is for them to be a smart consumer.
"As written in the report, the Minister also mentions that in the end, it is the consumers that control prices via market forces hence the lack of complaints and reports from consumers would seem to be a sign to the market that consumers seem to accept these alleged price hikes," it said.
In The Star report, the minister was quoted as saying, "We haven't received any complaints. People have not complained, which means there is support. We don't control the price, the consumers control it."
Hasan also urged businesses to be considerate in the report, saying "Please help the ministry and don't raise prices unreasonably."
In the Facebook posting today, the ministry said the minister had mentioned and was reiterating today that it can take action under the Anti-Profiteering Act of 2011, if there seemed to be a case of excessive profiteering by a seller, trader or business operator.
"However this can only be carried out effectively if the public would work together hand in hand with the ministry by informing us of any price hikes that is beyond the reasonable expectations via our hotlines at 1-800-886-800 or our email at e-aduan@kpdnkk.gov.my .
"Again, the minister on behalf of the ministry would like to clarify that it is not our intention to aggravate the public in any way whatsoever, we really want for the consumers to get involved with us, work with us and help us in creating a better, fairer and just market for all Malaysians," it added. 

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