Shopkeepers in Malaysia warned against raising stationery prices

KUALA LUMPUR - The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consu­merism Ministry has warned shopkeepers selling school supplies from raising stationery prices indiscriminately.

Bernama reported that the minister Datuk Seri Hasan Malek had said that members of the Federation of Stationers and Booksellers Association of Malaysia would face action under the Competition Act 2010 should they unilaterally increase prices.

The agency quoted the minister as saying that among the action which could be taken were fines, closure of the business premises, or confiscation of goods.

He said it could be done because the federation's plans to increase the price of goods was a cartel activity to reap extra profit due to market monopoly.

"Cartel activities are an offence because operators under the federation are planning to increase prices," he said after launching the Aeon Back to School campaign here yesterday.

Hasan was commenting on a report in The Star, which said the federation planned to increase the price of stationery and books by 20 per cent to 30 per cent in the first quarter of next year.

At the press conference, Hasan also called for constructive criticism, and not merely complaints, when it comes price increases.

"We need ideas from the public. We don't control the prices, the consumer does," he said, while urging businesses to help the ministry by not raising prices unreasonably.

Hasan said his enforcement team was monitoring businesses and engaging with the people to see if prices were going up unfairly.

"We aim to work with other agencies such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Road Transport Department, the Tourism Ministry and others to ensure action is taken if businesses raise prices unfairly," he said.

During the event, where Aeon offered assistance to 150 primary and secondary school children from Negri Sembilan and Pahang, Hasan urged the recipients to work hard and respect their parents and teachers.

The programme aims at providing less fortunate children with vital school supplies.

Aeon is holding the back-to-school promotion at 11 major stores from now until Jan 6.

Aeon executive director Poh Ying Loo said Aeon started the programme to give the kids "a good headstart in school".

"This campaign also enables families to have a wide range of options for their child's school supplies, as well as to promote Aeon Alpha Kids as the house brand that offers affordable prices to consumers."