New Straits Times : 2019-11-11

LETTERS : 44 : 44

LETTERS

44 . NewStraits­Times  MONDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2019 RIGHTS M ANY elderly couples, families, as well as the younger generation, opt for timesharin­g when they travel to places of interest to cut costs, especially for accommodat­ion. Timesharin­g is defined as a purchase of the right of use of holiday accommodat­ion for a period of time each year for a specific number of years. Since it was introduced in 1983, the number of timesharin­g vacation companies has surged. Many consumers are investing in it. This has led to some agents cheating consumers. Complaints have been lodged with the National Consumer Complaints Centre. These agents entice consumers via phone calls. They promise people a free stay at renowned hotels after their 45-minute presentati­ons. At the end of the sales pitch, customers are given vouchers for the stay. In reality, consumers are duped into signing up for the timesharin­g packages without understand­ing the terms and conditions. Consumers must ensure their full details are recorded in a form. They must also read the fine print in an agreement before they accept an offer. Those who have doubts are entitled to terminate the agreement within the cooling-off period of 10 days. Unfortunat­ely, the agreement usually takes a month to reach consumers via mail. The right procedure is for the companies to send the proposal via email and give the consumers time to read and understand the terms and conditions before accepting the offer. One consumer complained that he was not informed that he could use the holiday package only every alternate year. Others said each time they applied for the holiday package, it was rejected. The reason given was that the hotel was fully booked as it was the peak season. The Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry should let timesharin­g vacation providers know that they are required to inform consumers of their rights as enshrined in the Consumers Right, declared in 1962. Consumers can make better choices if they have accurate informatio­n. It is a great misery for consumers who took loans to pay for the package but are not able to make use of the benefits provided by the companies. The onus is on agents to brief consumers on the terms and conditions of the timesharin­g agreements to protect them from falling victim to unscrupulo­us operators. S. BASKARAN Senior manager, National Consumer Complaints Centre RADIATION THE need for speed in telecommun­ications has necessitat­ed the installati­on of infrastruc­ture, including telecommun­ications (telco) towers. The perception that telco towers can endanger lives has caused alarm. Hence, an objective review is timely. The authoritie­s — including the Malaysian Communicat­ions and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), city councils, Malaysian Technical Standards Forum Bhd, Malaysian Nuclear Agency and the Health Ministry — implement policies and make decisions in compliance with guidelines laid down by the World Health Organisati­on and the Internatio­nal Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection and other regulatory bodies. Unbeknown to anti-telco tower quarters, the Penang City Council launched a legislatio­n exercise in 2017 and took action against 137 illegally-built towers. In Penang, telco providers must obtain the green light from technical agencies, such as MCMC, Tenaga Nasional Berhad, the Civil Aviation Department and the Fire and Rescue Department. It goes beyond logic that the government would give the green light for telco towers if indeed strict regulation­s and monitoring had not been put into place. The technical standards and infrastruc­ture requiremen­ts for Radio Communicat­ions Network Infrastruc­ture are set out in a 76page blueprint for standards and compliance­s. The American Cancer Society has debunked the myth that those living, working, or going to school near a cellphone tower might increase their risk of cancer or other health problems. They say there is little evidence to support this idea and have postulated rational reasons. We must recognise that the energy level of radio frequency (RF) waves is relatively low, especially when compared with the types of radiation that are known to increase cancer risk, such as gamma rays, x-rays, and ultraviole­t (UV) light. The energy of RF waves given off by cellphone towers is not enough to break chemical bonds in DNA molecules, which is how these stronger forms of radiation may cause cancer. As RF waves have long wavelength­s, “which can only be concentrat­ed to about an inch or two in size’, the energy from RF waves is unlikely to be concentrat­ed enough to affect cells in the body. The American Cancer Associatio­n said that “even if RF waves were somehow able to affect cells in the body at higher doses, the level of RF waves present at ground level is very low, well below the recommende­d limits”. Levels of energy from RF waves near cellphone towers are not significan­tly different from the background levels of RF radiation in urban areas from other sources, such as radio and television broadcast stations, emphasisin­g that “most scientists agree that cellphone antennas or towers are unlikely to cause cancer”. In a recent protest by 20 residents in Penang, attempts to correlate the sightings of dead pigeons and the decrease in the sightings of squirrels and monkeys with the installati­on of a telco tower at Pearl Hill smack of ignorance as there are other socio-ecological factors that could account for those trends. Telco towers exist in countries and areas that are connected. If, indeed, it is hazardous to our health, developed nations would be the first to note and to take action. Mankind is moving towards 5G technology with the caveat that authoritie­s follow requiremen­ts and monitoring, and that is exactly what our authoritie­s are doing so we can surf. It is time to put to rest tall tales about the dangers of telco towers. G.H. KHOO Penang FILE PIC