KUALA LUMPUR, April 7— The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP) today announced that the enforcement of the gazetted Trade Descriptions (Certification and Marking) of Non-Medical Face Mask Order 2022 under the Trade Descriptions Act 2011, would now be postponed to January 2, 2023, instead of July 4 this year.

Under the law, non-medical grade face masks must have the MS Sirim certification and marking from Sirim QAS International Sdn Bhd.

Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi made the announcement at the Le Meridien Hotel in Putrajaya today.

“That’s why I want to assure consumers to not be overly worried as if this gazettement will cause a price hike. Number one, I already warned manufacturers and importers to not use this as a reason to hike up prices.

“Secondly, to users, we will be heading to a time whereby face masks will no longer be mandatory, but before it goes there… that is why I announce that we had already fixed July 4 for the enforcement in this gazettement for face masks and after taking into consideration the feedback from all parties, we, this evening, already discussed and have agreed that the enforcement be postponed to January 1, 2023,” he said.

Alexander said that this would also cover fabric masks that are non-medical grade.

He said that the gazettement was postponed as the ministry is sensitive to the grouses of the people, following much feedback on the matter, with most expressing fear of a price hike.

“So we need a period of time. I feel a little longer until the end of the year to adjust to this,” he said, adding that the ministry wants the non-medical face masks to be certified by Sirim, as that is the accepted international standard.

“Now we are in the endemic stage, and the availability or supply of face masks is very adequate and we see that there will be more exports for our face mask industry. That is why we want to ensure that the Malaysian product has a standard. Sirim is accepted by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), like how I mentioned earlier,” he said.

During the press conference, Alexander also assured that consumers who don face masks without the Sirim accreditation would not be fined, adding that the onus is on the distributors and producers.

“I want to stress something here. Offences, should there be any, have no link to the consumers. Consumers will not be given any penalty. Just that this gazette, this law, if there is an offence, the huge fine is to the importers and the manufacturers. So consumers, don’t worry,” he said.

He assured that there will be no price hikes for face masks owing to the Sirim approval requirement, and sent out a stern warning to manufacturers and distributors to not take advantage.

“So for local consumers, they think that this would probably increase the prices of face masks which are already low now. No. I was given assurance from the industry. No effect. I have also discussed with Sirim what is the charge imposed by Sirim on applicants, to get this standard. So, Sirim gave an assurance that the charge will be very cheap, very low as Sirim too is caring towards the people, knowing how important face masks are. So they will make their charge cheap, as per what was notified to me just now.

“We hope that it would not have to be controlled, which is why for now, in this early stage, I implore the importers and manufacturers, to do their best. Don’t raise prices excessively, don’t force this minister to use the hard way on you. We do not want to resort to the maximum price scheme. That is not the best way. It is much better if there is self discipline from the industry,” he said.

When asked as to why the law was only being executed now, Alexander said that the matter was in planning since 2020 and that views were sought and approval was also obtained from the WTO.

Meanwhile, Alexander said that the Trade Descriptions (Certification and Marking) of Electronic Cigarettes (vaping devices) Order 2022 which was also gazetted under the Trade Descriptions Act 2011, would come into force on August 3 as planned.

“The electronic devices (part), for now, we will maintain it for August 3. This vape is not a necessity like face masks,” he added.

The order also requires manufacturers and importers of electronic cigarette devices to apply for Sirim certification.

Companies failing to comply with the regulations can be fined up to RM200,000 while individuals will face a fine of up to RM100,000 or imprisonment of up to three years or both, if convicted.