This profile was prepared when Saree Aongsomwang was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Saree sees a tremendous need to improve consumer protection in Thailand, where under-regulated industries yield substandard, even unsafe, products and services. She uses print, television, and radio to reach the Thai public, providing a forum for information exchange among consumers nationwide. Her organization conducts independent product research, exposes false advertising schemes used to hook customers, presents case studies that point to consumer pitfalls, and insures representation for individuals who seek reimbursement or compensation. By encouraging consumers to work with existing public agencies, such as Thailand's Food and Drug Administration, Saree is pressuring the government to protect citizens by implementing and enforcing industry regulations and improving existing systems of redress for violated or harmed consumers. Furthermore, she is encouraging Thais to vote with their money, to make informed consumer choices that sustain responsible, ethical companies and ultimately improve production standards. According to Saree, companies will shy away from putting substandard or unsafe products on the market, as they know an alert, savvy consumer group is watching them.