TPPA: Why the rush, say campaigners


SHAH ALAM: Campaigners against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement have criticised the government for trying to force acceptance of the pact by giving insufficient time for the people to study the issue.

Bantah-TPPA leader, Nizam Mahshar complained that after five years of negotiations on the agreement in secrecy, “now two months after the details are released, we are asked to agree”.

The agreement creates a free trade area between Malaysia, the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam

Speaking at the TPPA Summit here today, Nizam said that he and the Malay Economic Action Council (MTEM) had asked for a parliamentary debate on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement two years ago, so that MPs could bring up the issues to the rakyat.

“But only now they want to debate it, just when it’s about to be signed. It’s too late,” he said.

Chee Yoke Ling of the Third World Network also said that there was too little time to study the 6,000 words in the agreement’s 30 chapters.

“Our first call is for the government to not rush the decision. We have too little time. At least 20 laws will have to change because of TPPA. There are still many questions that they cannot answer,” Chee said.

PAS-backed Kongres Rakyat chief, Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid said that the TPPA would ruin Malaysia’s sovereignty.

He stressed that there was no need for changes such as the TPPA when Malaysian’s trade is going smoothly.

“We have no problems doing business with Singapore, Canada and Australia… so why should we change anything? It should just be business as usual. It is a very simple question: why should we fix something that isn’t broken?,” Mohd Azmi said.

He also claimed that the United States complained about Malaysia’s Islamic laws every year without fail as being too restrictive. “This so-called free trade is going to dismantle our halal certificates and our Islamic law,” he said.

Professor Gurdial Singh Nijar of University of Malaya questioned the decision to “play somebody else’s game” and that Malaysia was falling into the geopolitics of the United States.

“In simple terms, our government can now be sued by foreign companies. Why commit our government, our people, our cause and our country with such provisions? Why are we playing someone else’s game when we are a free and independent country?” he said.

Bantah-TPPA and Kongres Rakyat are to hold a peaceful protest on Jan 23, just days before the TPPA is to be debated in Parliament.