Azmin, Guan Eng clash over Cabinet minutes on trade pact under PH govt

International Trade and Industry Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali clashes with Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng in the Dewan Rakyat today.

KUALA LUMPUR: A disagreement over the ratification of an international free trade agreement sparked an argument today between MPs Mohamed Azmin Ali and Lim Guan Eng, both of whom were ministers under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.

Azmin, who is now international trade and industry minister under Perikatan Nasional government, claimed that the PH government had agreed to ratify the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The CPTPP is an agreement between 11 countries.

Azmin said a decision on the ratification was made in September 2018 when the Cabinet agreed to ratify the agreement without any time limit.

“We are now continuing discussions with stakeholders and the Attorney-General’s Chambers before we put it forward to the Cabinet for a new mandate,” he said when wrapping up his ministry’s policies.

Hearing this, Lim (PH-Bagan) stood to object, saying the PH Cabinet had not agreed to the ratification as “we did not want foreigners to interfere”.

“So it is not true that the Cabinet agreed. I hope you can correct the facts,” Lim told Azmin who was in charge of economic affairs under the PH government.

But Azmin told Lim to check the minutes of the Sept 5, 2018 meeting, at which Lim asked Azmin to look up the latest minutes of the meeting in 2019.

“Or check with (an) ex-Miti minister. Don’t twist the facts. Ask Langkawi MP (Dr Mahathir Mohamad), too.

“Speak the truth,” said Lim, who was the finance minister in the PH government.

To this, Azmin asked: “Why do you suggest that you are the only person who is speaking the truth?”

Ong Kian Ming, the former deputy international trade and industry minister, asked for permission to interject while Wong Chen (PH-Subang) asked for historical facts.

Earlier, Azmin told the Dewan Rakyat that up to May 31, 2020, Malaysia had received 32 projects from foreigners worth RM17.5 billion, out of which 28 projects had been approved.

Mukhriz Mahathir (Independent-Jerlun) then said big projects took at least a year to materialise and asked if the dealings were approved during the PH administration.

Mukhriz also asked about the types of promotion being carried out to attract foreign direct investments as the country was facing political uncertainties.

Azmin replied that even though the opposition claimed there were political uncertainties in the country, rating agencies and the World Bank had said that Malaysia’s economy would be one of the earliest to recover next year due to the stimulus packages and various measures taken by the PN government.

He further asked opposition MPs to change the narrative of fear in this regard to help create confidence in the country’s economy.

He said the slowdown was a global phenomenon, and due to that Putrajaya had carried out stimulus packages to cushion the economic impact of the crisis.

He was replying to Lim who told him that Fitch Ratings had revised its outlook on Malaysia’s long-term foreign currency issuer default rating from stable to negative, and affirmed the rating at A-.