PETALING JAYA: A DAP leader suggests that the ban by the United States Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) on selected products coming from Malaysia is not just due to the issue of forced labour.
Penang deputy chief minister P Ramasamy claimed it could also be because of protectionism and geopolitical reasons.
He said while he does not condone forced labour that is prevalent in many parts of the world, the US move could be to protect its domestic industries from unhealthy competition.
“The CBP may be going after Malaysian products that compete with those produced in the US. If there is perceived competition, primarily in the use of cheap labour, then they might deem it necessary to protect the domestic industries,” he said in a statement today.
“If that’s the case, the US should be open about it and not use forced labour as the only excuse to impose the ban.”
He said the US is also prone to use trade as a weapon for geopolitical reasons like its ongoing attempts to sideline China in the Asia-Pacific region.
“This might have to do with why it is banning products from some countries, including Malaysia.
“It could be seen as a nefarious attempt to keep countries like Malaysia and others in check,” he added.
According to Ramasamy, Malaysia is forced to contend with the issue of forced labour because of its over-dependence on the US market.
He also called the move by human resources minister M Saravanan, and plantation industries and commodities minister Zuraida Kamaruddin to try and convince the US that there was no forced labour as nothing but political propaganda.
“Any effort by the Malaysian government to deny the existence of forced labour has no impact on the US.
“I don’t think the US depends on information from the Malaysian government as they use the information gathered by independent agencies,” he said.
“The US officials are no fools to completely believe or trust our government ministers. They have other more credible sources of information.”