Protest Rally Ends with a Call for Fatwa against TPPA in Malaysia*
In a last ditch attempt to pressure Putrajaya to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), several groups converged on the capital city today, two days before a special parliamentary sitting on the trade deal.
Many of the loudest voices against the TPPA have been Malay groups, including the Malay Economic Action Council (MTEM), which made a strong presence at the rally with others under the banner of Bantah TPPA.
Another group, Kongres Rakyat is a PAS-backed NGO while right-wing Malay group Perkasa was also present.
Malay groups fear that the 12-nation trade deal crafted by the US will erode Malaysia’s sovereignty and cripple local companies from defending themselves against lawsuits by foreign investors.
Other opposition to the TPPA includes concerns that the price of medicines will be higher, and that small and medium enterprises serving the domestic market could go under.
A respected economist has also said that the trade deal could lead to greater inequality and job losses over a 10-year period.
To these concerns, however, advocates of the deal, such as business associations, have countered that greater competition will help companies grow stronger and have asked detractors to provide more facts.
The International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) had also said that the agreement contains various mechanisms that protect Malaysian companies and the government when facing investor lawsuits.
Overall, the secrecy surrounding negotiations on the deal and Putrajaya’s inability to explain its terms clearly and simply have fuelled fears of its impact on Malaysia.
Other groups critical of the TPPA and which are expected to be at today’s rally are Muslim NGO Isma, Parti Sosialis Malaysia, Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) and Bersih 2.0.
Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has also criticised the TPPA, saying it was “entirely dedicated to regulating trade” when Malaysia was already free to trade with whomever it wanted.
After police had cordoned off Dataran Merdeka, protesters who had gathered at five meeting points – Masjid Negara, Masjid India, Masjid Jamek, Sogo and Maju Junction – walked to Padang Merbok instead.
The TPPA, involving 12 member countries, is expected to be ratified in New Zealand next month.