GEORGE TOWN, Oct 6, 2015:

A Penang-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) urged the government not to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) for fear of its negative effects.

The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) describes the TPPA as a ticking time bomb because it cements the unfair Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism that enables foreign corporations to sue governments for protecting public interest and the environment.

Its president SM Mohamed Idris said that any government policies needing to address public health, environment and global warming issues will be subject to suits brought before biased and undemocratic international investment tribunals.

Among others, Mohamed Idris in a statement said that the TPPA is also a “bad deal” for public health.

“The TPPA Intellectual Property rules will increase patent and data protections for pharmaceutical companies, resulting in high prices for medicines and for longer periods. This means that life-saving medicines will be out of reach for many who need them.

“The TPPA also has chapters on state-owned enterprises and government procurement which would seriously curb the ability of governments to continue to provide preferences and advantages to domestic companies, or to enable government-linked companies from playing an important role in the economy.”

Yesterday, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said that Malaysia had concluded negotiations held in the United States on the TPPA, but would only sign it after a collective decision.

Mohamed Idris said that this would in turn cause very damaging effects on the socio-economic structures and fabric of the the country.

CAP is also urging the government to release the Cost and Benefit Analyses of this trade deal.

“To our dismay, the government has yet to announce what is the compelling reason and justification for this TPP deal which is not all about trade.

“Despite widespread international opposition, trade officials from the 12 countries negotiating the TPP in Atlanta, USA announced yesterday that they have reached an agreement on a devastating trade deal that threatens people and the planet.”

TPP, he argued, still faced a number of procedures and challenges before being ratified at the national level.

“Firstly, the TPP is not yet signed and Malaysia will still have to decide whether to sign.

“The public and Parliament can still make their views known, and influence the government not to sign.

“Secondly the text of the TPP is still a secret and it is imperative that it be released so that the public can know what exactly it says and its implications.”

Mohamed Idris said that enough is known about the TPP from the leaked texts and from reports by local and international groups and experts.

“CAP urges the Parliamentarians, the public and all civil society organisations to scrutinise and analyze the actual texts of the agreement.

“It is also crucial for citizens to raise concerns about the TPP and to call on the government not to sign the agreement, as it would devastate public health, the environment, jobs, and our sovereignty.”

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