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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 27, 2016:

While Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament were warding off concerns raised by the Opposition over the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) in the Dewan Rakyat, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal questioned safeguards contained in it to protect Malaysia.

Raising several questions, he said there were matters in the agreement that needed to be ironed out, some of which were not beneficial to the country, before Malaysia signed the United States-led agreement.

One of the issues he raised was the safeguard of capacity building for local traders and businesses.

“Our ability needs to be strengthened so that our traders are not only ensured manpower and capital, but also access to a bigger size of the market.

“How sure are we that we can capture market rates? These are matters that my friends in Cabinet know I am quite vocal on. I want to reiterate this.

“There needs to be a guarantee that the result of this agreement will see that Bumiputeras and Malays will have a bigger piece of the cake,” he said in Parliament today as the debate on the TPPA continued.

The Semporna Member of Parliament further pointed out the provision that Malaysia would be able to pull out from the TPPA after six months of signing it and raised liability factors.

Mohd Shafie wanted to know the after-effects of pulling out if companies had already set up shop in Malaysia.

“Who is going to be liable? They might sue us as a government. I know the ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) is there, but this is an international tribunal where we don’t have any capacity.

“What will happen if someone wants to invest in Penang, Selangor, which is not what we agreed in TPPA? That company can sue us.

“Who is going to be liable? The state or federal government?” he asked.

In this aspect, he said, there was a need to strengthen the capacities of lawyers, companies and policies in line with what was being agreed to under TPPA laws.

“These are things we need to look at and consider so that the agreement can be weighed and strengthened.

“This doesn’t mean I am opposed to it. Strengthen it. Trade is good but not at our expenses. It must be a win-win (scenario),” he said.

The motion to decide Malaysia’s participation in the TPPA is being tabled in a special Parliamentary sitting for two days, which started yesterday. Members of Parliament are expected to vote on the TPPA after debates are completed today.

The Dewan Negara will also debate and vote on the TPPA on Jan 28.

Malaysia is among 12 countries including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Singapore, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, United States and Vietnam that finalised negotiations on the TPPA in Oct 5 last year.

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