The Ministry of International Trade and Industries (Miti) has said that the ball is in Bantah TPPA's court if the group wants to get involved in the structured engagements on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

Ministry secretary-general Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria told Malaysiakini that she had asked the anti-TPPA NGO coalition to specify its area of interests so that she could pull in the relevant stakeholders and organise a focused discussion on these matters.

"I cannot bring the whole government (to the discussion). I said, ‘You tell me what area (of interest) and we will bring in the necessary people for the structured engagement as we did with the tobacco control groups.

NONE"To date, there is nothing. All they want to do is to say that we are not engaging them," she said when contacted yesterday.

Sta Maria (right) also said that Miti Minister Mustapa Mohamed had already met the group just prior to flying to Bali for the ongoing Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit, which started on Oct 5.

Using the tobacco control groups as an example, she said she was able to facilitate a "fruitful" discussion that within half a day resulted in their feedback being included in Malaysia's proposals for the agreement.

In contrast, she said Miti could not entertain Bantah TPPA's request to hold a "lab" because its officers are needed to deal with other business instead of being occupied with this for several days.

Sta Maria was responding to Bantah TPPA's allegation that Miti has not delivered on several promises, such as involving the group in structured engagements on.

"If you say your concern is investment, I will bring the investment people. If you say it is financial services, I will bring in Bank Negara.

"(It is) very focused. We cannot have 20,000 people there (in a meeting). It does not make sense. It is not effective," she emphasised.


Sta Maria added that Unit Peneraju Agenda Bumiputera (Teraju) and Institute of Strategic and International Studies (Isis) have been appointed to conduct independent studies on TPPA.

However, she said the think-tanks have just started work and will be consulting Bantah TPPA in due time.

"We have no intention of leaving them out. We would be silly to do so. The studies are independent and we have advised those undertaking the studies to get feedback from all interest groups," she said.

Sta Maria also dismissed Bantah TPPA's allegation that it has been holding ‘counter-roadshows' to support TPPA at taxpayer's expense.

"I don't know what do they mean by roadshows using taxpayer's money. At Miti, we don't have money. We just bring them together for coffee and tea - all in our office," she said.

To back her case, Sta Maria has also furnished Malaysiakini with Miti's schedule for engagement on TPPA for the final quarter of 2013.

Among others, it shows that the minister had met Bantah TPPA along with several other groups on Sept 6.

It also states that Miti will possibly be consulting or has already consulted with groups such as the Malaysian Aids Council, Malaysia Trade Union Congress, Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM), Malaysia Youth And Students Democratic Movement (Dema) and the Malaysian Bar Council. - Malaysiakini, 10/10/2013, Miti throws ball back into Bantah TPPA's court