Tuesday, May 12, 2015

What ASEAN if Malaysia may sign trade agreements like TPPA without all of ASEAN?

ASEAN Economic Community - but why is Malaysia and a couple of other ASEAN nations entering into a trade agreement without the rest of ASEAN? - TPPA?

Should not ASEAN nations be acting as one - not in competition with one another? Many big countries come to individual nations with trade agreements and promises - they encourage 'playing out' fellow nations by giving better 'deals' or benefits - and ASEAN nations rather than acting as one - is allowing themselves to be exploited by these 'bigger' nations. For ASEAN, we need action not just mere words and slogans...

 Image result for ASEAN

Now, the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is being negotiated between 12 countries — the US, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei — which represent more than 40% of the world’s gross domestic product. Only 3 ASEAN nations are involved - where are the other ASEAN nations...

The worries about the TPPA are many -

Will Malaysia end up being a crony of the US? After all, did not the Malaysian Prime Minister run over to play golf with Obama - and we still do not know what was discussed there? If Mahathir was the Prime Minister, he would not have 'run over' to play golf with Obama, or would he? 

'... invitation had been extended during Obama's visit to this country in April... Speaking at a media conference here after observing the areas badly affected by the flood in Kelantan, he said: "Actually, during President Obama's visit to Malaysia, he had said that if coincidentally I were in Hawaii together with him (Obama), he would like to play golf with me (Najib).

"And playing golf is not something strange or extraordinary...because during the times of Tun Abdul Razak (Malaysia's second prime minister), Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman (second deputy prime minister), playing golf with world leaders could be described as golf diplomacy," he said. - Star, December 27, 2014,Golf game with Obama for diplomatic relations, says Najib
But, what really was discussed? They met in April - so why did Najib go to US(Hawaii) - TPPA? ASEAN Chair? Was there any report that explained clearly. As ASEAN Chair, Malaysia must be most careful and not allow ASEAN's best interest be sidelined... 

Remember - NAM (Non-Alligned Movement) - well, let us not forget that dependence on one 'super power' is dangerous - when Malaysia sits very close to many other major 'super-powers' - China, Russia, ...even India > all of which are also big markets and also very strong militarily (nuclear nations). Unlike Mahathir, our present Prime Minister seems weak and can so easily be manipulated... Why run to the US to play golf with Obama? Is that not a sign of weakness on the part of Najib? (more so at a time when he really should have been in Malaysia that was being affected by a natural disaster - floods). A stronger personality would likely have just postponed golf for a later date given the floods in Malaysia ... would he not? What do you say?

TPPA - it is kept a SECRET by Najib and the Barisan Nasional government. It is an agreement, if signed, that will bind Malaysia for a long long time - Do we trust this Malaysian BN government? Certainly not - and remember, this government does not even have popular support - the number of votes cast for BN overall was less than 50% of the total votes cast. Yes, they won more Parliamentary seats - but that may be because of 'gerry mandering' - or how our electoral boundaries are drawn. 

Today, not only Malaysians that should be worried but also the majority of ASEAN member states who are not part of i? Will the signing of this 'partnership agreement' lead to setting up of US bases in Malaysia? Maybe even placement of 'nuclear weapons' in Malaysia making us a nuclear target when US goes to war? Oh yes, we can all speculate as we all are in the black of what exactly is in that TPPA (partnership agreement - not a usual trade agreement) is all about...

Will Malaysian vote in ASEAN be influenced by what Obama and the US thinks? 

The secrecy of what exactly are the contents of the TPPA is most disturbing - is it just another Trade Agreement or is it more than that? 

We heard that there is an Investor State Dispute Settlement(ISDS) provisions in that agreement - which will bestow rights on foreign investors allowing them to drag Malaysia to some foreign tribunal if Malaysia as a government does anything to affect the profits or business of the foreign investor?

We know that Australia has come out and said that they will sign only if they are not bound by the ISDS provisions - Malaysia, of course, have been silent...

TPPA and ISDS must be a concern for caring Malaysians - Right to know before it is signed?

TPPA - Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) Clauses - No more improvement in Malaysian life?

For raising minimum wages, Egypt sued by Veolia, a French multinational?

Govt secrecy over TPPA a major threat to NZ

Jen Olsen.
Jen Olsen.
The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, being negotiated dangerously in secret, is likely to increase and entrench the power and influence of transnational corporations, writes Jen Olsen.
A month ago, Wikileaks published the Investment Chapter from the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. 

This contains one of the most controversial parts of the TPPA, the 
Investor State Dispute Settlement process, or ISDS. 

It is very worrying that despite huge public protest against the TPPA - 10,000 people across 23 New Zealand centres took to the streets on March 7 - Trade Minister Tim Groser still sees no reason to be more transparent about the secret TPPA negotiations. 

Prof Jane Kelsey, from the University of Auckland, says the leaked text shows the negotiators have completely failed to protect the interests of New Zealanders. 

Under ISDS provisions, investors have the ability to sue governments if they do anything that reduces the returns on their investments. 

A current example close to home is Philip Morris, the tobacco company, suing the Australian Government for loss of profit incurred by the public health legislation putting cigarettes into plain packaging. 

Philip Morris is doing this under ISDS provisions in a trade agreement that Australia has with Hong Kong. Philip Morris is also suing Uruguay for increasing the size of the health warnings on cigarette packs. 

There are currently hundreds of ISDS cases under dispute worldwide and they include governments saying no to nuclear power and public concern about pollution of the water supply. 

In the recent case of Bilcon vs Canada, an environmental panel had declined Bilcon's investment in a quarry and marine terminal which would damage a unique marine environment. 

In a split decision, the tribunal found for Bilcon, which is claiming $300 million in damages. 

The dissenting arbiter said this decision will create a ''chilling'' effect on environmental legislation in Canada and elsewhere. 

We can also see this chilling effect on our Government's support for health measures.

Despite the fact that there has already been a dramatic reduction in smoking commencement by youth in Australia since the introduction of plain packaging, our Government has placed New Zealand's move to plain packaging on hold pending the outcome of the ISDS case.

We should not have to rely on Wikileaks to find out what our Government is deciding on our behalf.

As an international treaty, the TPPA won't go through Parliament, and it will be binding on future governments.

New Zealanders want to know what is in the TPPA before it is signed, not afterwards, when we won't be able to do anything about it.

TPP Action Dunedin has produced an open letter opposing the secrecy of the TPPA.

The letter urges Trade Minister Tim Groser and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to release the negotiating texts and end the secrecy around the contents of the TPPA.

It notes the European Ombudsman has successfully called for greater transparency and opportunities for public consultation in the case of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the European version of the TPPA, following concerns about the consequences of secret TTIP negotiations.

The letter outlines other issues of concern and concludes: ''The TPPA appears, in the absence of democratic oversight, to be an agreement which has the effect of increasing and entrenching the power and influence wielded by transnational corporations. We want to safeguard New Zealand democracy and protect our ability to make our own decisions on matters concerning our resources, education, food, health, medicines and environment.

''We are deeply concerned that the process of negotiation with the other 11 nations involved in the TPPA will be concluded before there is a genuine opportunity for public and expert analysis and input to the decisions. We believe that the democratic process should play a central role in informing the content of binding agreements such as the TPPA.

''We call on Minister Groser and the Mfat team to make the terms and conditions of the Trans Pacific Partnership immediately available for public debate.''

So far, the letter has been endorsed by Unions Otago, the Otago Southland Branch of the Public Health Association of NZ, Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty Grey Power and by Mike Treen, national director of Unite Union.

It has been signed so far by Profs Sir Alan Mark, Kevin Clements, the Rev Dr Peter Matheson, Bob Lloyd, Richard Jackson and Jocelyn Harris, and Dr Marcelle Dawson, from the University of Otago; the Rev Dr Kerry Enright, Dr Liz Craig and the Rev Anne Thomson from Dunedin; Profs Jeff Sluka and Geoffrey Jameson from Massey University and Dr Gill Caradoc-Davies, retired clinical head of psychiatric services, Dunedin.

It has also been signed by writers Dr Philip Temple, Diane Brown and Brian Turner and documentary film-maker Bryan Bruce.- Otago Daily Times, 8/5/2015

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