200 NGOs stage anti-TPPA protest
Some 100 protesters representing 200 NGOs and political parties today submitted a memorandum calling for Malaysia to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations.
The group gathered outside the Wilayah mosque in Kuala Lumpur after Friday prayers and marched to the International Trade and Industry Ministry premises located nearby.
The TPPA is currently in its 18th round of negotiations, in Sabah, among the 12 countries involved, with the agreement due to be signed before October.
Chanting anti-US slogans, the protesters, armed with placards and banners, brought traffic to a standstill in the area.
Among others, the placards and banners read: “TPPA makes Malaysia a colony of USA.”
There was a brief argument at the entrance to the ministry building as police wanted the group to hand over the memorandum to them but the protest leaders insisted on handing it to a ministry officerl.
Eventually, ministry deputy secretary-general Mohd Rizal Sheriff came out to meet five representatives.
Mohd Rizal also told the group that a public forum on the TPPA would be held on Aug 1.
However, the representatives retorted that a public forum was not sufficient, saying that the terms of engagement with regard to the forum must be defined.
Thasleem Mohd Ibrahim (left), the chairperson of National Indian Rights Action Team and Jihad for Justice, shouted: “Let us be very clear to (Prime Minister) Najib (Abdul Razak), let us be very clear to the cabinet. Enough is enough, this must stop.”
Thasleem told reporters that the price of essential heart medication would go up from the current RM150 to around RM750 if the US medical patents were extended as outlined in the TPPA.
The concern was also raised that halal products could be affected as it would be considered a contradiction to free trade.
The protesters called for all details of the TPPA to be released, for it to be debated in Parliament and for a national referendum to be held to determine the Malaysian public’s position on the deal.
PAS to stand against TPPA
PAS central committee member and former Bank Negara deputy governor Rosli Yaakop said the Islamic party too opposed the TPPA.
Rosli said Pakatan Rakyat leaders would meet next week to decide the opposition bloc’s position on this matter.
Asked if this would be an issue that could divide Pakatan, he said: “No, it will unite us.”
Opposition leaderAnwar Ibrahim has previously said that Pakatan was not against the TPPA in principle and would support it if the agreement was fair.
PSM secretary-general S Arutchelvan, who was also present, said the gathering today showed that public opposition to the TPPA was increasing and that protests would continue growing until the government pulled out of the negotiations.