KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — The bulk of criticism and unfavourable reports on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that are online are “rubbish”, Treasury Secretary-General Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah asserted today.
Defending the Najib administration's plan to sign the controversial 12-country free trade deal, Mohd Irwan said Putrajaya had the people’s interests in its mind when it made the move to join the TPP as it deemed the agreement to be beneficial for the economy.
"The way they say about TPP… half the things they say are rubbish. When I read the alternative media, the things they put out there are baseless, inaccurate.
"But the young ones, they believe it," he said while opening the new World Bank office here.
The Treasury chief pointed out that the inaccurate depiction of the TPP and of the government’s efforts to cut the deficit like implementing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) had also tarnished Malaysia’s reputation abroad.
“When I go overseas they always ask me is your country safe to travel to? Is it politically stable? They ask me these questions.
“We need to correct these perceptions,” he said.
Putrajaya’s implementation of the GST has remained unpopular due to the rising prices that followed.
But Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak maintained that the consumption tax was necessary, saying that GST crucially helped offset lower federal revenue due to falling oil price.
The US-initiated TPP is widely criticised in Malaysia, with opponents ranging from activists and opposition lawmakers to even former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Critics have claimed that the TPP would drive up medical costs due to patent provisions in the deal that would curb access to generic medicines, and also have an adverse effect on the country’s rice industry.
The TPP’s confidential negotiations officially kicked off in 2008 among a dozen nations, which are Brunei, Chile, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the US and Vietnam.
Despite criticism over its lack of transparency compared to the US’ ongoing negotiations with the Eurozone on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the TPP has drawn the attention of Colombia, the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan and South Korea, which have all expressed interest in joining the pact of Pacific Rim countries.