Malaysia will sacrifice independence with TPP signing, Dr M warns as Parliament vote looms

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says that if it is necessary now to amend laws to suit the TPP, future legislation would similarly have to meet conditions in the trade agreement. ― File pic
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says that if it is necessary now to amend laws to suit the TPP, future legislation would similarly have to meet conditions in the trade agreement. ― File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 20 ― Malaysia will sign away its freedom and independence if it ratifies the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad warned today ahead of next week's parliamentary debate on the controversial trade pact.

The former prime minister said Putrajaya made a clear admission that the TPP would limit Malaysia's freedom to make laws deemed suitable and necessary, citing International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed’s announcement yesterday of the need to amend 26 laws to meet the agreement's requirements.

“These laws have been passed by the Malaysian Parliament apparently because they were considered essential and good for the country.

“But now they have to be amended because the TPP is apparently more powerful than our elected Parliament in determining what laws Malaysia should have,” Dr Mahathir said in a blog post.

He pointed out that if it was necessary to amend laws to suit the TPP now, future legislation would similarly have to meet conditions in the trade agreement.

Dr Mahathir reminded supporters of the agreement that unlike many other members of the TPP, Malaysia has many sensitivities due to its racial diversity, economic disparities, poverty rate and income levels.

But once the TPP is signed, he said, Malaysia will lose the independence to enact laws in accordance with these sensitivities, forcing the country’s needs to become secondary to that of the trade pact’s.

“The need to amend 26 of our existing laws carries this implication,” Dr Mahathir said.

“Our founding fathers fought hard to gain independence; to be masters of our own affairs and destiny and now we are going sign away our rights and our freedom because of the need to obey the dictates of TPPA,” he added.

The Umno veteran said, however, that despite these implications and more, he believes the Dewan Rakyat will vote in favour of the pact next week, labelling the lower House a “rubber stamp Parliament”.

The TPP is a free trade agreement that has been negotiated by the US, Malaysia and ten other nations as part of the larger Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership since 2010.

Dr Mahathir has been openly criticising the TPP, previously voicing concerns that the free trade agreement would lead to the world’s most powerful countries dominating the global economy.

He has also urged the Najib adminstration to prove its leadership strength by keeping Malaysia out of the controversial agreement, claiming that a “strong leader” would put his country’s interest first.

But Putrajaya has since affirmed its commitment to the TPP as long as Malaysia’s concerns can be accommodated.

On October 5 last year, Malaysia, together with US, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam concluded negotiations on the TPP. The governments must now seek their individual countries’ mandates to sign the deal.

Parliament is scheduled to convene for two days for a special meeting starting January 26, during which the Bill on the TPP will be debated and voted on.

Yesterday, Mustapa was quoted in Bernama as saying that the TPP signing will be on February 4 and that Malaysia would need to make “minor” amendments to 26 state and federal laws and regulations to adhere to conditions in the trade agreement.