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Malaysian human rights activist cites Council of Canadians demand for TPP consultations


Malaysia is one of the twelve countries that are part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The country is considered to be a ‘flawed democracy’. The Malaysian Insider has reported, “The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index … defines flawed democracies as countries that have free and fair elections and where basic freedoms are largely respected. But they also have significant weaknesses in other aspects, such as infringements on media freedom, problems in governance, an under-developed political culture and low levels of political participation. While Malaysia has held regular elections, critics here feel the polls are not fair and allege that manipulation of voters’ electoral rolls and election boundaries are what has kept the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional, in power since Malaya’s independence in 1957.”

With respect to the “infringements on media freedom”, the news website Malaysiakini (Malaysia Today) is considered to be one of the leading non-government-owned information sources that is free from government control. That makes it unlike most news sources in that country. It is published in English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil.

A recent column in Malaysiakini by Kua Kia Soong highlights Council of Canadians opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Kia Soong is the director of Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Voice of the Malaysian People). Also known as Suaram, it is a leading human and environmental rights organization in Malaysia. It was formed in 1987 after more than 100 civil society leaders were detained by the state without trail under the Internal Security Act.

In his column, he writes, “It is instructive that with the election of the reform-minded Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Canada, the Council of Canadians has demanded a full public consultation before Trudeau goes any further with the deal. They have cited concerns over how the TPP would impact human rights, health, employment, environment, and democracy. Since our prime minister has often professed to be likewise concerned about reform and transformation, we call on the government to undertake a full public consultation on this potentially disastrous treaty and to answer the questions we have raised.”

While the consultation now being undertaken by the Trudeau government falls well short of what the Liberal party had promised and what we are demanding, the Council of Canadians expresses solidarity with the call from Suara Rakyat Malaysia for Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak to commit to a full public consultation on the TPP.

We also call on Prime Minister Trudeau to state that a democratic review of the deal in all participating countries is a pre-condition for Canada to ratify the agreement.

Kia Soong also raises numerous other concerns about the TPP, including its investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision, the negative impact it will have on small and medium-sized enterprises, longer patent periods and reduced access to lifesaving generic medicines, and the harm that will come to Malaysian workers as multinational corporations seek to maximize their profits by driving wages down. To read his full column, please click here.

For more on our critique of the TPP, click here.