Five questions Obama must answer when he visits Malaysia this month


What, Obama back again? So fast, ah? Not content with a trip to Malaysia last year and a golfing rendezvous with Najib over the last Christmas break, Obama is visiting us again for Asean and related summits on 18-22 November. Gosh, he must like Malaysia golfing with Najib the TPP a whole lot.

There are five things we should ask him this time:

  1. What does he think of the recent report on the crackdown on dissent in Malaysia prepared by the New York-based Human Rights Watch?
  2. What were the flimsy grounds for upgrading Malaysia from the lowest Tier 3 to Tier 2 in the US State Department’s 2015 report on trafficking in persons? That upgrade was crucial in getting Malaysia on board the TPP.
  3. What does he think of doing deals with a country whose main opposition leader is a victim of arbitrary detention and whose basic rights have been violated? Download the report of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (pdf file), which calls for Anwar’s immediate release.
  4. What does he thinks of doing deals with a nation whose leader and people close to him are the subject of a US federal grand jury inquiry examining allegations of international corruption, as reported by the New York Times?
  5. Why should Malaysia ratify the lop-sided Promotion of the Interests of Multinational Corporations Treaty Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement when the negotiations and the agreement itself have been kept secret and we haven’t even seen a proper cost-benefit analysis?

In fact, economists at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) have forecast that Malaysia would actually be a net trade loser as a result of joining TPP with its trade balance declining by RM75bn per year.

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As to whether the TPP will come into force, much will actually depend on the US and Japan. The other nations are just caught up in the whole thing. This is what the Diplomat says:

It’s entirely possible that some states that agreed to participate in the talks and agreed… to the finalized text could end up failing to ratify the agreement. That’s where the second mode of entry into force comes into play. If two years elapse and all signatories still haven’t ratified the agreement, the following conditions need to exist in order for the TPP to come into force:

At least six original signatories have to have successfully ratified the agreement.

Those six signatories, between them, must represent 85 percent of the total GDP of the twelve originals signatories.

That last clause is important. The United States and Japan between them represent just shy of 80 percent of the GDP of the twelve original TPP signatories (specifically, the U.S. represents nearly 62 percent of TPP GDP and Japan accounts for 17 percent). Basically, the TPP can’t come into force if either of these states fail to ratify the agreement in their domestic legislatures because there would be no way for the remaining signatories to fulfill the 85 percent of GDP requirement (even if the United States and all states but Japan ratify, the eleven would stand at 83 percent of GDP) …

Ultimately, the fate of the TPP is down to U.S. and Japanese domestic politics. All this said, it’s unlikely that the agreement will be shot down in either state’s legislature (yes, that includes the United States). This means that the TPP could potentially come into force before late-2017, provided the other ten members successfully ratify. If even one state that isn’t Japan or the United States fails to ratify the agreement, we’ll see the TPP’s entry into force in December 2017.

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You see? This is another example of how sneaky the whole treaty is and how two nations alone can determine if the whole thing comes into force.

And what do we get out of this? Legitimacy in the eye of the US for the Najib administration?

So if we disagree with the TPP, we need to tell Obama loud and clear that no amount of public relations and spin can mask the fact that this pact was so shamefully negotiated in secret and we are being presented with virtually a done deal. We should say NO to the TPP, no to US/corporate hegemony.

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  1. Anil
    Have you directed your questions to White House?
    Perhaps you could seek the help of your fellow activists in the US?

  2. The Obama Doctrine
    Newshour Extra
    President Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week in Washington – their first meeting since the Iran nuclear deal was signed. While the Iran deal is seen by many as the signature foreign policy achievement of Obama’s presidency, it has been bitterly opposed by the Israeli government and many at home.

    When Obama first came to office there was a huge amount of global expectation riding on his foreign policy. He promised to heal the breach with the Islamic world, restore America’s good name, and fight fewer wars.

    But as his time in the White House draws to a close, how should we judge Obama’s record? Is the world a safer place now than when he took office? And behind all the policy making, is there an over-riding vision – what commentators have called “an Obama doctrine”?

    Join Owen Bennett-Jones and a panel of global experts, as they discuss President Obama’s foreign policy legacy and America’s place in the world today:

  3. The White House can work with anybody as long as it is on their side.
    It is not about Barrack Obama. Any President will and would do the same thing. And as long as it is beneficial to USA and the White House.
    In order to pleases and to appease the rest of us, Obama will ticks off Najib on certain things. Just words of mouth with no further actions.
    Same as “fire and forget” policy and back to business as usual.
    Do note that there is No Democracy , No Human Rights , No Justice and No Transparency in Saudi Arabia, yet there are best of pals.
    Therefore, USA is not dependable and we are to solve our own perils.
    Malaysians are the ones who elected BN , we elected the same doo doo all the time.

    *For those NOT familiar with the meaning of “doo doo” , please do an image search of it.

  4. Obama don’t have to give a crap to what Malaysian want or think he should do..He has less than 15 months to go on his Presidency. So the most important thing is his legacy and post-presidency plan. For his legacy, he has to finish TPP, if he has to step on everyone to do it, he will. That is the reality..

    Post Presidency, Obama is looking at r US$1b global foundation to do something.. Its more productive to focus on getting him consider a post-presidency which we have as big a stake as possible.. But he is supposedly going to work on racial and economic inequalities which we Malaysia are already too self-righteous about so if he includes us, it would either be using our past policy that is going wrong or hopelessly trying to change what is already over self-rigteous wrong. Frankly if I were Obama, I focus on Indo China and Myanmar for his post-presidency legacy to really make a real impact on racial and economic inequalities.

  5. US Chief Priest of Snake Oil Salesmen :
    All your ‘sins’ will be forgiven, be washed clean of opposition perception & be declared as ‘normal’ practices of politicians. BUT you must sign on an executive consent for TPP in order to take immediate positive effect for the above mentioned unforgivable, repugnant ‘sins’ of yours.

    Top Nusantara Snake Oil Salesman: TQ, TQ, TQ! Another round of golf?

  6. Recent answer on TPP given in Parliament: Do you think all these other countries are stupid?

    UNCTAD has been a thorn in the side of the international financial-economic priesthood. It gets little press and faces some moves to undermine its statements. Except for a few major critics and those in countries already devatated, most of the ecnomic academia are either too fearful to speak out or censored by the “free” press mafia. Any government that seeks broad-based democracy and welfare as well as defence against foreign plunderers is corrupted, undermined, overthrown or invaded.

    IMF stated 2 years back that austerity only increases debt. Yet, it continues to impose – and join ECB in imposing – austerity. Iceland has disproved the fraud of austerity and jailed its crooked bankers.

    The relevance of all this is that (a) the real agenda is not as announced (b) the real puppeteers are not those you see (c) TPP is a trap into slavery and extermination, beginning with direct loss of sovreignty.


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