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:
- What does he think of the recent report on the crackdown on dissent in Malaysia prepared by the New York-based Human Rights Watch?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- Why should Malaysia ratify the lop-sided
Promotion of the Interests of Multinational Corporations TreatyTrans-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.
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.
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.