Ijok: Is there more than Najib vs Anwar at stake?


So I gather some see this by-election as a proxy battle between Najib and Anwar. Others see it as a mini-referendum on the Barisan Nasional’s performance. Then again, there are many who are totally put off by the way the BN announces millions of ringgit in development allocations in the run-up to polling day. They call it a “buy election”. Where is the morality; does anybody care about ethics?

In the heat of the by-election campaign, there has been much discussion about the ethnicity of the candidates and whether Keadilan did the right thing in appointing Khalid to counter the BN’s candidate from the MIC.

To me, the candidates’ ethnicity is completely irrelevant. What I want to know – and this is what voters should ask – is their stand on the issues that really matter. Of course, it is also important to have a significant opposition presence in Parliament to act as a check and balance.

One of the most critical issues that voters should be concerned about is the ongoing FTA negotiations with the United States. We may have missed the United States’ “fast-track” deadline, but that has not stopped both sides from pressing ahead with the negotiations. That shows us how badly the United States wants an FTA with Malaysia after putting Korea in its pocket. Let’s hear what the two candidates have to say about this.

I am against an FTA with the United States because I believe it will hurt a developing nation like Malaysia in the long run. I want to know why the Malaysian government is pressing on with the FTA when it hasn’t made public a cost-benefit analysis. Has it even prepared a comprehensive analysis? Shouldn’t the public know about these things? Most of us are not aware that the US trade unions themselves have joined forces with the MTUC to oppose the proposed pact.

Why would trade unions in both countries oppose an FTA pact? This is what I wrote for IPS:

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 22 (IPS) – Trade unions from the United States have joined forces with their Malaysian counterparts to strongly oppose ongoing negotiations for bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) until workers’ concerns are first addressed.

The American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO) and the Malaysian Trades Unions Congress (MTUC) are poised to ink a joint declaration agreed upon in Kuala Lumpur last week.

The declaration resembles those that U.S. labour federations had previously signed with their counterparts in South Korea in June, Central America (2002) and Australia (2001),

The Kuala Lumpur declaration on the proposed US-Malaysia FTA asserts that economic integration between the two countries must result in broadly shared benefits for working people and communities, not simply extend and enforce corporate power and privilege. It also warns that violations to workers’ rights had reached crisis levels. Full article: US unions oppose free trade with Malaysia

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