Home Civil Society Voices 2013 Civil Society Voices TPP pact a ‘Bill of Rights’ for large corporate interests

TPP pact a ‘Bill of Rights’ for large corporate interests

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Malaysians must be told the details of the terms that the US is pressurising our government to agree to under the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, says Jeyakumar Devaraj.


There are many Malaysians who do not understand why some amongst us feel strongly that many of the things the US is doing isn’t right. Perhaps the brief explanations below would help clarify.

Global warming and climate change

The US with its current GDP of US$16.3 trillion (or 22 per cent of world GDP) is currently the largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

But the US refuses to recognise the gravity of global warming and up to now hasn’t yet ratified the Kyoto protocol. This was drawn up in 1997 and up till now, more than 27 developed countries have ratified it.

The US does not accept the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”, which means that while all countries are responsible for reducing CO2 emission, countries that are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases should make the biggest cuts. The US keeps attempting to shirk its responsibilities by insisting that poorer countries also cut emissions by a similar percentage.

US intervention in the Middle East

The US has a long history of meddling in Middle Eastern countries.

In 1953, the CIA played a central role in overthrowing Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, because Mossadegh had the “temerity” to nationalise the Anglo-Iranian Oil company. The Shah of Iran was then installed, and he remained in power till overthrown by the Iranian revolution.

Unqualified US support has allowed Israel to take a hardline stance on the Palestinian issue for the past 60 years. Tens of thousands of Palestinians still live in refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan. Others live under difficult conditions in the West Bank and the Gaza strip. The injustice of Zionism continues to be a major source of instability in the Middle East.

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The US told a lot of lies about weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to start the war against Iraq in March 2003. The world was told by the US Secretary of State that Iraq had the capacity to launch these weapons on a 40-minute notice.
But after that war was won, no evidence could be found of any WMD. Have we forgotten so fast?

US military aggression and its promotion of militant Islamic fundamentalism (a Cold War tactic to counter secular regimes that wished to remain nonaligned) has destabilised the entire Middle East, exacerbated tensions between the Shias and the Sunnis, greatly heightened internal strife and created the spectacle of failing states.

Most of the US military actions in the Middle East are illegal – they were not in response to aggression from those countries, nor were they sanctioned by the UN.

US intervention in other countries

The US has embargoed Cuba since the early 1960s. This has continued up till today!

The US through its CIA organised the overthrow of Salvador Allende, the President of Chile in 1973. Thousands of Chilean workers and activists were slaughtered by Augusto Pinochet’s forces in the months that ensued, and Chile remained a dictatorship for the next 17 years.

The US-funded Contras mined the harbours of Nicaragua in the early 1980s in an attempt to topple the left wing Sandinista government there.

The US is currently attempting to undermine the legitimate government of Venezuela by funding the opposition and encouraging coup attempts.

The US does not want an alternative development model that places the needs of the people above that of corporations to succeed! That would give a “terribly bad example” to other developing countries.

The US wants the entire world to remain open to exploitation by the large corporations – the euphemism used is the “free market”. For the millions of people in poorer countries the only “freedom” that they obtain is the freedom to live in neglect and in poverty!

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US promotion of corporate interests

The US government has been taken over by large corporate interests.

These interests use the mighty economic and military power of the US to enforce an international order that allows them to invest at will and to accumulate huge profits. At times of economic crisis they expect the US government to use public funds to bail them off as they are “too big to fail”.

This has led to the erosion of the rights and living standards of ordinary people all over the world including in the US, who have over the past 30 years witnessed the relocation of manufacturing industries to countries with much lower wage rates. Outsourcing of work, the contractualisation of labour and the curtailment of previous welfare entitlements have heightened the economic misery of the poorer half of the population in the US and in Europe.

The “Intellectual Property Rights” regime that the US government is trying to promote through the FTAs and the TPPA will make many medicines too expensive for the people in poor countries. It will also make access to knowledge more expensive. It represents the latest attempt to “fence up the commons” – to create the legal framework for corporations to claim proprietary rights over what rightfully belongs to all.

The “National Treatment Policy”, the restriction of State-Owned Enterprises, the restrictions on Government Procurement, and the “Investor State Dispute Settlement” regime being promoted by the US through the TPPA will greatly reduce the policy space of our government. The ability of our government to bring development to marginalised groups will be seriously compromised.

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These briefly, are some of the reasons why I will be joining in on the protest against the US this Friday afternoon. We need to register a strong protest against the policies of the US that are wreaking damage to millions all over the world. The US administration needs to be told that there are many who are unhappy with its pro-corporate policies.

But lets be clear, this is not a protest against the American People, or against Caucasians or Christians! They are not the “enemy”. We need to understand that the US government has been taken over by corporate interests and that many ordinary Americans are suffering too. The living standards of ordinary Americans have been deteriorating over the past 20 years, and their life has become increasingly difficult.

Call on the US not to intervene militarily in any part of the world unless such an intervention is called for by the UN. We also want the US to respect diversity in the development process. Venezuela, Cuba and Iran should be allowed to follow their own paths without incessant attempts to destabilise them.

Ask our own government to come clean on the TPP Agreement

We believe that it essentially represents a “Bill of Rights” for large corporate interests and serious problems for the rest of us! Please join us in asking our government to let us know all the details of the terms that the US is pressurising our government to agree to. And to do this now, not after signing the agreement!

Together we can build a better world for all of us – but we have to be prepared to raise our voices and regain control of our governments!

10th October 2013

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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Christine Xavier
Christine Xavier
10 Oct 2013 11.42pm

While it’s not right that the proposed terms of the agreement are unknown as yet, I don’t agree with a protest against the US based on leaked information. But it’s good to ask why Malaysian government has not published their proposals, as Malaysians have a right to this information. However, this agreement is not new. Brunei, New Zealand, Chile and Singapore have been signatories since 2005 and information about how it has been working for them is widely available on the internet. Targetting the USA as being the initiator is not entirely accurate as they are not treaty members as yet and have no more right to decide the terms than the other negotiating nations. Of course, it’s in their interests to have favourable terms, just as it is for the other negotiating nations. What Malaysia should do is push for what they want and get allies amongst other nations to support them. If it’s not what the USA wants, they don’t have to sign up. Similarly, if Malaysia doesn’t like the terms, they don’t have to sign up. America’s track record on human rights is… Read more »

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