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TPP protests and 1MDB black hole

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Christopher Chong highlights the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and the concerns surrounding it that have sparked protests.

Recently, the Malaysian government agreed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). The deal now awaits approval by parliament and later ratification by the cabinet.

Meanwhile, there have been protests from critics who say this agreement will have an adverse socio-economic impact on Malaysians. (A major protest will reportedly be held in KL on Saturday, 23 January.)

A Concerned Malaysian has raised a string of questions that need to be answered by the government before the agreement can be approved by Parliament. For example, will Malaysians have to foot the bill for the higher costs of biologics medicine?

According to Concerned Malaysian, such medicine can cost a patient half a million ringgit a year if it is under a monopoly, even if it is not patented under the TPPA, something which does not exist under the country’s current law.

As the author observed:

Since biologic medicines are often not innovative enough to get a patent – but Malaysia will still have to give this five-year exclusivity due to the TPP even when they are not patented – will Malaysia be increasing the Ministry of Health’s budget enough to cover the higher cost of these medicines for the life of the TPP? Or will Malaysian patients have to pay these costs out of pocket?

You can read the rest of the questions here.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi, the Malaysian government is committed to upholding the Commonwealth Charter. The aim of the charter is to strengthen democracy by upholding principles such as freedom of expression, rule of law, etc.

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However as K Haridas noted the government’s pledge is simply lip service. For example, the introduction of the National Security Bill which gives tremendous power to the Prime Minister contradicts the pledge given to uphold the Commonwealth Charter. The government must uphold its pledge rather than just give mere lip service.

Barathi Selvam gives his own thoughts on the conservative outcry over the appropriateness of breastfeeding in the public.

Finally, Anil Netto writes that 1MDB should have been rolling in the black with some RM12bn in land revaluation gains; instead it finds itself pouring money into a black hole of borrowings incurred to finance goodness-knows-what.

Chris Chong
Co-editor, Aliran newsletter
20 January 2016

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