By Dr Mahathir Mohamad
1. Not many people know what these letters stand for. I too did not know until some Japanese MPs gave me a badge with “No to TPP” for me to wear.
2. They told me that TPP means Trans Pacific Partnership. It is conceived and promoted by the United States of America. Apparently Malaysia had agreed to join this new organization.
3. The MP asked me why did Malaysia join? I must admit I could not answer.
4. Apparently TPP is yet another scheme by the United States to penetrate the markets of the fast growing and rich Eastern countries (Pacific Rim).
5. Once upon a time they proposed GATT (General Agreement on Tariff and Trade). Numerous meetings were held but the rich countries were protective of their products (wheat and soya bean oil in the case of the United States). No agreement was ever reached.
6. In frustration we proposed the East Asia Economic Community so as to balance the power of the North America Free Trade Association (NAFTA) and the European Union.
7. America (James Baker) told Japan, Korea, Singapore and Indonesia to reject the EAEC. Instead America supported Australia’s proposal for APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Conference) which would include America and Australia. As usual America dominated the organisation.
8. In the meantime America proposed a borderless world and globalisation to enable America to break the tariff barriers of the countries of the world. Most countries balked at the idea of the free flow of capital and investments by the rich countries. A borderless world would not include free flow of people from the poor to the rich. So it is not a borderless world after all.
9. Unable to achieve much America then promoted bilateral free trade agreements. Singapore which is already a free market acceded and entered into an FTA with America. Now the pressure is on for Malaysia to have FTA with America and Europe.
10. Now comes the TPP – the Transpacific Partnership. Malaysia has decided to join. Japan and other SEA countries have agreed to study.
11. What the United States wants most is access to contracts for Government procurements. This is something which every country, including the United States uses to support domestic businesses and industries. Once the United States gains access, not only will it make bids but their Government pressure would be used to favour their companies.
12. I wonder whether Malaysian negotiators have studied the full implication of the TPP. When we look at previous international agreements entered into by Malaysia, we seem to be always at the losing side; e.g. we agreed to sell water to Singapore at 3 cent per 1000 gallons forever, buy military aircrafts without source codes so they cannot be used even to defend us, delay of 6 months in the construction of our naval vessels would entitle us to compensation but beyond six months no compensation and the delay was for two years, and many more.
13. I fear the TPP would not give us any worthwhile benefit. If the Government has not finalised or ratified the TPP, I hope it would study it very carefully.