Malaysia First Out of the Gate Toward TPP Ratification

Yesterday, we helped break the story of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) being signed. The question now is, who will pull the trigger first to ratification? It seems that, much to the anger of their citizens, the Malaysian government is attempting to be the first.

Last week, thousands of citizens in Malaysia took to the streets protesting to prevent the government from signing the hugely controversial trade agreement. From the report at the time:

Thousands of Malaysians took to the capital Kuala Lumpur on Saturday to protest the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), calling on the government to reject the agreement ahead of a parliamentary debate next week.

Many of the protesters in the nation’s capital were from the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), which fears the country could lose control of its economy and sovereignty if it joins the 12-nation trade alliance.

“This (TPP) will only help the rich people. It will not help the poor people in Malaysia and I don’t see any benefits for my family and I,” Mohamed Noor Ismail, a student who attended the protests, told the AFP news agency.

Police said that 2,000 to 3,500 people were involved in the demonstration.

In retrospect, it seems that the concerns of the people have fallen on deaf ears as far as the Malaysian government is concerned. Shortly after the large rallies being held in the country to halt the process, the Malaysian government approved a motion that would allow the country to sign the agreement. From that report:

Malaysia can now formally ink a controversial United States-led regional trade pact next month after the Malaysian parliament’s Senate House approved a motion Thursday for the country to sign and ratify the 12-member Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. Senate House President Abu Zahar Ujang said the motion to agree to Malaysia entering the TPP was passed in a voice vote at 6:00 p.m. local time (10:00 GMT) after six ministers discussed the various sensitive issues concerning Malaysia. He said the special one-day sitting saw some 21 senators debate motions tabled by International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed. On Wednesday, the Lower House – which comprises 222 elected lawmakers – approved the motion, with 127 parliamentarians voting in favor of the pact while 84 objected.

Some observers were confused as to interpret this alone as ratification of the agreement, but it did, at least, grease the government wheels towards ratification. As we know now, all 12 countries signed the TPP and the only step left is ratification. So, who might be the first to ratify the agreement? It seems the Malaysian government is all too keen to be that country.

Now, opposition MPs are calling on the government to set up a committee to oversee the ratification process. From the report:

DAP lawmaker Charles Santiago has called for a parliamentary select committee (PSC) to oversee the implementation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement after Malaysia signed the trade treaty today.

The Klang MP said the PSC was needed to ensure minimal negative impact on the economy.

“The committee is needed to further examine the impact on meds, investor-state dispute settlements and SME (small-medium enterprises),” Santiago told Malay Mail Online today.

The opposition MP said the 12 member countries’ signing the TPP in New Zealand earlier today was untimely, noting the opposition of leading Republican US presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz to the free trade treaty.

“The signing of the TPP is taking place in an uncertain environment, given the uncertain support coming out of the US. There is a lack of majority support in the US involving the Democrats and Republicans at the senate and congress,” said Santiago.

One thing is for sure, this shows just how fast-moving this TPP story has become.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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