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Malaysia has to jump on TPPA train

Free Malaysian Today 
July 20, 2015
by Mikha Chan

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has to jump on the bandwagon of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) or suffer economic problems in the long run, says economist Ramon Navaratnam.

In an interview with FMT, the chairman of the Centre for Public Policy Studies argued that signing the the US-helmed free trade agreement would be in the best interest of the Malaysian economy despite widespread local opposition.

He said: “In the long term, what is in the best interest of Malaysia, its economy and its people? To get on the TPPA after a good fight or to say, ‘Look, I can’t get all that I want, so I don’t want to join’? Fine. Then you get left out. You become the frog in the well.”

He said it would be better for Malaysia to link with nations with similar economic problems, since it had to contend with economic giants.

The TPPA is being negotiated by the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei, Mexico, Chile and Peru.

“We have to link up with other countries that may have similar problems,” Navaratnam said. “We’re fighting the giants; so we have to join up with seven other Davids so that the giants will say, ‘Eh, we had better take note or we’re going to get a stone in the head.’

“It’s about whether the government can see the long term and the importance of being part of the TPPA and the disadvantage of being left out, and whether we will be able to get everybody on our side.”

He said the government may have to disregard the opposition in this case because of the advantages of signing up.

According to a recent opinion piece in the American-based news portal Huffington Post, the US intends “to secure its ability to pressure China — and punish it for disruptive behaviour in the South China Sea and elsewhere — by reaffirming ties to Malaysia through the TPPA, especially given the just-released Pentagon Report that concluded that the straits and other sea lines will only become more important as China’s energy demand grows.”

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