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  • Staff Member 01

TPPA and Human Rights

I had a long day, with a TPPA meeting at Suhakam (The Human Rights Commission for Malaysia). Last month YB Charles organised a meeting with Suhakam and together we requested Suhakam to look into the TPPA and assess its impact on human rights.

You may ask, what has a trade agreement to do with human rights?

The TPPA is not just a trade agreement, it is an agreement that tries to set the rules on how we govern trade, investments, health, environment, labour, basically our economy and the types of policies relating to them. Examples of human rights affected are the right to affordable medicine, and the fundamental right to elect lawmakers to carry out the policies to reflect the wishes of the people.

However the TPPA also proposes “investor” rights to make money. If big corporations lose money investing in your country because of a public policy change for the greater good of the people, the corporations have a right to sue the government for loss of future profits. This creates a type of Sword of Damocles situation that will paralyse lawmakers from changing policies, from fear of being sued for billions by big corporations.

The TPPA is unstoppable because Parliament has no powers to stop Najib. The sitting on 26th and 27th January in Parliament is for public relations only because Malaysian laws allow only the cabinet to ratify trade treaties, not Parliament. So at best the Parliament “vote” is merely persuasive to Najib. Najib and Najib alone decides on ratification. Whatever the outcome, I asked Suhakam nevertheless pursue a human rights impact assessment.


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