• Malaysiakini

'Why is M'sia pivoting to the US on TPPA?'

By Kow Gah Chie, MalaysiaKini (24 February 2022) Foreign Minister Anifah Aman must answer why Malaysia has chosen to be caught in between the fight of two superpowers - the United States and China - with regard to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). "There is a Malay saying, ‘When two elephants fight, the mousedeer in between will be trampled.’ We should never take sides in a matter like this," PKR lawmaker Wong Chen said today.

In fact, Malaysia chose to be neutral during the Cold War between US and Russia, a stand adopted by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's father Abdul Razak Hussein and by the two prime ministers after Razak as well - Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Wong said. He likened Malaysia's preparation to sign the TPPA as a move to pivoting to US, for which the TPPA would be one of the means for the US to curb the rise of China. "The Americans have never been shy to express their geopolitical strategy to contain China's rise in the region via the TPPA… if the US wants to contain China's rise, it is their prerogative. "I respect the fact that the US has a right to pursue whatever foreign policy it chooses," said Wong ( photo ), the MP for Kelana Jaya.

"However, why is Malaysia taking part in this American policy agenda? Why is Malaysia pivoting to the US for negligible economic gain?" he asked.

Wong reiterated that China is Malaysia's biggest trading partner, adding that China is now bailing out Najib's 1MDB mess with the RM17 billion Edra Energy deal and the RM7 billion land deal. "Anifah must give a special and detailed geo-political explanation to all MPs as to why Najib wants to ratify the TPPA," he said. Study TPPA carefully Meanwhile, Wong urged BN Backbenchers Club chairman Shahrir Samad to read TPPA carefully to determine if bumiputera will be protected as claimed by the government.

"If one were to read it carefully, only elite bumiputera will be protected as they can get big contracts from the government," he said. Under TPPA, foreign companies can participate in government projects costing above US$63 million (RM380 million), while smaller projects will be reserved for local bidders, he said.

Since the government can award projects below RM380 million to any local bidders, then cronies or bumiputera elite will stand to benefit, he added.

"Besides, non-crony companies cannot take the government to court if they fail to get contracts," Wong said. For big projects, he said the foreign companies can sue the government if they fail to secure government projects.

"So, don't fall into the trap and believe that a bumiputera carve-out will happen," he said.

Shahrir had said the detractors disliked TPPA because they felt bumiputera carve-out in the agreement will go against the principle of free market.

Parliament will debate on whether or not to sign the pact during the special Dewan Rakyat session on Jan 26 and 27. The trade deal is expected to be inked by February in New Zealand.