No confidence with Rafidah over FTA US-Malaysia

 A delegation representing 42 organisations (including DAP) presented a memo to the PM through his confidential secretary Ahmad this morning in Putrajaya. We told Ahmad that we have wanted AAB to intervene and stop all negotiations with the US immediately because we have no confidence with Rafidah Aziz.We demand that the Umno-led BN Govt must present an analysis outlining the gain/loss to the rakyat before we proceed with any negotiation with the US on the FTA.

We argue that the FTA is not about promoting trade but more about controlling of trade and stronger nations like America has an unfair advantage over Malaysia. The FTA signed with Japan without consultation with the Parliamentarians and rakyat was lopsided and certainly not in our favour.

We urge those who believe that FTA would help to dismantle the NEP to rethink as we believe that every Malaysian regardless of their ethnic backgrounds will suffer in the long run.

The DAP was also represented by NGO Bureau members Thomas Goh and Francis Chang.

MerdekaReview has the story…

对自由贸易协定谈判缺信心
42党团呈备忘录欲晤阿都拉

■日期/Jan 10, 2007   ■时间/05:40:27 pm
■新闻/家国风云   ■作者/本刊林宏祥
           
【本刊林宏祥撰述】由于缺乏透明度、对政府谈判能力不具信心,42党团今日前往布城首相署呈交备忘录,促首相阿都拉巴达威插手停止马来西亚与美国的自由贸易协定(Free Trade Agreement,简称FTA),直到政府将一切谈判内容、会议记录公开,并设立机制收集民意,以确保人民利益不在此协定中被牺牲。社会主义党、受压迫人民阵线(JERIT)、民主行动党、马来西亚学生与青年民主运动(简称学运)等代表于今日上午10时30分前往首相署,惟首相派出机要秘书阿末耶谷(Ahmad bin Yaacob)接见,并告知阿都拉已经接获逾百封抗议书,反对自由贸易协定。虽然代表表达了要会晤首相的意愿,但是阿末耶谷只是表示“会研究这份备忘录”,并没有承诺什么。

社会主义党代表西华拉占(Sivarajan)向代表与媒体解释,由42党团组成的反对自由贸易协定联盟已在去年两度呈交备忘录给国际贸易与工业部长拉菲达(Rafidah Aziz),然而拉菲达拒绝与他们对话。后来拉菲达致函回应他们在备忘录中提出的疑问,惟代表仍对有关“回复”与“保证”深感怀疑。

民主行动党非政府组织局主任刘天球(右图)在发言时也传达一个讯息,即美国与马来西亚并不站在平等的台阶上,签署这份合约肯定不利于马来西亚。

他举例曾经与美国签署此合约的墨西哥,甚至相对先进的新加坡与澳洲,都难逃处于劣势的命运,更何况是马来西亚。他将签署协定以后的市场为拳击擂台,马来西亚这个“孩子”,却要面对美国这个“真正的拳击手”,马来西亚最终将被打倒。

刘天球说:“是,签署自由贸易协定以后,我们确实可以卖电影到美国,美国也可以卖电影给我们,但是我们要卖什么电影给美国?自由贸易协定虽称‘自由’,但是实际上的意思却是美国控制的贸易。”

他继续说:“有些政党乐观地认为,签了自由贸易协定,将有利于废除新经济政策(New Economic Policy)。但是我要提醒,签署了这份协定以后,不管任何种族,都将面临被美国边缘化的命运!”

西华拉占(左图)提出该联盟的忧虑,包括药物价格上涨、农民失业、本地工人失业、美国商人占尽市场优势等忧虑,而这些忧虑并没有随着拉菲达在回函的“保证”而释解。

此外,反对自由贸易协定联盟对马来西亚政府应对美国时的谈判能力高度质疑,刘天球甚至说:“马来西亚政府签下不利人民的大道合约是最经典的例子,政府还要怎样说服人民,他们有能力去面对美国的势力?”

2 Responses to “No confidence with Rafidah over FTA US-Malaysia”

  1. kittykat46 Says:

    Hi Ronnie,
    I’m glad that you have brought the FTA issue up in your column. There has been very little open debate in the nation on such an important issue.
    I am not an economist, but I have been involved for many years in manufacturing trade with the US and have observed the effects of NAFTA on Mexico, both economically and on its people.
    Some issues we can easily agree on. The government needs to open up for public debate what exactly is being negotiated on and what is our broad negotiating position. And there must be not be a rush to sign the agreement. Such a complex treaty is like a marriage – the effects –good or bad – are long-term and you don’t rush into it.
    I don’t necessarily agree with the FTA opponents. It’s a complex issue, and my view is its won’t be wholly good, neither is it wholly bad for the country. We all need to look at it rationally. Some folks oppose the FTA simply because they have a deep antipathy towards the US and its foreign policy. I respect people’s right to criticize US behavior but non-FTA issues should be kept out of the FTA debate.

    My observations based on NAFTA’s effects on Mexico. NAFTA was strongly opposed by groups in BOTH US and Mexico. Huh ??? The reason is the treaty is really a complex, multi-faceted agreement. Activists on either side could pick out detailed aspects of the agreement and say – This is bad for our country. But the overall agreement is a package deal. That’s why it’s so important to have a broad public debate on it.

    Yes, there are some industries where economies of scale overwhelm other factors, and such local firms could lose out to large US multinationals. But the economy is a lot broader than that. In many businesses, being close to your customer, being flexible and innovative are lot more important than just being big. Local firms could face new competition under FTA, but in most cases, it won’t be a threat to their existence. FTA will also create some new opportunities for trade with the US. It’s not a zero sum game.
    My guess is poorly managed local firms which currently depend on limited competition will be in trouble. Companies which are in good shape will face more competition, but they will survive and may be able to take advantage of new export opportunities.

    The manufacture of generic drugs whose US patents have expired is not under threat. Anybody in the world can and do produce those medicines without legal penalty.
    We will have to comply with drugs still under US patents. I’m not aware Malaysia is engaged in any major way with unlicensed manufacture of drugs still under US patent protection.

    One area that the Chinese business community has got it wrong is the impact on the NEP. Some regulations may need to be re-written , but the NEP will continue. In fact there is a risk that as the market is opened up to US companies, the folks who get squeezed in the middle will be non-Bumiputra Malaysian firms.
    Real life example from a government infrastructure project tender last year, worth about RM 500 Million. It was partially financed by the Asian Development Bank, so subject to an advertised tender, no closed door direct negotiations. The tender was open to Bumiputra Class A contractors, and also to contractors from member countries of the ADB (a required condition of the ADB loan) Guess who is ineligible for the job – Non-Bumiputra Malaysian contractors.

  2. sampalee Says:

    The problem is not with FTA or other bilateral agreements,complex or simple,the real problem is the rakyat have NO say under the umno led government.Like all other problems that confront the nation,the ROOT cause is umno[the mother ofall evil]We are not interested in a cure,but in an intellectual debate on how well we understand the symptoms of the disease.How sad,if we continue to have this attitude and pity poor ronnie who consistantly points to the CAUSE of our ills-which is non other than umno

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