TPPA protest reflects Malaysia’s fall from grace 

(TMI) – Do we still want to be known as a low-cost producing nation when the government is pushing for a high-income economy by 2020? Will we do it at the expense of weakening our ringgit and by looking for low-cost labour and exempting them from minimum wage policies?

The mounting protest against Malaysia agreeing to the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) has one thing right – that Putrajaya should reveal all details of the trade pact that could be sealed as early as October 2013.

And explain what are the real benefits of the pact against the possible losses when having a free trade group among 12 nations rather than remain silent and say it would be good for Malaysia as it wants more market access under the TPPA.

But the critics – ranging from business groups, political parties to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad – are wrong about still protecting uncompetitive industries, guaranteed government procurement and the fear of rising prices for drugs and other goods.

The most eloquent tirade has been by Dr Mahathir (pic), reflecting the opaqueness by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry in releasing details of the TPPA mooted at the sidelines of APEC 2011.

The country’s longest-serving prime minister’s arguments reflect how far Malaysia has fallen among its neighbours with uncompetitive businessmen still hankering for  protection in an age of open markets and a rising cost of living due to a weak currency.

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