Anti-TPP Ideologies?


2 weeks ago, Wan Saiful Wan Jan. the chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) penned an opinion piece in thestar claiming that there was a prevalence of anti-TPP ideologies in Malaysia.

The Gist of his piece centered on 4 key points:

  1. The Anti-TPP ideologues opposed the bill before knowing what it was, and therefore must be stupid (or bomohs)
  2. Opponents of the TPP oppose trade liberalisation
  3. TPP like any other free trade agreement was negotiated in secret and not exceptional
  4. That the government was doing a bad job communication the TPP to the rakyat

Apart from point 4, all his other points are either red-herrings, or completely wrong.

Let’s go through them one by one:

Anyone who opposed the TPP before 2015 must be a ideological activist

The text of the TPP was released on Oct 5, 2015, but they have been opposing since mid-2013 … In other words, when they started campaigning against it, they did not even know what it is … That is exactly what has happened to the TPP. If anyone pretended to know the content of the TPP before Oct 5, he was either a bomoh or an ideological activist.

Now as you know, I opposed the TPP back in May-2013, and yes I didn’t know the actual text of the agreement, does that make me a ideological activist?

Well I don’t know what an ideological activist is, but if it means you’re actively pursuing and promoting an idea, then indeed I would be one.

In May 2013, I wrote about copyright extension in Malaysia, and how the works of P. Ramlee that were scheduled to be released to the public domain in 2024, would have that released delayed to 2044.

Was the threat of copyright extension an alarmist view, or was it true. As a matter of fact, the released documents of the TPP not only vindicate my post, they actually go further. While Malaysia will ‘inherit’ longer terms as part of the TPP agreement, we won’t be getting the legal lee-ways that Americans have, such as fair use. Not only is copyright duration going to be extended, that extension won’t come with mitigating factors, promising to lock up copyrighted works for a much longer duration of time at much harsher conditions.

So an ideological activist I may be, but I was right in 2013.

Plus, wikileaks did reveal details of the TPP BEFORE the deal was published, so once again people opposing the TPP prior to Oct-2015 were well placed to do so

Opponents of the TPP oppose trade liberalisation

The Ideas CEO goes on to elaborate:

The reality is, those who have been campaigning against the TPP are mostly ideolo­gical anti-liberalisation activists. They be­­lieve that a paternalistic government must protect us forever because we will never grow up as strong adults.

Their opposition to liberalisation is driven by the ideological belief that Malaysians are too weak and too stupid, and therefore, they as the clever ones, must protect us from competition.

That might be true, but I’m certainly not one of them. I’m the most liberatian-ist person I know.

What I fail to see, is the connection of trade liberalization and copyright extension, how does copyright extension enhance trade, specifically when all the evidence points to the contrary.

More specifically, I oppose the bill because I feel that corporate interest are prioritized over civic and environmental interest, it’s hard to argue when the World Wrestling Federation was more likely to advise on the TPP than the World Wildlife Fund.

Again, this is a fundamental disagreement, that doesn’t rely on reading the actual text to confirm it.

TPP like any other free trade agreement was negotiated in secret and not exceptional

Again, technically true. But no one argued that the TPP was exceptional, we merely thought that in a democratic civil society, citizens and their elected representatives should be part of the negotiating process.

Instead, what we had was that Malaysia took part in TPP negotiations for more than 5 years, during which time, the Malaysian public and even MPs were unable to obtain draft documents of what was being discussed.

A trade deal that has legal, social and economic ramifications, should not be discussed for 5 years behind closed doors, and then allow for just 3 months of study and debate in Parliament.

I’m opposing that!!

If that’s the way it always has been–maybe it’s time to change.

That the government was doing a bad job communication the TPP to the rakyat

Yup, agreed. Let’s move on.


I oppose the TPP initially because it was secretive and fundamentally undemocratic. Now that the deal is public, I feel that Malaysia gets a raw deal, with us having to submit to international courts of arbitration that usually side with corporate interest, and grant enormous intellectual property concessions to rights-holder without taking into account public interest of putting works into the public domain.

And all that, and we still keep the NEP remnants without really liberalizing trade.

So….why are we signing this deal again?

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