Photos (above and below) by Julius Choo Chon Kai.
About 15,000 people took to the streets of Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, to oppose the 12-nation TransPacific Partnership trade agreement, which will give even more power to the giant corporations already running the world as a “corporatocracy”.
The rally was organised by a coalition of non-government organisations, including Bantah TPPA and the People's Congress (KR). Protest signs at the rally showed that people are especially concerned by the impact the TPP will have on the affordability and accessibility of medication.
The trade agreement, which covers a wide range of economic, social and environmental areas, is set to be signed by the 12 participating nations in New Zealand on February 4. The nations involved in the TOPP are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.
Ahead of the rally, Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) general secretary Sivarajan Arumugam criticised the Democratic Action Party, Malaysia's main opposition party, for not taking a strong stance against the TPP, and called on the group to mobilise its members.
In a January 14 statement, the PSM said it had “been fighting against the US led Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement since Malaysia's participation in 2010.”
It said: “The aspirations of the US multinationals and investors are still prevalent in the TPPA, as they rush to secure their economic interest by side lining growing China's influence in the region. It is clear how the TPPA will trample upon our rights for affordable medicines, job security, food security, affordable education etc,.
“PSM is puzzled by the Najib led government persistence to ink the deal despite various studies and findings by scholars, economist debunking the so called benefits of the TPPA. Recently Prof Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram revealed that TPPA will only lead to Unemployment, Inequality instead of real economic gains for Malaysia.”
For two months ahead of the rally, the PSM organised a road show throughout the country aimed to educate people about the TPP's implications. The PSM statement said their experiences clearly showed Malaysian people, already burdened by rising costs of living and an unfair good and services tax, were not convinced of the TPP's benefits.