Wikileaks: Malaysia gov’t withheld key TPPA details

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TPP symbolLeaked papers of the contentious Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) show that the Malaysian government in Putrajaya withheld key details of the trade negotiations from stakeholders, said a group fighting to prevent Malaysia from inking a deal it claimed would “colonise” the country, according to the Malay Mail.

A representative of the anti-TPPA group, Fifa Rahman, said information on the trade talks given to the group in previous engagement with the government “was far less” than what was found in the documents leaked by WikiLeaks, much to their anger since the negotiations covered issues of public concerns like medicine prices.

“We were shocked to find that the papers were so extensive but we were told only little… we have been kept in the dark,” said Fifa, who is a policy manager of the Malaysian Aids Foundation (MAF), one of the member non-governmental organisations of the Bantah TPPA coalition.

MAF is among the many healthcare groups that have voiced concern over Malaysia’s involvement in the TPPA as provisions in the deal could see pharmaceutical companies tighten its grip on medicinal patents and push prices up. According to the draft of Intellectual Property Rights chapter published online by WikiLeaks, the US — seen as the key driver of the deal — is pushing for a five-year ban against the introduction of generic equivalents to patented medicine.

This would also apply from the date a drug undergoes marketing approval in the signatory state, rather than from the date it was originally patented.

“The leak confirms what civil society in Malaysia and in all of the countries whose governments are negotiating on the people’s behalf have been warning about for years – and which the proponents of the TPPA have either kept silent or have not addressed, or dismissed as being alarmist or exaggerated,” the group said in a media statement.

Fifa also noted that the leaked documents would not only extend patent terms and make medicines pricier, it covered copyright issues as well.

Strengthening multinationals’ grip on copyrights would infringe on the individual’s “right to education” as publishers of books or other educational papers could extend its copyright terms up to 120 years and prevent “sharing”.

But Fifa pointed out that the leaked documents also showed that the Malaysian team of negotiators had steadfastly opposed to the provisions, including on medicinal patents.

“We would like to commend our team,” she said.

On healthcare patents, Malaysia was among the countries opposed to the proposal, together with Australia, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore and Brunei.

Bantah TPPA is seeking immediate engagement with the government following the WikiLeaks expose, Fifa added.

In August, Putrajaya vowed to reject any proposal that would block Malaysians from accessing affordable medicine in the agreement, noting widespread concerns raised over a likely surge in healthcare prices should the trade deal be formalised.

Local resistance to the TPPA has been such that it has united often-opposed groups and personalities — including former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and archrival Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim — under the umbrella of fighting Malaysia’s inclusion in the agreement. Critics have regularly raised concern over costlier healthcare from the TPPA, among others, saying the free trade agreement would enable pharmaceutical giants to patent medicines and obtain longer exclusivity.

The exposé by WikiLeaks comes as chief negotiators of each country are set to meet in the decisive summit in Salt Lake City, US on November 19 to 24. The 95-page, 30,000-word chapter on copyright, patents and other intellectual property issues was obtained after the last round of TPPA meet in Brunei between August 26 and 30, and contains annotations detailing each country’s negotiating positions, unlike previous leaks.

WikiLeaks also noted that while Australia is the nation most likely to support US negotiators’ hardline position, countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam and Chile are the ones most opposed.

“If instituted, the TPPA’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons,” WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange said in a separate statement.

“If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPPA has you in its crosshairs.”

The TPPA is a free trade agreement that has been negotiated by the US, Malaysia and nine other nations as part of the larger Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership since 2010. Critics allege that the agreement has since been co-opted by powerful corporations to allow them to trample over existing consumer, worker and environmental rights in signatory countries.

The secret document can be downloaded here.

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Leaked papers of the contentious Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) show that the Malaysian government in Putrajaya withheld key details of the trade negotiations from stakeholders, said a group fighting to prevent Malaysia from inking a deal it claimed would “colonise” the country, according to the Malay Mail.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

TPP symbolLeaked papers of the contentious Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) show that the Malaysian government in Putrajaya withheld key details of the trade negotiations from stakeholders, said a group fighting to prevent Malaysia from inking a deal it claimed would “colonise” the country, according to the Malay Mail.

A representative of the anti-TPPA group, Fifa Rahman, said information on the trade talks given to the group in previous engagement with the government “was far less” than what was found in the documents leaked by WikiLeaks, much to their anger since the negotiations covered issues of public concerns like medicine prices.

“We were shocked to find that the papers were so extensive but we were told only little… we have been kept in the dark,” said Fifa, who is a policy manager of the Malaysian Aids Foundation (MAF), one of the member non-governmental organisations of the Bantah TPPA coalition.

MAF is among the many healthcare groups that have voiced concern over Malaysia’s involvement in the TPPA as provisions in the deal could see pharmaceutical companies tighten its grip on medicinal patents and push prices up. According to the draft of Intellectual Property Rights chapter published online by WikiLeaks, the US — seen as the key driver of the deal — is pushing for a five-year ban against the introduction of generic equivalents to patented medicine.

This would also apply from the date a drug undergoes marketing approval in the signatory state, rather than from the date it was originally patented.

“The leak confirms what civil society in Malaysia and in all of the countries whose governments are negotiating on the people’s behalf have been warning about for years – and which the proponents of the TPPA have either kept silent or have not addressed, or dismissed as being alarmist or exaggerated,” the group said in a media statement.

Fifa also noted that the leaked documents would not only extend patent terms and make medicines pricier, it covered copyright issues as well.

Strengthening multinationals’ grip on copyrights would infringe on the individual’s “right to education” as publishers of books or other educational papers could extend its copyright terms up to 120 years and prevent “sharing”.

But Fifa pointed out that the leaked documents also showed that the Malaysian team of negotiators had steadfastly opposed to the provisions, including on medicinal patents.

“We would like to commend our team,” she said.

On healthcare patents, Malaysia was among the countries opposed to the proposal, together with Australia, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore and Brunei.

Bantah TPPA is seeking immediate engagement with the government following the WikiLeaks expose, Fifa added.

In August, Putrajaya vowed to reject any proposal that would block Malaysians from accessing affordable medicine in the agreement, noting widespread concerns raised over a likely surge in healthcare prices should the trade deal be formalised.

Local resistance to the TPPA has been such that it has united often-opposed groups and personalities — including former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and archrival Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim — under the umbrella of fighting Malaysia’s inclusion in the agreement. Critics have regularly raised concern over costlier healthcare from the TPPA, among others, saying the free trade agreement would enable pharmaceutical giants to patent medicines and obtain longer exclusivity.

The exposé by WikiLeaks comes as chief negotiators of each country are set to meet in the decisive summit in Salt Lake City, US on November 19 to 24. The 95-page, 30,000-word chapter on copyright, patents and other intellectual property issues was obtained after the last round of TPPA meet in Brunei between August 26 and 30, and contains annotations detailing each country’s negotiating positions, unlike previous leaks.

WikiLeaks also noted that while Australia is the nation most likely to support US negotiators’ hardline position, countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam and Chile are the ones most opposed.

“If instituted, the TPPA’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons,” WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange said in a separate statement.

“If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPPA has you in its crosshairs.”

The TPPA is a free trade agreement that has been negotiated by the US, Malaysia and nine other nations as part of the larger Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership since 2010. Critics allege that the agreement has since been co-opted by powerful corporations to allow them to trample over existing consumer, worker and environmental rights in signatory countries.

The secret document can be downloaded here.

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