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Rafidah should explain in Parliament on Monday what is the �cost-benefit arithmetic� she claimed Malaysia had done on Malaysia-US FTA  at the launch of Malaysia-US Free Trade Negotiations in Washington on March 8


Media Statement (3)

by Lim Kit Siang  

, Friday) : Yesterday�s Parliamentary meeting was significant and even historic, for it was the first time that a Minister was engaged in Parliament in a debate and dialogue on the costs and benefits of Malaysia entering into  free trade agreements with other countries, particularly advanced economies like the United States, Japan and Australia.

The Second Finance Minister, Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop must be commended for his engagement in this parliamentary debate and dialogue on the FTA.

However, this parliamentary debate and dialogue on FTA is only the beginning, for the government had failed, unlike the advanced economies with whom we are conducting FTA negotiations, to fully involve the legislature and the civil society in the trade negotiations because of their far-reaching implications involving a multiplicity of complex and varied issues.

This  FTA debate and dialogue should continue in the winding-up on the Ministry of International Trade and Industry on Monday, and the Minister concerned, Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz should break her long absence from Parliament to personally report  to MPs on the FTAs, adding to the information given  by the Second Finance Minister, Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop yesterday.

I  had started the ball rolling  yesterday in the parliamentary debate and dialogue on FTAs when I asked Nor Mohamed what measures had been taken in the Malaysia-US FTA negotiations to protect national interests, particularly to ensure that there would be no compromise in our �strategic assets�, leading to the assurance that the government would not be bound any US fast-track timetable to complete the negotiations by the beginning of next year.

During the official launch of the Malaysia-United States Free Trade negotiations in Washington on March 8, 2006, Rafidah announced that Malaysia had done the cost-benefit �arithmetic� of the Malaysia-US FTA, but this �arithmetic� had never been made public.

As the Minister directly responsible for the FTA negotiations, Rafidah should use the opportunity of her ministerial winding-up of the Ninth Malaysia Plan debate on Monday to give a full report on Malaysia�s FTA status.

The Ministry of International Trade and Industry is the third Ministry slated for reply on Monday, after the Ministry of Works and the Ministry of Energy, Water and Communications.

Nor Mohamad had responded  favourably and positively to  my suggestion for the establishment of a Parliamentary Select Committee on FTAs  to protect the national interest by ensuring  greater parliamentary and civil society participation in these negotiations.

What Is Rafidah�s stand on  a Parliamentary Select Committee on FTAs? If she is supportive, let her announce in Parliament on Monday that she will fully support Nor Mohamad to secure Cabinet approval on Wednesday for the establishment of such a Parliamentary Select Committe before the end of the current parliamentary meeting, as Malaysia-USA Free Trade negotiations are to begin in June.


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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