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Monday, January 25, 2016

The TPP will be debated in Parliament 


Salleh Said Keruak 

“Granted, the text is now publicly available, but we are given merely sixty days to fully comprehend over 6,350 pages of legal and trade jargon,” said the Member of Parliament for Lembah Pantai, Nurul Izzah Anwar. 

Actually, because of the controversy surrounding this matter, the government has decided to allow the TPP to be debated in Parliament even though free trade agreements do not require parliamentary scrutiny or approval but merely need the cabinet’s approval. 

The opposition’s complaint is that 60 days is not enough time to understand the TPP and that more time is required. Actually, 60 days to study the TPP to prepare for the two-day debate that starts tomorrow should be enough time if done on a systematic and focused basis. 

In the UK, debating the TPP would have been the Shadow Trade Minister’s job. The Shadow Minister would have sat down with his team to go through the TPP and then prepare their questions, comments, suggestions, objections, etc., to be debated in Parliament. 

The Shadow Minister would have found 60 days for preparation and two days for debates sufficient enough to get the job done. Unfortunately, Malaysia does not have Shadow Cabinet or a Shadow Trade Minister. And this is the main problem here.  And because of that the opposition is quite lost as to what to do. 

Let us a have a good and healthy debate in Parliament. The government will explain why the TPP is good for the country while the opposition can explain why it disagrees. Finally, in the spirit of a parliamentary democracy, a vote will be taken and the majority will rule. 

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