MPs call for review of CPTPP, HSR

The govt should safeguard the country’s interest by reviewing the policies stated under the CPTPP, Anwar says


THE government should review its plans for ratification of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) instead of pushing for it due to pressure from bigger economies, Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said.

He said although Malaysia is a country that supports free trade agreements, the government should also safeguard the country’s interest by reviewing the policies stated under the agreement.

“There are certain policies that we need to look at such as those about employment, affirmative action and government procurement which will be stunted if we follow the rules set under the CPTPP as we need to adhere to international standards.

“If we follow the regulations, local companies will have no hope due to the competition, as well as state owned enterprises and intellectual property (IP) which will be affected,” he said in his debate speech for Budget 2022 in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

He said the government needs to safeguard the country’s interests such as its procurement and IP as there are fields that require the government’s assistance and protection.

The Ministry of International Trade and Industry is planning to seek a mandate from the Cabinet on the ratification of the CPTPP by year-end.

The ministry’s senior director of strategic negotiations division Arividya Arimuthu had previously said Malaysia’s legislation will need to be amended before the country can ratify the agreement and this has shown progress over the year.

As a signatory, Malaysia does not enjoy preferential tariff rates offered and is not allowed to block any consensus made parties in all CPTPP meetings.

Meanwhile, Pekan MP Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak reiterated his call for the government to reconsider the initial concept of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) which he claimed would be a game changer for the country’s economic growth.

He said it was not logical for the government to convert the project to a “fast train” that connects Johor Baru (JB) to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) as the country needs a high-speed rail that could cut down the travel time from Malaysia to Singapore.

“I found out that if we change the initial HSR concept to a fast train from JB to KLIA, the project would not be viable, and the government would have to bear billions of ringgit each year for a long period (for the project).

“This is a decision that truly puts us at a loss. The project is an opportunity for us to integrate two of the big economies in Asean region and rejuvenate cities that are along the route such as Muar, Batu Pahat and Seremban that require a breath of fresh air,” he said in his debate yesterday.

He added that the development of the HSR would position Malaysia as a modern and dynamic country which will gain global attention.

“That is why I have urged the government to return to the original concept of the HSR. Besides, we already have a route from JB to KLIA, this would be redundant,” he added.

In March, Malaysia paid RM320.27 million to Singapore for costs incurred for the development of the HSR project as well as for the extension of its suspension.

The two countries reached an amicable agreement on the amount following a verification process by the Malaysian government.

The planned 350km rail line was to have run from a terminal station in Bandar Malaysia in downtown KL to a terminal station in Jurong East, Singapore.

The project was supposed to start from Bandar Malaysia to Sepang, Putrajaya, Seremban, Melaka, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri, before reaching its last destination in Jurong East.