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Wednesday January 14, 2009

End all negotiations for trade agreement

The Consumers’ Association of Penang is outraged by the Israeli aggression and invasion of Gaza, which continues today despite a UN Security Council resolution last week calling for an immediate ceasefire.

While we are encouraged by government efforts in pushing for a special session of the UN General Assembly on the Gaza crisis, we believe that much more can be done to express our outrage and condemnation of the Israeli transgressions which amount to war crimes.

Israel’s actions of impunity proceed with the complicity and support of the United States, as was demonstrated by the US abstention of the recent Security Council resolution.

What is also outrageous and which defies any sense of compassion and humanity is the US Congress’ overwhelming vote in support of Israel’s attacks on Gaza despite the prevailing humanitarian tragedy.

Clearly, our Government should not under such circumstances continue with the negotiations for a US-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement (MUFTA). In this regard, we wholeheartedly support the call by the Malaysian Bar Council in urging for a cessation of negotiations.

Besides, we stressed in the past that Malaysia stands to lose more than gain from such an FTA.

It would have serious consequences for the country on many issues, including the following:

> Government procurements and the implications for ethnic relations in the country;

> Investment and the implications for local jobs, small industries and enterprises;

> Intellectual property rights and access to affordable medicines and knowledge;

> Agriculture and food security in relation to impact on local farmers and rice self-sufficiency;

> Food safety related to labelling of GM foods, etc.

When Malaysia is showing true leadership among the developing world in spearheading efforts at the UN on the Gaza tragedy, we should also lead in expressing our outrage by ending all negotiations over the MUFTA with immediate effect.

S M MOHAMED IDRIS,

President, CAP.

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