The International Trade and Industry Ministry has refuted allegations that its ongoing briefings on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a mere propaganda exercise, arguing that it is genuine engagement with stakeholders and has answered relevant questions and concerns.
"The responses towards the questions have also been uploaded on the Miti website. In fact, there have been more organisations seeking clarifications from Miti on numerous TPPA-related issues and this clearly shows that our engagements are not merely a propaganda exercise," its minister Mustapa Mohamed said in a statement today.
He was responding to a Malaysiakini report yesterday, quoting Klang MP Charles Santiago who hit out at the briefings as being a meaningless exercise as it was attended by those who do not know anything about the trade agreement and left major criticisms unaddressed.
"Charles ( photo ) has been very unbalanced and unfair in his views, everything is wrong with TPP and nothing is right," lamented the minister.
Mustapa related how he personally conducted briefing sessions yesterday for student leaders and surveyors, adding that he fielded many substantial questions and concerns raised by stakeholders who are well versed in the agreement, all of which he addressed, contrary to Charles' claims.
"The questions, focusing on specific issues impacting them and other general issues were fairly balanced – some were supportive while some were against it. In the questions, some of the issues raised are similar to those raised by Charles and other opponents of the TPPA.
"How can Charles claim the surveyors and student leaders know nothing about the TPPA?" the minister asked, relating that intense discussion followed all his briefing sessions.
Mustapa however admitted that there are costs as well as the benefits associated with the TPPA, though opined that the benefits outweigh the costs. And making the public see things this way, is the object of his ministry's engagement with the rakyat.
He also acknowledged that many more engagements and outreach programmes need to be conducted to enhance public understanding of the trade pact, and make them see the government's point of view.
The TPPA which the Malaysian government has decided to support has been savaged by critics as being unbalanced and will place the economies and sovereignty of smaller nations like Malaysia at risk of exploitation by big US industries.