Friday, 19 July 2013

Don’t Blame Islam for the Failure of Egypt’s Democracy

By Noah Feldman. July 5th 2013 in Bloomberg.

The Arab Spring started in Tunisia, and within a few weeks it had spread to neighboring Egypt. Today, 2 1/2 years later, Tunisia is close to ratifying a democratic constitution with well over two-thirds’ support in the constituent assembly. Egypt, as the world knows, is in the throes of a military coup that removed the democratically elected president. The obvious -- and crucial -- question is: What’s the difference? Why has democratic constitutionalism worked relatively well in one North African Arab country while it has crashed and burned in another? And what will the answer tell us about the future of democracy in the Arabic-speaking world, from Libya to Syria and beyond?
You might think the answer has something to do with Islam. But remarkably enough, it doesn’t. In both Tunisia and Egypt, the first democratic elections produced significant pluralities favoring Islamic democratic parties. Ennahda, the Islamist movement whose political party won in Tunisia, is ideologically similar to the Muslim Brotherhood, and is a kind of associate of the Brotherhood’s loosely affiliated internationale. Both parties believe in combining Islamic values with democratic practice. Both accept a political role for women and equal citizenship for non-Muslims, even if in practice they are both socially conservative and seek the gradual, voluntary Islamization of society.
Noah Feldman

About Noah Feldman»

Noah Feldman is a professor of constitutional and international law at Harvard and the author of five books, most ... MORE
The contrasting personalities and styles of their leaders, however, have pushed Ennahda and the Brotherhood to behave differently when negotiating religion with secularists in their respective countries. Rachid Ghannouchi, the spiritual leader of the Tunisian Islamists, has emerged as the closest thing to an Islamic Nelson Mandela. During his decades in exile, Ghannouchi wrote extensively about the compatibility of Islam and democracy, and developed a relatively liberal vision of how Islam and the state should interact.
Skeptics then claimed that Ghannouchi’s views were a cover for a more radical agenda; and some Tunisian secularists still think so. But the evidence thus far is sharply to the contrary. When Islamists called for inserting a reference to Shariah into the Tunisian constitution -- usually the sine qua non for any Islamic political party -- Ghannouchi took seriously the opposition from secularists. In a dramatic showdown with members of his own party’s leadership, he reportedly threatened to resign unless they dropped the measure.
This may have been the turning point in Tunisia’s constitutional process. Ghannouchi’s position is straightforward: He wants Tunisians to adopt Islamic values, but piety means nothing if imposed by coercion. Islam, he believes, will succeed in persuading people to adopt its truths more effectively if they don’t have its teachings shoved down their throats.
Ghannouchi’s diehard critics would say that omitting Shariah from the constitutional draft was only a tactical retreat, not an ideological one. But if they are right, that is yet another reason why Tunisia’s constitutional process is working: Leaders have displayed willingness to compromise in the face of ideological opposition.
By contrast, when Mohamed Mursi was president, he proved disastrously unwilling to negotiate during Egypt’s truncated constitutional drafting process. The Brotherhood could have shown its good faith by moderating the various Islamic provisions it sought to incorporate. It wouldn’t even have had to omit Shariah, a reference to which was already included in Egypt’s pre-revolutionary constitution. Instead, the Brotherhood went further, giving constitutional authority to the clerics of al-Azhar. Compromise alone wouldn’t have forestalled the protests that led to Mursi’s overthrow. But it would have signaled a willingness to govern on behalf of the whole populace, not just those who voted for the Brotherhood.

Sharing Responsibility

The willingness to share governing responsibility is probably the single-most-salient factor separating Tunisia’s relative success from Egypt’s disaster. Ennahda has governed as part of a coalition with secularist parties, whose members filled the positions of president and speaker of the Assembly alongside Ennahda’s prime minister.
This so-called troika of parties has often been dysfunctional and has failed to take decisive action on the economy, which is the most important national issue and the impetus to the Arab Spring in the first place. But the symbolic power of the coalition has helped ensure that frustration about the slow pace of economic change hasn’t focused solely on Ennahda, but on the government more generally. In contrast, Mursi failed to appoint a coalition Cabinet with any meaningful breadth. Anger at shortages and a failing economy then fell squarely on him and his party.
This isn’t a new problem. Autocratic government has been the curse of Arab states since decolonization. The Arabic-speaking public lacks a political culture experienced in democratic power sharing.
The tradition of unchecked presidential power explains both how Mursi could have tried to govern without compromise, and how the protesters could have come to see him as a dictator worthy of being deposed, even though he was elected democratically. Both sides somehow imagined that an elected president would be a bit like an unelected one: all-powerful, all-responsible, and the sole focus of positive and negative political energy.
But democracy doesn’t work that way, at least in societies that feature fierce political divisions and disagreement. Democracy requires parties to learn to work together and take account of one another’s interests. Those out of power must believe they will eventually be re-elected, and those in power must know they, too, will cycle out. That alone creates incentives to treat the opposition with political consideration and moral respect.
After ratifying its new constitution, Tunisia will have to elect a president. Unfortunately, the draft gives that post more power than would be ideal -- a weaker president would have to rely more on partners, and a purely parliamentary system would be better still. But one can only hope that the lessons of coalition won’t be forgotten. As for Egypt, democracy will become sustainable only if power can be shared -- under a future constitution that puts civilians ahead of the military and bestows authority not on a single man or woman, but on the full range of the people’s representatives.
(Noah Feldman, a law professor at Harvard University and the author of “Cool War: The Future of Global Competition,” is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @NoahRFeldman.)
To contact the writer of this article: Noah Feldman at
To contact the editor responsible for this article: Nisid Hajari at

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Malaysian Chinese - Pain With No Gain !

The Malaysian Chinese, slowly feeling the pinch of their collective decision to support Pakatan Rakyat. Chinese as a whole wanted to politically CRUXIFY Barisan Nasional  for reasons given to them by DAP. Barisan Nasional might not be the angel that they are made to be but as a devil at least since 1957 till now as a coalition they are one, intact, full of help, support and have some respect for the Chinese community. How many Chinese tycoons sought help from Malays UMNO leaders and became rich out of their alliances with UMNO ? There are many outside there who benefited from these alliances. Barisan Nasional at least did NOT shut down any Chinese vernacular schools and they are allowed to use their language, practice their Chinese culture freely without any hindrance unlike Chinese in Thailand and Indonesia. Even Chinese in USA, UK and other European countries are not allowed their own vernacular schools.

Go to any Malay kampung and you will find a Chinese sundry shop. The Malays got no qualms in patronizing Chinese sundry shop. That is how tolerant, the Malays to the Chinese. The Malays always treated Chinese as a friend and this is true when in speech, Chinese always referred as "KAWAN". As kawan, we should always tolong-tolong. Even after being insulted in the month of Ramadhan via Facebook, the Malays as a whole still remain sober at the BAK KUT TEH clowns stupid remarks.

DAP is responsible for encouraging Chinese supremacy among the Chinese in order to gain political mileage. When two Chinese teens went over board and posted Bak Kut Teh greeting to Muslims, LIM GUAN ENG without any ceremony distant himself with DAP leadership support against the Bak Kut Teh duo. This is DAP BAK KUT TEH politics for the Chinese to swallow. When shit hit the fan, DAP will the first one to "cuci tangan" because they only champion the cause of their party not the people.

Today, some 55 parents of sorrowful Chinese students with perfect 4.0 CGPA are crying with tears pouring on their cheeks as their children CAN'T get entrance into public universities. These Chinese parents have taken their grouses to MCA Education Bureau Chairman - Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong. Why run to MCA ? Dont they realise that the Chinese as a whole have voted MCA out of Barisan Nasional ruling government ? MCA was so ashamed of their defeat that the party leadership decided not to take up any post in the ruling government. Why punish MCA when as a party this Chinese political organization was in the forefront literally feeding the Chinese during the insurgency (curfew) era before Merdeka when the British was starving the Chinese in Kampung Baru(s) scattered all over Malaya ?  MCA single handedly help Chinese who were lock out in the Kampung Baru(s) and provide food for them. Dont they remember ?  MCA Complaints Bureau, Datuk Seri Michael Chong single handedly help so many desperate Chinese to solve a galaxy of problems they brought to him. There is nothing in DAP to be compared with MCA Complaints Bureau. The Chinese owed an incalculable debt to MCA !  

Today (read here : The Star - 17th July 2013,) MCA is handling more than 108 appeal cases of Chinese students who cant get into public universities. The Chinese as whole knew that when they are in trouble, they could depend on MCA for help. MCA is their straw when they are drowning in this ocean of Malays in a country which welcome their forefathers of old when they migrated to Malaya to avoid stravation in mainland China. The Malays welcome  these Chinese refugees, allow them to live, stay and prosper in this country without being racists towards them. In the principle of jus soli, the Chinese were given equal citizenship and Chinese culture has been accepted as part and puzzle of Malaysian culture. In fact the Malays are proud with their Chinese people when Chinese badminton players or Chinese football coach did well in their respective sports. Chinese football players, squash, badminton, martial artist and an arrays of other sports were respected as Malaysian heroes. Some of them were even given Datukship. Sadly 2013 is the year where Chinese have forgotten all the good deeds of even MCA not to mention the Malays. 

Today, some Chinese parents are expecting MCA to help them when their children cant get into public universities. Why dont for a change bring this matter up to DAP ? Let them bear the responsibility of helping the Chinese as they have voted them into power. Why go to MCA ? So lesson learn is that when emotion takes over sane thinking, than with all these PAINS, there is actually NO GAIN ! This is the Chinese dilemma in Malaysia now and the word of Malaysian football coach Ong Kim Swee is proven true against the Chinese when he said "no one can defeat us unless we first defeat ourselves". In PRU 13, the Chinese as a whole, defeated themselves !

No one can help these poor Chinese students. No one can help the two Chinese BAK KUT TEH clowns (read here : Chinese Bak Kut Teh Clowns ) for their stupid Facebook posting. 

Malaysian Chinese, PAIN WITH NO GAIN !    

Friday, 12 July 2013

Kuala Besut - Siapa Wakil Rakyat dan PAS benarkan ISLAM diHINA CINA di Bulan Ramadhan !

Mengikut pada istilah dalam bahasa Siam, BE bermakna daerah dan SUT pula maknanya hujung. Jadi BESUT merupakan daerah jajahan SIAM yang paling jauh. Tafsiran ini adalah buah fikiran mentor saya (Haji Yahya) atau lebih senang dikenali sebagai Pak Ya. Namun sekarang Kuala Besut menjadi penentu kepada politik Terengganu. Apa yang perlu difikirkan oleh rakyat Besut adalah kebolehan kepimpinan parti yang mereka pilih bagi menjamin bahawa BESUT tidak kembali menjadi jajahan daerah yang paling jauh buat parti politik yang bakal memenangi Pilihanraya Kecil ini. PRK Kuala Besut juga bakal menentukan samada seluruh negeri Terengganu terus menerus membangun atau kembali mundur jika kembali kepada kepimpinan PAS yang dikala ini sudah membuang perjuangan HUDUD akibat daripada tekanan DAP. 

Sebelum kita bicara tentang PRK - Kuala Besut,  berita media sosial terbaru dan tergempar - blog paparkan gambar pasangan Cina yang menghina umat Islam di seluruh Malaysia dengan posting facebook yang sangat kurang-ajar. Orang-orang Cina ini menjadi begitu berani hasil asuhan DAP. DAP pula telah disokong oleh PAS dan PKR yang telah menyebabkan orang-orang Cina Malaysia begitu berani menghina Islam. Jika benar PAS perjuangkan ISLAM maka kenapa bersekongkol dengan kepimpinan DAP Cina yang menghina Islam secara terang-terang ? Terbaru, kepimpinan PAS telah memberi pembelaan kepada pasangan Bak Kut Teh ini ? Mereka dihukum atas perbuatan tidak bertanggungjawab. Mereka perlu berhadapan dengan hukuman agar ia menjadi pelajaran kepada mana-mana pihak yang ingin menghina mana-mana agama di Malaysia. Tindakan pemimpin PAS jelas menunjuknya betapa rendahnya PAS yang terlampau dahaga dan mahukan sokongan Cina hingga sanggup memperjudikan ISLAM disebabkan ingin mendapat sokongan CINA dan DAP. Adakah ini yang diperjuangkan PAS ? Pemimpin PAS jadi haprak sokong pasangan Bak Kut Teh !

Kembali kita kepada persoalan PRK - Kuala Besut. Apa yang penting bagi rakyat di Kuala Besut adalah bertanyakan soalan, apakah peranan yang perlu dimainkan oleh wakil yang dipilih mewakili rakyat untuk ke Dewan Undangan Negeri Terengganu ? Setelah mengetahui peranan wakil rakyat maka kemudian itu perlulah diperhatikan calon-calon yang ditawarkan oleh parti-parti politik bagi menerajui peranan ini. Calon PAS bagi PRK - Kuala Besut Azlan @Endut Bin Yusof atau lebih dikenali Che Long adalah seorang kontraktor Kelas A dan mempunyai kelulusan SPM Gred 3. Calon ini tielah dikritik oleh Azmin Ali - Timbalan Presiden PKR dalam Berita Harian - 13 Julai 2013. "Berita di BH bertajuk, “PKR tak puas hati kelulusan calon PAS” itu memetik kenyataan Azmin yang menegaskan PKR tidak mahu campur tangan dalam pemilihan calon, tetapi sebagai rakan Pakatan, kepimpinan Pas sepatutnya meminta pandangan serta cadangan terutamnya apabila membabitkan soal pemilihan calon" . Blog bersetuju dengan saranan dan nasihat profesional Timbalan Presiden PKR. Kita memilih pemimpin yang bakal bertindak untuk kepentingan dan kebaikan rakyat. Kita perlukan pemimpin yang berkelayakan. Apa yang kita nampak dari kepimpinan PAS, PKR mahupun DAP, kepimpinan wakil Pakatan Rakyat lebih cenderung berjuang untuk kepentingan parti. Namun begitu rata-rata kita dapati apabila menang PRU atau PRK maka kepimpinan Pakatan Rakyat didapati menjauhi daripada menangani masaalah rakyat. Contoh dan bukti terbaik bagi rakyat BESUT adalah dengan melihat jiran mereka iaitu KELANTAN. Selama dua puluh tahun lebih PAS menerajui KELANTAN, kita lihat kehidupan ekonomi rakyat tidak dapat diperbaiki malah menjadi lebih teruk kerana kepimpinan PAS  tiada kebolehan mentadbir. Kita tidak mahu wakil rakyat yang pandai berpidato. Pandai ceramah. Pandai bercakap. Tetapi tidak mampu menyelesaikan masaalah rakyat. Namun begitu jika kita lihat daerah JELI di Kelantan dibawah pentadbiran Barisan Nasional, maka disini kita lihat kecekapan wakil Parlimen yang berjaya membawa pembangunan kepada jajahan tersebut. Inilah yang sepatutnya dijadikan kayu pengukur buat rakyat BESUT apabila membuang undi pada hari pengundian.

Barisan Nasional telah meletakkan seorang calon muda iaitu Tengku Zaihan. Beliau adalah seorang jurutera yang pernah bertugas dengan Jabatan Pengairan dan Saliran. Berkelulusan Sarjana Muda Kejuruteraan dari Universiti Sains Malaysia dan pernah menjadi jurutera daerah Besut. Dari sini kita lihat, calon BN, Tengku Zaihan adalah seorang profesional yang mampu hidup sendiri tanpa perlu bergantung kepada peluang daripada parti,kerajaan negeri mahupun kerajaan pusat untuk menyara kehidupan beliau. Manakala calon PAS, perlu bergantung kepada projek-projek negeri atau swasta sebagai punca pendapatan beliau kerana beliau adalah Kontraktor Kelas A. Disini kita lihat kecenderungan calon PAS untuk bertindak bagi kepentingan diri lebih tinggi berbanding dengan calon BN. Ini adalah kerana penduduk Kuala Besut tahu sejarah calon PAS. Suatu ketika dulu calon PAS ini, Azlan@Che Long  merupakan bekas AJK pemuda Umno salah satu cawangan di Besut yang dikatakan melompat kedalam Pas demi mendapatkan projek kerana ketika itu Pas berjaya menguasai Terengganu. Oleh itu, pengundi Kuala Besut disarankan berhat-hati dengan calon PAS ini yang mempunyai sejarah yang penuh warna-warni. Namun begitu apakah ciri-ciri seorang wakil rakyat ? Dalam posting blog ini, kita jawap persoalan "Siapa Wakil Rakyat" ?


Bila kita memilih wakil rakyat, kita sebenarnya memilih seorang pemimpin yang dapat mewakili kita di dalam menyuarakan keperluan kita kepada kerajaan yang merupakan suara kita di dalam pentadbiran politik. Wakil rakyat perlu mempunyai kebolehan serta keterampilan yang boleh menjalankan tugasan pentadbiran masaalah kita untuk diketengahkan kepada Dewan Negeri atau Parlimen. Kita memilih wakil rakyat bukan memilih parti politik. Tetapi wakil rakyat perlukan sokongan parti, yang dapat membantu wakil rakyat dari segi sokongan jentera sumber manusia serta “networking” yang membolehkan wakil rakyat berkhidmat kepada rakyat dengan berkesan.

Antara ciri-ciri kepimpinan yang perlu ada kepada wakil rakyat adalah ?

·    Wakil rakyat perlu memahami keperluan asas penduduk setempat. Perlu faham kaedah analisa SWOT...dalam menilai kawasan DUN atau Parlimen masing-masing. SWOT Analysis mengambil pendekatan memahami setiap S – Strength / Kekuatan / W – weakness / kelemahan / O- Opportunity  / Peluang dan T-Threat – Ancaman di kawasan masing-masing.
    Wakil rakyat perlu mempunyai sistem maklum balas yang cekap di dalam menguruskan kawasan masing-masing. Wakil rakyat haruslah mempunyai PR – Public Relations dengan seluruh penduduk yang berbilang bangsa dan harus ada EMPHATY iaitu sifat dapat menjiwai hasrat rakyat yang mereka wakili.
    Wakil rakyat sepatutnya kurang berpidato tetapi harus cekap dalam urusan pentadbiran di dalam menyelesaikan semua masaalah rakyat dengan cara yang sistematik dan pragmatic. Wakil rakyat perlu arif di dalam menstrukturkan suasana serta perlu jelas dengan segala perancangan yang bakal ditunaikan bagai membawa pembahruan kepada kawasan-kawasan yang mereka wakili.
   Wakil rakyat bertindak sebagai peace maker di dalam menyatukan rakyat dan mengawasi keseluruhan kelakuan rakyat di kawasan yang diwakili dengan sering memberi maklumat-maklumat yang membantu rakyat memahami segala perancangan kerajaan untuk mereka. Wakil rakyat harus menerangkan segala dasar-dasar serta polisi-polisi kerajaan kepada rakyat di kawasan yang diwakili bagi mengelakkan segala salah faham yang mungkin berlaku hasil daripada ketiadaan maklumat yang mencukupi atau maklumat tidak sampai kepada rakyat disebabkan jaluran perhubungan terputus antara rakyat dan pentadbiran kerajaan.
     Wakil rakyat yang dipilih haruslah disokong oleh kerajaan yang memerintah bagi memudahkan wakil rakyat mendapatkan bantuan kerajaan memerintah untuk perkara-perkara yang melibatkan pembangunan bagi kebaikan rakyat di kawasan yang diwakili.  Wakil rakyat perlu ada tanggapan sosial yang jelas di mana beliau amat memahami segala kehendak serta aspirasi rakyat di kawasan yang diwakilinya.
     Wakil rakyat perlu mempunyai tahap kecerdasan yang tinggi di mana kelulusan akademik yang bersesuaian perlu ada bagi tujuan memudahkan wakil rakyat menjalankan tugas memahami tanggung jawab sebagai seorang pemimpin, mengeluarkan idea-idea yang bernas di dalam menangani masaalah-masaalah rakyat serta berkebolehan mencetuskan satu revolusi pemikiran rakyat yang mampu mendidik rakyat memahami segala kebaikan yang dilakukan oleh kerajaan bagi kebaikan rakyat di kawasan yang diwakili.
   Wakil rakyat perlu mempunyai emosional yang stabil serta tidak boleh mempunyai kepentingan peribadi melebihi kepentingan rakyat. Perjuangan wakil rakyat adalah perjuangan rakyat bukan perjuangan peribadi atau perjuangan kekeluargaan. Wakil rakyat perlu berwawasan. Wawasan tersebut perlu kepada tenaga untuk direalisasikan dan dari tenaga datang keupayaan untuk melaksanakan apa sahaja yang dijanjikan.
·         Wakil rakyat juga perlu memainkan peranan di dalam melaksanakan lima peranan utama  iaitu :

1. Peranan dalam aspek politik.
           2. Peranan dalam aspek pembangunan
            3. Peranan dalam aspek sosio-ekonomi
                                      4. Peranan dalam aspek pentadbiran dan pengurusan organisai
                               5. Peranan dalam aspek kemasyarakatan dan agama

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Trans Pacific Partnership - Evil Incarnate ! Part 3 (More Harm than Good even for Americans)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the most secretive and “least transparent” trade negotiations in history.
Luckily for the populations and societies that will be affected by the agreement, there are public research organizations and alternative media outlets campaigning against it – and they’ve even released several leaks of draft agreement chapters. From these leaks, which are not covered by mainstream corporate-controlled news outlets, we are able to get a better understanding of what the Trans-Pacific Partnership actually encompasses.
For example, public interest groups have been warning that the TPP could result in millions of lost jobs. As a letter from Congress to United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk stated, the TPP “will create binding policies on future Congresses in numerous areas,” including “those related to labor, patent and copyright, land use, food, agriculture and product standards, natural resources, the environment, professional licensing, state-owned enterprises and government procurement policies, as well as financial, healthcare, energy, telecommunications and other service sector regulations.”
In other words, as promised, the TPP goes far beyond “trade.”
Dubbed by many as “NAFTA on steroids” and a “corporate coup,” only two of the TPP’s 26 chapters actually have anything to do with trade. Most of it grants far-reaching new rights and privileges to corporations, specifically related to intellectual property rights (copyright and patent laws), as well as constraints on government regulations.
The leaked documents revealed that the Obama administration “intends to bestow radical new political powers upon multinational corporations,” as Obama and Kirk have emerged as strong advocates “for policies that environmental activists, financial reform advocates and labor unions have long rejected for eroding key protections currently in domestic laws.”
In other words, the already ineffective and mostly toothless environmental, financial, and labor regulations that exist are unacceptable to the Obama administration and the 600 corporations aligned with the TPP who are giving him his orders.
The agreement stipulates that foreign corporations operating in the United States would no longer be subject to domestic U.S. laws regarding protections for the environment, finance or labor rights, and could appeal to an “international tribunal” which would be given the power to overrule American law and impose sanctions on the U.S. for violating the new “rights” of corporations.
The “international tribunal” that would dictate the laws of the countries would be staffed by corporate lawyers acting as “judges,” thus ensuring that cases taken before them have a “fair and balanced” hearing – fairly balanced in favor of corporate rights above anything else.
A public interest coalition known as Citizens Trade Campaign published a draft of the TPP chapter on “investment” revealing information about the “international tribunal” which would allow corporations to directly sue governments that have barriers to “potential profits.”
Arthur Stamoulis, the executive director of Citizens Trade Campaign, explained that the draft texts “clearly contain proposals designed to give transnational corporations special rights that go far beyond those possessed by domestic businesses and American citizens… A proposal that could have such broad effects on environmental, consumer safety and other public interest regulations deserves public scrutiny and debate. It shouldn’t be crafted behind closed doors.”
Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, a public interest organization, undertook an analysis of the leaked document on investment and explained that the international corporate tribunal would allow corporations to overturn national laws and regulations or demand enormous sums in compensation, with the tribunal “empowered to order payment of unlimited government Treasury funds to foreign investors over TPP claims.”
Even under NAFTA, over $350 million has been paid by NAFTA-aligned governments to corporations for “barriers” to investment “rights,” including toxic waste dumps, logging rules, as well as bans on various toxic chemicals.
Because let’s be clear: for corporations, such regulations and concerns over health, safety and environmental issues are perceived solely as “barriers” to investment and profit. Thus their “government” would sue the foreign government on behalf of the corporation, on the premise that such regulations led to potential lost profits, for which the corporation should be compensated.
The TPP allows the corporations to directly sue the government in question. All of the TPP member countries, except for Australia, have agreed to adhere to the jurisdiction of this international tribunal, an unelected, anti-democratic and corporate-staffed kangaroo-court with legal authority over at least ten nations and their populations.
Further, TPP countries have not agreed on a set of obligations for corporations to meet in relation to health, labor or environmental standards, and thus a door is opened for corporations to obtain even more rights and privileges to plunder and exploit. Where corporate rights are extended, human and democratic rights are dismantled.
One of the most important areas in which the TPP has a profound effect is in relation to intellectual property rights, or copyright and patent laws. Corporations have been strong advocates of expanding intellectual property rights, namely, their intellectual property rights.
Pharmaceutical corporations are major proponents of these rights and are likely to be among the major beneficiaries of the intellectual property chapter of the TPP. The pharmaceutical industry ensured that strong patent rules were included in the 1995 World Trade Organization agreement, but ultimately felt that those rules did not go far enough.
Dean Baker, writing in the Guardian, explained that stronger patent rules establish “a government-granted monopoly, often as long as 14 years, that prohibits generic competitors from entering a market based on another company’s test results that show a drug to be safe and effective.” Baker noted that such laws are actually “the opposite of free trade” since they “involve increased government intervention in the market” and “restrict competition and lead to higher prices for consumers.”
Essentially, what this means is that in poor countries where more people need access to life-saving drugs, and at cheaper cost, it would be impossible for companies or governments to manufacture and sell cheaper generic brands of successful drugs held by multinational corporate patents. Such an agreement would hand over a monopoly of price-controls to these corporations, allowing them to set the prices as they deem fit, thus making the drugs incredibly expensive and often inaccessible to the people who need them most.
As U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman correctly noted, “In many parts of the world, access to generic drugs means the difference between life and death.”
The TPP is expected to increase such corporate patent rights more than any other agreement in history. Generic drug manufacturers in countries like Vietnam and Malaysia would suffer. So would sales of larger generics manufacturers in the U.S., Canada, and Australia, which supply low-cost drugs to much of the world.
While the United States has given up the right to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical corporations (hence the exorbitant price for drugs purchased in the U.S.), countries like New Zealand and even Canada to a lesser extent negotiate drug prices in order to keep the costs down for consumers. The TPP will grant new negotiating privileges to corporations, allowing them to appeal decisions by governments to challenge the high cost of drugs or to go with cheap alternatives. Referring to these changes, the U.S. manager of Doctors Without Borders’ Access to Medicines Campaign stated, “Bush was better than Obama on this.”
But that’s not all the TPP threatens: Internet freedom is also a major target.
The  Council of Canadians  and  OpenMedia, major campaigners for Internet freedom, have warned that the TPP would “criminalize some everyday uses of the Internet,” including music downloads as well as the combining of different media works. OpenMedia warned that the TPP would “force service providers to collect and hand over your private data without privacy safeguards, and give media conglomerates more power to send you fines in the mail, remove online content – including entire websites – and even terminate your access to the Internet.”
Also advanced under the TPP chapter on intellectual property rights, new laws would have to be put in place by governments to regulate Internet usage. OpenMedia further warned that, from the leaked documents on intellectual property rights, “there can be heavy fines for average citizens online,” adding: “you could be fined for clicking on a link, people could be knocked off the Internet and web sites could be locked off.”
The TPP, warned OpenMedia founder Steve Anderson, “will limit innovation and free expression.” Under the TPP, there is no distinction between commercial and non-commercial copyright infringement. Thus, users who download music for personal use would face the same penalties as those who sell pirated music for profit.
Information that is created or shared on social networking sites could have Internet users fined, have their computers seized, their Internet usage terminated, or even get them a jail sentence. The TPP imposes a “three strikes” system for copyright infringement, where three violations would result in the termination of a household’s Internet access.
So, why all the secrecy? Corporate and political decision-makers study public opinion very closely; they know how to manipulate the public based upon what the majority think and believe. When it comes to “free trade” agreements, public opinion has forced negotiators into the darkness of back-room deals and unaccountable secrecy precisely because populations are so overwhelmingly against such agreements.
An opinion poll from 2011 revealed that the American public has – just over the previous few years – moved from “broad opposition” to “overwhelming opposition” toward NAFTA-style trade deals.
A major NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll from September of 2010 revealed that “the impact of trade and outsourcing is one of the only issues on which Americans of different classes, occupations and political persuasions agree,” with 86% saying that outsourcing jobs by U.S. companies to poor countries was “a top cause of our economic woes,” with 69% thinking that “free trade agreements between the United States and other countries cost the U.S. jobs.” Only 17% of Americans in 2010 felt that “free trade agreements” benefit the U.S., compared to 28% in 2007.
Because public opinion is strongly – and increasingly – against “free trade agreements,” secrecy is required in order to prevent the public from even knowing about, let alone actively opposing, agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And this, as U.S. Trade Representative Kirk explained, is a very “practical” reason for all the secrecy.

Trans Pacific Partnership - Evil Incarnate ! Part 2

To discuss “free trade agreements” or the “free market,” we must first identify the theoretical versus the functional definitions of these terms – because theoretical definitions look at what those terms should mean, whereas functional definitions look at what the terms mean actually. The theoretical definition of a “free market” is one in which every individual actor in the realm of exchange exists in a state of equality of opportunity; where all compete with one another to produce the best products at the cheapest prices for consumers, thus the most innovative and efficient producers succeed while others fail, unregulated – and unhelped – by the state. Within “free markets,” what we call “free trade agreements” are meant to reduce barriers such as tariffs, subsidies and regulations so that market “competitors” can freely move products and goods across borders and compete in an ever-expanding global “free market.” The functional, or technical, definition of a “free market” is one in which the state regulates the market – the realm of economic exchange and activity – for the benefit of large transnational corporations and banks.

Barriers to profits, such as environmental, labor, safety and financial regulations, are dismantled. Meanwhile, subsidies and legal rights and protections are granted to major corporations, undermining competition and supporting monopolization. So while the rhetoric of “free markets” tends to be all about reducing state interference in the economy, in actuality state interference increases – but only for the benefit of large corporations and banks.
At the same time, state “interference” decreases in sectors that benefit the actual population, such as welfare, social services, pensions, healthcare, education, labor protections and so on. In the actual “free market,” these protections are dismantled, subjecting populations to “market discipline” quite unlike the large corporations and banks that receive direct protection against “market discipline.” The most obvious example of this is the post-2008 bank bailouts.
In a theoretical “free market,” all the banks that gambled badly would have failed and collapsed. But with the functional “free market” we have today, the banks went to the state and got bailed out with trillions of dollars of taxpayer money.
The same dichotomy exists for the term “free trade agreement,” which in theory is the opposite of “protectionism,” where states intervene in the market by establishing tariffs, regulations, subsidies and protections for various imports and exports, thus undermining the “free market.”
The technical definition, however, is one in which protectionism is rampant, with enormous subsidies and protective barriers, and very often includes thousands of pages of regulations and provisions. But because all of this is done to protect corporate and financial interests, it is called “free trade.” It is “protectionism” if the barriers, regulations and protections benefit the nation or population and prevent transnational corporations and banks from having unhindered access to the “market”?
Likewise, is it “free trade” if the barriers, regulations, and protections benefit corporations and banks at the expense of the nation and population? In actuality, so-called “free trade” is a drain on the economy, creates enormous national debts, undermines labor, creates poverty and exploitation, wastes natural resources and devastates the environment. However, it is very profitable for banks and corporations, so is endlessly repeated as something “good” and “necessary.”
In theory, “free trade” would enhance competition because it would allow all parties to compete on an even playing field internationally, thus companies would have to find ways to lower their costs of production while increasing their product standards, ultimately decreasing the final price to consumers. In this theoretical form of “free trade,” the best and cheapest product, the company that made it, and the consumer and society as a whole would all benefit.
The reality is the exact opposite: the production cycle is broken up (this is commonly called “offshoring”), which increases the use of transportation, resources and the overall cost of production, making the final product more expensive to consumers. Case in point is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), where competition between corporations is undermined while access to resources and markets is enhanced, subsidized and protected.
Corporate cooperation with each other and the state is enhanced while the poor, working and middle classes of Canada, the United States and Mexico are put in direct competition with each other. Corporations in Canada and the U.S. close their factories and move them to Mexico where labor is cheaper, increasing unemployment and poverty, destroying unions and labor protections, and forcing down wages while costs and corporate profits increase.
The role of the state is to regulate these markets and agreements for the benefit of the corporations and banks, and to force the populations to compete with each other in a race to the bottom: market monopolization for the elite, and market discipline for the population.
The break-up of the production cycle, especially from the late 1980s onward, has redefined what “trade” actually is. Typically, we think of trade as a system where countries export and import products or goods. With the era of “free trade,” the production cycle was no longer confined within national borders, and was broken up between several countries.
The result was that a large percentage of what we call “trade” is actually one corporation moving parts or goods to a subsidiary or another corporation in a different country, to continue the production cycle until it returns to the home country as a finished product for consumption.
This is referred to as “intra-industry trade” (transporting parts or goods between corporations) or “intra-firm trade” (transporting parts or goods between a corporation and its subsidiaries). When the parts move across borders, often several times before the final product is created, customs agents at borders register the cumulative value of those products as a “traded” good, and these numbers are then used to determine the “actual contribution” of that good to the economy.
For example, a product which has parts manufactured in Canada, assembled in Mexico, and sold in the United States, would have to cross borders several times before it becomes a final product. Each time the parts cross a border, the total value of those parts at that time of transport gets registered as an import/export, instead of differentiating between the value added at each part of the production cycle. Thus, the statistics of exports and imports become heavily skewed and inflated since they do not account for “value-added.” While the production cycle is broken up over several countries, the determination of “value” is not broken up to fit the actual trading system as it exists.
For a hypothetical comparison to reveal how absurd this process is, imagine a country that attempts to measure the total education of its population by including in its statistics the degrees and credentials of all the tourists who entered the country for short periods of time. The recorded education level of the country’s population would be enormously inflated, since the educated tourists entering the nation would not be staying and contributing their education to the benefit of the society. Something similar happens when parts move across borders several times before they become a finished product, yet have their total value registered each time they cross a border.
According to a report from a Canadian think tank, the Conference Board of Canada, if countries were to apply a “value-added” measurement of trade instead of using inflated numbers applied to the cumulative value of a good, the actual contribution of trade to a country would rapidly diminish. In conventional measurements, trade accounts for 35% of Canada’s economy, but with the value-added measurement, it drops to 24%. These manipulations are important because they serve as a basis for claiming that countries like Canada are “trade dependent” nations, which justify implementing more “free trade” agreements.
When a country imports more than it exports, it builds up a large amount of debt called a trade deficit. When a country exports more than it imports, it establishes a trade surplus. However, because the process of determining the value of imports and exports is enormously inflated and misleading, countries are saddled with inflated and inaccurate debts. They are then pressured into reducing those debts through austerity measures, which punish those countries’ populations into poverty.
Apple is a great example of this process, often hailed as one of the great corporate success stories, being enormously profitable and therefore “good for the economy.” As the Asian Development Bank Institute in Tokyo reported in 2010, while Apple is a U.S.-based company, the iPhone is itself considered to be a Chinese export to the U.S. The iPhone is produced in many different pieces and parts through several Asian and European countries, which are then transported to China where they are assembled and shipped to the United States and elsewhere.
The estimated value of the Chinese laborers in assembling the iPhone was 3.6% (or $6.50) of the total value of the finished product, estimated at $178.96 in 2009. Yet, the wholesale cost of the shipped iPhone is credited to China as an export. China was merely the last stop in the production cycle, but China records the total value of the finished product as an export, while the United States records it as an import. Thus, the researchers at the Asian Development Bank Institute concluded that “even high-tech products invented by U.S. companies will not increase U.S. exports.”
Pascal Lamy, director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), commented, “What we call ‘Made in China’ is indeed assembled in China, but what makes up the commercial value of the product comes from the numerous countries… The concept of country of origin for manufactured goods has gradually become obsolete.”
If trade statistics were adjusted to reflect the actual value contributed to a given product by a country, the U.S. trade deficit with China (which in 2010 stood at $226.88 billion) would likely be cut in half. In 2009, the iPhone left the United States with a $1.9 billion trade deficit with China, but if the value-added approach to determining trade statistics were applied, the United States would have a $48 million trade surplus with China (in relation to the iPhone alone).
With the production cycle broken up and scattered around the globe, this adds enormous costs to transportation of equipment, machinery, goods and products between these nations, which in turn requires enormous quantities of oil and fuel to facilitate this transport system, and thus produces unnecessary amounts of pollution. Because of the high costs of transportation, fuel, and assembly, the value of the end product goes up, making it far more costly than if it were simply produced in one or two countries.
With countries determining their exports and imports based on inflated and inaccurate statistics, populations are saddled with enormous debts and thus the financial cost of breaking up the production cycle lands on the shoulders of the population, who were already subjected to increased competition between labor forces, reduced environmental and social protections, dismantled subsidies and regulations, increased personal debt and poverty.
So if “free trade agreements” are bad for people, bad for labor – at home and abroad – and bad for the environment and the nation as a whole, why are they pursued?
The answer is simple: they create enormous profits for banks and corporations, whose losses are subsidized by the state. In an actual “free market,” breaking up the production cycle would be far too costly to be a rational choice for a corporation, but because the state takes on the cost of doing so (largely through its trade deficit), the process continues.
When it comes to agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it is not difficult to see what the results will be: increased subsidies, protections and regulations for the benefit of large corporations and banks (notably the 600 corporations involved in secretly drafting the agreement over recent years) and decreased protections, subsidies and regulations that benefit the population, environment and society as a whole.
The TPP advances corporate monopolistic protections through intellectual property rights; undermines labor protections, putting the working class of 11 different nations in direct competition with one another; dismantles environmental protections and financial regulations; and expands corporate rights and privileges to allow undemocratic corporate institutions to challenge national laws through an unaccountable international tribunal of corporate lawyers who are given powers to overturn national laws or demand immense compensation from any nations that hinder those corporations’ “potential profits,” thus further increasing the heavy cost of “free trade.”
The People Against Opposition movement and other activists have a strong mandate to oppose the TPP and all related “free trade agreements.” Popular opinion is swinging against “free trade” as people seem instinctively to recognize – even without all the details – that such agreements undermine labor, increase debt and benefit only the rich.
But while public opinion may oppose the TPP in principle, the bigger problem is that “the public” does not know the TPP even exists. This is a challenge that the People Against Opposition movement can step up to: promoting an educational campaign that crosses borders, organizing international protests and actions against the TPP, and establishing a “free market” of resistance based upon the “free trade” of information.
As corporate rights expand and democratic rights decrease, so must people demand an end to the TPP. Organized resistance, information and action have stopped “free trade agreements” in the past, and they can – and must – do so in the future. The coming corporate tyranny of the Trans-Pacific Partnership can only be defeated through a democratic movement of Transnational People Power.
Our already frail and dying democratic institutions lack the capacity to take up the challenge, so the challenge now rests with the people alone.