US Senator: Don’t reward Malaysia with TPPA for its ‘shocking’ human trafficking record

    US senator Robert Menendez wants his country’s House of Representatives to vote to block Malaysia from joining in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). – See more at:

    Tuesday June 2, 2015 | 11:00 AM GMT+8

    KUALA LUMPUR, June 2 — US senator Robert Menendez wants his country’s House of Representatives to vote to block Malaysia from joining in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

    Linking the recent discovery of 139 mass graves of illegal immigrants in Perlis near the state border with Thailand, the Democrat lawmaker reminded his countrymen of Malaysia’s record ranking under the lowest Tier 3 in the US’ human trafficking index.

    “These recent discoveries should strengthen our resolve to add this fundamental human rights principle to our trade policy,” Menendez said in an opinion piece titled “Don’t Reward Human Traffickers” published yesterday in the news portal Roll Call.

    “With those images fresh in our minds, with new revelations of the scope of the trafficking problem in Malaysia and other countries coming every day, now is the time for our colleagues in the House to add their voice to a clear statement of bipartisan American values: no fast track for human traffickers.”

    Last year, Malaysia was demoted from Tier 2 to Tier 3 in the US State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons report, the lowest ranking, joining Thailand, The Gambia and Venezuela.

    In the report, Tier 1 countries are those who meet anti-trafficking standards. Tier 2 do not but are making a significant effort to do so. Tier 3 countries do not meet the standards and not making significant effort to do so.

    Tier 3 countries are open to sanction by the US government. A US law also includes a watch list, in which countries on Tier 2 for two years are downgraded to Tier 3 unless they receive presidential waivers, available for two additional years.

    Last week, Menendez had succeeded in inserting a provision that would bar his country from entering agreements with countries officially viewed as engaging in slavery, which includes Malaysia.

    The provision would also effectively prevent the early conclusion of the TPPA in which Malaysia is one of the negotiating nations.

    “Malaysia, where those shocking events were just revealed, is a Tier 3 country under our official ranking system. Malaysia is also in discussions with the United States and 10 other countries to be part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement now wrapping up negotiations.

    “The legislation just passed by the Senate, and on its way for a vote in the House, would prohibit fast-track congressional consideration of that trade deal if Malaysia is included with its current record,” said Menendez.

    The insertion of Menendez’s provision means the US House of Representatives must now either amend the bill or pass it and subsequently negotiate with the Senate. But either solution means further delays to the Obama administration winning the approval it needs to bulldoze the TPPA through, before the country gear’s up next year’s presidential election.

    Malaysia is also currently facing a crisis along with neighbours Thailand and Indonesia, after a massive human smuggling network was exposed along the Malaysian-Thai border.

    The TPPA is a free trade agreement that has been negotiated by the US, Malaysia and nine other nations as part of the larger Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership since 2010.