Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal Is Reached

Source: The New York Times

ATLANTA — The United States, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim nations on Monday reached final agreement on the largest regional trade accord in history, teeing up what could be the toughest fight President Obama will face in his final year in office: securing approval from Congress.

The conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, after years of negotiations and a series of sleepless nights here, was merely “an important first step,” conceded Michael B. Froman, the United States trade representative, as he and other weary officials announced their accord.

Now the deal faces months of scrutiny in Congress, where some bipartisan opposition was immediate. That debate will unfurl against the backdrop of a presidential campaign in which populist anti-trade talk against the deal already is prominent.

Still, for Mr. Obama the accord could be a legacy-making achievement, drawing together countries representing two-fifths of the global economy, from Canada and Chile to Japan and Australia, into a web of common rules governing trans-Pacific commerce. It is the capstone both of his economic agenda to expand exports and of his foreign policy “rebalance” toward closer relations with fast-growing eastern Asia, after years of American preoccupation with the Middle East and North Africa. Read more

HAKAM seeking candidates for its National Response to Natural Disasters (NR2D) Project

HAKAM – the National Human Rights Society is seeking suitable candidates for a role in program development / management for HAKAM’s National Response to Natural Disasters (NR2D) Project. Brief details on the NR2D project can be found at http://hakam.org.my/wp/index.php/what/special-projects-for-20142016/national-response-to-natural-disasters-a-working-framework-2/

Candidates should preferably have a background in some aspect of relief work, working knowledge of Malaysian environmental issues, with concrete experience in/adding value to program development, in particular writing grant funding proposals. Familiarity with UNDP (or other similar bodies) funding mechanism would be advantageous. Read more

After 2014 massive floods, Kelantan villagers build rafts fearing repeat

Source: The Malaysian Insider

Kampung Limau Kasturi residents, Alias Mohamad and his wife Cik Som Cik Ali, sitting outside their makeshift home, keeping their hopes up for a brighter future with a new home. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, October 5, 2015.

After losing their homes in massive floods that inundated the largely rural northeastern state of Kelantan last December, villagers in Kampung Limau Kasturi in Gua Musang are not taking any chances, building rafts to ride out the heavy rains that the northeast monsoon is expected to bring at the end of the year.

They have begun collecting plastic drums, wood and other materials to be made into rafts that they could use if they were hit by massive floods again this year.

“We have started collecting these items to build rafts,” said villager Fatimah Mat, gesturing at the blue drums neatly stacked in the corner of the compound.

Last year’s floods, the worst the peninsula has seen, displaced more than 100,000 people in Kelantan at its height. Some 1,821 families in Kelantan had their homes washed away during the floods. Read more

Landmark victory for Orang Asli after customary land dispute win

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Bah Kana says the community is relieved the land now belongs to them. — Picture by Farhan Najib

BIDOR, Oct 5 — The Orang Asli of Kampung Orang Asli Kuala Senta can finally heave a sigh of relief after the Ipoh High Court  ruled a vast parcel of forested land belonged to them.

After more than five years of feud with a private company and land authorities over their tanah adat, or customary land, the High Court’s landmark decision last Wednesday was a vital victory for the community.

The court ruled parts of the forested land alienated to Bionest Corp Sdn Bhd be returned to the 575 members of the Semai tribe, also known as Seng’oi.

Kampung Orang Asli Kuala Senta village chief, Bah Kana Bah Ngah, 50, said villagers hunted, farmed and gathered forest produce on the customary land.

“Our lives depend on the land. It is where we get our food, medicine and the materials we use to built our home,” he said.

“We were worried we would lose the land. It is a relief we can now say it legally belongs to us.” Read more

For some Muslims, life in Malaysia is like living under a microscope

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Muslims offer prayers during Aidilfitri at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur on August 19, 2012. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 5 — Several Muslims say Islamic laws should not be used to regulate their personal lives in areas like sex, what they eat, or even what they read, after a publisher failed to challenge at the Federal Court a Shariah enactment used to seize a book on Islam.

Communications manager Ahmad Ariff Azmi, 27, who is currently living in Australia, noted that Muslims in Malaysia suffer from restrictions, such as identifying with alternative schools of thought as religious authorities only allow the practice of the Shafi’i school.

“I don’t think faith needs a regulatory authority,” Ahmad Ariff told Malay Mail Online, when asked if Shariah laws should not regulate areas like praying, drinking, dressing or having sex. Read more

TPPA did not ignore Malaysia’s concerns, says Mustapa

Source: The Malaysian Insider

The recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations agreed to take into consideration almost all of Malaysia’s concerns and sensitivities, such as government procurement, state-owned enterprises and Bumiputera issues.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the flexibility accorded to Malaysia included longer transition periods and differential treatment for the country’s sensitive areas.

“Let me reiterate that whether or not Malaysia becomes a party to the TPPA will be a collective decision.

“Once the complete and official text of the agreement is prepared, it will be in the public domain and presented to Parliament for debate.

“We will also hold full consultations with interested parties and the public,” he said in a statement in Kuala Lumpur today. Read more