FTA KILLS! STOP NEGOTIATIONS WITH USA NOW!
by Gabungan Rakyat Menentang FTA America-Malaysia
January 12th, 2007
11th January 2007, Petaling Jaya — It was an uncommon sight at the Bangunan Rawatan Utama, Universiti Malaya Medical Centre this morning, when 30-over Anti US-Malaysia FTA coalition members suddenly gathered holding banners and placards at the outpatient unit lobby.
With protesters wearing t-shirts bearing ‘HIV Positive, FTA Kills’, a brief demonstration and press conference were held to voice out the negative implications of Free Trade Agreement on the people living with HIV/AIDS in Malaysia. The protest today led by the Positive Malaysian Treatment Access and Advocacy Group ( MTTAAG+), saw participation by Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (Jerit), Parti Sosialis Malaysia, student movement DEMA, Food Not Bombs, Third World Network (TWN), Parti Keadilan Malaysia, Gabungan Anak Muda dan Pelajar and SUARAM. The hospital security who initially disapproved the gathering later calmed down and cooperated when they realised the event was for a just cause.
As the Malaysian government is on its 4th round of negotiations with the US in San Francisco this week, the groups and people living with AIDS /HIV are very concerned that life saving medicines needed will become unaffordable if the US-Malaysia FTA Agreement is signed . Based on the previous US-FTA proposals done in Thailand , US will usually force for more medicines to be patented and the patents have to continue for more than the current 20 years .When a medicine is patented it means there is a monopoly and so no other manufacturers can make that medicine. That means the owner of the medicine ,the American capitalist pharmaceutical giants can charge as much as they want as there would not be any competition in the market. “This is how subtly the US capitalist control trade and economy in developing countries” said Dr.Mohd Nasir Hashim, chairperson of Parti Sosialis Malaysia.
Thus, access to life saving drugs will be severely affected because of their exorbitant prices set by the patent holders. For example, when generic competition began for the anti-retroviral ARV used to treat AIDS , prices fell from US$11,000 per patient per year to US$150 per patient per year. No generic drugs means there will be more deaths among people living with HIV.
In Malaysia, as at June 2006 there are already 73,427 reported cases of HIV infection and 10,959 AIDS cases. Between 1986 and June 2006, we have already lost 8,334 lives. In the statement read out by Edward Low of MTAAG+, he stressed that the government must immediately stop all negotiations and have consultative discussion with concerned organizations regarding the impact of the US-FTA to the rakyat. This FTA is not about promoting trade between US and Malaysia, it is about controlling trade. It will cause the price of medicines to rocket and the Governments hands will be tied if the Agreement is signed.