Five weeks ago, I noted that the in the version of fast-track authority on the Trans-Pacific Partnership which the Senate passed, there was a provision that would bar bar any country engaging in human trafficking, that is, the slave trade, from getting the benefits of the trade deal.
Human Rights Watch said it was "incomprehensible" that anyone would oppose that amendment, but someone did: the Obama administration.
Why? Because one of the 12 countries involved in the still-secret negotiations over the TPP is Malaysia - which our own State Department considers to be among the worst offenders, home to some of the worse abuses, in slavery. The White House said that blocking Malaysia from the deal could bring the whole thing down, so Obama wanted the provision out.
As I said at the time,
that means the O gang is so intent on scoring this deal for the transnational corporations and trade banks that would be the primary beneficiaries of it that it is fully prepared, to even in effect argue for, allowing Malaysia to continue active involvement in the international slave trade.It appeared to me to be moral bankruptcy in its purest form.
You see, the version of fast-track authority that ultimately passed Congress watered down the provision about human trafficking somewhat, but it was still there, still saying that any nation listed by the State Department as "Tier 3," that is, as in the worst category of slavery-involved nations, could not get trade benefits. Malaysia is in Tier 3.
But according to multiple sources, the State Department's new report on human trafficking, due out this week, will upgrade Malaysia to Tier 2.
Malaysia was just dropped to Tier 3 last year because of, among other things, an extensive sex slave industry, widespread forced labor in the country's electronics and palm oil industries, and official corruption involving profiting from human trafficking.
Human rights advocates had expected it to remain at Tier 3, given how it's dragging its feet on convictions in human-trafficking cases and the continued, pervasive, forced labor - in other words, because little had changed.
Indeed, as recently as April, the US ambassador to Malaysia called on the country to take prosecution of human traffickers more seriously. And in May, just as the Amazing Mr. O was cranking up his efforts to get fast-track through the Senate, Malaysian police announced the discovery of 139 graves in jungle camps used by suspected smugglers and traffickers near the border with Burma.
Despite all that, the State Department is expected to move Malysia up to Tier 2, which means - Guess what! Hooray hooray, Malaysia can be part of the TPP and the deal remains on track!
As Phil Ochs used to say, "Thank God for coincidence!"
Representatives of human rights groups and at least some in Congress. say that, in the words of Human Right Watch, moving Malaysia to Tier 2 would be "a decision as so extraordinarily unwarranted that political interference can be presumed."
The depth of moral corruption to which this administration will sink in order to do the bidding of the banks is almost incomprehensible. It is an utter, utter, outrage.
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