A group of “zombies” attracted the attention of passers-by outside a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur where they gathered today to protest against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) that Putrajaya is keen to sign.
Malaysian AIDS Council policy manager Fifa Rahman said the protest was to raise awareness about the TPPA, which they feared would increase the price of medicines.
She said the TPPA favoured Western pharmaceutical companies and would substantially increase the price of medicines, thereby restricting the access of HIV positive and AIDS sufferers to medication.
The protesters consisted of students, members of the Malaysian AIDS Council, as well as HIV-positive patients.
Among the group was Edward Low, a person living with HIV and director of the Positive Malaysian Treatment Access and Advocacy Group, who said: “I will become a walking zombie if the TPPA is signed. I will not be able to afford the drugs that I take on a monthly basis and I do not know what will happen if I can’t afford the medication.”
Low said his wife was also HIV positive, but their two children were HIV-negative because of the drugs they had been taking.
He said he spent between RM500 and RM600 a month on his medication, but if the TPPA was signed, the cost would increase sixfold.
Under the TPPA, patent laws would be loosened, allowing pharmaceutical companies to hold exclusive patents for a longer time.
Last year, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad objected to the TPPA, saying: “If Malaysia signs up for the TPPA, it will be akin to colonising the country again as we will not be able to decide our own affairs without interference.” – February 21, 2014.