On 16 November 2015, IDEAS through its project, the Southeast Asia Network for Development (SEANET) organised the launch of International Property Rights Index 2015. Details as follows
Date: 16 November 2015
Venue: Vanda 2, Parkroyal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur,
Time: 9.30 am – 12.30 pm
Theme : The TPPA, economic growth, and protection of intellectual property rights
The event was attended by 45 individuals from IP related sectors (pharmaceuticals, legal firms etc), academics, NGOs and the media.
Speakers for the event include
- Lorenzo Montanari, Executive Director of Property Rights Alliance
- Professor Sary Levy-Carciente, Professor of Economics at Universidad Central de Venezuela
- Ganesh Muren, Founder, Saora Industries
- Mr Burhan Irwan Cheong, Lead Negotiator for the IP Chapter, Ministry for Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism
- Bienvenido Oplas Jr, Senior Fellow, Southeast Asia Network for Development
Mr Wan Saiful Wan Jan, the Chief Executive Officer of IDEAS Malaysia kick-started the event with his welcoming speech and this was followed by speeches from the speakers; namely Mr Lorenzo Montanari, the Executive Director of Property Rights Alliance, Professor Sary Levy-Carciente as the author of the 2015 IPRI, Mr Ganesh Muren, founder of Saora Industries, Mr Burhan, the Lead Negotiator for the IP Chapter in TPPA and Mr Bienvenido Oplas Jr, the Senior Fellow of Southeast Asia Network for Development.
Speeches and Presentations
In his short yet succinct speech, Mr Lorenzo presented a clear introduction of the 2015 IPRI and Property Rights Alliance. He talked about how the index has grown to cover more countries ever since its first release in 2007. He went to stress that countries that possess good, structured institutions to protect IPR have proven to enjoy great economic growth along the years. He also made sure to introduce the Property Rights Alliance, the body responsible behind the publication of the Intellectual Property Rights Index. Founded in 2005, it is a non-partisan advocacy organisation for the protection of IPR.
Next, Professor Sary Levy-Carciente, Professor of Economics at Universidad Central de Venezuela, presented the 2015 IPRI results on general and explained about Malaysia’s latest performance. Dr Sary likened IPR to be as important as human rights as good IPR protection will guarantee the value of liberty and prosperous economic growth. She went on to explain the methodology behind the index and how the index captures the strength of IPR in the surveyed countries. Touching on the performance of Malaysia, she applauded the achievement of Malaysia as it is grouped in the third cluster (comprising of the top performing economies in IPR protection). Malaysia is ranked 28th among the surveyed 129 countries, with an average score of 6.6 out of a total 10. As her presentation was concluded, the 2015 IPRI was launched officially.
Following the insightful presentation of Dr Sary, the event continued with the presentation from Mr Ganesh Muren, founder of Saora Industries on his unique invention of water filtration. A rather new company as it was only officially launched in 2014, Saora Industries has strived to bring affordable water filtration solution to the vulnerable communities in the interior. Mr Ganesh, in the beginning of his speech, noted that in every 20 second, a child dies due to the lack of clean, potable drinking water. His company works to solve such problems and many more, but for that, the company needs to be amply protected so that production will increase, yet on affordable cost of production. His achievement exemplified the crucial need for IPR protection in helping him to market his invention and at the same time, preempt any possible imitation that may destroy his business venture.
Later, Mr Burhan Irwan Cheong, the Lead Negotiator for the IP Chapter, Ministry for Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism presented about the Intellectual Property (IP) chapter within the TPPA text. He started by explaining the IP chapter documents how IPs are protected and regulated in Malaysia. He added that Malaysia has already has a good IP protection regime, the provisions in the chapter enables improvements to be done to Malaysia’s current practice in IPR. He also carefully addressed the concerns by the general masses that drug prices might increase substantially in future if the trade pact is ratified. Rumours have also been going around indicating that generic drugs production will be restricted once TPPA comes into force. Mr Burhan clarified that while the IPR protections are meant for the producers (or innovators), the Malaysian government has made sure that prices of drugs will not increase due to the improved IPR protection.
Mr Bienvenido Oplas Jr, following the presentation by Mr Burhan, gave his comments on whether Malaysians should be concerned about the IP chapter or will it actually be good for Malaysia’s economic growth. His commentary revolved around the lingering question of whether Malaysia should ratify TPPA, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) or both. He elaborated that each of the trade deals promises better economic growth not only to Malaysia, but also to other signatories. In fact, he noted that ratifying both trade deals will enable more growth. Mr Bienvenido also stressed that joining the TPPA will not reduce access to cheaper generic drugs.
Question and Answer Session
After the end of his commentary, a question and answer session followed.Mr Lorenzo, Professor Sary and Mr Burhan were then invited to engage with the audience and to give answers for questions raised by them. Mr Wan Saiful chaired the whole session. Many questions and comments were thrown from the floor, creating a very interactive session. Among the questions posed are “will patent rights on drugs be extended?” and “can industrial disputes be brought to the “investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS)” tribunal?”. Mr Burhan, who has involved in the negotiations of the IP chapter, remarked that patent rights can be extend if there is delay from the domestic IP office or delay from the regulatory body. However, he quickly noted that, by looking at the previous records of Malaysia’s approval of IPR, worries on possible delays can be alleviated as in 2014, approvals have been given merely within one year. On the question regarding ISDS, Mr Burhan clarified that although tobacco products are exempted from ISDS, any cases on other types of products brought by foreign investors on the government, may be brought to an international tribunal.