Thousands of Malaysians protested against plans to join the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Saturday, just days before parliament is due to open a debate on the free trade pact.

Many of the demonstrators congregated in central Kuala Lumpur were from the opposition Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), which fears that the South East Asian country could lose control of its economy if it enters the 12-nation pact with the United States.

Prime Minister Najib Razak's government has argued that Malaysia, which relies on exports of commodities, minerals and electronics, cannot afford to stay out of a trade zone whose participants account for 40 percent of the global economy.