Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Tempo Semanal Edisaun 145

TL Spokesperson: ABC Report is Inaccurate

Tempo Semanal, Dili

In a press release on June 26, 2009 received by Tempo Semanal (27/07), a spokesperson of the IV Constitutional Government and the Secretary of State for the Council of Ministers, Agio Pereira, reacted to a story published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) titled Gusmão faces corruption claims. The ABC revealed several companies related to Government members' relatives had been awarded rice contracts last year. The story was circulated in print, television and radio, aired in Australia and throughout 46 countries throughout the Asia Pacific network. "While we welcome the interest of the ABC in reporting on Timor-Leste, we would ask for better due diligence in ensuring the facts are correct before misinformation is widely disseminated," said Agio Pereira.

Agio Pereira - Secretary of State for the Council of Ministers

He continues, "There are several inaccuracies in the reporting, especially when referencing the laws of the Constitution which seem to be the basis for the corruption allegations."

A lack of understanding among Timorese political leaders over the country's laws give other challenges to combat corruption collusion and nepotism. Mr. Bano claims East Timor PM Xanana Gusmao violated an article in East Timorese procurement law, while the Government defends that the law is not applicable to the head of Government and should use the "Holders of Sovereignty Bodies Law (07/2007)," which was enacted by Fretilin shortly before leaving office. "The law addresses guidelines for business interests amongst a range of other inclusions," the government spokesperson argued.

The Constitution of the Republic of Timor-Leste states that the Sovereign Bodies are the President of the Republic, the National Parliament, the Government and the judiciary. These entities, and the members thereof, are not considered "agents of the administration" or "public bodies" under the Timorese Constitution.

Agio Pereira commented that "Since the Fretilin Government was responsible for writing and enacting all the aforementioned laws, they would be well aware that no corruption has taken place, and should have been transparent with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation."

"During a time of the global food crisis, the IV Constitutional Government went to extensive lengths to ensure food security. Sixteen Timorese companies were fairly awarded contracts to import rice. The guidelines under the procurement laws were followed and contracts executed only after a lengthy interdepartmental evaluation committee assessed bids and negotiated terms. This was a joint effort across many ministries."

The Government spokesperson continued to say, "The corruption allegations are part of a continued campaign by the Fretilin Opposition to discredit the Xanana Gusmão Government, with the latest and boldest accusations appearing just one working day before Gusmão's Anti Corruption Commission is due to be approved by the plenary of the National Parliament."

Last week East Timor's Parliament started debate and voted to approve the Anti-Corruption law. "It will be the first Anti-Corruption initiative to be proposed or established by any Government," Mr. Pereira praised.

"The timing of this story as propagated by Fretilin was deliberate, we have been working on the Anti-Corruption Commission for almost two years now and this story will not derail our accomplishment or announcement on Monday. Mr. Pereira appealed to the Opposition parties to not only criticise the government, but to focus on the development of this young nation. "It would be more useful for Opposition to focus on the development of Timor-Leste rather than focusing on propagating misleading stories through the Australian media," he said.

"The Prime Minister, who has personally led the campaign to establish the Anti-Corruption Commission, reiterated the commitment and support of his Government to be open to any investigation pertaining to maladministration, collusion or corruption," he finished.


Pete said...

So is the ET Government saying all politicians are exempt from the corruption law or are the President and PM the only exempt politicians?

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Pereira. It seems that you didn't check with your boss, Mr. Xanana whether the defence was "No my daughter was not a shareholder anymore when the contract was awarded the multi million dollar rice contract", or "The procurement law does not apply to me" or "I have not read the Law on Constitutional Office bearers which actually says I am screwed in about three different sections based on what I did."
And you were right, it is appropriately named "RICEGATE". Now, have any of you guys seen the movie Nixon and Frost, or is it Frost and Nixon? Nixon resigned due to Ricegate.......I mean Watergate. We will await the outcome.

But it seems the brave Tempo Semanal staff have lost their courage when it comes to criticising Xanana. Maybe my suspicions it is a Xanana supporter is true?