Monday, 31 August 2009

Tempo Semanal Edisaun 154

Digicell Prepares to Break TT Monopoly
Dili Tempo Semanal

The following is an interview on 27/08/2009 with Frank O'Carroll, the Business Develo­pm­e­nt Director of Digicel's South Pacific operations.

Q: This time you started contributing today to East Timor's activities and celebrations and you have contributed to this, and how sig­nificant is this contribution?

A: Yeah, we've contributed to the first East Timor bicycle race, the Tour de Timor, and Digicell has committed to funding it to the tune of US$100,000, and then there's been additional costs which we've borne ourselves, in terms of our marketing materials, t-shirts and hats, and then there's been all the branding along the route. There's been a significant contribution by Digicell, but we're fully committed to the market in Timor Leste.

We think the initiative of having the race is fantastic for the country, not just for the people of Timor Leste but for people outside the country how it's been viewed by people outside the country also. It's amazing to talk to some of the cyclists we've met in the last few days, to hear their comments on how beautiful the countryside is, and they will all be ambassadors for Timor Leste when they to home to their home countries and tell people how beautiful the country is, how friendly the people have been, and I'm very, very confident that the Tour de Timor will become a huge event next year, and even bigger in the years ahead.

Q: It seems likely that Digicell is very committed in investing in this country's telecommunication market. Do you have any idea when it's going to start?

A: It is probably difficult to estimate when it will start. Digicell has been visiting Timor Leste for the past three years designing our network, working on our business plan, looking at the existing operator and looking at where the opportunity might be.

We've also spent a lot of time presenting to government ministers, senior figures in government and a number of business people. As you are aware, we've opened out initial office in Dili. We're employing at the moment 12 people from the Dili region who've helped design the network for us and to go through the initial phases of setting up our business.

In terms of when the licence will come, the government has be­en committed for the last 18 mo­nths in terms of looking at the wh­­ole process of libereralisation and we are aware that the draft telec­oms policy paper has been completed and this is being handled at se­nior levels within government. The whole process now is that the exclusive concession that was granted to Portugal Telecom or Timor Telekom a number of years ago, that needs to be looked at. The government needs to extract itself from that exclusive concession that was granted to Portugal Telecom, or Timor Telecom, a number of years ago, that needs to be looked at. The government needs to extract itself from that exclusive concession which is certainly damaging the country in terms of development, has damaged the country in terms of telecommunications infrastructure which is very poor and among some of the highest rates in the world and if we look at broadband and internet connectivity for people within their own homes, for small businesses and even for large businesses in the country has been very damaging.

So we hope to see the process in the next six months will have accelerated. We know that there is a huge determination in government to see the process of liberalisation implemented and to see the entry of a new competitor into the telecommunications market.

Digicell would obviously like to be a company selected for a new licence in Timor-Leste; however we know that the government are going to go through a very detailed and transparent process to select the best company who fits best for the country and who give the best proposals for Timor-Leste.

Q: As the President of the Republic has told the public here, after the meeting in Suai, he came out and criticised badly Timor Telekom and it seems as if he's advertising Digicell. It seems as if he wants to see by the end of next year the telecommunications market to be liberalised, and he's hoping that Digicell is committed to invest millions and millions of dollars. For the first year, to have about 80% of the population having access to a phone connection in this country. What would you say to that?

A: I suppose I'm very biased because I've worked with Digicell for a very long time since it started its operations in the Caribbean. I'm wholeheartedly a big believer in Digicell and I've seen firsthand what it has done for developing economies quite similar to Timor-Leste around the world: from our very first operation in Jamaica through to the English-speaking, French-speaking and Dutch-speaking Caribbean, more recently into Central America and then into South America. We came to the Pacific region in 2006, and to date we have existing networks that we own and operate in five markets: in Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga and Papua New Guinea. We're about to launch our sixth network in the Pacific region, which is in the Republic of Nauru. So Digicell I wholeheartedly believe is the best fit for a country the size of Timor-Leste in terms of its economic development and in terms of where its telecommunications market is. I know we've received enormous support from the Government and we're very thankful for that, and we've received even bigger support, overwhelming support, from the people of Timor-Leste who quite frankly have been robbed of an affordable and accessible telecommunications service since Timor Telekom were given their exclusive concession.

We've travelled through the region extensively through the past couple of weeks in preparation for the Tour de Timor, and we were inundated talking to people who constantly complain about the fact that they haven't had access to telecommunications – for people who have, how expensive it has been and how unreliable it has been. So we know that because of this feedback we've received from the time that we've been in Timor-Leste and we're constantly receiving this feedback from people right throughout the country. So as a result there is a big commitment to make sure a new entrant is introduced. People who will know Digicell—our philosophy, our culture, and how we've performed in other markets—will know that we're a very good fit for this economy. As I said, we've launched in markets that have had one operator—a monopoly—for years, we've driven prices down, we've increased the range and quality of services. As you mentioned, our commitment is to launch with 80% population coverage on day one, which has been unheard-of in the landscape here so far, and we will guarantee that we will make telecommunications affordable and accessible to the vast majority of people in Timor-Leste within the first two to three years of our operation.

But our commitment is to launch by building a state-of-the-art network to give 80% population coverage and grow it from there. So we're not just interested in cherry-picking the big population centres; we think it's a basic human right that every individual should have access to affordable telecommunications. When you look at our operations in Papua New Guinea, Digicell has been awarded a humanitarian award last November for making telecommunications services available and affordable to people of Papua New Guinea. We've seen how our investment in that country has transformed the economic development of that country, not just in Papua New Guinea, but in every other market in which we've operated as well. We currently operate in 31 markets with over 10 million subscribers; our shareholders have invested US$3.5 billion in Digicell around the world, and we employ in the region of 5000 people. So Digicell is a company that reaches many countries around the world and has a vast experience in its 10 years of experience, and we know we're a very good fit, and we're very confident that the Government know we're a very good fit for this marketplace.

Q: In terms of financial investment, how much are you going to invest here to make these phone connections available for the people?

A: Sure. Our plans at the moment are confidential in terms of the actual size of what the investment will be, for competitive reasons; however, if you imagine to build a network of that size, it would probably cost in the region of US$65 million to US$80 million. That will mean that we will be erecting our own towers, having a very significant staff and management team of Timorese nationals who will work with our company; making sure that they're trained not just for this market, but we will bring people from Timor after we've trained them to other Digicell markets where our company operates, and to make sure they receive world-class training. And we're very confident from our knowledge of our initial staff base that we've taken on board and from our dealings working with people in Timor, that they're loyal, that they're hard-working, that they're trustworthy, and we know that the Timorese people will make a good effort within the Digicell organisation.

Q: What is the reason that you want to invest in this country?

A: This is a good question. I suppose when we examine any market in which there may be an opportunity, we always look to see how many operators—in terms of telecommunications operators there are in the marketplace; their level of penetration in terms of how many people are using the telecommunications services; we would look at the price of the services and the quality of the services in terms of how up-to-date the technology is.

We examined Timor-Leste a number of years ago. Every box that was on our list was ticked as "this is a good opportunity for us". There was a monopoly provider who had no respect from its customer base: even people who were heavy spenders and heavy users of telecommunications services were hugely critical of the company in terms of its poor customer care and its poor range of services in terms of its pricing; when we spoke to the people who didn't have access to telecommunications services they were obviously critical because they weren't given access, and they wanted to have telecommunications.

So the reason we're investing in this country is we feel it's a great opportunity for Timor-Leste, not only to introduce a state-of-the-art and modern telecommunications network, but to totally change and transform people's lifestyles. One of the areas that we've been looking at recently is mobile banking, with the increase of Timorese people who've opened bank accounts and started saving. Not just older people who are in the employment network, but younger people also who've opened bank accounts. And we've talked to banks who are here, particularly ANZ bank, and they've been very successful in encouraging people to open bank accounts, encouraging people to save money, encouraging people to look towards the future. And then we look at this issue of mobile banking and as we've seen in other first-world countries—and we believe that Timor will absolutely leapfrog from where it is today to being one of the leaders in the world in this area—where people will be able to transact using their mobile phone. So for example, people will be able to walk into a shop to buy their bread, buy their milk, buy their water and whatever other goods they need, and not necessarily use cash, not use a credit card or debit card for that transaction, but be able to take currency from their mobile phone and immediately transfer it to the shop owner. This is the very latest

technology,in terms of some of the most developed countries in the world, but we're confident that this is something that the people of Timor-Leste will understand, and we know from some of the initial tests that we've done that people will want this level of technology in the country.

The other area that we look at is in terms of broadband [internet] connectivity, and we look at—unfortunately—so many schools don't have access to the internet and we believe that this is absolutely and utterly unforgivable, that any telecommunications operator worth anything in the world should be looking at education and the development of the economy from the young people forward, so we're determined to provide high-speed access to broadband into schools to make sure that people can learn not just in their local language, but also in a number of other languages.

I was hugely encouraged by the number of languages that people in Timor can speak, and it's incredible to see how quickly people can switch from one language to another. We know that in local languages books haven't been published in local languages for various reasons, and we're very confident that we can have this leapfrog again where we won't have to have hard-copy books printed but that people will be able to use the internet to educate their students. But as I said those are two areas that we're looking at, and both are huge opportunities for the country.

What's more encouraging is that both fit right into the objectives of the government, because the government, as you're aware, has some huge objectives for this country that are hugely ambitious, but we know that they're determined to change the lives of people in Timor-Leste, and we know by our investment working in parallel with the Government's objectives, that this is going to be good for everybody.

We're absolutely delighted to be part of the tenth year anniversary in such a small way but perhaps in an important way by the sponsorship of the first international Tour de Timor bicycle race. Very much it's Digicell's philosophy that we embrace the culture and everything about a culture that we invest in, and it's been an emotional week for everybody, and I know that our staff and people who've been involved with the Tour have worked tirelessly day and night to make sure that it's been an enormous success, to make sure that it's sent out a phenomenal signal to the rest of the world as to what Timor-Leste is all about and how ready it is to become such a leading country in the region. Digicell is absolutely privileged and totally delighted to be associated with the anniversary and we wish everybody in Timor-Leste every success in the future as well.

Q: In terms of the security stability of the country, regarding the violence and warnings that are at times present, it seems that Digicell have another view on this issue.

A: We have absolutely no fear about the security, the wellbeing in the country. We're absolutely confident that it is a very safe place. We know that people in Timor are passionate about the development of the country moving forward. We've never had any incident where any of our staff members have been in a situation that has made them worry. We operate in some other very difficult countries – Haiti, for example, which has had a huge history of serious security issues and more recently in Honduras which you've seen in terms of the coup; Papua New Guinea which in some of the isolated areas is quite a dangerous country at times; but Timor-Leste has been nothing but positive. As I said, perhaps sometimes people's views about the country from the outside—because of lack of information, because of perhaps ignorance of people from other countries—has had a bad image from time-to-time.

But initiatives like the Tour de Timor in terms of how that sends out such a positive signal about the country is fantastic; but in saying that, Digicell has absolutely no problem in relation to security in the country.(ts)

Alkatiri Attacks Again on Corruption

Dili, Tempo Semanal

Former East Timorese pm Marie Alkatiri has said this week that this country is the most corrupt in the world.

Dr Alkatiri's attack, on the eve of the country's August 30 tenth anniversary of independence, was multi-pronged.

Not only did it go to the heart of the current government of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, but it had implications too for a report released this week showing that only a tenth of the international donations received in the last 10 years had gone into the country's economy.

The government had people in power who pocketed money and there needed instead to be transparency, he said.

Dr Alkatiri's statement came in the wake of a report released this week by La'o Hamutuk ("Walk Together"), the independent non-government organisation that analyses data relating to the countr­y's reconstruction and devel­opment.In the period of 1999-2009, the report said that outside agencies spent US$5.2 million on programs for Timor-Leste, but only around $550 million of this­ went into the economy.

Most of the rest of the money – or 90 per cent – went towards international salaries, overseas administration and procurement, and imported supplies.

The period covered in the report included four separate governments – that of the presidencies of Serzio Viera de Melo (UN­TAET) in 1999-2000, Marie Alk­a­tiri's in 2002-2006 and the 20­06-2007 presidencies of Stanislau da Silva and Jose Ramos Horta.

Speaking from his Dili home, Dr Alkatiri said that East Timor had hung on to whatever means it could to the big outside powers, and that Fretilin needed to serve the country with a legal and phy­sical infrastructure.

Dr Alkatiri said that the way in which Gusmao's government ha­d spent almost US$2 billion betwe­en 2007 and 2009 was unclear but that the current President had ­a commitment to sustain the eco­nomy through its oil reserves­ and human resources wit­hin a ­system that needed to be put­ in place for the country's stabilisation.

The June 2009 quarterly repor­t of the banking and payments authority of Timor-Leste, the Petroleum Fund of Timor-Leste, has shown that the Fund's capital grew from $4,750.08 million to $4,901.52 million.

In a­n exclusive interview with Tempo ­Semanal, East Timor's Pres­iden­t Dr Jose Ramos-Horta said t­he country's economy was in growth mode, but there was much to do in the coming years to further consolidate peace in East Timor­, improve governance, and fight and prevent corruption.

"There are a lot of allegations about corruption; much of it, is, I think, well founded. There is a real problem of corruption, we cannot deny this, because corruption means we are diverting money away from the people for the benefit of a few individuals,'' Dr Ramos-Horta said.

''I hear story after story of corru­ption and there is evidence about it so I'm determined, together with the Prime Minister, to stamp out corruption in this country.

''People didn't fight and die for us, later to have a corrupt go­­vernment and a corrupt sys­t­em."In marking East Timor's te­nt­h anniversary of its 1999 acce­p­tance of autonomy by refe­re­n­du­m from Indonesia's abusive occupation, which started with an invasion in 1975, there is another grim statistic to count: the new independent nation has received an estimated US$3 billion in international assistance, with various United Nations (UN) missions working alongside the government since full independence was attained in 2002.

Dr Alkatiri said that there was a need to create a sense of security in the country's own institutions and to show the people that these can deliver, Dr Alkatiri said.

Money had to be spent, he said, by the United Nations on items such as helicopters.

One of the contraditions at present was that East Timor was too small a country to have many rice fields, and instead brought in rice from overseas.The government was spending much more money than previously, or $US369 million in the four years of 2002-2006.There had to be transparency for the money that had been spent, otherwise people from outside would point their finger at the government.There was still poverty in East Timor while the government, instead of keeping money in the bank, put it instead in a drawer, which he said was a disaster.Dr Alkatiri said that money needed to be spent now on education and health care.

Among the benefits of independence was being able to really plan national development. Better structure and economic soundness would give the country credibility, he said. The problem now was also to manage East Timorese resources as a way of continuing into a better future.(ts)

Exclusive Tempo Semanal Internet Edision Cezar Quintas on Timorese Politics

History Repeats Itself: East Timorese Contemporary Politics

By Cesar Dias Quintas (Lere-Malae),

The First Fulbright Scholar from East Timor 2007-2009, studying at Ohio University with a Major in Southeast Asian Studies and a Minor in Political Science.


I am writing from the perspective of an East Timorese to reflect the historical process by analyzing political development during the ten years of independence of Timor-Leste. By the end of August 2009, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste will take a moment to reflect on the historical process by visualizing the future of the country. I assume that some of my fellow countryman will criticize the content of this article but as an East Timorese, I believe that critical thinking and argument will develop and strengthen our civil society towards a democratic one. Some may consider the terminology of the democratic society old-fashioned but I would say that with the long history of civil conflict and colonial occupation, democracy may be the only concept that could carry East Timorese towards peace and prosperity.

As a country born in the era of globalization, Timor-Leste cannot to use historical errors to judge the process of its national development; in contrast, national development itself cannot be viewed only from the historical perspectives, either because of strong historical preferences, the current political environment is dominated by a romanticism of independence, which might lead people into a crisis of nationalism in the sense of losing state-ownership. This means that people might view independence merely as the era of claiming the rights which they had lost during 24 years of colonial occupation and expect independence to compensate their meritorious struggle. Apart from the crisis of nationalism, the lack of political will and commitment by the national leadership becomes another factor creating apathy in the East Timorese about the future of their country. Therefore, it will be incumbent upon the East Timorese to view their history and their independence in the context of a sovereign state by involving all national entities in the development process without a preferential treatment within contemporary East Timorese politics.

The shadows of the historical phenomenon remain in the contemporary politics of Timor-Leste. The majority of the national leaders and political parties along with the general population still embrace the historical resistance background. Moreover, the current political constellation of Timor-Leste is still dominated by the 1975 generation who had played major roles during the struggle for independence. Their presence contemporary politics indeed remains a crucial factor; the current political situation would be especially unavoidable. National and international political spotlights focus on these veteran resistance leaders. Nonetheless, among these political leaders there are huge political differences which frequently create a sharp political tension in the country. Some politicians tend to look to an East Timorese future beyond their historical experience; on the other hand, others attempt to use the historical resistance as basis of political ideologies to maintain their political existence.

If the East Timorese could reflect their history precisely, they would realize that history has repeated itself with a different timeframe and roughly with the same political actors. These circumstances can be seen in the unsuccessful Portuguese decolonization process in 1975 and the popular consultation under UN-auspices in 1999 along with the two years of UN transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). Within the era of independence, the political leaders of this new independent country in Asia seem unable to abandon a bitter historical heritage. However, just take a moment to reflect on the historical process to identify these same political errors from the decolonization process in 1975, and public consultation in 1999, leading up to political conflict in 2006.

The First Opportunity was Wasted

During the decolonization process in 1975, the Portuguese government through the Armed Forces Movement (Movimento Forcas Armadas or AFM) did not prepare East Timorese political leaders for transition to successful self-determination. The Portuguese were not strong by motivated to conduct a peaceful political transition. This could be seen in the decolonization process in which the Portuguese government did not involve the United Nations and internationalize the issues of East Timor. According to Jose Ramos Horta, "The problem with the Portuguese position was that it never considered internationalizing the problem, even when it was clear at the London meeting that Indonesia would stop at nothing to bring about the integration of East Timor."[1] Conversely, the Indonesian military regime used this opportunity to play its political card by inserting political tension into the bloody civil war. This became a political argument to justify and accelerate the Indonesian invasion after Fretilin unilaterally declared its independence on November 28, 1975.

The Indonesian military regime under President Suharto had already planned its illegal annexation before the Carnation Revolution in Portugal. Indonesian territorial ambition became one of the main causes shaping a conflict among East Timorese political parties. It would be argued that since the Indonesian military had successfully taken over West Papua and had an unsuccessful confrontation with Malaysia in the 1960s, the military regime might assume that Timor-Portuguese could just be absorbed into the Indonesian territorial archipelago. From this perspective, high Indonesian military officials convinced President Suharto to insert systematic military involvement into the process of decolonization. Consequently, Indonesian military intelligence successfully convinced all the political parties, except Fretilin of the value of the integration concept. This political maneuver allowed the Indonesian illegal invasion, supported by the United States and its allies. This caused about 200,000 deaths due to military brutality, starvation and disease and the killing of five Australian journalists by Indonesian soldiers.

The East Timorese political parties became a potential issue for the Indonesian military of interfering in the decolonization process of justifying the annexation. Conversely, East Timorese political elites did not exactly perceive the objectives of their political parties as parallel with the common interest of liberation from colonialism. Their political ideologies drove them into political disintegration and ignored the people's spirit of realizing an independent sovereign state. The leaders were alienated in the dichotomy of the political parties (independence and integration) without considering that the principle of independence was to be an independent state. They seemed politically might unaware that the Portuguese and Indonesians had their own political agenda concerning decolonization. If the Portuguese had the political will to decolonize East Timor, independence should have become the first option, followed by the formation of political parties rather than alienating the East Timorese into political fragments with an uncertain political future.

However, the Indonesian territorial ambition and inability of the Portuguese government to oversee decolonization are not the major focus of this article. The civil war in 1975 was a process which East Timorese politicians should internalize because there was also an inability of East Timorese political leaders to use the political opportunity offered by the Portuguese government. This was in the same timeframe as the political reformation in Indonesia and its economic deterioration. The Indonesian political reformation along with the economic crisis in 1998, which hit most Asian countries, was very similar to the Carnation Revolution in Portugal and the international oil crisis which affected most European countries, including Portugal, at the time. This was the same political climate that East Timor faced and which finally brought about independence in 1999. The failure of the East Timorese to gain their independence in 1975 was due, on one hand, because East Timorese politicians at the time did not critically respond to the concept of decolonization itself. If their principle was to liberate East Timorese from colonialism and foreign occupation, they should have rejected all political affiliation with Portugal or Indonesia. On the other hand, they were politically naive when the Portuguese government offered the decolonization concept. Therefore, they should have negotiated with the Portuguese government over a possible offer of independence transition, instead getting mired in unclear decolonization concepts of ambitious political parties. This was the same present when Indonesian President B. J. Habibi initially offered the concept of autonomy during the political reformation in which Jakarta finally came up with two the options of autonomy and independence after the East Timorese rejected the first offering.

The ambition to stabilize political parties became the dominant sentiment among Timorese political leaders without consideration of the common interest of gaining independence. They may have thought that the only route to claim independence was by political parties competing with one another to obtain power. They were carried away by ideas of decolonization without analyzing their limited human resources in dealing with the political option. The majority of young independence activists had never experienced a significant role within a political party. They had never been directly involved in political organization movements against the Portuguese government. East Timorese political elites might not have realized that they actually had been toppled into the Portuguese political decolonization. It could be argued that if they had rejected the concept of decolonization, the Portuguese government might have offered another option for the future of the country as Indonesian government did in 1999.

East Timor was intended to gain its independence along with several African countries at the end of Portuguese decolonization. East Timorese politicians did not use this political opportunity intelligently by not prioritizing political commitment to attain independence. Most parties did not reflect the national interest as a fundamental principle to proclaim an independent state which the Portuguese had offered as a final option for self-determination. Perhaps they did not have comprehensive political knowledge of global politics, especially the political blocs within the Southeast Asian region. They might have assumed that the end of Portuguese colonization was a politically uncomplicated way to gain independence without being concerned with regional blocks, especially the U.S. role in Southeast Asia. From the geographical standpoint, East Timor might have had a successful transition to an independent state if it had been supported by neighboring countries in the region. Compared to African countries such as Angola, Mozambique, Sao Tome Principle and Guinea Bissau, East Timor was very different in terms of political resistance as well as geographical location.

Timorese political elites might have considered the decolonization process as a sort of competition for political ideology to achieve party objectives. It seemed that political ideology undermined national unity seeking an independence state because the principle of nationalism had been fragmented into different political ideologies. It argues that the issue of nationalism during decolonization became an important element to engage young Timorese politicians in the process of self-determination. Indeed, the political option of self-determination offered by the Portuguese government was not a principle goal for the majority of East Timorese. The Portuguese government offered three options: Federation under Portuguese power, independence or integration with Indonesia. According to Dunn, "Although Portuguese policy on the future of the Timor colony was relatively unformed at the time, it was the Portuguese who spelt out the three options for the future in June 1974 – a continued association with metropolitan power, independence, or integration with Indonesia…."[2] East Timorese independence activists were unable to calmly discuss the options offered by the Portuguese government. It seemed that decolonization with the good of self-determination had turned to political fraction-determined "group interest" with no concern for political consensus on independence from the colonial system. The Portuguese had failed to unite the political fractions by offering the three options without providing a proper condition of transition toward self-determination. Instead of offering self-determination, Portuguese should have given independence as it did in colonies in Africa.

Most political elites assumed that East Timor would get its independence like other Portuguese colonies through peaceful negotiation with the Portuguese government. Nonetheless, Timorese political elites did not exploit the political option by shelving political differences to form a consensus for a peaceful transition. Jose Ramos Horta, an independence activist and Journalist states, "Unity of all nationalist forces was vital for our success."[3] Unfortunately, there was no national resistance movement to unify the political differences and lead them to independence. Furthermore, young Timorese politicians did not have enough knowledge and experience concerning the role of political parties in the context of a decolonization process. Although there was a coalition between Fretilin, Frente Revolucionária de Timor-Leste Independente and UDT, Associação Social-Democrata Timorense concerning the principle of an independent state, the leaders of these parties could not able to establish a political commitment because they had been alienated by sharp political ideologies.

Political leaders seemed to be focused on how to get support from the people and completely overlooked the right of the people to self-determination. It was rather difficult for politicians with different political principles to view the independent nation merely within the context of a political party. They should have had a notion of national unity to articulate the political concept of a sovereign state by avoiding ideological conflicts which directed them into a civil war. This was one factor preveting Timorese politician from getting political consensus for the independence. Moreover, the Timorese politicians were lack of political confidence to decisively claime independence from the Portuguese government before forming the political parties. Therefore, without political preparation and experience, political ideology became a major obstacle to a successful process of self-determination. The three political options themselves became a way for Indonesia to play its interest and occupy East Timor for 24 years.

The Failure of Reconciliation towards Political Consensus

In May, 1999, the UN requested an agreement between Indonesia and Portugal to conduct popular consultation to determine the political future of whether East Timor would become autonomous or independent. Security Council Resolution 1246 (1999) authorized the establishment of the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET). On October 30, 1999, UNAMET conducted a referendum in which 78.5% of the East Timorese voted for independence. The Indonesian armed forces supported by local militias launched massive violations of human rights, killings, massacres, torture, and rapes. Approximately 2,000 civilians were killed in the nine-month period from January to October of 1999. Furthermore, the violence destroyed almost 75% of the country's infrastructure and forced more than 250,000 people to flee to West Timor. This violence drew international condemnation of the brutality of the actions. Indonesian military forces which were obsessively responsible for peace and security violated the agreement signed in New York on May 5, 1999 by the UN, Portugal and Indonesia. Because of international pressure concerning the deteriorating situation in East Timor, the Indonesian government finally allowed the International Forces for East Timor (INTERFET) to restore peace and security in the territory.

On general, people used to blame external intervention as the main causes of the conflict in East Timor. Many international scholars and practitioners normally viewed the issue from an external viewpoint without looking at the major issues of how the East Timorese had actually dealt with their own problems. I argue that the East Timorese have probably repeated those same political errors from the beginning of Portuguese decolonization through to the era of independence. People ask what were the main causes of the conflict among East Timorese people? This question would be appropriate if East Timorese from the villages and rural areas addressed it to their political elites. From the perspective of East Timorese contemporary politics, political elites are the most likely become the key elements shaping the political history and having power of determining the destiny of this nation. Therefore, it is not first the UN, Portuguese and Indonesians but the East Timorese themselves who should take a moment to internalize their history and not repeat it again because they are ones who become the victims of political interests.

The East Timorese political elites ignored the important lesson of 1975 when they dealt with the referendum in 1999. In this context, East Timor political elites, whether pro-independence or pro-autonomy, had not yet formed into a consensus of avoiding political violence, meaning that the pro-independence leaders as the initiators of reconciliation were not strong enough to convince the autonomy leaders to public consultation peacefully. The Indonesian military generals who became the architects of the autonomy concept were actually behind the pro-autonomy leaders. Therefore, the first step should see that the East Timorese pro-Indonesian was at least isolated from the Indonesian military influence. This means that the pro-independence leaders should reject agreement with the Indonesian military responsible for security of the referendum. By the presence of the Indonesian military, on one hand, the pro-autonomy leaders were intimidated from using their political freedom. On the other hand, the situation built their confidence because the military directly armed and financed their activities. There should have been pro-autonomy leaders who did not already sympathize with the brutality of the Indonesian military.

However, pro-independence leaders made a significant move in maintaining the values of the reconciliation. It was not simple for them to convince the pro-autonomy leaders because most of them were puppets of the Indonesian military. East Timorese elites had again fallen into the politics of public consultation in which the people of East Timor were alienated into the ideology of independence and autonomy. The two groups had different concepts of interpreting their nationalism to achieve their political objectives. Public consultation itself constituted a format for proving and determining the rights of the East Timorese people. Unfortunately, neither side seriously looked at this process as a way of reconciling ideas to minimize political violence, especially from the pro-autonomy leaders. As result, the East Timorese had to suffer from the political ideologies over a period of nine months. Conversely, the UN mission could not prevent the lack of indiscipline and violence of campaign by the pro-Jakarta militia which lead up to the brutality, intimidation and killings.

History in the Context of Contemporary Politics

After the mission of the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) ended in 2000, it created a new chapter for East Timorese political parties. In many ways, the CNRT was politically able to unify all political parties which had been fragmented after1975. There is no denying that Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao (Xanana) played a major role in the history of East Timorese politics during the 24 years of Indonesian occupation. In other words, he made a significant contribution to the process of leading East Timor to the gate of independence. His resignation from Fretilin in 1986 indicated that the East Timorese had come to a conclusion in which political parties could not represent their independence. However, that Xanana was the product of Fretilin and gained most of his political skills from this historical party also could not be denied. To some extents, Fretilin might assume that Xanana had betrayed his political commitment to this party and this sentiment seems to haunt the current political climate.

During the first period of independence, people's attention turned back to Fretilin as the only party that had struggled for independence. People still did not yet have confidence in the emergence of the new political parties on the old parties from 1975. Soma seemed to think that Fretilin was not much different from the CNRT, with a principle of fighting for the independence. In fact, in the first national parliamentary election of 2001 Fretilin gained 69.18 % of the votes, which made this party the first constitutional government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. However, there were still political differences inside the Fretelin, especially between two elites who were considered conservative leaders from Maputo, Mozambique, and others with new ideas of reformation. Fretilin had a similar experience when five students came from Portugal in 1975, bringing radical ideas into the party. Ramos Horta, at the time a party elite in charge of external affairs, stated that "the radical wing of FRETILIN had gained some influence and my own position was becoming more and more difficult." [4] However, Fretilin was indeed, the largest party supported by the people from the grassroots level from 1975 up till the era of independence. Fretilin was overconfident about the 2001 election results in which it gained 55 of 88 seats Parliament. This was a similar phenomenon of 1975 when Fretilin gained majority support from people across the country. However, this party too self-satisfied by its achievement to cooperate with other parties which led to political catastrophe.

Apart from the internal party issues of Fretilin, the failure of its first constitutional government to maintain law and order forced the CNRT to reemerge with the attributes of a political party in an era of independence. The Fretilin leadership should acknowledge that the civil unrest in April 2006 was their political error of mismanaging government policies. Several examples which came to public attention were the Fretilin government influencing the dismissal of 599 members of FDTL and the Minister of Interior, Regerio Lobato (Rogerio) armed as a civilian to eliminate functional opponents. It could be argued that the party's influential leaders, Rogue Rorigues and Rogerio, directly deal with the most important state institutions, namely the national police (PNTL) and the army (FDTL). Indeed, these institutions became the main source of the national crisis. On the other hand, President Xanana statement concerning the regional issues (East and West) fueled the crisis into two regional blocks. His political intention was probably an attempt to prevent the political influence of Fretilin over FDTL, but it actually increased antagonism between the two blocks, each of which started inside the FDTL. The veteran resistance leaders seemed not yet to be able to use their experience of building strong commitments to develop their country by compromising with one another. In addition, the reappearance of strong political ideologies was likely undermining nationalism in the context of national development. Most political parties contextualize their visions, based in their political principles, often ignoring the people's interest.

The Role of Political Leaders

Most political leaders continue to embrace their political ideologies rather than adopt principles of improving the democratic and economic systems. The last ten years of independence have shown that politicians have not seriously moved to develop a country based on a common interest. This can be noticed when the state institutions dealt with the initial crisis in 2006. It could be argued that this mentality is an inheritance from the 1975 political ideologies which were still fresh in the minds of the old political generation (generation 1975). When the crisis erupted in 2006 and led up to assassination attempts against President Jose Ramos Horta in February 2008, the political leaders seemed to not look at their country from the common perspective of building it. The state institutions became a source of political conflict because state leaders were showing any their political maturity in the sense of maintaining national integrity. This can be seen from the 2006 crisis which Xanana could actually have prevented the by using his presidential power and charisma to mediate the problem but it was ignored by the Mari Alkateri government. Xanana, himself, could have been able to prevent the conflict if he had used his constitutional power to maintain the sovereignty of the state institutions. The implication of these political attitudes has influence within the current East Timorese political system.

Political leaders have not exactly seen themselves as representatives of the people when elected to state administrations. The politicians too often act on behalf of their political parties and ignore the interest of the people. This is reflected in the political characters from the era of 1975. Many members of the parliament (MP) sometimes cannot distinguish between being MPs or party members; and, therefore, frequently voiced party interests rather than national interests. Many national political leaders still embraced the attitude of a resistance movement, which is already irrelevant in an era of independence. Furthermore, these party hacks are not seriously engage in the process of debate or approving legislation could have a positive impact on national development. It could be the parliament of a new country will not operate perfectly but each MP should think that his or her performance will have a significant impact on building a foundation for new generations.

In addition to the foregoing, the state leaders are not seriously strengthening democracy to establish a strong judicial system. This has preoccupied many people, especially young East Timorese intellectuals. The current political elites mostly come from a resistance background in which they used political decision to deal with all issues. Suddenly, when it comes to an era of independence, they seem to find difficulty in totally changing their political character to suit a country with the rule of law. Consequently, they often overlook the judicial system by using political decisions in dealing with many legal issues which were supposed to be outside political interferences. For example, Roserio Lobato, former Interior Minister was sentenced to approximately seven years in prison for illegal arms distribution but just a few months later, President Ramos Horta used his constitutional power to give Lobato amnesty. The president's decision made many people doubt the independence of the judicial system in Timor-Leste. Interestingly, the people to whom Roserio gave arms remain in jail and they were responsible for his illegal weapon distribution by their actions against the national army. This exemplifies how leaders have not encouraged the country incorporate the values of justice into the state institutions, especially the discipline og developing a good governing system based on the rule of law and maintaining the independency of the state organs.

The role of the Catholic Church

During the 24 years of Indonesian military occupation, the Catholic Church in many ways stayed firmly with the people of East Timor to defend their right of self-determination. Whatever the political consequences, the East Timorese Church with its outspoken, leadership has extraordinarily contributed to the liberation of the East Timor people. With the anti-violence movement against the Indonesian regime, the Catholic Church generated a valuable prize of services for the people of East Timor to free their country from foreign aggression. Moreover, the basic principles of peace and justice constituted powerful elements of the Catholic Church to deal with the uncertainty of the political situation. That situation and the crises of human rights became major factors in engaging the Church in the liberation process. Although, the Church should try to stay neutral in any political situation, this actually would not work for the East Timorese Church in such a political environment. Culture differences, injustices and human rights violations were the main causes of Church involvement in the political issues against the Indonesian government.

The 1996 Nobel Peace Prize for Bishop Belo exemplified that this prestigious international award acknowledged the resistance of the East Timorese Church in defending peace and justice. Another Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the East Timorese independence resistance leader, Jose Ramos Horta, indicating that nationalism and Catholicism had interacted closely in promoting a true peace solution in East Timor. Interestingly, the East Timorese only recognized three fronts of resistance movements: a military wing, clandestine operations and a diplomatic front; but I would argue that the Catholic Church actually constituted a fourth front. It would have been an even greater challenge to gain freedom without the Catholic Church's efforts supporting the right of self-determination for the East Timorese.

The role of the Catholic Church remains crucial in the independence era of East Timor. The main issues for the Church should be poverty, human rights violations, corruption, illiteracy and so forth. However, the Church seems uncertain how precisely to play its role in the process of nation building, especially to bring about social change, instead of engaging solely in issues of spirituality. From the current general perspective, the Church is well-structured throughout the country in comparison to any other organizations. With adequate facilities and as the largest religion in the country, the Catholic Church becomes an important element, notably in the areas of education, morality, and justice and community services development. People might be unsure about the role of the Catholic Church in the current era of national development. During the last five years of the independence, the Church has not criticized the issues of injustice, especially the political failures of national leaders which had victimized many innocent people. The Church has been focused on moral and spiritual issues more than unjust practices by state institution policies. The Church certainly will not interfere in the political area as is clearly stated in the national constitution the separation of religion from political activities.

The UN Missions

Timor-Leste has hosted six United Nation (UN) missions: UNAMET, InterFET, UNTAET, UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET), UN Office in East Timor (UNOTIL) and the UN Integrated in East Timor (UNMIT). The UN mission in East Timor did differ very much from previous missions in Cambodia and Kosovo. The only difference was that East Timor was taken by the UN as a territory without administrative power. The UN mission in East Timor was to build a new sovereign state, preparing the East Timorese to have an independent state. However, the transitional administration did not establish strong state institutions such as a judicial system, police institutions or a national army. The UN administration should have had a few more than years to fully engage in the peace-building process. Consequently, several national conflicts erupted after the UN's administrative power ended. The UN did not fully integrate its state building mission into crucial sectors for a sovereign state. Although the UN trained East Timorese through an East Timor Public Administration (ETPA) in which East Timorese public civil servants directly interacted with their counterparts on the international staff, they were not provided with enough skills and confidence to take over their full responsibility.

Furthermore, during the UN transitional administration, people were in a desperate economic condition. The devastation of the country's infrastructure profoundly affected local economic sectors, notably the agriculture system, which was the main livelihood for East Timorese. This started with the crisis of 1999 when a majority of the people abandoned their fields, though people depended on international assistance since the establishment of the UNTAET. This created new social issues, when the UN did not respond with immediate action to reactivate basic East Timorese economic activities. As a result, people were not encouraged to return to their villages and remained in the capital city relying on international aid, creating high unemployment. On the other hand, the UN should that considered the East Timorese had been under two colonial systems, Portuguese and Indonesian, in which economic and political systems were totally controlled. People were not allowed to independently manage their economy and this became a new obstacle for an independent state. Therefore, prior to its departure the UN administration should have provided an economic foundation on which the local agriculture production, at least, could have been self-sustaining.

In addition, in responding to the human rights violations in 1999, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights established an International Commission of Inquiry (ICI). This commission concluded that there had been extensive violence and grave human right violations after the referendum on August 30, 1999. The ICI testified that the violations of human rights in East Timor were crimes against humanity. However, the UN-sponsored tribunals in Jakarta and East Timor failed to bring to justice those suspected of committed atrocities, especially the top Indonesian generals who directly supervised the military forces. The international community and the victims are still questioning the process of the UN-sponsored tribunals and the outcomes which become important lessons for the future justices in both countries, Timor-Leste and Indonesia.

However, East Timorese political elites themselves did not take advantage of the two years of the United Nations mission. They should have been learned of the ineffectiveness of UN missions in other countries by pushing the UN to prepare public civil servants, a national police and military institutions. Moreover, they should also have been involved in the process of transitional administration of the UN to experience policy and decision making within a sovereign state. When the UN established a National Council during the peace-building process, the East Timorese elites were not effectively involved in the process. East Timorese national leaders could not properly utilize the opportunity with the UN and other international organizations. Timor-Leste would have had much better preparation if national leaders had learned more from the UN mission and other international organizations whether UN agencies or international non-governmental organizations. As a result, they, East Timorese were unable to maintain the integrity of state institutions, which led to the political crisis of 2006. Therefore, East Timorese could learn an important lesson from the historical period by avoiding the same political errors.


The East Timorese should internalize their political history with a common objective. With the current political situation, the veteran resistance leaders are regarded as a foundation for the new generation. If they are unable to create common ground in the sense of good will to build the country collectively, the new generation of East Timorese will imitate what has been done in the past. Historical leaders and political parties constitute an important asset of East Timorese national development and people should be proud of their extraordinary contribution during the resistance. However, the historical values will bring positive impact only if the veteran resistance leaders utilize them for the sake of people's interest without preferential historical ideologies.

The political leaders should consider themselves to be agents of national development and create an environment in which people can live in peace and tranquility. This means that the political leaders have a major responsibility to maintain national stability by prioritizing the interests of the East Timorese people. If the leaders of political parties favor their party ideologies above national interests, it will erode nationalism, so people regard themselves as not part of the nation building project. People will be apathetic about the future of their country because the leaders themselves have no political commitment to the importance of independence to develop the country.

[1] Horta, J. R. (1987). Funu: the unfinished saga of East Timor. Trenton, NJ: The Red Sea Press, Inc.

[2] Dunn, J. (1983). Timor people betrayed. N.S.W.: The Jacaranda Press.

[3] Horta, J. R. (1987). Funu: The unfinished saga of East Timor. Trenton, NJ: The Red Sea Press, Inc.

[4] Horta, J. R. (1987). Funu: the unfinished saga of East Timor. Trenton, NJ: The Red Sea Press, Inc.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

The Rice Contract Case Far From Finished

Internet Exclusive to celebrate 10th Anniversary of Timor Referendum
The Rice Contract Case Far From Finished

East Timor will soon mark the 10th anniversary of UN 1999 Referendum of rejection of autonomy with Indonesia's abusive occupation, which started with an invasion in 1975. In an exclusive interview with Tempo Semanal the President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste Dr. Jose Ramos Horta said that Timor-Leste's economy is growing, the level of violence is very low, no political violence of any kinds, and people show more tolerance so he think on August 30th Timorese celebrate its 10th anniversary with happiness because the 2006 violence has gone, people has reconcile and wounds are healing. But Mr. Horta asked the donor countries not to blame him because he has not seen a penny from this 3 billion US Dollar spent on Timor-Leste, and demands that donor countries review itheir policies on how they spend their money. Spend to be spent on Timor, should be spent in Timor. President Horta warns Timorese leaders that there a lot to do in the years ahead to further consolidate the peace in East Timor, improve governance, fight and prevent corruption.

"There is a lot of allegation about corruption. Many of it I think is well founded. There is a real problem of corruption. We can not deny this. Because corruption means we are diverting money away from the people for the benefit of few individual. I heard story after story of corruption. And there is evidence about it. So I determined together with the Prime Minister to stamp out corruption in this country. People didn't fight and died for us later to have a corrupt government and a corrupt system."

on 2 June 2009 President DR. Jose Ramos Horta has sent a letter to East Timor ombudsman requesting an investigation into the allegations of Government rice contract to 17 companies allegedly related to some leading government officials.

In his letter he stated that he has received various complaints in regards to the rice imports, distribution and resale. "Transmit to your excellence of my preoccupation in regard to this issue," Horta wrote on his request letter dated 02/07/2009.

He stated that to import rice is a central instrument of the state's politics so the government spent tens millions of dollars to import rice. "But general opinion is that the supply rice contract is closed (not public Tender) without thorough adequate process and involves collusion and cases of corruptions.

In an Interview with Tempo Semanal last week Ramos Horta has not received yet any response from Ombudsman office. "I have not received any feed back from ombudsmen in regard to my request. I understand this process can take long time. Investigation are investigation if it serious. It can take days, weeks even months," Horta explain.

Even the process of investigation into the case takes almost two months now, "but I a wait of the work of the ombudsman. If it turn out there is enough evidence of criminal evidence for the case to be brought before the court that would be a decision made by the Prosecutor General."

The Ombudsmen has confirmed to the journalist on 20/08/09 that he has received the President request to investigate the millions government rice contract issue. Mr. Sebastiâo Dias Ximenes the head of ombudsmen after the 34th anniversary ceremony of East Timor Defence force in front of the Government Building has confirmed the authenticity of President Request to his office to investigate the rice contract allegations.

"Yeah I did. I did receive it. And right now we established our team for conduct investigation for the case," said Mr. Ximenes.

He explains that he has received a letter from the East Timor President on 2nd June 2009 but he reject to go into detail because of the secrecy of ombudsman office. "Yeah I did. I received a letter from President."

When asked about the President order he said, "Yeah. Yeah the letter requested Proverdor to start the investigation regarding for rice contract and as I mention that we already start or investigation Process.

The Provedor office promised to talk to investigate every party involved in the project. "We are trying to investigate all companies involved in this contract."

According to the letter from minister for tourism, commerce and Industry to Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao number 393/GAB/2008 dated 02 October 2008 Minister Tourism, Commerce and Industry point third stated, "Priorities Timorese businessman and the list of justification."

The letter also informed the East Timor Prime Minister that list of companies has been
approved. "A list that presented by MTCI been approved, which include 16 companies."

The 16 national companies imported rice in same amount 7,250 tones for each and totally 116,000 tones of rice and each importers government awarded rice contracts with total sum US$ 3,5 million. In June 2008 business registration in Ministry Tourism, Commerce and Zenilda E. B. Gusmao, the daughter of East Timor PM has 11.10% share holder in Prima Food Lda. But
recently this paper found another document shows that the daughter of PM has sold her share in Prima Food Company before the contract signed. One of the Fretilin MP told this paper he question the authenticity of this document but the former Head of Commerce Department in the MTCI MR. E. Faculto confirmed the document is true. Fretilin deputy President Arsenio Bano in mid July accused the share holders in these companies most of them related to the government ministers including PM's daughter and he demanded Xanana's resignation.

In a press release on June 26, 2009 which received by Tempo Semanal (27/07), the spokesperson of the IV constitutional Government and the secretary of state for the council of Ministers, Agio Pereira reacted to a story run by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) titled 'Gusmão faces corruption claims.' The ABC revealed several companies related to the government relatives been awarded rice contracts last year. The story was circulated in print, television and radio, aired in Australia and throughout approximately 46 countries throughout their Asian 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.

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."

In the same press release Mr Pereira stated that, "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 claim that, "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."

On Early July this year, Aniceto Guterres the head of Fretilin bench read the Fretilin statement said, "Prima food company been awarded a government rice contract with its total value of US$ 3.5 million, and the PM's daughter Zenilda Gusmao is involved in this company with total share of 11.10% as it is showing on 2008 Timor Leste business registration lists."

Mr. Gutteres accused East Timor Hero and Prime Minister is violating the procurement laws. "Xanana Gusmao has violated the procurement law and for many occasion in regard to the government rice contract. The finance Minister also did the same and the protecting each other and trying to hid things from us. They never want to come here to answer the demands from parliamentarians related to the rice contract," he said.

Maria Paisao second deputy speaker from PSD(Social Democratic Party) party defending Xanana's daughter. "Before signed the contract with Prima Food Zenilda has resigned from this woman associations. She left two months before the prima food contract in place," Maria Paisao replies.

She continued defend the Minister for Development and Economy wife and said, "We don't want the opposition just come here to produce the allegations in public without any proof. If she (Katheelin) violated any rule or any law let's set up a parliamentarian inquiry. You should demand a parliamentarian inquiry which now we have a way to do so and parliament also can set up an inquiry to find out whether Miss Kathelin got it because her husband as minister of Economy gave her this contract?

In Mid July Mr. Gusmao responded to the Allegation. "They (The Business people) requested to my daughter to put US$ 10,000.00 in the banks. In her company for each shareholder has to invest US$10,000.00. For each of them have to submitted US$10,000.00. I just want to ask them to understand a little bit more that If my daughter using her social statues as in the bracket, coming to lobby me on behalf other companies to supply (rice) then she get some percentage this means I do committed the fault. This is different case and for this action I will raise my hands up (surrender). But she enters in a company and they told her to invest US$10,000.00 and she did put in US$10,000.00. If it was happened as she go n over, "I lobby in favour of your winning, I lobby for you to get the contract then give me some percentage. Yes, this is a different case," Said Xanana in a press conference in Dili Airport. He continues explain the process of the rice contract. "The Government want all business people to participate and I don't want to use a single own shareholder Company. If you all (Bus iness people) agreed that means for each company minimum a joint venture by five people. All business gathers your self then we will decide. Now we have the economy stabilisation funds for those who can imported first (rice) with how many (tons) and take how many months, who bringing in as it is and (Rice Quantity) arrived in what months? And who else can import these amount (rice) take till what months? There were 17 companies not only the once belongs to my daughter. From the 17 companies, each company involved many many people," Explain Xanana.

Ex PM of Timor-Leste versus the Current PM


Ten years ago East Timorese leaders had their common enemy and they have a clear target to fight for - independent country. But today they are accusing each other and have battles for the power. In 2001 there was a constituent assembly election which was won by Fretilin and gave Mari Alkatiri the mandate to run the first independent Timor Leste Government but Alkatiri was resign due to 2006 crisis. Today Alkatiri firing ammunition regarding corruption allegations to attack the current Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao and his government.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Tour de Timor


This Exclusive Video Of Tour de Timor from 26 August 2009

To celebrate East Timor 10th anniversary East Timor President initiated a mount bike race. It was start from Dili on August 24th covered district of Manatutu, Baucau, Viqueque, Same, Maubesi (Ainaro), Aileu, Ermera and Dili during 4 days. On the 29/08/09 around mid day two Australian races enter finish line in front of President office in Dili. The participant of this Tour de Timor event more the 350 from various countries most of them from Australia but including some Indonesian. The Timorese people line up in the road side to watch the bike race have not seen the TNI for some ten years.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Dili Ten Years After 1999


East Timorese vendors selling their fruit in a country experiencing stability. Less than a few days from now the Timorese people celebrate the 10th anniversary of their vote against Autonomy with the Brutal Indonesia Military rule. In August 30th 1999 under the gun point Timorese people vote for Independence and the Timorese have paid expensive cost for today.

"I didn't worry for my life that morning of August 30th 1999. I was only thinking of not losing to Indonesia,"said a midle age woman who does not want to be on camera and asked not to put release her identity.

Since 2002 this lady and her family have been selling vegetable and fruits in this area. The Government has established a fruit market for the local people opposite to Turismo Hotel in Dili. These local people have been selling their vegetables and fruits in this place since 2002 and the authorities have forcibly removed them from this place on several occasions. But now they are settled and have been helped by the Government. "I have been selling here for almost a decade and sometimes in the past government people came and removed us and destroyed some of our goods," She explained. These vendors are selling fruit like banana, aple, papaya and so on.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

FALINTIL DAY 20 August 2009 / Loron FALINTIL dia 20 Agusto 2009


Development of East Timor Defense Force (FALINTIL-FDTL) slowly but continuously.
The East Timor Defence force celebrates its 34 anniversary this year on 20 August 2009.

It is comprised of FALINTIL guerrillas and new recruits. It was transformed from guerrila force to a regular defence force on 1 February 2001 by the United Nations (UNTAET), after a study by the King's College London.

FALINTIL was established on 20 August 1975 as the armed wing of FRETILIN to fight a civil war against the UDT party. It then resisted the Indonesian army ABRI during 24 years in the bush.

Friday, 21 August 2009

German Peadophile Timor-Leste

Tempo Semanal TV

The German 80 years oldman was arrested last month in Dili by the UNPOL and Timorese national Police officers after alleged peadafhile 8 Timorese young boys. He has been put into police custody for an investigation and then now staying a hotel in Dili. Just a weak ago Tempo Semanal found the suspect with a stick and wearing white T-Shirt walking into the Audian Hotel which located in Audian. In this video you will see he was brought back to Tourismu Hotel by UNPOL and East Timorese Police for further investigation.

USAid-AusAid Spends Taxpayers’ Money In Vain To ICFJ, Shout Journalists

USAid-AusAid Spends Taxpayers' Money In Vain To ICFJ, Shout Journalists

Dili, Tempo Semanal Edisaun 152 17 August 2009

Timor-Leste and [other] post-conflict nations are in a good place because of international agencies and their friends who use taxpayers' money as donors to the people of these nations. As President of the Republic Dr Jose Ramos Horta told in an exclusive interview with Tempo Semanal on 13/08 in his office, "The majority of money that opens these programs is specifically managed through the institutions which the donors themselves choose. With this one I hope the donors will be honest to do an evaluation of their strategy," lamented Horta.

"This hasn't happened just to Timor-Leste, but also in Papua New Guinea, and the same in Afghanistan, Haiti, nations in Asia or Africa because fifty years ago they paid money from their taxpayers," appealed Timor-Leste's head diplomat.

During his visit to the kangaroo nation, the President of this young nation subtlely criticised its donors as follows in this news excerpt from ABC and The Australian on 28/07/09: "In the area that they [donors] spend much of their money, they claim that their spending in training is in the area of capacity-building. True, we greatly need this and definitely have a positive use for this, but if all of this money is used according to the way of increasing Timor's children's capacities, all the Timorese people should have found the title of PhD by now. At present we are all the same as Einstein," he jibed.

In the middle of 2006, an American came to sit, joust with, and capture part of the media in Timor-Leste through asking support from the ICFJ to win a project tender from USAID with the objective to force Timor-Leste's independent media and give the power of increased intelligence to Timor's children. "At the time STL recommended the ICFJ to win this project, but we also made it clear that the ICFJ must work with all the heads of this nation's media to be able to identify the problems and necessities of each media outlet, but when they won the tender, ICFJ worked according to their views alone," declared Domingos Saldanha, the Vice Director of STL newspaper.

At the time, the ICFJ gave US$1.8 million within two years. Maybe if they'd used this money today, the children of Timor-Leste's journalists would have already assumed specialist roles in their areas and the media institutions will not ask further from the government to buy copies of their newspapers to distribute to the villages.

The ICFJ's Director in Dili told that their project has found great success, though they themselves recognise that the ICFJ doesn't succeed in working with all of the media. "We work together with many media outlets, although not with all," he feigned. Mr Rice told this newspaper that their program has found great success. "We have already given training to many journalists from newspapers and radios."

This boss of the ICFJ said their [his] organisation has given small funding to media outlets.

But Domingos Saldanha, who is also the President of TLPC hopes ICFJ may extensively support newspaper distribution to villages in Timor-Leste, but he has already waited and waited two years, and lives as if one of his dreams are broken. "We also asked them to distribute the newspaper to villages, but until now, they've not yet done it."

Although [despite] the young Fourth Government of Timor-Leste has already contributed to the development of its media and facilitated the distribution of information from newspapers (STL, DN, and TS) to over four hundred villages within Timor. Because of this, the President of the Timor-Leste Press Club said ICFJ has come not to help the media to distribute information, but just to spend Australian and American taxpayers' money. "I think the Australian and American taxpayers' money which helps the media in Timor-Leste through USAID and AusAID and their partner ICFJ spends funds but doesn't give benefits to the media and people of Timor-Leste."

According to information which this newspaper has found, the ICFJ told the following, "from the five years' funding of US$5.6 million, 79.88% was spent in Timor-Leste. The remaining 20.12% was spent in our building in Washington through managing the project within Timor."

This shows that the money paid from American taxpayers' has been partly broken off in Washington, to a total of US$1,120,000.00 and the rest which came to Timor-Leste also was used to buy airplane tickets, perdiems, car rental, large salaries and house or hotel rental and air-conditioning for their international staff. Indeed, the journalists and media of Timor-Leste initiated a project for international people, and the result has been that American and Australian taxpayers' money has been spent to keep the journalists and media of Timor-Leste lacking, according to international people's reports to Canberra and Washington.

"I demand that USAid and AusAid stop their project to ICFJ because it spends taxpayers' money but never gives support to the media's work. And more, they steal journalists from media already in Timor-Leste to work with them for the purpose of giving negative impact to the media in this nation."

"Because ICFJ doesn't have a system of work which is good for the journalists' capaicities, the local media outlets in Timor-Leste demand indeed that international agencies such as AUSAID, USAID and UNDP stop at once support to the ICFJ because they don't have the will to develop Timor's media."

In the same place, Domingos empathises and gives full support to the community radio networks which now are victims of ICFJ. "Our part faithfully agrees with the declaration of our friends in the radio community who say they intend to resign and not work together with ICFJ because the ICFJ's system of work doesn't give benefits to Timor's media, but they use the Timorese media like a project to look for money and take back to their land."

Beginning in the month of November 2006, the ICFJ established itself in Dili. STL and other media outlets rejected co-operation with this international institution. ICFJ always campaigned to use community radio as a good toy [(spinning) top] to throw against the media which don't co-operate with their program. But beginning in a day last August, the honey moon was over from a venom which didn't just make ICFJ weak, but also inhibited AusAID and USAID's capacities because of declarations from Community Coffee Radio (Ermera), Voice of Tatamailau Community Radio (Ainaru), Voice of Matebian Community Radio (Baukau), Manatutu Community Radio and also Rakambia Community Radio (Dili). The five community radio stations declared, "together [we] protest and reject to co-operate together with ICFJ when the ICFJ doesn't show goodwill and professionalism to the journalists' capacities."

Radio Rakambia's manager, Eurico Pereira lamented that ICFJ has already failed its mission. "I see the ICFJ has failed because they bring unprofessional people and don't have the capacity to come and give training to journalists because many journalists' associations in Timor-Leste now reject working together with their program."

He elaborates that, "Radio Rakambia has also declared that ICFJ doesn't have goodwill to help journalists' capacities [and] ICFJ violates established agreements and because they've had the money since back when they signed the contract with us five." He explained that, "In May 2008 Radio Rakambia attempted to co-operate with the ICFJ to establish an accord to send Radio Rakambia journalists to training at ICFJ. In line with this accord between these two groups, after training finished those journalists would return to conduct their work at Radio Rakambia. Because of this, Radio Rakambia sent five journalists to training at ICFJ, but after they up-skilled they became members of the ICFJ without giving recognition to Radio Rakambia."

This isn't the last time this situation has happened, but in the past it's also occurred to a journalist and editorial chief at Tempo Semanal, whose cost was passed on by Tempo Semanal not publishing part of their editions in 2007. "Because of this, I may decidethat in the future we will reject ICFJ's support," Eurico confidently stated. With this occurrence, he demands that donors such as USAID and AusAID conduct an evaluation of the ICFJ's work.

Although the majority of media organisations and journalists lament the ICFJ's work and have delivered their concerns to the donors but the people with the money pretend and dramatise the situation before they can hear from the keepers of media in Timor-Leste—such as the head of AusAID—to sing a voiceless song in vainly defending the ICFJ's money, as they said in response to this newspaper's questions. "Australia feels happy with the results of ICFJ's work for this period. Although some journalists haven't accessed this program, journalists who participate give positive accounts about the ICFJ's programs. As with Timor's children, Australia greatly supports media freedom and independence. They also want us to continue our collaboration with USAID to continue supporting this program," said Ali Gillies of the Australian Development Assistance Program in Timor-Leste.

But Nelio Isac, TVTL's editorial chief tested AusAID's honesty in saying, "If ICFJ says they've increased journalists' abilities, then show us their results and show us the journalists who they've assisted". Nelio informed donors that, "The things that ICFJ does is to recruit those who aren't journalists, but they find people from another place to train and then send a report to their donors, stating they've given training to Timor-Leste's journalists".

"I think that community radio stations have the right to reject and not want to work with the ICFJ because we all know that the ICFJ's yet to do anything to Timor's media," he said.

The TLPC's Vice-President said the organisation's position is that, "In recent memory the Press Club hasn't wanted to co-operate with the ICFJ because the Press Club has the principle that it doesn't want to begin a project for other people, but if the ICFJ has money and wants to develop the media, they should co-ordinate with media organisations to give training to their members who work in the print media, radio, and television according to each media outlet's necessities – not according to the ICFJ's desires."

The TLPC's President, Domingos Saldanha, agreed with the community radio stations' declaration in saying that, "The ICFJ's system of work isn't professional because it is based upon their perception that ICFJ doesn't have the will to develop the East Timorese media, but they only want to use the local media to make a project with their program."

Baucau Community Radio declared Voice of Matebian Radio totally rejects the mechanism which the ICFJ uses to control Baucau Community Radio; one can see the ICFJ's intervention through the Regional Media House, which [they want to] assume the position of a Community Radio Board, and doesn't recognise the actual board and management team of Baucau Community Radio. Baucau Community Radio also recited, "The ICFJ's intervened to rehabilitate the RCM's studio through the Regional Media House; they don't co-ordinate and have never given recognition to Baucau Community Radio to become an independent and self-structured media outlet." He also appealed to USAID and AusAID to investigate the case. "[I] ask the international organisations which support the ICFJ's program to conduct an evaluation of their program, particularly with the program to develop journalists' capacities." According to the Director of Baucau Community Radio, he also doesn't understand about the Media House's use: "Who is responsible for this Media House and who will use it in the future, because the reality is that building these Houses in the districts will decrease the journalists' participation in their associations."

Other representatives from Coffee Community Radio in Ermera declared, "ICFJ discrimination because their internet installation system in the Coffee Community Radio office isn't the same as the installation in the Regional Media Houses; and regarding expenditure on radio that they wrote in the memorandum of understanding, until now Coffee Community Radio has not been able to know the amount or subjects of their expenditures." Consequently, Coffee Community Radio will not agree to any intervention from external groups. "Coffee Community Radio doesn't want to co-operate with the ICFJ. Coffee Community Radio also will not offer their support towards the ICFJ, and also do not want to have other people bringing their name to sell at random to donors for other peoples' purposes," he declared.

Timor-Leste Media Development Centre member Zelia Fernandes said ICFJ doesn't have the goodwill to develop local media. True, they should have a capacity-building role with journalists, but the reality we see shows a different face because the formation they've given to local media doesn't benefit journalists. "As we all know, they're now building Regional Media Houses in all districts, but they themselves don't know that if their contract finishes, then how will they finish the program," In addition to this, Zelia also called attention to, "Associations which are involved in Regional Media Houses are like veils behind which ICFJ intends to realise their objectives." Coffee Community Radio states that, "In the near future Regional Media Houses build the ICFJ's ability to oppress Coffee Community Radio."

In this way, Manatutu Community Radio's manager, Laurentino S. Freitas said via telephone that the ICFJ's work system "doesn't have a work system that is transparent."

"We will ask the for ICFJ to repair their work mechanism and, if not, community radios will not collaborate with them, including Manatutu Community Radio."

ICFJ aways changes the programs it's already planned according to their desires. Rita Barros of Ainaro Community Radio said the ICFJ said they would place a Regional Media House and radio station in Maubisse, but just suddenly they changed back to Gleno (Ermera district) and didn't clarify; because of this, Ainario Community Radio delivered a petition to ask the ICFJ's clarification."

On Monday August 17, the UNDP again attempted to use some media organisations and East Timorese journalists to establish a Timor-Leste media institution project, but TLPC and some media outlets rejected the attempt.