By: Julio Tomas Pinto
Secretary of State for Defence
Once again, UNMIT and its agencies’ attitude (UNDP UNCDF, UNEST and DGSU) have brought the Timorese to question United Nation’s mission in Timor-Leste. Through their actions we can also ask is UNMIT’s mission to develop or destroy? However before we can further discuss this we first need to clarify their mandate, UNMIT’s mandate in Timor-Leste, clearly is to support the state of Timor-Leste. Support means to provide technical assistance to the state in some of the areas which have been defined. For example to PNTL, UNMIT has provided support in five areas: operations, training, human resources as well as administration. In the defense sector they are providing only technical assistance, such as assessment assesoria as well as establishing a temporary building for the National Defense Institute. However if we properly analyse UNMIT’s attitude as well as their actions in Timor-Leste, we can see that sometimes their actions and words are not one and the same.
In 2009, I wrote an article entitled, (Reforming the Security Sector: Facing Challenges, Achieving Progress in Timor-Leste) to bring to UNMIT’s attention that their actions and words were not one and the same. You cannot say one thing up front and then behind the scenes do another creating a bad image for the state of Timor-Leste and appearing as though you know everything. The article “Reforming the Security Sector: Facing Challenges, Achieving Progress in Timor-Leste (2009)” was published in all the newspapers in Timor-Leste, and was met with a strong reaction from UNMIT. Sometimes we need an intervention to awaken UNMIT from their slumber, otherwise they will be running like blind cows. Mr. Ian Martin also reacted to this article. At a recent meeting in Timor-Leste between me and the SED team, Timor-Leste’s good friend Mr. Ian Martin in 2009 also gave his reaction to this article. In this article I said Timor-Leste knows democracy, knows human rights as well as the dignity of its people. That is why there cannot be a person, or an organisation as well as another nation to force the teachings or guide the implementation of human rights and democracy onto the people of Timor-Leste. The people together with Timor-Leste’s leadership know what Timor-Leste needs to do, and it’s not what other people want to have done in this beloved country. That is why we need to hold firm to the principle “to do what we (Timor Leste) need to do, rather than what others want”, so as to prevent the manipulative doctrine, which others have brought and tried to force Timor-Leste to implement. The implementation of human rights and democracy which is internationally enforced throughout the international community has to come from the people and Timor-Leste’s leaderships’ conscience according to the constitution and reinforced by the law.
The last case is the information which the newspaper Tempo Semanal published regarding UNMIT’s attack on the Head of Government (15/5/2011). On the 24th of January 2011, a member of UNMIT made a PowerPoint presentation with the topic FOR SUSTAINABLE DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE IN TIMOR-LESTE. Contibutions to this presentation came from UN agenicies such as UNDP, UNCDF, UNEST & DGSU, because this document said “This presentation was based on contribution from UNDP, UNCDF, UNEST & DGSU”. This means that all the information in this presentation came from the UN agencies in Timor-Leste and based on their perception good or bad about the governance of Timor-Leste. The presentation said that “the executive, especially Prime Minister is seeking more and more power at the expense of parliament and the judiciary. By the end of 2012 this may have diminished the effective roles of the other two pillars and significantly reduced the accountability of the executive and rule of law, with the rule of Prime Minister.“ This statement means the executive especially the Prime Minister is looking to grab greater power from the Parliment and the Tribunal. (Tribunál de Contas reveals big political attacks). Prior to 2012 the results of this process is the effective responsibility of these two sovereign bodies (this refers to the Parliment and and tibunal) with the executive responsibility , the state’s democratic right will diminish, and “rule of law” will diminish, but the rule of the Prime Minister will be greater...” If we were to summarise this statement a little it means that UN and its agencies think that the Prime Minister is becoming a great obsticle for the development of democray in Timor-Leste.
UNMIT’s statement from the retreat shows that they wanted to incorrectly interpret the Prime Minister’s position regarding the democratisation process in Timor-Leste. They incorrectly interpreted in two funds which we previously mentioned, Human Capital Fund which comes under the Prime Minister and Infrastructure Fund which also comes under the Prime Minister. I do not want to explain why the two funds, to the public - even less to the UN because they always see themselves as beter than the Timorese, especialy about democratisation, reform in the security sector as well as justice.
Reactions to UNMIT’s statement came from many quarters, including the Opposition, President of the Republic as well as the Pirme Minister himself. The first UNMIT presentation was like a good “vitamin” for the opposition party. That is why Fretilin’s frontbench, through Anicetio Guterres, was happy to put out a political declaration to absolutely justify and support UNMIT’s opinion.
This is clear because, as an opposition party, Fretilin received great support from UNMIT’s statement. Second, reaction from the President of the Republic Dr Ramos Horta. Dr Ramos Horta angrily said that this is a dumb person’s report and added that “I think this was probably done by a dumb person”. We see who was responsible for the oil for food program in Iraq , 100% corruption, $60 billion of corruption. So it is better for the great dumbies not to talk too much” (www.temposemanal.timor.blogspot.com). Third, reaction came from the Prime Minister himself when he said “UNMIT does not know me”. There were many aspects that the Prime Minister mentioned in his speech to the UNTL academic seminar on 17th of May 2011 at the Dili Convention Centre. However, I would add to the two topics which the Prime Minister mentioned in his speech which is very important. One of the topics is regarding the IDPs problem in 2008 and the other is about the joint Commando Operations between F-FDTL and PNTL to solve the rebel situation in 2008. We will begin with the the problem of IDPs. The question as how to solve the problem of IDPs I humbly would like to tell you a little story regarding this topic. In 2008 after the attempted assassination of the President Ramos Horta and the Prime Minster Xanana Gusmao, Parliamentary President Fernando Lasama de Araujo called a high level meeting at the Palacio das Cinzas in Kaikoli. In this meeting there were many agendas to be discussed including questions regarding a solution for the IDPs. How will the IDPs return to their homes, as well as how many years it will take to solve this problem? A Deputy SRSG (I will not mention names) quickly said that the UN has experience solving problems of IDPs in many countries, especially in Africa. That is why the Deputy SRSG added that it will take 10-15 years to be able to close down the IDP camps. Members of the government that participated in this meeting were surprised because the Government’s intention was this; maybe the problem of IDPs and the Petitioners case needed to be solved much quicker so we could focus on the nation’s development.
After listening to the UN’s opinion, the Prime Minister said what he was thinking: that the people of Timor-Leste that are now IDPs are not the same as the people of Africa. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao also said, “I know the people’s suffering, a people who suffered during the long war, that is why the government will need 2-3 years to solve the problem of IDPs, there is no need to take 10-15 years”. “This was said and done”, within 2 years. The case of 150,000 IDPs was quickly solved. Timor- Leste’s own experience realy showed that with hard work between all the state bodies, especially the State Secretariat for Natural Disasters with the Ministry for Social Solidarity, the IDPs case was solved within 2-3 years. “ If the leader of the state and government listened to UN’s thinking , like we needed 10-15 years to solve the the IDP’s case , then even today the IDPs would still be staying underneath the tarpaulins in front of Hotel Timor, Obrigadu Baracks, Metinaro and Hera and many more places.” However we (all state bodies) together can solve the problem of IDPs”.
The Prime Minister’s speech also mentioned about the Joint Commando Operation between FALINTIL-FDTL and PNTL in 2008. This operation was decided by the Council of Ministers, then the President of the Republic was consulted and the Supreme interinu commander Fernando Lasama de Araujo declared martial law. The Council of Ministers nominated Brigadier General (now Major General) Tau Matan Ruak for the responsibility to establish the Joint Commando Operation and Commander Alfonso de Jesus (now Adjuntu Komisariu PNTL) as the Commandant and Vise Commandant of the Joint Operation. The reasons to establish the Joint Operation are; first, our hopes in the international institution, the International Stabilising Force (ISF) from Australia and New Zealand did not produce results. The whole night the Prime Minister, the Minister for Defence and Security, as well as SED, SES, Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak and Commandant Afonso de Jesus met with ISF Commandant to conduct an operation to solve the problem of the rebels. However after the ISF conducted their two day operation, ISF inform that they encountered difficulties as they did not know these people. Second, it was not the UNPOL’s competence, as well as UNPOL’s lack of capacity to solve this problem. They did not come to face such great risks in a situation as difficult as this. It is because of these two reasons that the state decided to establish the Joint Operation. The results from the Joint Operation showed the whole world that once again the Timorese can solve their problems on their own. A Joint Operation in Timor-Leste’s own way. (Timorese way) can foster stability for this beloved country. A Major from New Zealand that worked in the Joint Commando Operation, wrote a report that said the Joint Operation was successful because there was first a positive integration between F-FDTL and PNTL, and it showed that they can work together. Second, the Operation had knowledge about the rebels and found support from the population base.
Third: the implementation of a psychological military tactic that was not intended to kill the target. It is because of this Joint Operation, that Timor-Leste found success in solving the case of the Petitioners in 2008. However, at that time, we were met with great challenges from Timorese themselves who did not believe in our two forces, as well as from UNMIT. UNMIT said that Timor-Leste was mixing the role of the Armed Forces with that of the Police Force, they accused the government of starting to militarise the police. However they had forgotten that during the Joint Operation these two forces found a good opportunity to work together and develop confidence in each other after the 2006 crisis.
If we analyse well, we can see that Timor-Leste has a long experience with violence. After the Restoration of Independence, every two years Timor-Leste entered into a difficult situation. On 4th December 2002, violence appeared in Dili. People burnt the Hello Mister shop, burnt other shops in Kolmera as well as Marie Alkatiri’s house in Pantai Kelpa. In 2004 violence appeared in Lospalos between some members of FALINTIL-FDTL and PNTL. The previous government together with the President of the Republic Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao established a team to conduct an investigation. In 2006 a political and military crisis appeared that brought a great problem to this new country. The problem of IDPs and the Petitioners had yet to be solved and then the problem of the attempted assassination of the Head of State Dr. Ramos Horta and Head of the Government Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao. However this government led by Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao broke the chain of biannual conflict in 2010. Even if we encountered many problems and very difficult situations during the time of independence, we showed to the whole world that we ourselves can find solutions to solve our problems. The UN may have a lot of experience regarding conflict in other countries, like Africa, however they can not apply their experience in Timor-Leste because they do not know the Timor-Leste people.
The reaction from the President of the Republic we can say that even though at times our words are harsh, it seems that UN are really dumb. Finally, UNMIT continues to think, as well as tries to teach many things to the Timorese. I can provide an example to this effect. On 6 May 2011 some members of the government such as Vice-Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres, together with State Secretary of Defence, State Secretary of Security, Vice Minister of Finance, and Vice Minister for Economy and Development met with UNMIT staff including Amira Haq’s Chief of Staff Toby Lanze, Murry McCullough (Security sector Reform Unit UNMIT) and the UNPOL commissary Luis Carilho and other staff to discuss the “Transition Plan”. In a presentation regarding Good Governance, an UNMIT staff member spoke strongly asking the Timor-Leste Government to quickly establish institutions to oversee the areas of Good Governance as well as Democracy. Reponding one by one as a diplomat and Vice-Prime Minister, Dr Jose Luis Guterres, extended his appreciation to UNMIT’s suggestion, however the reaction from the Secretary for Security was much stronger. There is no need to institutionalise democracy through a special state institution because democracy is consecrated in the constitution and comes from the committment between the state, civil society and the people of Timor-Leste. Civil Society, like HAK foundation, Rede Feto as well as other NGOs that watch over democracy and human rights. Currently we do not have a special institution to watch over the area of democracy, however democracy and human rights continue to proceed, because of the constitution and the commitment of the Timorese people.
Regarding the UN’s mission in Timor-Leste, we can also analyse that sometimes UNMIT is infiltrated by international and national people that have separate political agendas. The newspaper Timor Post on 24th May said that presently China has intentions to setup its intelligence in South East Asia. However, Timor-Leste needs to remember that this infiltration does not only come from China, but may come from other countries including infiltration from within the institution of UNMIT to seek information for their own country. So Timor-Leste does not need to fear, when there are some views that UNMIT also has many people who work in it, not for the UNMIT mission but for their country. Regarding this topic, we can analyse that there are two groups and one political group that is working and delivering the UN mission in Timor-Leste (this analysis may be wrong or right). First there is a group that is working for other countries “collecting information”so as to deliver other country’s work. This group is forcing its wishes and when they encounter some challenges, they always create public opinion to make the situation in the country worse. This group does not want the beloved country Timor-Leste to develop itself and become and independent sovereign.
Second, the group that wants to give great support to Timor-Leste to slowly become a developed nation. This group at this time is like “burung terkurung dalam sangkar”. This group has dominated the UNMIT leadership since the start, but between these groups, the first group dominates.
Third, a group of Timorese who work for UNMIT. There are many Timorese that are truly committed to the development of this beloved country. That, however, it is not wrong that there are some who are taking advantage of UNMIT to pursue their political, personal or group’s mission. PM Xanana in his speech said that “I want to say to the Timorese , that have become UNMIT experts , not to show off, there is no need to grovel for other people’s money because this is a bad sickness that we call: mental colonialism or intellectual colonialisim”. The Timorese that follow PM Xanana do not want UNMIT to leave Timor-Leste. In this world, interdependence and dependence between countries is a normal topic but, regading a new nation like Timor-Leste, there needs to be an end to premature dependence in this country.
I just wanted to say that what has now become public policy regarding UNMIT’s presentation from the retreat happened in January 2011, and that clearly it was not a report. However we can say that this presentation is an opinion for the UNMIT institution as well as other UN agencies in Timor-Leste. However, according to some deep sources from some people in the UN, this retreat involved the UN leadership. This means that the opinion of the UN leadership in Timor-Leste is negative regarding the government and the Prime Minister. UN is like an institution that needs to be neutral in political topics. UNMIT’s mandate in Timor-Leste is to give support to the state of Timor-Leste in all aspects, not to come and destroy and give contradictive opinions on the national development and progress.
This article is only a personal opinion