30 November 2008
Source: Pro Bono Australia Posted: 03-11-2008
When international aid agency Oxfam Australia released its latest report highlighting food shortages in the Asia Pacific region and in particular East Timor, it wasn’t counting on a war of words with the Timor-Leste Government.
As part of World Food Day, Oxfam released a report showing that people in parts of East Timor are now facing up to five months a year without enough food to eat.
Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said at the launch that much of the region was being hit hard by the food crisis in both urban and rural areas due to increasingly erratic weather, increased biofuels production and growing consumer demand in China, India and advanced Southern countries.
Hewett said a survey prepared last year and now released in Australia by Oxfam, the Christian Children’s Fund, Concern Worldwide, CARE International Timor-Leste and supported by the European Commission Food Security Program, showed increasing food shortages in East Timor.
Key findings of the survey, which was conducted in the districts of Manatuto, Liquica, Manufahi, Bobonaro, Oecusse, Covalima and Lautem, included:
1. Diets lack protein and throughout the survey area the number of children under 5 suffering from chronic malnutrition ranged from 50 per cent to 59 per cent.
2. More than 70 per cent of households surveyed were "food insecure" - that is, not confident they would find enough to eat each day; in some areas as high as 90 per cent.
3. An urgent need to invest in small scale farmers to support variety and quantity of crops.
Hewett said East Timor was just one of the countries being hit hard by the global food crisis throughout the region.
However a week later, a spokesman for the Timor-Leste Government, Secretary of State for the Council of Ministers, Agio Pereira, said that international aid agencies like Oxfam need to be more responsible when using nations like Timor-Leste as case studies to promote their own organisational agendas.
He said during Oxfam’s recent campaign for World Food Day, their portrayal of the food security situation was considered inaccurate.
Pereira said that in the last five years, the Timorese have been the source of over 1200 studies and an equal amount of surveys from a wide variety of international aid agencies like Oxfam.
He said they are all conflicting in methodology, data, findings and recommendations. We are calling for a more coordinated effort across agencies in delivering a sound and accurate assessment of the progress made in Timor-Leste.
Periera went as far as to say that it is becoming more evident that organisations like Oxfam believe good news stories do not equate to robust donations.
He said when you have dozens of aid agencies competing for donor funding, small developing nations like Timor-Leste become part of the ongoing pitch rather than a vital part of the dialogue to demonstrate how concrete donor funding in coordination with a pro-active Government investing heavily in food security can produce significant results.
In his counter claim, Pereira stated the IV Constitutional Government of Timor-Leste has taken significant measures to ensure food security focusing on integrated campaign in ensuring citizens have access to food, not to mention the other international aid agencies in Timor-Leste working for the common goals.
Currently, Timor-Leste has 16 international agencies from 24 donor partners working under a coordinated effort between the Government, the World Bank and UNMIT.
Periera concluded by saying while these organisations do tremendous work, they have become highly corporatised in their pursuits to contribute to the development of small, post-conflict nationals like Timor-Leste.
Oxfam’s Andrew Hewett says he stands by the report which is based on an in-depth survey of conditions in Timor-Leste.
Hewett says Oxfam will continue to work with the people of Timor-Leste and with the Government as it has since 1999 to improve food security in that country.
Image: East Timor woman with children in field.
16 October 2008 : By Rob Taylor CANBERRA (Reuters) - East Timor is facing a food crisis and more than half the fledgling country's youngest children are now going hungry as global food prices soar, a new aid report warned on Thursday.
More than 70 percent of households surveyed across East Timor were "food insecure" and unable to find enough to eat each day for almost half the year in what was fast becoming a food crisis, a group of international aid organisations warned.
"They've had what they call the hungry season," Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said, adding the lean period in the poverty-hit nation generally lasted only months."That's been prolonged and we're now talking about people not having enough to eat, going to bed hungry every night, for about five months of the year," Hewett said.
The survey covered most of East Timor, including the Manatuto, Liquica, Manufahi, Bobonaro, Oecusse, Covalima and Lautem districts.
The number of children under 5 suffering from chronic malnutrition was as high as 59 percent in many areas, while in some districts food insecurity touched 90 percent of households, it found.
"Children are lacking protein, lacking enough food, suffering from chronic malnutrition. It's about one in two children under the age of five," Hewett said.
"Children are lacking protein, lacking enough food, suffering from chronic malnutrition. It's about one in two children under the age of five," Hewett said.
Asia's youngest country has been unable to achieve stability since a hard-won independence from Indonesia in 2002. As well as ethnic and regional divisions, youth unemployment in the $320-million economy is above 60 percent.
Adding to poverty problems, the East Timor army tore apart along regional lines in 2006, when about 600 soldiers were sacked, triggering violence that killed 37 people and drove 150,000 from their homes.
Hewett said East Timor was facing a hunger crisis reflected in other parts of Asia, the Pacific and Africa as global food prices spiralled beyond the reach of ordinary people, with an extra 100 million people now being pushed into food insecurity.
In East Timor, rice prices had doubled due to climate change and a global shortage, hitting thousands despite a government subsidy to blunt the impact.
"There is a need for greater support for emergency food programs. There is also a need to focus on upping our investment in agriculture," Hewett told Australian radio.
The aid groups, including the Christian Children's Fund, Concern Worldwide and CARE International, said a new push to unblock global trade talks was needed to end U.S., European and Japanese food subsidies, and improve agriculture production.
The global financial crisis was also hitting the world's poor far from the epicentre of panicked markets, as rich countries turned their attention inwards and looked at cutting aid.
"Those hidden victims are people living in developing countries. With any crisis it's the poorest who are hit hardest," he said.
Image: East Timorese boy.
29 November 2008
OCHA/UNMIT Integrated Humanitarian Coordination Team Humanitarian Update 8 - 21 November 2008
• The EWASH-WG group has presented a letter to the Ministry of Infrastructure, attached to a list of prioritised camps (from where IDPs have left,) requesting equipment from the Ministry of Infrastructure to flatten the sites. Negotiations with the Ministry of Infrastructure are continuing in order to bring the cost of their service to NGOs down to only the cost of fuel. DNSAS was approached to investigate the idea of borrowing their equipment to level public sites.
• The EWASH-WG continues to decommission IDP camps as IDPs are facilitated to return by the Ministry of Social Solidarity (MSS). Decommissioning activities have been ongoing in the following camps:
- Airport: This camp is on the Ministry of Infrastructure’s list to backfill septic tanks and to level the ground. Out of 16 septic tanks in Airport, Mukun Timor Diak (MTD) managed to empty only two tanks. Other tanks could not be emptied because the contents became hard. It was suggested to backfill all of the septic tanks.
- Balide Igreja: Oxfam is continuing the rehabilitation of the site with its own team in the absence of agreement with the Ministry of Infrastructure.
- Obrigado Barracks: This camp’s levelling is awaiting negotiations with the Ministry of Infrastructure. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is initiating general cleaning in the camp through the Dili District rubbish collection team.
- Metinaro: Plan conducted repair and maintenance training with 42 WatSan committee
members and distributed repair and maintenance tools to six WatSan committees. They also cleaned out ten water tanks, maintained nine dig wells and tube wells, and conducted maintenance and repair work on three tube wells.
- Motael: Plan made a number of visits to pump out stagnant water.
- Hera: Oxfam is continuing to organise the rehabilitation of this site.
With the return of IDPs from Central Pharmacy, SD Farol, Yayasan Hak, Belun, Fokupers, Radio Loriku, and Igreja Hosana IDP camps, more than 10,400 IDP families will have received a recovery or reintegration package under the Hamutuk Hari’i Futuru National Recovery Strategy; 40 IDP camps have now closed according to MSS.
Maps reflecting the movements during the reporting period are attached at the end of this Update. A breakdown of information from MSS relating to the latest IDP movements is as follows:
• The return and reintegration of IDPs who wished to return home from SD Farol, Yayasan Hak, Belun, Fokupers, and Radio Loriku IDP camps commenced on 13 November, with a total of 200 families assisted.
• Movement out of Central Pharmacy (SAMES) IDP camp occurred on 19 November. A total of 57 families were assisted. The camp is now closed.
• Movement out of Igreja Hosana IDP camp will commence on 25 November. A total of 100
families are being assisted.
• Movement out of Igreja Becora is expected to commence on 27 November.
• The verification process is complete for the Baucau IDP camps. The verification process is ongoing for Cathedral, Igreja Motael, Lecidere and Metinaro camps.
• Additional Agency specific information relating to camp movements is as follows: During the reporting period, IOM assisted MSS with the movement out of Escola Primaria, Yayasan Hak, Radio Loriko, Central Pharmacy (Sames) and Belun IDP camps. IOM is liaising with Central Pharmacy (Sames) authorities to ensure that the two remaining families who would like to be transported to the districts are able to stay in the camp while MSS finalises their verification.
Plan Water, Environment and Sanitation (WES) team facilitated IDP movement from the Farol IDP camps.
IDP MOVEMENT TO THE DISTRICTS
IOM assisted MSS with the movement of IDPs from Escola Primaria (Farol) camp, Belun camp, Canossa Balide camp and EDTL Comoro camp to the following districts: Baucau, Los Palos, Ermera, Ainaro and Maliana. Further movements to the districts (Suai and Viqueque) from these camps are scheduled to take place but are pending verification.
PREPARATIONS FOR RETURN
To ensure a smooth preparation for return, the IOM Return & Reintegration Team (the Team) has analysed the return intentions assessment data and linked it with information gathered by the MSS dialogue team for Metinaro sub-district. The result of the data assessment shows that 56 families reported to have their houses occupied and that some IDPs decided to have Go and See Visits.
The IOM Return and Reintegration team held a first meeting with the MSS Dialogue Team, CRS and Care International to discuss plans, strategies and the follow-up activities as needed, in response to the data. The Team has started procedures to safely prepare the Go and See Visit by informing the Chefe de Aldeias and confirming the concerns of the IDPs. IOM will continue organising the facilitation of this week’s Go and See Visits with the MSS Dialogue Team and other agencies. The Team has distributed the lists of the assessments made and houses occupied to the MSS Dialogue Team and other agencies including CRS, Care International and Belun. The Team will be working with MSS and the agencies to continue with the approach listed by the Chefe de Aldeias for the families concerned prior to return and will also facilitate the mediation process for the families with occupied houses.
TRANSITIONAL SHELTER UPDATE
Karantina should not be considered as an available site, due to serious problems with water shortages, despite continuous water trucking by Triangle GH. Social jealousy and now a new market next to the site imply serious challenges. From an operational perspective, the following sites are available: Becora I and II (19 rooms) and Tasi Tolu (75 rooms).
The table below shows the current occupancy rate for transitional shelters in Dili as of 24 November
Additional information about the Transitional Shelter sites is outlined below:
• Tasi Tolu: People are constructing houses on the southern hills of Tasi Tolu, with no access to water. They are destroying the fence of Tasi Tolu to gain access to water from the site. There is possibility of tension if the number of houses increases in the near future. There is currently no security guard at this site.
• Karantina: The market has been moved from the previous location to the area between the police station and the transitional site. There are tensions due to lack of space in the area; MSS negotiated with the Chefe de Suco regarding a border for the market. NRC will build a temporary fence between the market and the transitional site. The lack of water for this site is still a concern. However, Triangle GH continues to provide sufficient water for the current number of residents. There have been no repairs to the DNAS line.
• Becora UNITAL, I and II: Triangle GH has conducted a WatSan training for the newly established WatSan committee. Ten women participated in a four day training on family planning by Marie Stopes International.
• Becora Market: There have been a number of small internal incidents between families but is reconciliation ongoing. Family planning trainings are planned.
• Hera: The site is awaiting MSS intervention to determine the status of the buildings at this site that are claimed by IDPs as previous residence.
POST RETURN MONITORING
IOM and partners have discussed and finalised the follow-up form to be used for subsequent rounds of monitoring in their return monitoring project. The third round of monitoring will begin on 24 November. The second round monitoring forms continued to be entered in the database (over 700 interviews were conducted). IOM estimates this process will be finished in one week, after which the Project will analyse and produce the second report for the October round of data collection. Individual cases of concern picked up by the monitoring teams continue to be referred to HHK partners capable of appropriate response.
IOM is also in the process of developing a focus group methodology for the third round of monitoring, which will be implemented in a targeted number of Sucos/Aldeias so as to provide more in-depth information on the return and reintegration process.
HAMUTUK HARI’I FUTURU
• Strengthening Institutional Structures and Mechanisms for Dialogue Project
The six MSS/UNDP dialogue teams currently working across Dili have been supporting the return and reintegration of IDPs relocating from camps including SD Farol, Belun, Yayasan Hak, Fokupers, SAMES, and Igreja Hosana. The pre-movement activities are underway in Igreja Becora and Lecidere camps and the Dili teams are currently working in their respective sub-districts to prepare the way for the return of the many IDPs to be relocated from Metinaro camp.
On 21 November the Baucau Dialogue Team attended a meeting at the Baucau Sub-District Administrator’s Office to discuss priorities for dialogue of representatives of ten Sucos in Baucau Sub- District. In the week commencing 24 November, the Baucau Dialogue Team will conduct preparatory visits to Viqueque: Uatulari, Uatucarabau and Vila to assess dialogue needs there.
In total the teams have now facilitated over 200 mediations between families wishing to return and families either opposed to their return or occupying their former homes.
During the first and second week of December, the MSS/ UNDP dialogue teams will be conducting community dialogues in Lissapat (Ermera), Bairo-pite, Cristo Rei, Mascarinhas, and Metinaro.
• Preparations to assist the return of the families living in Becora Church camp are ongoing. Four families have been identified as having concerns about their return (three cases in Cristo Rei and one in Dom Aleixo). This week the IOM Return and Reintegration team with the MSS Dialogue Team has begun to address these cases.
The IOM team has been assisting the IOM SLS and the MSS Dialogue Teams with the Farol camps closure (Belun, Escola Primaria, Fokupers, Yayasan Hak no Radio Loriko). Some cases are still pending. Some concerns were raised with regard to the return of some families to the area of Kampung Alor. The families have returned and a dialogue is being prepared. In the meantime the Team has been closely monitoring the families.
The Team has been accompanying the closure of the Central Pharmacy IDP camp and specifically assisted the two families who had reported having their houses occupied. The MSS Dialogue team organised a meeting to discuss the unresolved problems of Aldeia Fatuc Fransisco and Terminal. The objective of the meeting was to create a new method to respond. The next meeting is expected to have a broader representation from lower lever local authorities, related institutions (for example, Land & Property) and the Sub-district administrator in order for the Government to respond to the rights of communities. The Return & Reintegration IOM Team actively participated in the meeting withinputs and opinions on how to respond to these problems.
• NRC has finished the works of office improvements for five of the MSS / UNDP Dialogue Offices in Dili, Metinaro and Gleno.
Source: Joint NGO Security Office and UNMIT - The overall security situation in Timor Leste has been calm during the reporting period. Dili has been generally quiet with few incidents of note. A fatal hit and run traffic accident involving a UN vehicle caused some concern but so far does not appear to have generated any hostility to the UN or to internationals more generally.
However, tensions have increased at Metinaro IDP camp. The districts have been mostly quiet although some issues remain in Beaco in Viqueque. There have been a number of relatively serious but one-off and unconnected incidents such as Martial Arts Group fighting and illegal checkpoints in a number of districts.
Additionally, the following are of note:
Categories 28 Oct – 5 Nov 5 – 11 Nov 11 - 19 Nov
Group Fighting 1 0 0
Assaults 32 45 44
Family Related Assault 13 9 14
Weapon Possession 0 1 0
Discharge Firearms 0 0 1
Illegal Checkpoint 0 2 0
Arson 0 1 0
Homicide 1 1 1
Public Disturbance 0 1 0
Disorderly Behaviour 13 8 9
These statistics represent only those incidents reported to the UN and UNPol over the reporting period.
29 OCTOBER – 5 NOVEMBER
• There were 68 recorded incidents across Timor Leste. This is higher than the last reporting period (60). UN Police (UNPol) made 120 arrests. It should be noted that the UN recently improved its ability to collect crime statistics so will see an increase in the figures which may not necessarily be reflective of a deterioration in the security situation.
• The second and final payment to the Petitioners began.
• Parliament passed a draft law on voluntary recruitment for the military following on from which
the F-FDTL announced that it intends to recruit 600 persons in 2009.
• On 4 November, a petition signed by over 1,400 veterans was submitted to the Prime
Minister by MP Roque Rodrigues. The Petition claims that the 2006 veterans’ law is discriminatory.
• Preparations for the deployment of F-FDTL units to assist border policing continue.
• In Ermera on 6 November in the vicinity of Houmbai village, $5 dollars was demanded by local
people from passing UN staff as they had cleared a fallen log off the road. UNPol are investigating.
• On 5 November, members of the Korka Martial Arts Group conducted an illegal checkpoint at
Bulhomau village in Lautem as a result of fighting the day before. Police responded and arrested 17 people.
• On 9 November in Molop village in Bobonaro, four men were arrested for possession of
homemade firearms in the wake of reports of fighting in the area.
• Tensions reportedly continue in Beaco village between the village and members of the CPDRDTL
group who are at large in the hills near to the village. Police are attempting to deal with the
situation through dialogue.
13 – 20 NOVEMBER
• There were 69 recorded incidents across Timor-Leste. This is higher than the last reporting
period (68). UN Police (UNPol) made 67 arrests.
• It is reported that some limited hostility to the UN remains in the vicinity of Comoro Police
Station as a result of the Hit and Run in the last reporting period. This has resulted in some isolated incidents of stones being thrown at UNPol vehicles in and around the Comoro Police Station/Comoro Markets.
• The PNTL continue to conduct checkpoints in Dili.
Image: Australian Federal Police officer comforts an East Timorese child.
21/11/2008 Media Release Timor Aid National Trauma Healing Conference in Dare with Capacitar International - This week Timor Aid in partnership with Capacitar International, an organisation specialising in trauma and community healing from California, conducted a national conference on Trauma Healing and transformation in Daree, a peaceful sub village in the hills of Dili. The conference reviewed and developed self healing practices, theories and the understanding of trauma symptoms in order to help people cope with the impacts of trauma and fear in their everyday lives.
The training was hosted by two “Capacitar International” trainers, Joan Condon and Nina Jusef, who come from Canada and Indonesia, in conjunction with Timor Aid Capacitar Trainers. The participants were previously identified as leaders in their communities as part of Timor Aid’s Trauma Healing and Transformation Project and they were brought together from every district in Timor Leste to meet in Daree for the week.
During the week of the conference participants built on their training and learned more theory about the body and brain and the negative impacts caused by trauma, especially living in a society where there are multi layers of trauma from war, occupation, domestic abuse and civil unrest. They also practiced many different healing exercises and techniques such as tai chi, massage, acupressure, visualisation, active listening and identified further their own experiences and that of their community in discussion with each other.
One participant Veronika Luruk Muki described her first experience with the meditation techniques and Capacitar training, “For me this was a new experience, before I don’t feel I have the opportunity for this kind of training, this help, during the meditation practice, I felt something different inside, I never felt like that before and felt like I wanted to fly. This knowledge for how to make myself calm and for healing is good. I think that trauma healing is a priority in this country because it will reduce violence and make people aware of who they are and they will be calm, and feel more peace and love for eachother and realize their positive abilities.”
Groups were asked to discuss what other factors have made the country and people traumatised, they singled out the biggest impacts currently came from domestic abuse and violence, the lack of justice in Timor Leste, that there was always some conflict and no rest, the political leaders were not united, the influence of many negative rumours and gossip, and also that people have not had enough education and knowledge. They also mentioned the trauma still existing from the harmful attitudes of the Portuguese during the period of colonization, being occupied by the Japanese and Indonesians and the 2006 crisis.
At a recent Trauma Healing and Transformation Project training in Ermera on 6th November, Madelina Fernandez, a police investigator from Ermera when asked why did she attend Timor Aid’sTtrauma Healing and transformation training she said that because of her role in the community, “I often have to face people and victims, even if I cannot cure them we are the ones that can help them reduce their trauma, we can apply what we have learnt and help them.. before we would have to refer everyone to Pradet but now we have increased potential to soothe and to help.”
Timor Aid’s Trauma healing and Transformation Project has been implemented in all 13 districts since 2003 as part of their Integrated Poverty Alleviation Project East Timor funded by the European Commission. The project gives training to enable people to better understand their trauma and ways to heal themselves, and then help others in their communities using the principles of Capacitar. The basis of Capacitar is healing oneself through mind, body, spiritual and social awareness using simple techniques and theory that can be easily practiced every day.
Timor Aid chose to work in Trauma healing because of there being so many people affected by Traumatic experiences in their lives and that there is a lack of capacity in the districts to support them. The International Rehabilitation Council of Torture Victims (IRCT) found in October 2000 96.6% of the population had or is experiencing trauma and the medical clinics around the country only have the capacity to deal with the seriously mentally ill.
Timor Aid’s central mission is to build and strengthen the Timorese people’s capacity, so in order to help others and improve the situation we need to start with ourselves, as Fidelio da Costa, Timor Aid’s Trauma healing and Transformation Project manager said, “ Many of us struggle with certain fears, things from our past or recent experiences , which make us feel depressed, unmotivated, angry, scared and not confident but by following some simple practices and relaxation techniques every day and learning about ourselves and these impacts, we can feel calmer, feel good about ourselves and then be better able to overcome our fears and improve our lives and the conditions of the country.”
28 November 2008
27 November 2008 Tempo Semanal Accused - According to the statement of the Minister of Justice for the IV Constitutional Government of East Timor that Lucia Lobato published in the Timor Post (click) , Suara Timor Lorosae (click) 21 Nov 2008 and the Diario Nacional (click) 24 Nov 2008, Her Excellency the Minister of Justice has lodged a case with the Prosecutor General's Office against the Tempo Semanal newspaper, furthermore the Minister states that the Tempo Semanal has defamed her as a Minister, breached her privacy and that the Journal and its journalists have violated the journalist ethical code.
Tuir deklarasaun Ministra Justica IV Governu konstitusional, Lucia Lobato ne'ebe publika iha jornais diario STL no Timor Post edisaun (21/11/2008) ho Diario Nasional edisaun (24/11/2008) katak S. E. Ministra Lucia Lobato hatama ona keixa ba Ministeiru Publiku hasoru jornal Tempo Semanal tan tuir ministra ne'e katak jornal Tempo Semanal halo ona difamasaun ba Sua Ministra ninia Privacidade no Jornalista jornal ne'e kontra kode etika jornalismu nian.
Image: East Timor Minister for Justice Lucia Lobato
East Timor: Oil Fund expected worth US$4 billion by December [ 2008-11-28 ]
Lisbon, Portugal, 28 Nov 2008 - East Timor's oil fund, managed by JP Morgan Chase Bank, in December is expected to be worth US$4 billion, East Timor's Foreign Affairs minister, Zacarias da Costa said Thursday in Lisbon.
In an interview with Portuguese news agency Lusa, the minister, who is in Lisbon as part of a delegation accompanying Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao on a visit to Portugal, said that 10 percent of the fund would be invested in Europe and, 'perhaps' in Portuguese banks, which would manage that part in euros.
'We want to diversify our portfolio. Our fund is in the United States, invested in traesury bonds. But, with the recent crisis, with changes in the value of the dollar on the market, with the entire international situation as it is, we are going to diversify and are looking into that,' he said.
In its most recent report, on the quarter ended September 30, the East Timor Banking and Payment Authority said that the fund’s capital stood at US$3.738 billion, as compared to US$3.203 at the end of June.
In August 2008, the US treasury bonds held by the Oil Fund were transferred from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to the JP Morgan Chase Bank although the former continues to deal with the securities on behalf of the fund and keeps its account open ready to exclusively receive oil revenues. (macauhub) http://www.macauhub.com.mo/en/news.php?ID=6492
Nation-Building across Urban and Rural Timor-Leste Gender, Justice, Peace and Security, Development and Governance
Wednesday 8 July to Friday 10 July 2009, Dili, Timor-Leste
The Timor-Leste NGO Forum, RMIT University, Australian Volunteers International with Charles Darwin University and Caritas Australia.
Ten years after the 1999 vote for independence, this conference will consider how nation-building is being experienced and responded to across urban and rural communities in Timor-Leste. Broadening the discussion beyond that of *state-building*, the conference would
consider some of the myriad ways the new republic has been *built*, not only from policy and programmatic initiatives but also from grass roots experiences and perceptions of how Timor-Leste as a nation is seen and understood.
The conference seeks to explore and understand what appears to be one of the most significant characteristics of the nation-building process in Timor-Leste, namely the sharp distinction found between urban and rural communities, especially between Dili as the capital and the
hundreds of agricultural communities where the majority of the population live. Dili has emerged as the centre for economic and political power in a way that is extraordinarily disproportionate with the remainder of the country, while rural areas often remain highly isolated and continue to be dominated by subsistence agriculture.
Differences in access to services-from running water and electricity, communication networks, adequate roads and transport, schooling and health-are among the more obvious differences alongside lack of access to paid work or opportunities for business development. The distinction
between the centre and the periphery is found in everyday discourse in Timor-Leste, where it is the norm for people to speak in oppositional terms about *Dili* and the *foho* (literally meaning mountain but used to refer to non-urban communities).
While acknowledging the sharp distinctions, the conference would look beyond assuming an urban/rural disconnect. Firstly, while bringing much-needed attention to issues such as the lack of access to services, information and formal power in rural areas, this conference will
explore how rural communities have actively responded to the challenges of nation-building on their own terms. Secondly, the conference will attempt to consider the ways in which the urban and the rural in Timor-Leste interconnect with one another, not just in terms of the
movement of people or economic interaction, but also in terms of how national-identity is understood.
Presenters are encouraged to consider the more general character of nation-building in Timor-Leste, conceptually exploring the character of that process over the last ten years. Equally, the conference will also give an opportunity to practitioners and community members to draw out
concrete examples of community experiences of nation-building, especially with an emphasis on the key themes of gender, justice, peace and security, development and governance. For instance, how is justice practiced or gender understood differently across the two domains, how
do socio-cultural differences between urban and rural communities impact opportunities for peace and security, and what are the different forms of governance that dominate the political *centre* and the *periphery*.
Discussions are continuing with East Timorese Government, civil society partners and potential donors. Further details regarding the conference will be sent out over December 2008 and January 2009 (such as the registration process and conference venue).
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any queries in the meantime.
Dili, East Timor, 27 Nov 2008 – Poverty 'increased significantly,' in East Timor between 2001 and 2007, according to a report presented Wednesday in Dili by the World Bank and the country's Finance Ministry.
The report also concludes that, in those six years, 'the non-oil sector stagnated.'
The report entitled, 'Poverty in a Young Nation' concludes that half the Timorese population is poor, living on the equivalent of less than US$0.80 per day and a third of those poor live in conditions of 'extreme poverty.'
The document is based on the Timor Leste Standard of Living Study (TLSLS) completed in January 2008, carried out by the National Statistics Directorate with the support of the World Bank.
Original source: http://www.macauhub.com.mo/en/news.php?ID=6487
Poverty, which affects 49.9 percent of the population, increased from the 36.3 percent figure pointed to in 2001 by the first TLSLS.
The report shows that East Timor’s Gross National Product (GNP) has 'stagnated' and that, 'this decline is not surprising and is in line with the stagnation of the non-oil sector in the same period,' from 2001 to 2007.
In per capita terms, the 'real' non-oil GNP fell 12 percent in the period, 2even despite income having increased a lot and there having been a rise in Gross National Income.”
Survey taking of 4,447 families began in April 2006, but had to be stopped a few weeks later due to a political and military crisis.
Work was re-started in January 2007 and carried out without interruption up to the start of this year. (macauhub)
Image: East Timor Poverty: Children scramble through the garbage.
Australian National University Seminar: Dr Jean Berlie : East Timor's Society, Politics and Development
Dr Jean Berlie University of Hong Kong
12.30-1.30 pm, Wednesday 3 December Room 1.04 Coombs extension, ANU
Although East Timor has been independent since 2002, it continues to be heavily dependent on the United Nations, Australia, and donor countries. A new type of governance and planning may reduce the impoverishment of the people and the unemployment of the youth. Among other possible options, the implementation of new laws on education may help to develop the country. Mobilization of the majority who cultivate the land may restore the confidence, courage, and creativity of the Timorese.
Jean Berlie is a research scholar based at the Centre of Asian Studies, University of Hong Kong. He has published extensively on South Asia, North Asia and South East Asia.
PRESIDENCIA DA REPUBLICA
GABINETE DA PRESIDENCIA
DEPARTAMENTO DE COMUNICACAO SOCIAL
27 November 2008
President Ramos-Horta Condemns the Terrorist Attack in Bombay-India
The President of Republic and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Dr Jose Ramos-Horta, today most strongly condemned the terrorist attack that took place in India in the city of Bombay, also known as Mumbai, killing at least 82 people according to the international media report.
“This cowardly attack on innocent civilians deliberately targeting American and British Citizens, must be condemned by all, and must rally all countries to pursue the fight against terrorism even more relentlessly,” said President Ramos-Horta.
“This terrorist attack, coming after the landslide election victory of President elect Barrack Obama, who is supported and admired by millions around the world, highlight the real aim of the terrorists and other extremists around the world”.
“They are not interested in seeking dialogue and peaceful means to resolve whatever differences they might have with the West. It is self evident that whoever is in the White House in the United States, terrorism will not stop,” the President said
President Jose Ramos-Horta, express his profound sympathy and solidarity with the Indian Government and people, and all the victims of this latest terrorist attack in India. END
Contactos: telefone:(+670) 333 9003, telemóvel:(+670) 723 0160, e-mail Dep. Com. Social rriko .email@example.com, ou firstname.lastname@example.org
Image: President of East Timor, Jose Ramos-Horta
27 November 2008
Source: Government of East Timor MediaNet Press Release Wire 25/11/2008 Tuesday 6:00 PM AEST
East Timor continues development plans for Greater Sunrise
Dili, November 25, Norwegian Petroleum experts have descended on Dili to attend a four day workshop hosted by the newly formed National Petroleum Authority.
The Secretary of State for Natural Resources, Alfredo Pires, opened the forum made up of international petroleum experts with backgrounds in geology, chemical engineering, process engineering, and petroleum engineering. Pires welcomed them by thanking their input into 'the overall nation building of Timor-Leste through the strengthening of the petroleum industry.' The focus of the forum was to discuss development concepts for Greater Sunrise and ENI Kitan oil fields.
Timor-Leste is confident that ENI Kitan oil field development will begin production in 2010, leaving the nation much less dependent on prospects such as Greater Sunrise.
"The successful development of ENI Kitan gives us the time and the financial security we need to make a prudent and comprehensive decision about our future with Greater Sunrise. In 2009, we will have 14 drilling campaigns in very prospective areas. We still have over 50% of offshore acreage and 100% onshore acreage to release for exploration. So in terms of priority, Greater Sunrise is moving down the list of priorities for Timor-Leste."
Woodside Oil, on the other hand, has listed Greater Sunrise as one of three priorities for 2009: however, Woodside needs any development plans for Greater Sunrise approved by Timor-Leste.
This month in Sydney, Woodside presented investors with their own, unapproved development plans: the first for a floating LNG facility for which Shell currently is taking tenders and the second for bringing the pipeline to Brownfield at Wickham Point in Darwin. This was presented as an 'opportunity to leverage existing LNG plant facilities and infrastructure.'
Conoco Phillips has approval for a 10 MTPA/ LNG at the facility.
Woodside did not present the Timor-Leste pipeline option to investors or the fact that Timor-Leste has made it clear the fourth option would be to leave the oil in the ground for future generations.
Furthermore, Woodside continues to stand by its claims that bringing the pipeline to Timor-Leste is not commercially viable. The position is based on their own study, the "Timor-Leste Gas Export Pipeline Study".
Current independent studies emerging are set to refute Woodside's assertions on commercial viability. A pre-feasibility study with Petronas and a bathymetric survey supported by a Korean consortium, led by an American expert, are producing very positive results to prove the commercial viability for the Timor-Leste option.
A recent MoU signing between the Government of Timor- Leste and South Korea has assured the Timor-Leste option with both the markets and the finance necessary for any LNG project in Timor- Leste.
Review essay by Dr Clinton Fernandes, UNSW@ADFA The UN in East Timor: Building Timor Leste, a Fragile State, by Dr Juan Federer, Charles Darwin University Press, 2004.
Published in Dissent magazine, No 27, Spring 2008.
There has been a plethora of commentary about East Timor. Unfortunately, much of it has been inadequately informed and sensationalist. However, there is a book that deals with the underlying forces affecting the country. It is well informed and clearly written, and its author is uniquely placed to offer penetrating insights about his subject. It is, unfortunately, not very well known. That book is “The UN in East Timor: building Timor Leste, a fragile state” by Dr Juan Federer. This essay will review Dr Federer’s book and highlight some of its salient points.
Federer, who worked closely with the most prominent spokesman for East Timor, Jose Ramos-Horta, was a Latin American diplomat who lived in Jakarta. He visited East Timor in Portuguese times and had planned to live there in due course. The Indonesian invasion changed all that. He married an East Timorese woman and became a crucial figure behind the scenes of that country’s independence struggle for more than two decades. His fluency in Indonesian, Portuguese, Tetum, English, French and Spanish, combined with his ability for hard work and rational, unsentimental thinking has given him a superb command of his subject.
As the Director-General of International Relations for the National Council of Maubere Resistance (known by its Portuguese initials, CNRM), Federer dismisses the image of unity and organisational cohesion promoted to the world during the independence struggle. He writes that CNRM was never more than a concept whose real significance lay in its ability to satisfy the international community’s expectations of a cohesive liberation movement. It served as a legitimate contact point with the promoters of self-determination in the UN and other international bodies. Federer shows that despite its international acceptability, the wider public inside East Timor never consistently accepted CNRM. It was never properly set up, nor did it have periodic meetings, nor adopt policy decisions. But it was “a necessary and useful symbol, which allowed us to fit into expected international moulds as a representative national liberation movement.”
In order to unite all East Timorese in the diaspora, CNRM would be renamed CNRT (National Council of Timorese Resistance). It too was a poorly functioning outfit whose real value was the appearance it gave outsiders that a cohesive liberation movement was in existence. Federer notes that “much attention was given to devising pompous sounding titles and the creation of enough of them to co-opt all the vociferous East Timorese pro-independence activists. Little or nothing existed in terms of substantive constitutional documents, definitions of functions, work procedures, information and reporting mechanisms, or work programs and their implementation.”
The point of such groupings was to “keep alive the fiction that the East Timorese resistance was a well-constituted pro-independence movement, and as such that the struggle fitted into moulds the world could understand.” A crucial CNRM proposal was its peace plan, which argued for a three-phase process to end the conflict with Indonesia. In Phase One, which would last for one to two years, Indonesia-Portugal talks would be held under the auspices of the UN Secretary General, with East Timorese participation. Political prisoners would be released and Indonesian military personnel would be reduced. In Phase Two, there would be a period of autonomy lasting five years, with the possibility of extension for another five years by mutual agreement between Indonesia and the East Timorese population. This would be a transition stage in which East Timorese would govern themselves democratically through their own local institutions. Phase Two would prepare the East Timorese for any future decision on self-determination, ensuring that they would have the technical skills required to mange themselves, their society and their economy. In Phase Three, which would last for a year, preparations would be made for a referendum on self-determination with the population being allowed to choose between independence and integration with Indonesia.
Unfortunately, the collapse of the Indonesian economy and the resignation of President Suharto led to a rapid decision by his successor, President Habibie, to give East Timor a “take it or leave it” offer of autonomy within Indonesia. Should they reject it, they would be granted independence. The CNRM peace plan, which had called for seven to twelve years of preparation prior to any such ballot, was shelved and East Timor broke free within nine months of Habibie’s offer. Its exit was accompanied by an Indonesian military campaign of state-sponsored terror and crimes of universal jurisdiction including systematic and mass murder, destruction, rape, enslavement, forced deportations and other inhumane acts.
Federer writes that “while CNRM and its successor CNRT had been useful symbols to portray the East Timorese opposition to Indonesian occupation as being akin to a conventional pro-independence movement”, they became dysfunctional “once the invader had been removed.” CNRT “conveyed an illusory and misleading appearance of a modern organisational maturity of the East Timorese pro-independence population.” After the departure of the Indonesian troops, Federer and Horta grew deeply concerned with the way the international community was fitting the East Timor situation into a conventional, post-colonial independence framework. As Federer points out, the situation there was actually quite unique: “there was little cohesive organisation and leadership available” there was a traumatised population whose values, especially its civic ones, had been severely damaged by a long, destructive occupation following a most rudimentary [Portuguese] colonial presence that had done virtually nothing to prepare the country to take its place as a viable member of the international system of sovereign states.” Horta, he writes, was “quickly made to realise by some veto-holding UN Security Council members that an international tutelary presence to prepare the country for successful independence” would not be available for the ten or more years required at a minimum but only two or three years at the most.
The command of military operations was formally transferred from the peacekeeping force that liberated East Timor to the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). It is important to understand that UNTAET did not assist the administration of East Timor but was itself the administering authority. Composed of personnel from more than 100 countries (with the language and cultural problems this implied), UNTAET was immediately confronted with several major problems. Although East Timor had been promised approximately US$500 million in development aid, it had received only US$22 million by March 2000. The funding shortage exacerbated the difficulties caused by the Indonesian authorities’ widespread destruction of the territory’s infrastructure, their evacuation of staff who had previously provided essential services, and their deportation (ethnic cleansing) of 250,000 East Timorese across the border into West Timor. Furthermore, the Indonesian occupation had caused the deaths of nearly 200,000 people. Unsurprisingly, there was a humanitarian crisis.
Federer reminds us that “despite the efforts of their leaders to portray it otherwise, and the often-heroic performance of the resisting population, the East Timor armed resistance did not defeat the occupier and was an almost depleted force in the end.” Indonesia’s departure was the result of a complex international diplomatic and political campaign “in which the military resistance activity was a mere token component.” Therefore, “unlike in decolonization cases where the resistance movements generally became the legitimate and uncontested recipients of sovereignty, the East Timor resistance was not the obvious recipient of sovereignty.” Led by the Transitional Administrator, Sergio Vieira de Mello, UNTAET’s military component was disproportionately large, with nearly 9,000 troops and 200 military observers. Rather than splitting the mission into an initial peacekeeping and humanitarian operation to be followed by a more important and long-term state-building mission, UNTAET’s emphasis was on peacekeeping and reconstruction, with less emphasis regarding the preparation for independent statehood. Yet there was almost no military threat facing the new state. Only a fraction of the total of 10,000 troops was ever needed. With military expenses being easily the highest cost component, a stronger emphasis on state-building would have saved money and prepared East Timor for the challenges of nationhood.
The UN did not focus on state-building in part because funding for peacekeeping missions comes from non-voluntary member-assessed contributions, thus opening such missions to member pressure for a speedy end. UNTAET was therefore put together very quickly. International staff were recruited “from the four corners of the earth to a remote country they had previously never heard of, whose history they did not know, to difficult living conditions, in a mission that was still disorganized and confusing, often on short-term contracts of three to six months.” Some staff were recruited “for their Portuguese language skills on the assumption that East Timor was basically a Portuguese-speaking land.” It wasn’t. Many staff spent the first months of their mission trying to acquaint themselves with East Timor and the last few months trying to either renew their contracts or find another job in some other post-conflict society. Also, as Federer reveals, many foreign personnel “had a strong incentive not to speed up local participation and thus do themselves out of a job, even though readiness to be replaced should have been the attitude of members of a transitional administration.” Federer shows that there was a “total lack of functioning social organisations and governance institutions” in East Timor. The only relatively organized institution that had survived was the Catholic Church. “All the other social ‘organisations’ were basically labels for groupings lacking a proper structure.” Federer cites the Portuguese expression pra o ingles ver (for the Englishman to see) in order to show how appearances were created in order to impress a critical, more powerful foreigner whose approval is sought.
UNTAET hired East Timorese civilians, but they were largely employed in low-level positions with little authority to make decisions. They received less than 1% of the total budget and were paid approximately 20-30 times less than the international staff, most of whom did not possess an adequate knowledge of East Timor’s socio-economic conditions. This resulted in much hostility, much of which could have been avoided “if a sense of inclusion and ownership” had been “fostered from the beginning by involving the people to a greater extent in the design of the Mission”.
More prominent, politically active East Timorese arriving from the diaspora, where they “had not achieved positions of much significance”, saw in all this an opportunity to exploit the political situation. They “began to exhibit a vociferously hostile position towards UNTAET and, following their instincts as politicians, quickly sought to capitalize on the popular discontent developing toward the new authority in East Timor”. They began to call for the termination of the mission and the transfer of its authority to themselves. They also presented themselves as “the local political counterparts that the UN was so keenly looking for to fit its existing operational models.” UNTAET “readily and uncritically yielded to the local challengers that emerged, allowing them to influence the independence timetable.” These individuals pushed for Portuguese to be adopted as the country’s official language, thereby maximizing their own advantage. By “introducing a linguistic barrier, they could exclude the non-Portuguese speaking Indonesian-educated youth from access to the top.” They also pushed for UNTAET to leave as soon as possible instead of calling for “greater resources and a longer-term international commitment to underwrite the essential, necessarily lengthy, institution and capacity building process.” All this “was music to the ears of those in charge of finances in New York, who had been pressing for a quick end” to the mission. In order to exonerate the UN from blame, “an exit strategy was quickly defined” and responsibility for success after independence (or blame for failure, as it happened) was laid in the lap of the East Timorese people.
Federer’s book may discomfit people who romanticize the East Timorese cause, but it is the most useful book I have ever read on East Timor. It is essential reading for those who wish to understand what happened as well as what can be done now.
EU commission commissary urges Alkatiri to cooperate with the Government Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 26 November 2008 - The European Union Commission Commissary, Louise Michel, has urged the former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri to cooperate with the current Government for consolidating peace and stability within the country.
Claudio Ximenes will not be replaced, says Horta Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 26 November 2008 - President Jose Ramos Horta said he was yet to think about replacing President of the Court Appeal, Claudio Ximenes with other names, yet he [Horta] was concerned about his [Ximenes]’health condition preferring to have more times for having medical treatment.
Peace march not to topple down the Govt: Xavier Suara Timor Lorosae 26 November 2008 - Timorese Social Democratic Association (ASDT) President Francisco do Amaral, said Fretilin's plan to conduct a Fretilin peace march was not aimed at toppling down the current Government.
Defending UN Police for interest of leaders Suara Timor Lorosae 26 November 2008 - Parliamentary MPs said President Jose Ramos Horta's policy of extending the UN police mission in Timor-Leste until 2012 was just for the leaders' interest.
Ermera people disagree with proposed gun law Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 26 November 2008 - A community member of Ermera district, Julio Madeira, said they disagreed with the proposed gun law which was currently being debated in the Parliament.
Guterres calls on local authorities to prevent domestic violence Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 26 November 2008 - Deputy Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres has called on local authorities and community members in Maliana to help disseminate information on preventing violence against women and children.
Fretilin alleges Govt of hiding rice Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 25 November 2008 - Fretilin Parliamentary member, Inacio Moreira has accused the Parliamentary Majority Alliance (AMP) Government of hiding rice and not selling it to the people, because they wanted to give opportunities to the businessmen for selling theirs.
PM Gusmao damages Timorese judicial Image: HAK Timor Post 25 November 2008 - NGO and Human Right Organisation has strongly criticized Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, as he [PM Gusmao] does not abide by the recent decision made the Court of Appeal on the illegality of the economic stabilisation funds.
Government does not tolerate violence against women Suara Timor Lorosae 25 November 2008 - Deputy Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres said the Government would not tolerate any form of violent actions against the women and children in the country.
Fretilin urges justice minister's responsibility Suara Timor Lorosae 25 November 2008 - Fretilin MPs have urged Minister for Justice Lucia Lobato's responsibility for explaining about the law for testimony in the court trial.
Khare praises Portuguese GNR police Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 24 November 2008 - The UN Secretary General Special Representative in Timor-Leste, Atul Khare, has praised the Portuguese GNR Police for their valuable contribution to Timor-Leste.
Border police ready to secure border zone: UPF police commander Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 24 November 2008 - Timorese Border Police (UPF) Commander, Quintiliano Soares said the border police were ready to secure the country’s border zone when the UN Police mission had come to end.
Horta calls on Timorese civil society to keep up with dialog Radio Televisaun Timor Leste November 2008 - President Jose Ramos Horta has called on the Timorese civil society to keep maintaining dialog between the Timorese people because the country's security situation was still volatile.
Children urge Government to create good security situation Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 21 November 2008 - Children representatives have urged the Timorese Government led by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao to create a good security situation for the children, so that they would not continue becoming victims of acts of violence.
Government to create proper condition for children, says Gusmao Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 21 November 2008 - With levels of violence against children in the country currently high, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao has pledged that the Government would create proper conditions for Timorese children.
Timor-Leste needs to ensure the right of children: UNICEF Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 21 November 2008 - UNICEF Repetitive Jun King said Timor-Leste needed to ensure the principle of non-discrimination and the rights of children.
Petroleum funds for people and children, says Gusmao Suara Timor Lorosae 21 November 2008 - Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao said the petroleum funds being spent by the Government belonged to the people and was not owned by certain people; therefore Timorese people had the right enjoy this money.
President signs an agreement with Humanitarian Centre for Dialog Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 21 November 2008 - President Jose Ramos Horta has signed an agreement with Deputy President of the Humanitarian Centre for Dialog from Geneva, Andro Marcal, on the assistance for holding dialog in the country.
Reinado was mentally unstable and influenced much by politcs: Horta Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 21 November 2008 - President Jose Ramos Horta said the State had tried to approach the former rebel leader, Alfredo Reinado Alves, to hold dialog, yet at that time Reinado's condition was not stable and influenced much by politics.
Better to have coup, says Alkatiri Timor Post 21 November 2008 - Fretilin Secretary General Mari Akatiri said it was better for Fretilin to have a coup if Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao continued spending the economic stabilisation funds which did not pass in the Court of Appeal.
Fretilin representatives meet with Dili Bishop Timor Post 21 November 2008 - Fretilin Deputy Chief of Bench, Francisco Miranda Branco, said they had met with Bishop of the Dili Diocese, Monsignor Alberto Ricardo da Silva, to discuss the economic stabilisation funds and concerns about integrated part of the State bodies.
Horta urges Parliament to review petroleum funds law Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 20 November 2008 - President Jose Ramos Horta has urged the Parliament to review the petroleum funds if it was a challenge to transfer the petroleum funds.
Legal practitioners urge Government to stop spending stabilisation funds Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 20 November 2008 - A Timorese legal practitioner, Pedro Camoes, has urged the Government to stop spending the economic stabilisation funds because the Court of Appeal has just made decision that the referred funds are illegal and baseless.
Horta's comments a threat for judicial system: Alkatiri Timor Post 20 November 2008 - Fretilin Secretary General Mari Alkatiri said the recent comments made by President Jose Ramos Horta regarding the decision made by the Court of Appeal on the economic stabilisation funds was a threat for the country's judicial system.
Parliament seeks other ways to combat corruption Suara Timor Lorosae 20 November 2008 - The Timorese Parliament has held a seminar on Wednesday (19/11) on how to reduce poverty in the country. The seminar was funded by the UNFPA.
Government allocates budget to construct joint office in border zone Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 20 November 2008 - State Secretary for Security, Francisco Guterres, said the Government would allocate budget for constructing a joint for office in the country's border zone.
Police detains two foreign nationals for bringing false money Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 20 November 2008 - Timorese Police have arrested two foreign nationals because they were suspected of bringing false money worth US $ 3,700. One is originally from Nigeria and another one is from Cameroon.
If there were no stabilisation funds, instability could emerge : Horta Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 19 November 2008 - President Jose Ramos Horta said if there were no economic stabilisation funds set by the Government tehre could emerge instability in the country.
Xanana Gusmao wants to breach constitution: Opposition MPs Timor Post19 November 2008 - The opposition party MPs have strongly criticized Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao who has vowed to continue spending the economic stabilisation funds which was recently decided by the Court of Appeal to be illegal and baseless.
Corruption rooted from Fretilin: MP Maria Paixao Timor Post 19 November 2008 - MP Maria Paixao from the Parliamentary Majority Alliance (AMP) said corruption cases which were currently found within Government institutions took root during the former Fretilin Government.
Inspector Fernandes urges evidences of sale of weapons Timor Post19 November 2008 - Timorese Police Operation Commander, Inspector Mateus Fernandes, has urged MPs who alleged police are selling traditional weapons to show evidences.
Defense force armory to be used for logistics: Brigadier Ruak Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 19 November 2008 - Timorese Defence Force (F-FDTL) Commander, Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak, said the inaugurating armory would be used for keeping the defense force's uniforms and other materials belonging to F-FDTL.
State secretary for security urges police commander to submit proposal Suara Timor Lorosae 19 November 2008 - State Secretary for Security, Francisco Guterres has urged the Timorese Police commander to submit soon a proposal about making decision to status of the police officers who joined former rebel leader, Alfredo Reinado Alves, during the country's recent crises.
Police seizes bags of rice sold by business in Baukau Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 19 November 2008 - Baucau District Police have seized 15 bags of rice sold by businessmen because they did not sell them based on the standard price set by the Government.
Constructing armory for defence force is state's compromise: Horta Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 18 November 2008 - President Jose Ramos Horta said constructing a logistics armory for the Timorese defense Force (F-FDTL) was part the State's compromises to develop the defence force to be more professional in future.
Gusmao not afraid of legal charge Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 18 November 2008 - Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, said he was not afraid of facing a legal charge if he spent the state budget for resolving problems and concerns being faced by the country's people.
Govt to continue spending stabilisation funds: PM Xanana Gusmao Timor Post 18 November 2008 - Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, said the Government would continue spending the economic stabilisation funds worth $240 million, even though the Court of Appeal had made a decision that the referred funds was baseless to be used.
AFP hands over ballistic report to Prosecutor General Timor Post 18 November 2008 - The Australian Federal Police has officially handed over a report on the ballistic examination of evidences related to the assassination attempt on President Jose Ramos Horta on 11 February.
Judge calls on media to respect court's ruling Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 18 November 2008 - A Dili District Court judge has called on journalists to respect the rulings being applied by the court, urging them [the journalists] to respect every court hearing which is closed to the public, as if it was about sensitive case.
Police detains two Bangladeshi nationals Suara Timor Lorosae 18 November 2008 - Timorese Border Police Unit have detained two foreign nationals originally from Bangladesh who tried to illegally enter Timor-Leste through the Bobonaro border zone.
FORUM NGO TIMOR-LESTE
Caicoli Street, Dili-East Timor, Phone: 742-2821; 731-8653
Statement from Civil Society regarding Appeals Court Decision: The Law does not only apply to small and poor people
Timor Leste, as a nation under the democratic rule of law needs to put the supreme law and its offspring higher than the interests of any political party or individual. It is important for everyone, including the sovereign organs of the state, to comply with and obey the decision issued by the Court of Appeals. This will continue to strengthen a democratic state governed under rule of law, giving confidence to every Timorese citizen and to the international community to participate in the process of strong and sustainable development for the future of Timor-Leste.
The objectives of the state, according to Article 6.b of the Constitution of RDTL, include “To guarantee and promote fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens and the respect for the principles of the democratic State based on the rule of law.”
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are important actors in Timor-Leste, with the responsibility to be a bridge between all the sovereign organs and the people of this country. To insure that everyone is included in the process of development in all sectors, it is important for accurate information to be distributed to every Timorese person, from the national level down to each aldeia.
CSOs have long had a clear position about the General State Budget, especially the 2008 mid-year adjustment. From the beginning, we questioned some parts, including the allocation of $240 million to the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF), and the Government’s intention to withdraw more money from the Petroleum Fund than the Estimated Sustainable Income (ESI = 3% of the money in the fund plus the expected revenues from Timor-Leste’s oil and gas reserves). Eventually, as we all know, the Appeals Court on 13 November 2008 sent its decision to Parliament saying that:
1. $240 million allocated to the ESF violates the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (CRDTL), which prohibits secret budgets within the state budget. Also, because the National Parliament cannot exercise its power to monitor such a budget.
Article 145.2 CRDTL “The Budget law shall provide, based on efficiency and effectiveness, a breakdown of the revenues and expenditures of the State, as well as preclude the existence of secret appropriations and funds.”
2. Taking $290.7 million more than the ESI (the ESI limits withdrawals to $396.1 million), for a total withdrawal of $686.8 million, from the Petroleum Fund is illegal because it violates the requirement of the 2005 Petroleum Fund Act that petroleum resources must be managed to benefit current and future generations. The Government failed to follow the requirements of Articles 8 and 9 to give a detailed explanation of why taking more money than the ESI is in the long-term interests of Timor-Leste.
Regarding this decision from the Appeals Court, some people have given their perspectives and opinions about how other sovereign organs should respond. From Civil Society, we see that it is important for everyone to put the interests of the nation above their individual or political interests. This issue is not a game, but an essential step in our actions to strengthen the judicial system in Timor-Leste, as a democratic state under law which follows the Constitution, where no one is above the law.
Article 2.2 CRDTL “The State shall be subject to the Constitution and to the law.”
Article 119 CRDTL “Courts are independent and subject only to the Constitution and the law.”
As a democratic state, we put the Constitution as the highest law in the land. Therefore, we see that there will be serious consequences which will affect Timor-Leste’s development if other sovereign organs refuse to comply with the decision of the Appeals Court:
1) It will weaken Timor-Leste’s judicial system, and will cause criminals to doubt that the courts will carry out their Constitutional functions, increasing impunity in the justice area.
Article 118.3 “Court decisions shall be binding and shall prevail over the decisions of any other authority.”
2) It is very likely to increase political instability and reduce security in the country, which could lead to a situation of fear and insecurity throughout the country. For example, a crisis like the one in 2006 could happen again.
3) It gives an ugly image to the international community, especially the investors we hope will come to develop industry in our country. Timor-Leste will lose confidence from the international community.
4) If some continue not to comply, not to follow the law like this, it creates an atmosphere of inequality before the law, where anyone may ignore the law. This can create an image that the law is only applied to poor and small people, but not to important ones.
By comparison, when sovereign organs truly comply with the decision of the Appeals Court:
5) It will save some money for the State Budget for 2009, which according to a Press Release is $681 million. This budget takes $589 from the Petroleum fund, once more $181 million above the ESI (which the Government estimates at $406.8 million).
6) If will create a good image for all Timorese people and the international community that Timor-Leste, as a democratic state under law, truly values the Constitution and all other laws. This will give confidence to investors and others to trust that the law in Timor-Leste will protect their rights and responsibilities. It will show that the law applies to everyone, not only small people.
After looking at these impacts, we from Civil Society offer the following recommendations:
1) All sovereign organs of the state must understand their powers and functions, to follow all laws in force in Timor-Leste, especially to comply with this decision from the Appeals Court.
2) The Government must stop using the Economic Stabilization Fund, according to the decision of the Court.
3) We ask the National Parliament, as part of their monitoring function, to ensure that the money from the ESF is returned to the state budget, and to prevent the 2009 and future budgets from following a similar scenario.
4) Nobody, neither national leaders, political party leaders, academics, or civil society in general, should politicize this decision. They should put the national interest above their personal or political interests.
5) All our people should obey decisions of the courts, and actively participate in strengthening Timor-Leste’s judicial system.
6) We encourage everyone, including civil society, to continue to demand that all sovereign organs comply with this court decision. We also encourage citizens to communicate with their representatives in Parliament, to strengthen each Parliament Member’s function and power under the Constitution.
7) As everyone knows, the media has an important role in developing this country, and we recommend to all media to communicate information professionally, according to independent and impartial principles of journalism.
8) The President of RDTL should consider his function and power according to Constitution Articles 74.1 and 149. As the Head of State, he should find a way to truly symbolize national unity, maintaining the validity of all laws.
9) Semi-autonomous agencies, especially the Banking and Payments Authority (BPA), should implement the decision of the Appeals Court, in regard to their function of managing the Petroleum Fund.
Dili, 26 November 2008.
Together with the TimorLeste NGO Forum:
Ass. Estrela da Esperansa
For more information and analysis in English and Tetum about the court's decision, with continuing updates, see www.laohamutuk.org/econ/MYBU08/BudgetRuledUnconstitutional08.htm.
MINISTRY OF SOCIAL SOLIDARITY PRESS RELEASE 26 November 2008 MSS assists 381 families from eight camps to return home
During November, MSS has assisted more than 381 families from eight IDP camps to return home. On 6 November, MSS facilitated the reintegration of 14 families from FFDTL Tasi-Tolu. On 13 November, MSS commenced assisting 205 families from SD Farol, Belun, Fokupers, HAK, and Radio Loriku IDP camps to return home. On 19 November, MSS facilitated the reintegration of 57 families from SAMES IDP camp. On 25 November, MSS assisted 105 families from Igreja Hosana to return to their homes.
Each of the families was assisted to return with transport provided by the Ministry of Social Solidarity and IOM. UNPol provided security during the movement from the camps. Each person, including children, has also received 16 kg of rice. Those who are eligible to receive a recovery grant from MSS to help them rebuild or repair their homes can receive the money at the BPA.
The Minister of Social Solidarity, Maria Domingas Fernandes Alves, and the Secretary of State for Social Assistance and Natural Disasters, Jacinto Rigoberto Gomes, have thanked the camp managers at each of the camps for their work over the past two years. They also thanked the SLS agencies IOM, CARE and CRS - for providing the camps with humanitarian assistance, and Oxfam, Plan, and UNICEF for their water and sanitation support to the camps over the past two years.
The MSS/UNDP dialogue teams helped organize preparatory meetings at the camps to support the return of IDPs. The MSS/UNDP dialogue teams have been working with Chefe Aldeias, Chefe Sucos and youth representatives in the receiving communities to try to ensure that the situation in areas of return remains peaceful. The Minister of Social Solidarity, and the Secretary of State for Social Assistance and Natural Disasters, have expressed their hope that IDPs are able to return to their former homes and rehabilitate them in peace.
With the return of IDPs from FFDTL Tasi-Tolu, SD Farol, Belun, Fokupers, HAK, Radio Loriku, SAMES, and Igreja Hosana more than 10,300 IDP families will have received a recovery or reintegration package under the Hamutuk Hari’i Futuru National Recovery Strategy. A total of 41 IDP camps are now closed.
Source: National Directorate on Information Dissemination
Secretary of State of the Council of Ministers
IV Constitutional Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
The Government Palace - Avenida Nicolau Lobato - Building 2 - r / c
Unofficial machine translation. Original Portuguese text follows.
CORRECTION: In the text of the press release it issued earlier, the words "reached the 3.7 tonnes," should read "reached the 13, 7 tons."
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF EAST TIMOR IV CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT PRESS RELEASE Dili, on November 26, 2008 Report released today shows that poverty increased between 2001 and 2007 in East Timor Government AMP combat legacy of poverty inherited from previous governments
Poverty increased in East Timor between 2001 and 2007, the report indicates "Timor-Leste: Poverty in the Young Nation", released today in Dili jointly by the World Bank and the Ministry of Finance IV Constitutional Government. The report indicates that about half of the Timorese population lives below the poverty threshold and that one-third live below the minimum threshold of poverty, ie in extreme poverty.
Only the next report may show the impact of the measures the IV Constitutional Government is taking the people of East Timor, but, according to the International Monetary Fund, we can already say that the economy of East Timor is currently in accelerated growth: after that, in 2007, growth has been located in 8%, it is estimated that real Gross Domestic Product (not oil) grow 10% in 2008. This shows that the work done by the government AMP - who took office in August 2007 - to reduce poverty and improve living conditions for all East Timorese is already making a difference and achieve positive results for the future of the nation.
The report on poverty in East Timor (Timor-Leste: Poverty in the Young Nation "), based on the findings of the study (" Timor-Leste Survey of Living Standards (TLSLS) for 2007, "conducted by the National Directorate of Statistics, a body attached to the Ministry of Finance, with support from the World Bank, and completed in January this year.
The work of gathering information took place between January 2007 and January 2008, and participated in the survey of 4477 households throughout the country. Together with the first study of its kind carried out in 2001, the "2007 TLSLS" provides an excellent opportunity to monitor the developments in the past six years. It is important to emphasize that we used the same methodology in studies conducted in 2001 and 2007.
Figures for the current situation indicates that about half of the Timorese population lives below the "threshold of poverty" and that if it is considered the "minimum threshold of poverty", a third of the population lives below this limit, ie situation of extreme poverty.
However, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in the last months of 2007 the economy has already undergone a positive momentum, ending the growth is by 8% in the last year. But the big breakthrough is achieved already this year, since the IMF estimates that real Gross Domestic Product (not oil) grow 10% in 2008.
Agriculture was one of the sectors where production increased significantly. In the specific case of coffee, exports in the first nine months of 2008 amounted to 13.7 tons, doubling the figures recorded in previous years.
But the biggest source of growth, the IMF argues, was the huge increase in the money injected into the economy by the government: in the five years preceding the budget implementation totaled 497 million U.S. dollars, from August 2007 until today the implementation budget totals 477 million U.S. dollars, not counting the bonds.
The ceremony to launch the report, which took place this afternoon at a hotel in Dili, the Minister of Finance, Emilia Pires, stressed that "the significant increase in poverty can be explained by the fact that there has been a decrease in non-sustained economy in oil between 2001 and 2007, "citing the report itself to add that" the non-oil income per capita fell 12%, despite oil revenues have grown continuously, as a result of the increase in oil prices. "
Emilia Pires said that the report released today "indicates that the low economic growth between 2001 and 2007 as the main reason for the increase of poverty throughout the national territory."
Stressing that produced until the next report can not see what impact the measures are PMA taken by the Government in the population of East Timor, the governor said that "with the increasing and continuous injection of money into the economy since 2007, the Product Gross Domestic non-oil rose exponentially, which will cause the per capita income grows and thus begin to reduce levels of poverty in popualação the entire country. "
"Despite the international situation is negative, our economy should continue to grow. By improving budget execution, public spending will continue to stimulate the economy, which will be further accentuated by the fact that it is dedicated to much needed investment in basic infrastructure, "said Emilia Pires.
The Minister of Finance stressed that "the budget of 2009 will continue in the same direction. The total budget for 2009 will be 902 million U.S. dollars, which corresponds to the sum of 681 million U.S. dollars of state budget and 221 million U.S. dollars it is estimated will be spent by the partners of development ".
In conclusion, Emilia Pires said that "it is through this kind of investment in our people and infrastructure that we hope that the next study will show that poverty begins to fall and that the lives of the people of East Timor can improve."
Direcção Nacional de Disseminação de Informação
Secretaria de Estado do Conselho de Ministros
IV Governo Constitucional da República DEmocrática de Timor-Leste
Palácio do Governo - Avenida Nicolau Lobato - Edifício 2 - r/c
CORRECÇÃO: No texto do Comunicado de Imprensa que emitimos anteriormente, onde se lê "atingiram as 3,7 toneladas", deverá ler-se "atingiram as 13, 7 mil toneladas".
REPÚBLICA DEMOCRÁTICA DE TIMOR-LESTE IV GOVERNO CONSTITUCIONAL COMUNICADO DE IMPRENSA Dili-Novembro 26, 2008 Relatório divulgado hoje mostra que a pobreza aumentou entre 2001 e 2007 em Timor-Leste Governo AMP combate legado de pobreza herdado dos governos anteriores
A pobreza aumentou em Timor-Leste entre 2001 e 2007, segundo indica o relatório “Timor-Leste: Poverty in a Young Nation”, hoje divulgado em Díli conjuntamente pelo Banco Mundial e pelo Ministério das Finanças do IV Governo Constitucional. O relatório indica que cerca de metade da população timorense vive abaixo do limiar superior da pobreza e que um terço vive abaixo do limiar mínimo da pobreza, ou seja, em situação de pobreza extrema.
Só o próximo relatório poderá mostrar o impacto das medidas que o IV Governo Constitucional tem vindo a tomar na população de Timor-Leste, mas, de acordo com o Fundo Monetário Internacional, podemos dizer já que a economia de Timor-Leste se encontra actualmente em crescimento acelerado: depois de, em 2007, o crescimento se ter situado nos 8%, estima-se que o Produto Interno Bruto real (não petrolífero) cresça 10% em 2008. Isto demonstra que o trabalho desenvolvido pelo Governo AMP - que tomou posse em Agosto de 2007 - para reduzir a pobreza e melhorar as condições de vida de todos os timorenses está já a fazer a diferença e a conseguir resultados positivos para o futuro da nação.
O relatório sobre a pobreza em Timor-Leste (“Timor-Leste: Poverty in a Young Nation”), baseia-se nos dados do estudo (“Timor-Leste Survey of Living Standards (TLSLS) for 2007”, conduzido pela Direcção Nacional de Estatística, organismo ligado ao Ministério das Finanças, com o apoio do Banco Mundial, e concluído em Janeiro deste ano.
O trabalho de recolha de informação decorreu entre Janeiro de 2007 e Janeiro de 2008, tendo participado no inquérito 4477 famílias de todo o país. Juntamente com o primeiro estudo do género realizado em 2001, o “2007 TLSLS” proporciona uma excelente oportunidade para verificar a evolução registada nos últimos seis anos. É importante sublinhar que foi utilizada a mesma metodologia nos estudos realizados em 2001 e em 2007.
Os dados relativos à situação actual indicam que cerca de metade da população timorense vive abaixo do “limiar superior da pobreza” e que, se for considerado o “limiar mínimo da pobreza”, um terço da população vive abaixo desse limite, ou seja, numa situação de extrema pobreza.
Entretanto, de acordo com o Fundo Monetário Internacional (FMI), nos últimos meses de 2007 a economia sofreu já um impulso positivo, acabando o crescimento por se situar nos 8% no ano transacto. Mas o grande salto é conseguido já este ano, uma vez que o FMI estima que o Produto Interno Bruto real (não petrolífero) cresça 10% em 2008.
A agricultura foi um dos sectores onde a produção aumentou bastante. No caso específico do café, as exportações nos primeiros nove meses de 2008 atingiram as 13,7 toneladas, duplicando os números registados nos anos precedentes.
Mas a maior fonte de crescimento, sustenta o IMF, foi o enorme aumento do dinheiro injectado na economia pelo Governo: nos cinco anos anteriores a execução orçamental totalizou 497 milhões de dólares norte-americanos; desde Agosto de 2007 até hoje a execução orçamental totaliza 477 milhões de dólares norte-americanos, sem contar com as obrigações.
Na cerimónia de lançamento do relatório, que decorreu hoje à tarde numa unidade hoteleira de Díli, a Ministra das Finanças, Emília Pires, sublinhou que “o aumento significativo da pobreza pode ser explicado pelo facto de ter havido um decréscimo na economia não sustentada no petróleo entre 2001 e 2007”, citando o próprio relatório para acrescentar que “o Rendimento Per Capita não petrolífero caiu 12%, apesar das receitas petrolíferas terem crescido continuamente, como resultado do aumento do preço do petróleo”.
Emília Pires adiantou que o relatório hoje divulgado “indica que o baixo crescimento económico entre 2001 e 2007 como a razão principal para o aumento da pobreza em todo o território nacional”.
Frisando que até ser produzido o próximo relatório não podemos ver que impacto têm as medidas tomadas pelo Governo AMP na população de Timor-Leste, a governante afirmou que, “com o aumento crescente e contínuo da injecção de dinheiro na economia desde 2007, o Produto Interno Bruto não petrolífero subiu exponencialmente, o que vai fazer com que o Rendimento Per Capita cresça e, desse modo, começar a reduzir os níveis de pobreza na popualação de todo o país”.
“Apesar da conjuntura internacional ser negativa, a nossa economia deve continuar a crescer. Através da melhoria da execução orçamental, a despesa pública vai continuar a estimular a economia, o que será ainda acentuado pelo facto de ser dedicada ao investimento nas tão necessárias infraestruturas básicas”, afirmou Emília Pires.
A Ministra das Finanças sublinhou que “o Orçamento de 2009 vai prosseguir na mesma direcção. O orçamento total para 2009 será de 902 milhões de dólares norte-americanos, o que corresponde à soma dos 681 milhões de dólares norte-americanos do Orçamento do Estado e dos 221 milhões de dólares norte-americanos que se estima serão gastos pelos parceiros de desenvolvimento”.
A concluir, Emília Pires afirmou que “é através deste tipo de investimento na nossa população e nas infraestruturas que esperamos que o próximo estudo possa mostrar que a pobreza começa a diminuir e que a vida do povo de Timor-Leste pode melhorar”.
Image: Poverty in East Timor
25.11.2008, Pedro Rosa Mendes, special reporter for newspaper PUBLICO - This is the ruthless portrait of a reality we can no longer pretend that it isn’t there. These are some of the truths, hard as nails, regarding a country that dreamt to be different – and that made us dream too.
1. Timor is not a failed State. It is worse. The national project designed a decade ago has failed.
In nine years of freedom, Timor-Leste has not managed to ensure water, power and sanitation for its small capital. Baucau, the second "town", is a more gardened version of the slum that is Dili, thanks to the (officious) municipal management by the diocese.
The rest, the "districts", is a country of mountain ranges for which the Neolithic is the daily life, far from the acceptable human minimum. You get there by roads and paths left by the "Indonesians". There are main roads that have not seen a pickaxe since 1999.
The public good and the needs of the people have been ignored for nine years, with obscene contempt. The best example is the power company: for five years, the Dili power plant did not maintain any of the 14 generators – all of them offered – until the last major machine broke down.
National Hospital Guido Valadares, which is inaugurating shiny new facilities today, is yet to have a proper ultrasonography machine or ventilators at the Intensive Care Unit. There is not a CAT scan machine in the country (even though it costs the same as two of the new cars for members of Parliament); the Timorese girl who moved Portugal had her tumour diagnosed by chance by an American hospital ship that was anchored in Dili. The child mortality rate is only second in the entire world to that of Afghanistan. Post-delivery mortality is alarming. Nevertheless each Timorese woman of fertile age has in average 7.6 children.
A World Bank report is being circulated among diplomats and humanitarians, concluding that "poverty has increased considerably" between 2001 and 2007 (a devastating balance of the Fretilin consulate, as the study uses indicators up to 2006). About half the Timorese live with less than €0.60 a day, and half of these people are children. Timor is a rich country mired in indigence, where leaders insult each other on account of budgets that nobody is even able to spend.
2. The "Maubere identity" is a costly fiction.
The "national" identity of the Timorese political space does not exist, as good historians explain, whenever they mention the "peoples" of Timor in the plural. Under the myth of "Maubere people" there is a mosaic of some fifteen ethnic and linguistic entities, which are defined by opposition (in conflict, separation, mistrust, distance) to the "other", even when allied. This "other" may be an outsider or an insider. It is a type of circumstantial and opportunistic cohesion that dies with conflict, while preparing other conflicts in the future, in cycles of calm and crisis in an island with medieval paradigms.
"Maubere" exploits have finally produced a chronologic reversion. The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste is the political crystallization of a society that had the enfranchisement of a State before having built an identity to support it.
The affiliation of each Timorese remains their respective "uma lulik" (sacred house) and the lineages that define other territories and other laws that do not include ministers, judges and police officers, but rather monarchs, oligarchs and war chiefs. This is what leaders try to be – or else they will not be leaders at all.
3. The independent State is sabotaged by the resistance structures.
The Timorese State works. However this does not mean that it produces any results, except for the Banking and Payment Authority, the single institution where the focus on building the capacity and empowering local staff and the rewarding of merit have turned the future central bank into an oasis of Nordic probity.
The operative structures of the country are parallel, officious and opaque. They come from the time of the resistance, and there has not been enough courage or intelligence to formalize them in the new State.
An obvious case is that of the Falintil veterans, who have not integrated the new Defence Forces (FDTL). In 2006, it was to 200 of those "civilians" that brigadier general Taur Matan Ruak turned to at a critical time for the survival of the State. The Timorese Defence Staff is, however, being investigated by justice. If this process is not stopped in the inquest stage, perhaps the case of the weapons and the "20-20" militia will open a debate that should have occurred before. The place for "moral reserves" has to be formalized, lest there is no line of separation between patriotism and delinquency. Major Alfredo Reinado illustrated, in a tragic manner, how easy it is to make this leap.
Still, parallel structures do not occur exclusively in the security sector. Former commander Xanana Gusmão does not hide that Caixa, the clandestine "intelligence" network, is still active. The loyalties, reflexes and atavisms of resistance still exist. The "old" voice of command is sometimes the last instance, and even in the Council of Ministers the last argument is sometimes the quality vote by way of a punch to the table.
José Ramos-Horta, removed from Falintil and the woods until 1999, knows that there is more than one way to skin a cat. The head of the State, in line with the masonry symbols trimmed in his shirts, has been for the past two years the second "father" of the Sacred Family. This is a society founded in 1989 by Commander Cornélio Gama "L7", which evolved into a somewhat mystical mix of a religious group, a political party and a vigilante militia. It was "L7", with the blessing of Xanana Gusmão, who presented the candidacy of Ramos-Horta as President of the Republic, in February 2007, in Laga. Several elements of the Sacred Family are integrated in the personal guard of the head of State.
The Timorese Republic is limited and sabotaged by occultism, nepotism, vassalage and cell mentality. However, if it were not for the informal trust and command networks, which also include codes of loyalty and group values, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste would have already imploded.
A modern version of States within a State: the last confidential count reports 350 international advisors at the IV Constitutional Government.
4. The ruling strategy for the society is included in the Penal Code. It is called extortion.
The sympathy for the Timorese "cause" has stagnated in an ideal of society and person that is proven false by the frustrating daily experience. Ignorance, trauma, misery and negligence, sprinkled with the poisons of complacence, paternalism and pity, have made behaviours of opportunism, dishonesty, selfishness and falsity seem trivial. Solidarity, generosity and thankfulness have taken a backseat. What is considered marginal or criminal in other places, is often the rule in Timorese offices, businesses, markets, transit or homes.
The "historical leadership" rules over an untreatable country, in passive civil disobedience, which thinks and acts as if the entire world owed everything to it and as if everything was there for the taking, from oil to investment and international attention. Greed and social envy infect the political, social, working and even family domains. "Here everyone gives orders and nobody obeys them", to quote an old Timorese raised with principles that no longer apply in his country.
Current "stability" is purchased with a Christmas every day. Everything is subsidised, from rice to fuel, with a flood of benefits and compensations to an unthinkable range of clienteles. We may say that civil society is a sum of lobbies that receive as much as they threaten with fires and stone throws, from internally displaced persons to petitioners or students.
All this money has produced nothing. Some if it goes to Indonesia, which Timorese nouveaux riches consider to be a safer place for investing. What is left buys motorcycles and cellular phones. Timor Telecom will end the year with 120 thousand clients in its mobile network, a percentage equal to that of countries with three times more income per capita than Timor-Leste.
Most Timorese do not pay for what they use: water, electricity (which is why consumption increases 25 per cent per year, a rate than it impossible to accompany by any infrastructural investment), houses, lands, credit and rice. This model of pillage and squandering is unsustainable for the economy, banking, ecology, demographics and, in time, even politics.
5. Indonesian occupation was ruthless and Timorese leaders are dismantling with zeal what was left: dignity.
The most notorious gangster of the Jakarta underworld in the 1990’s – the Timorese Hércules –presently manages the rehabilitation of the finest garden in Dili. Those who were condemned for crimes against humanity, such as Joni Marques, from "Tim Alfa" (who had Portugal bringing out their white scarves in September 1999 after he had massacred nuns and priests), have returned to their villages with indemnities for houses burned while they were in prison.
In the mixed Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF), it was the Timorese part that, to the amazement of the Indonesians, tried to obtain a general amnesty for the 1999 crimes, with a persistence that could turn one’s stomach.
The report of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR), which records 24 years of pain in seven volumes, has been awaiting three years for the honour to be debated in the Parliament. Two dates were scheduled for November; however the holders of political offices have been trying backstage to bowdlerize CAVR’s recommendations.
Mari Alkatiri, Xanana Gusmão and José Ramos-Horta, by fragmenting the memory of the violence, have squandered the capital obtained at the cost of the death of two hundred thousand people (including their loved ones). The legacy of genocide is publicly debased as a risk capital and a visit card. The result is a moral dystopia, a chasm of tremendous proportions where the country is sinking – a country whose sovereignty, in view of its geographic and historical setting, was grounded on what essentially moral legitimacy.
The dead are the noble part of Timor, worthy of rituals and mournings. However, in this land of crosses, mass graves and missing persons, nobody has yet been kind enough to spend 200 thousand euros on a DNA laboratory that would finally enable the dead to be returned to their families.
Injustice and impunity are safe values in Timor-Leste.
6. Timor speaks all languages and none.
Timor is a fiction of the Lusophone community, where Portuguese navigates against a generation that is culturally integrated in Indonesia, against geography, against internal political manipulations and against the sabotaging by several international agencies. The reintroduction of Portuguese can only succeed if Dili shows political firmness regarding its official languages and if both these languages receive the necessary means.
The National Institute of Linguistics has a monthly budget of 500 dollars (more precisely, USD 6,000 per year).
In the "Babel lorosa'e", as Luiz Filipe Thomaz called it, none of the common languages (Tetum, Portuguese, English and Indonesian) is spoken well. A language is the articulation of a world and our place in it. Removed from grammar and vocabulary, a generation of Timorese has reached adulthood and entered the labour market often without knowing such concepts as the law of gravity, time zones or geometrical shapes, just to mention a few easy examples.
The few (three) banks with agencies in Dili receive foreign investment projects with plans that do not include Timorese labour or that view them as dead weight in the payroll, working next to imported workers or technical officers who will be responsible for production.
7. "To enter the United Nations is to be politically untouchable".
A diplomat who enjoys the Javanese shadow theatre said: "The UN in Dili is in sync with the Timorese leaders. They all create ghosts: the great strategist, the great diplomat, the great guerrilla fighter. Otherwise the masks would fall, and it would be very embarrassing..."
UNMIT, one of the most expensive missions of the UN, is slowly sinking in the same moral emptiness of Timorese leaders. Three thousand workers, police officers and military, a formidable critical mass that might be a counterweight to incompetence and foolishness, are crushed by the career-oriented charlatanism of its head of mission, Atul Khare, and by acolytes who see with good eyes in Timor-Leste that which they would never allow in their developed countries. "To enter the United Nations is to be politically untouchable ", explained a senior officer of UNMIT.
8. There is no Portuguese flag in the Timor sea.
There are no Portuguese interests in Timor-Leste, because this country still lacks the minimum conditions for any measurable interest to succeed. Certainly not according to the criteria applied elsewhere. It would be good if our politicians understood this. From 1999 to 2007, Portugal has granted over 440 million Euros to assist the development of Timor-Leste – almost half of the total we spend with cooperation.
Continuing a Portuguese tradition, the post-imperial projections and the fascinations with successive apprentices of Mandela take precedence over the information coming from economical operators in the field. "But you will never hear a Portuguese ruler say anything against Timor", said a Portuguese ruler visiting the country, at the coffee table.
9. "Everything is yet to happen ".
The wound in the body of Ramos-Horta, when the President was lying in a pool of blood after being shot twice, is a gap as deep as the shame of the nation. The resurrection of the Nobel prophet has created a Gnostic Christ, but the stigmata, in this torn land, no longer create religions with the same ease they used to create States ten years ago.
Dili, as a circus with gladiators, boils with young men thrown to the fight. They have no job, no education and no perspectives. Someone tells them: "You are not bandits, you are warriors." But from the Aswain, the heroes of the Timorese mountains, all that remains is the physical courage, a scrap of rituals dispersed by rival groups and the intransigent sacralisation of their territory. This is an explosive mix for the entire nation. "The resistance still exists, but now it has no direction. And without direction, all it can do is fuck things up", says the former Youth advisor to Ramos-Horta, José Sousa-Santos.
"Everything is yet to happen", warned the "spirit" of an ancestor, through the voice of a little girl in Ermera, in the still innocent Christmas of 2005.
Dili, November 2008.
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