10 August 2012

The President's Address on the Inauguration of 5th Constitutional Government

President Taur Matan Ruak
East Timor Legal News Source: Office of the President of East Timor - ADDRESS BY H. E. PRESIDENT TAUR MATAN RUAK ON THE INAUGURATION OF THE 5TH CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT

LAHANE PALACE, 8 AUGUST 2012

Your Excellency Prime Minister. Excellencies.

Beloved people of Timor-Leste

The swearing in of the 5th Constitutional Government of Timor-Leste is a matter of great satisfaction as the process of its appointment and inauguration highlights the functioning of our democratic system and the respect for our Constitution.

The elections we held with high turn out of voters in 2012 show a stable political system and a functioning democracy. Once again, our people chose the path of stability and peace.

I hail the Nation's commitment to stability, including of the leaders and political parties in the majority and the opposition camps.

The legislative election consolidated the support of larger political parties, strengthened the number of their members in parliament and reinforced conditions for governance.

I welcome the new President of the National Parliament and all Members elected to the 3rd Legislature of the parties that support the 5th Constitutional Government and the benches of the opposition: democracy needs a knowledgeable opposition to assist the National Parliament in fulfilling its function of monitoring the government‘s activity.

Prime Minister,

Your government and the majority supporting it can afford the cohesion, strength and stability needed to move forward and building with no hesitation a more secure, prosperous and confident Nation and positively respond to the people’s longing for social justice and a better life.

Excellencies.

In the ten years since the restoration of independence we took important steps in the path to stability and peace. Independence brought into our society tolerance and dialogue, reduced violence and paved the way for national reconciliation.

With enhanced social and political stability came high annual rates of economic growth averaging 10 percent or higher since 2007. Confidence of both economic operators and Timorese families increased.

The 4th Constitutional Government started to respond to some immediate challenges, supporting the income of vulnerable social groups, launching a number of infrastructure projects and somewhat reducing the want of the more vulnerable in our society.

Yet, ten years on, poverty continues to be our greatest challenge.

To build the country we dream of we have ahead of us battles so hard and stringent as the battles we have had in the past.

The perception the world has of our country is dominated by the impressions of poverty and state fragility. The international community selects five criteria for fragility: political legitimacy, situation of the defense and security forces, the justice system, economic development and delivery of public services, ie the quality of the Administration.

No one disputes that in the last ten years we have made significant progress.

Yet as we look around us and analyze the situation of the country, what do we see?

We see very low levels of income, a fragile economic fabric, high external dependence, low levels of infrastructure, unbalanced regional development, with unruly urban growth and large differences among cities and with rural areas, low levels of wellbeing, a weak administrative structure and low technical and scientific development.

Our schools operate with almost no equipment and teachers on their own in villages and parishes across the country have almost no textbooks and other teaching materials. Technical and vocational education covers a small percentage of students well below the needs of future economic development.

The country's agricultural production is poor and farmers lack resources to transport agricultural and livestock production to market. Agricultural surpluses, whenever they exist, often deteriorate and rot for lack of proper storage conditions.

State institutions contribute to the unbalanced development of the territory. Our centralized public administration has large, heavy structures in the capital, often providing poor quality services, and is almost absent from the districts where most of the population lives and social and economic deprivation is greatest. The state is not serving the vast majority of the Timorese people as yet.

During the liberation struggle we had no state, no freedom, but the Timorese were participant, mobilized as citizens and involved in building the future.

Today, we live in freedom, we built a state but I do not feel the people involved in shaping the future.

Without commitment from the people the state cannot fully achieve the goals we set for our collective future.

We must transform the passivity of the population in the face of difficulties that continue to pass into a commitment to action in building the country we all aspire to and will bequeath to our children. The voice of the people shall not be heard only at voting time.

The state has to decentralize its structure bringing public services closer to the people in every district – school management support, agricultural extension services for technical support, improved health and justice services, social security, support of a storage and conservation network of agricultural production, among others.

The production of our farmers is a national wealth. The state has to promote and facilitate the organization of conservation and marketing systems for land and fishing production, which will increase its value, farmers’ incomes and the country's food security.

The state has plans for major investments in a development pole in the South Coast, centered on a cluster to kick start a national oil industry.

More development poles are necessary elsewhere in the country to stimulate regional economic growth and employment and promote non-oil productive sectors.

Many existing infrastructures such as roads, irrigation networks among others date from the time of the occupation and are badly deteriorated. Maintenance services are of poor quality or non-existent in many parts of the country. We must move decisively into the construction of national infrastructure investing in high quality public works and in professionalism and thoroughness of their management.

The mobilization of the population has also been absent from nation building.

Our youth are not engaged in the development process. We must commit them to take new responsibilities in building the country and integrate them in the economic activity.

Conditions for the social inclusion of our Veterans and in the development process must be improved and enhanced so that society benefits fully from their contribution in times of peace as in the past benefited from their sacrifice.

Our elderly, widows and orphans need a better social security net to help them achieving a more dignified life.

At present our country and economy is too dependent from outside. We have to value more the work of our producers and people – farmers, other workers and entrepreneurs - and promote wealth-creating sectors beyond petroleum.

Taking full advantage of national resources and developing a coherent and sustainable economic system are national priorities.

There is an extensive legislative work to be accomplished of which I will just mention the legislation on Land and Property as a mere example given its importance to the launching of a comprehensive dynamic private sector capable of attracting investments and jobs.

Last but not the least, the country has to deepen social policies for the promotion of women, ensuring equal opportunities based on merit and competence.

Prime Minister. Excellencies.

Timor-Leste has been building a good regional and international integration. Soon we will be faced with new challenges that we must respond in a positive manner.

The mandate of the current United Nations mission in Timor-Leste ends in December. Next week Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon is set to give the people of Timor-Leste the honor of visiting us. We have to clearly define what Timor-Leste needs from the United Nations and the UN mission model to be installed after the departure of UNMIT.

We have been building good-neighborly and friendly relations with countries closer, Indonesia and Australia. We have very diversified bilateral relations with both from close military cooperation with Australia to strong cooperation with Indonesia on border security, which has deepen trade and family ties across the border with benefit for people on both sides. The solution of the last remaining problems shall help accelerate diversification and deepening of cooperation with our neighbors.

The Conference of Heads of State and Government of the CPLP meeting in Maputo last month conferred to Timor-Leste the responsibility of chairing the community of Portuguese speaking countries in the 2014-16 biennium. We will therefore receive in Díli in July 2014 the Heads of State of the CPLP.

Creating the infrastructure and organization for a dignified, successful presidency of the CPLP is a major challenge that we are elated to take on. Preparations must start immediately to make the hosting of the Summit of Heads of State in 2014 and the Timorese presidency of CPLP a memorable success - for us, Timorese, and the guests we are going to welcome.

Also in Maputo CPLP began a process of cooperation between member states for food security and against malnutrition. This grave problem is also a priority for Timor-Leste. Our country must be proactive and intent in participating in this new area of multilateral cooperation with our CPLP brothers.

We will continue to develop our relations with all countries in our region in ASEAN and Asia at large and to deepen our responsibilities in ongoing multilateral processes on regional security in close cooperation with Indonesia, Australia and other countries .

In preparation for accession to ASEAN we must deepen the assessment and rigorous survey of the implications of accession in the light of national interest. This should be done as quickly as possible.

Excellencies. Beloved people of Timor-Leste.

The path before us is one of hard work on all fronts. The nation continues to require from us all commitment, steadfastness and sacrifice.

The President is available to work in cooperation with the government and other organs of sovereignty for the solution of the structural problems of our country and to help mobilizing civil society and its organizations. Involvement and commitment from civil society are essential to further the national project.

Beloved people of Timor-Leste

Let's work together to remove Timor-Leste from all lists of fragile states, poor countries and the like that conceal the true determined, strong and enterprising nature of our people and our collective will.

Let's work together to win the battles of our development. It is within our grasp to ensure a positive future of hope, change and wellbeing.

Together we will make Timor-Leste stronger, richer and safer.

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