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12 November 2008

Identity Card Project Breaches Law No. 10/2005 and Confirms Allegations of KKN

Dili, Tempo Semanal Monday, 10 November 2008, Edition 112 (Translation from original Tetum text)

According to the Ministry of Finance, Procurement Services document reference number 623/MdF/DNSA/2008 addressed to the director of PT Global Teknologi Enterprindo, regarding the Ministry of Justice project to issue Timor-Leste's national identity cards has become controversial because to date it has not made public. "RDTL intends to award your company an order worth US$536,000.00 for the project to develop a National Identity Card [NIC] for the Government of Timor-Leste," was what was written in the document issued by the procurement services on the 30th of May 2008.

In this document signed by the Director of Procurement and marked with the seal asked the mentioned company to provide a bank security valid until the 31st of December 2008, and including the contractual period. "You are therefore required to furnish to this office a performance guarantee whose value shall be US$53,600.00 issued by your bankers to the benefit of the RDTL Procurement Unit," it reads in the letter of intent to award this project.

Before procurement wrote this letter of intent, on the 9th of May 2008 an SMS was sent from the Minister's husband via his mobile telephone number 7374XXX to inform her of the telephone number of the international businessman who was visiting Dili at the time. "Roger no. 7402071," said the SMS. Roger W Fairbarn had visited Dili many times already to discuss the project to issue identity cards for Timor-Leste. When this newspaper's journalists found Mr. Roger at a Hotel in Dili he stated that he was happy to work together with the Government of Timor-Leste, especially the Ministry of Justice, and of collaboration of the church yet to come.

The company, which had assisted the Ministry of Justice to purchase of uniforms for prison guards, ended up having links with Roger Fairbarn attempted who tried to win a multi million-dollar demography project but he tried to borrow money from the Minister of Justice and her husband to register his company in Timor-Leste as written by one of his staff named Awie in an SMS on the 9th of May 2008. "Madam, Mr. Americo, first of all, I apologize, currently Roger does not have any money in Timor-Leste, perhaps Sir can help today and I will pay Sir back," Awie wrote in an SMS to the Minister. In the SMS Awie also included an email that Roger had sent him asking for money to carry out his activities in Dili. "This is an SMS from Roger: Awie I need US$1,000 to complete the registration of the company and other administration costs today 1) the translation of the documents 2) pay the government 3) open a bank account. Roger," Awie copied Roger's SMS in English to the Minister Lucia Lobato. On the 9th of May 2008 Awie through his mobile phone number +628179991XXX thanked the Minister, "Thank you very much to madam….very sorry forr having to inconvenience madam. Awie."

The exchange of SMSs between the Minister for Justice and PT Global Teknologi Enterprindo's people registered between May and July regarding projects from the Ministry of Justice has aroused suspicions and allegations of favoritism and collusion.

On the afternoon of the 9th of May 2008 another SMS went to the Minister for Justice from Awie to inform her that, "Mister Sudarti today asked to give his farewell greetings to Minister because he is returning to Jakarta. After arriving in Bali he check with his office but Madam's email regarding the promised CONTRACT with the Ministry of Finance still has not arrived Madam. He has asked for your help because he has to report on the progress of this to P. TW (someone's name) says that now people are asking him to finish quickly this job. Sorry Madam, if you can email Sudarti. Sorry and thank you Madam. Awie."

Tempo Semanal has been unable to confirm this because the Minister for Justice has asked this newspaper to respect her right to decline to make any comment to this newspaper following the publication in our 108th edition, despite the PM acknowledging in his speech on the 8th of August 2008 the right of the public to access information from the media services.

"The right to access information is an integral part of a democratic state under the rule of law and it is very much because of this that we are committed to guaranteeing to all media organizations their freedom and independence from politicians and business. We also want to contribute to public media organizations like public radio and television that protect and highlight Timor-Leste's culture and tradition and guarantee expression of plural opinion in order to enable the development of a mass population in this country that can criticize but with responsibility."

According to the view of the Ombudsman for Human Rights, this case involves a clear jump outside the bounds of procurement law. "Conduct such as this breaches the principles of the procurement law," alleged the Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice Sebastiao Dias Ximenes.

Procurement is regulated by Decree Law No. 10/2005, which defines that each project needs to adhere strongly to the public interest, impartiality and confidentiality, good faith and proportionality, transparency and publicity, responsibility/accountability, compatibility and public interest and obedience to general rules. "I have seen that many times they have closed their eyes to these principles," he said.

The Ombudsman added, "During this time they have used this law just to cover up." "Many times with these projects they do them because of personal private interests or group interests in order not to respect the procurement law," he said. At a conference in Hotel Timor Dili regarding KKN the Ombudsman acknowledged that they have weaknesses and deficiencies but last month his office sent copies of documents on 18 cases to the Prime Minister that his office had previously sent to the Prosecutor General of the Republic and ministries where they identified allegations of KKN.

In the proposed criminal code has recently been presented to the public a case of corruption is defined as an ordinary crime and Sebastiao Dias Ximenes is concerned that it could facilitate the freeing of people for cases in the past. "I disagree with using the criminal code for KKN cases because if we use this law then it cannot be retrospective and catch cases in the past." He suggests that, "For crimes of corruption we need to use a special law which is can be applied retrospectively to those cases which have been identified in the past, and not use the criminal code."

Commenting on this case the Executive Director of LABEH Christopher Samson who has many times chanted about KKN making the ears of members of government turn red said in the case of this project there has been manipulation and has demanded the PDHJ (Ombudsman) to undertake and in depth investigation of this case. "In my view this process has involved collusion and misadministration," alleged Christopher. I ask for an in depth investigation because before this project was opened these people were already contacting one another about it. These projects that are opened to the public should not have a minister exchanging SMSs with businessmen before it is done," Chris said to us. He explained that "when the project is for the Ministry of Justice and the businessman who tenders has a relationship with the Minister's family or send SMSs to one another then this is prohibited by the procurement law." Christopher Samson gave an ai knanoik to the PM Xanana who has been holding an umbrella over the heads of ministers so they cannot get wet to move aside the umbrella a little so that the "minister can all get wet"." When the intention to award is not made public then it shows there has been manipulation. The public has a right to access the intent to award because this is the people's money."

Because of this Christopher praisedPM Xanana's already made commitment. "PM Xanana's commitment has already showed his commitment by the approval of the anti corruption commission law but the Pm is awaiting other bodies with the constitutional powers such as the Prosecutor General's Office to help him reduce KKN." The IV Constitutional Government emerged to undertake reform to mentalities and to eradicate KKN, which keeps our people in poverty and suffering. Because of this in his inauguration speech did not just give joy to the Noble Hall at the Lahane Palace but trust by the people that this government would not leave the doors open to tolerate favoritism, corruption, collusion, nepotism.

The AMP defends, "The fundamental principle that everyone bows to the law." "Audits have to be undertaken to public organizations in order to promote good management and transparency." "The government also promises to correct and eradicate the system of favoritism which exists. Today we have created a negative image for our country by favoring only the governing political." "The government promises to support the private sector. For this reason the national private sector has to receive more support from the state. There cannot be discrimination, everything has to be based on the criteria of competence, according to the value of the project, based on professional honesty, based on technical capacity."

"Transparency when projects are awarded and accepted. Transparency in the presentation of annual company accounts will be the indicator of the growth of this sector."

"Regarding public finances that are very important for economic development, regarding public accounts we need transparent management, rigorous and truthful.

Transparency and rigor in expenditure is the only path to guaranteeing the long-term sustainability of public accounts. It can also secure a competitive economy and give credibility to the state in the eyes of the people and international community." "This government is ready to create an anti corruption commission with its own powers to intervene and work with the prosecutor general's office to create another culture of integrity and professionalism in the administration."

"Within this week each of us who have been sworn in shall make a declaration of our pecuniary interests, and we shall publish them and send them to the Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice."

Despite this, after one year having passed, according to Sebastiao Dias Ximenes the Office of the Ombudsman for Human Rights has not had access to the declaration of pecuniary interests by the members of the government.

"In accordance with the political commitment we have already made not to follow a system of favoritism, this government has the duty to supervise all members of the government so that they are unable to put their individual interests above collective interests and to promote an environment of responsibility and integrity in the council of ministers. In doing so we can be an example and model which will be followed by all public agents."

PM Xanana made these commitments at the time but today many allegations have emerged of a lot on KKN in his government's implementation of the transitional budget and the state budget for 2008.

"This government wants to create a public accounts court to hold governments accountable, now and in the future on all that they do in managing public funds and administration of the state."

The IV Constitutional Government Government has adhered to their promise and made efforst to find medicine and specialist doctors to try and cure a disease which is very difficult to prevent and so on the 24th of October 2008 the Office of the Prime Minister submitted the law for the creation of the anti corruption commission. "Right time the time has come to take action, to give certainty that corrption does not flourish in Timor-Leste," Xanana said in his media release.

He added that, "the anti corruption commission will ensure that whoever is involved in corrupt conduct will be investigated and strongly punished, including being jailed and having property obtained thorugh corruption confiscated."

The anti corruption law has been approved by the council of ministers some weeks ago and in very soon the peoples' representatives in the national parliament will come together in discussion to eradicate KKN. Prior to this in August PM Xanana himself made decisions regarding some public servants who were accused of KKN. "We also want to correct the things which our successors have done which are wrong. With humility we have already received some things that are good but we also have a determination to totally transform the whole system," the PM of the IV Constitutional Government Kay Xanana Gusmao declared to the public in the same of his whole government on the 8th of August 2007.

On the other hand former Prime Minister of the RDTL Mari Alkatiri said that this conduct indicates corruption because it breaches the procurement law. 'This is corruption," alleged Mari.

"The procurement law exists to avoid corruption and to guarantee transparency." The document of intent to award to the company PT Global Teknologi Enterprindo dated 30th May 2008 has become a secret because it had not been released to the public according to the leader of the government which previously was the subject of many allegations of KKN, explaining that during his governance any project even those during the situation of emergency had to comply with the criteria of transparency.

He alleged also that the process for the identity card is not a normal process. "I can see that there was influence at play or as we normally say favoritism," he alleged.

The general secretary of FRETILIN also lamented that the project for the identity card was awarded to a foreign company. "From before I have defended the view that projects involving defense, security, intelligence including those like the identity card cannot be awarded to foreigners because these involves issues of national security," Mari suggested.

[1] "KKN" is the Bahasa Indonesian acronym for Corruption, Collusion and Nepotism.

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Posted By TEMPO SEMANAL to TEMPO SEMANAL on 11/11/2008 10:30:00 AM

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