|Minister for Legislative Reform and |
Parliamentary Affairs Fidelis Magalhães
“I am very sorry to hear of these things happening. The government will make every effort to contain and end these isolated acts. We have to encourage and promote more the spirit of solidarity, especially in the face of these difficult issues,” he said.
Several foreign nationals have in recent days reported to Lusa incidents, none of them serious, in which they were intimidated by locals, including the use of the expression “korona malae”, the second word being commonly used to refer to foreigners.
On 23 March 2020, Lusa reports also that several Chinese traders in East Timor felt obliged to close their shops due to intimidation, despite the fact that the Chinese business community in Timor had organised a fundraiser to support families affected by the 13 March floods in the capital.
Similar intimidation was also felt in Baucau, the country’s second city, by teachers from Portugal stationed there, prompting Portugal’s ambassador to order them to go to Dili.
Among reports by teachers were a series of false rumours circulating over the weekend that tried to relate the first confirmed case of COVID-19 and another suspected in or arising from Baucau to malae.
In 2004, then President Gusmao has called on members of the legal system to "strip themselves of all kinds of xenophobia," adding that East Timor's development depends "on a policy of openness to foreign investment and on the application of a justice system that is honest, impartial and professional."
 Countries at the Crossroads 2004 - East Timor, 2004, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/473868f0c.html [accessed 26 March 2020]
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