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East Timor News Digest 3 - March 1-31, 2004
Security & boarder issues
Agence France-Presse - March 8, 2004
East Timor today welcomed proposals to form a new foreign police
unit, including Australian officers, to boost security after the
current United Nations mission is scaled down in May.
The Foreign Ministry said Australia, Britain and the United
States had suggested the creation of a 125-strong armed emergency
response police unit, in addition to the 310-strong military
peacekeeping force proposed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta has told Dili diplomats and the
United Nations his government "welcomes the joint initiative by
Australia-UK-US," the ministry said in a statement.
"The Government sees merit in this addition to the very important
report of the secretary-general as it does provide extra
deterrence value," the statement quoted Ramos-Horta as saying.
"The only point the Government... wishes to emphasise is that it
will retain executive authority over our own law and order
agencies, namely, our national police."
In a report to the UN Security Council last month, Annan proposed
a one-year extension for the current UN Mission of Support in
East Timor (UNMISET) after its mandate expires on May 20, but
with a big cut in the number of peacekeeping troops and support
The UN took over the running of the country in 1999 after the
departure of Indonesian troops and their local militias, who left
much of the former Indonesian province in ruins.
East Timor became independent on May 20, 2002, but a UN mission
stayed on to help Asia's poorest nation through its early years.
Annan proposed a 310-strong peacekeeping force plus 42 military
liaison officers, 157 civilian police advisers and 58 advisers to
support the public administration and justice system.
There are currently 1,750 UN peacekeepers, 125 police officers,
200 police advisers and 70 civilian advisers. Annan said no new
recent violence had been reported by former pro-Jakarta
But "reports of sightings of armed gangs and criminal elements in
districts bordering (Indonesian) West Timor continued, as did
suggestions of preparations for destabilising activity by
Timorese groups with unclear agendas."
Jakarta Post - March 12, 2004
Kupang -- East Timorese refugees in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT)
province can no longer claim any assets in East Timor, as
Thursday was the deadline for the refugees to do so back in the
country of their birth.
Stanis Tefa, the secretary of the East Nusa Tenggara Task Force
for Disasters and Refugees, said that the government of East
Timor did not extend the deadline for refugees to reclaim assets.
He said that some 9,000 East Timorese refugees are living in NTT,
and that any assets that they may have had a claim to now are
legally owned by the government of East Timor.
The refugees are the remainder of those who fled across the
border, most of whom are believed to be former pro-Jakarta
militia members, after a scorched earth campaign in response to
the landslide victory by pro-independence voters in 1999.
Security & boarder issues
East Timor welcomes police plan
Refugees can no longer reclaim assets
Editorial: A fair deal for East Timor
Security & boarder issues
Agence France-Presse - March 8, 2004
East Timor today welcomed proposals to form a new foreign police unit, including Australian officers, to boost security after the current United Nations mission is scaled down in May.
The Foreign Ministry said Australia, Britain and the United States had suggested the creation of a 125-strong armed emergency response police unit, in addition to the 310-strong military peacekeeping force proposed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta has told Dili diplomats and the United Nations his government "welcomes the joint initiative by Australia-UK-US," the ministry said in a statement.
"The Government sees merit in this addition to the very important report of the secretary-general as it does provide extra deterrence value," the statement quoted Ramos-Horta as saying.
"The only point the Government... wishes to emphasise is that it will retain executive authority over our own law and order agencies, namely, our national police."
In a report to the UN Security Council last month, Annan proposed a one-year extension for the current UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) after its mandate expires on May 20, but with a big cut in the number of peacekeeping troops and support staff.
The UN took over the running of the country in 1999 after the departure of Indonesian troops and their local militias, who left much of the former Indonesian province in ruins.
East Timor became independent on May 20, 2002, but a UN mission stayed on to help Asia's poorest nation through its early years.
Annan proposed a 310-strong peacekeeping force plus 42 military liaison officers, 157 civilian police advisers and 58 advisers to support the public administration and justice system.
There are currently 1,750 UN peacekeepers, 125 police officers, 200 police advisers and 70 civilian advisers. Annan said no new recent violence had been reported by former pro-Jakarta militiamen.
But "reports of sightings of armed gangs and criminal elements in districts bordering (Indonesian) West Timor continued, as did suggestions of preparations for destabilising activity by Timorese groups with unclear agendas."
Jakarta Post - March 12, 2004
Kupang -- East Timorese refugees in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) province can no longer claim any assets in East Timor, as Thursday was the deadline for the refugees to do so back in the country of their birth.
Stanis Tefa, the secretary of the East Nusa Tenggara Task Force for Disasters and Refugees, said that the government of East Timor did not extend the deadline for refugees to reclaim assets. He said that some 9,000 East Timorese refugees are living in NTT, and that any assets that they may have had a claim to now are legally owned by the government of East Timor.
The refugees are the remainder of those who fled across the border, most of whom are believed to be former pro-Jakarta militia members, after a scorched earth campaign in response to the landslide victory by pro-independence voters in 1999.
The Age - March 30, 2004
If Australia and East Timor cannot agree on a maritime boundary, let the court decide.
East Timor's viability as a nation depends in large part upon its ability to exploit limited resources. Despite massive international aid efforts since the departing Indonesian military and anti-independence militias laid waste to 70 per cent of the island's infrastructure, the East Timorese economy remains fragile.
Its limited agricultural base aside, the one bright spot on the economic horizon for the world's newest nation lies deep beneath the Timor Sea. The oil and natural gas reserves of the surrounding waters represent the future prosperity of this tiny country.
Those resources also represent the point at which Australian and East Timorese interests collide. Australia is well aware of the worth of the oil and gas riches in the Timor Sea.
It should not be forgotten that when Australia recognised Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor, it took the dubious course of entering into an agreement to develop a "zone of co- operation" with Indonesia for the exploitation of those resources, without any reference to the wishes of the East Timorese people.
A final delineation of the maritime boundary between Australia and East Timor will determine which nation controls those assets.
Dili believes this would be in its interests and claims Canberra is not moving quickly enough to complete the boundary, while in the meantime continuing to exploit the oil reserves to Australia's profit. Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri says international law demands that Australia "exercise restraint in respect of the exploitation of disputed maritime areas".
East Timor has threatened to take the matter before the International Court of Justice, despite Australia's position that it will not submit to the court's jurisdiction on matters of disputed maritime boundaries.
Australia has a moral obligation to continue to deal with its neighbour both fairly and transparently. If there is a genuine dispute that the parties cannot resolve bilaterally -- and from the words of Dr Alkatiri that certainly appears to be the case -- then it is in Australia's interests as much as East Timor's to have the matter independently arbitrated.
As a bare minimum, legislation currently before the Australian Parliament dealing with the exploitation of oil and gas reserves should be held over until the position is clarified.
If, as Australia claims, it has acted fairly towards its tiny neighbour, then it has nothing to fear from having the matter referred to the international court.
Ultimately, it is in Australia's interests to behave generously towards East Timor. Oil revenues from the Timor Sea for Australia are incidental compared to their importance and value to East Timor.
Yet from both economic and security perspectives, a viable neighbour is far preferable to a vulnerable one trapped in a cycle of poverty and dependence on foreign aid.
The Australian - March 31, 2004
Nigel Wilson -- The federal Government's release of exploration acreage in the Timor Sea has been described as "a slap in the face" for East Timor Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.
Shadow resources minister Joel Fitzgibbon said it was another example of the Australian Government bullying East Timor over maritime boundaries.
On Monday, Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane included Timor Sea acreage among 31 new offshore petroleum exploration areas available for tender, saying Australia had a long history of sovereignty over the area.
East Timor and Australia have begun negotiations on a maritime boundary. Dr Alkatiri has argued that Australia is robbing his country of billions of dollars in revenue by approving projects in areas of the Timor Sea where sovereignty is in dispute. He has called for existing production in developments such as Laminaria/Corallina to be stopped until the boundary is settled.
Mr Fitzgibbon yesterday reiterated that the ALP wanted to achieve a negotiated settlement with East Timor in accordance with international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the maritime boundaries protocols which the Howard Government withdrew from before signing the Timor Sea treaty with East Timor two years ago.
Mr Fitzgibbon said the ALP was committed to settling the maritime boundaries within three to five years and he had great confidence in the negotiation process. But he rejected allowing the boundary to be set by the International Court of Justice.
"These are matters for bilateral negotiations. I don't think we need the international community to tell us how to run our foreign policy or our resources policy," Mr Fitzgibbon said. "I'm sure that we can work through this thing together but it won't work if the present Government continues the high-handed attitude and the bullying tactics. Mari Alkatiri will go back into his shell."
Mr Fitzgibbon said the East Timorese had a strong case for their boundary position, which Australia should acknowledge. Australia could continue to send direct foreign aid, or work out a way to help East Timor become self-supporting, he said.
Green Left Weekly - March 31, 2004
Max Lane -- On March 24, the Senate resumed debate of the Greater Sunrise Unitisation Bill 2004, a bill to allow for the implementation of the Greater Sunrise International Unitisation Agreement that the East Timorese government was pressured to sign last year. The IUA covers how government revenues from the Greater Sunrise gas field are to be calculated.
The Greater Sunrise field -- expected to generate $10 billion in government revenues over the project's life -- lies to the north of the median line between East Timor and Australia and the tax revenues from it should belong entirely to East Timor. But the Australian government refuses to recognise the half-way line as a border and claims sovereignty over 82% of the field.
The East Timorese parliament is refusing to ratify the agreement until it is satisfied that Canberra is willing to negotiate in good faith on the issue of the border.
If the bill is enacted, the Howard government will be able to increase pressure on the East Timorese parliament to ratify the agreement.
A consortium of companies -- consisting of Woodside Petroleum, ConocoPhillips, Shell and Osaka Gas -- has invested $200 million in the project. Canberra claims the consortium is unwilling to proceed with further large-scale investment, estimated at $7 billion, until the East Timorese parliament ratifies the agreement.
During debate on March 24, Democrat Senator Natasha Stott Despoja introduced an amendment to condemn the Howard government's withdrawal from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and cases relating to maritime boundaries before the International Court of Justice. This amendment was lost, with the Democrat and Greens senators voting for it and Coalition and ALP senators voting against.
The amendment also called for all government revenues collected from the Greater Sunrise project to be kept in trust until the dispute between Australia and East Timor over the maritime boundary is settled. This amendment was also lost, with Coalition and Labor senators voting against.
"Here we have the fraudulent, coercive theft of the one great resource this new, poor neighbour of ours has to develop its future and to secure its future", Greens Senator Bob Brown said during the debate on the bill.
Senator Kim Carr justified Labor senators support for the bill by claiming that East Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri had indicated in private conversations with ALP shadow foreign minister Kevin Rudd that he had no problems with Labor MPs supporting the bill.
However, in a statement issued on March 26, Alkatiri said: "'I clearly voiced my concerns regarding the IUA bill, and consider that the Australian actions and statements in regard to the IUA undermine the prospects for its approval by the East Timor national parliament. These actions are the unilateral issuance of licences, by Australia, in an area of the Greater Sunrise field described as a disputed area in the text of the IUA. There are Australian statements that claim that this area is an area of 'sole Australian jurisdiction'. This is categorically incorrect."
Alkatiri added: "There is widespread lack of support for the IUA in East Timor. The facts that Australia is issuing licenses in disputed areas; has not committed to a time frame to determine our maritime boundaries; claims to have insufficient resources to enter into more than bi-annual meetings to negotiate our boundaries; has withdrawn from the International Court of Justice on maritime boundaries and continues to exploit the Laminaria, Corallina and Buffalo oil fields which lie in an area of sea claimed by East Timor and which are nearing the end of their lives despite our official objections, does not help East Timor's trust in Australia to abide by any legally binding agreement entered into. If permanent maritime boundaries were agreed expeditiously and in accordance with international law, many of these issues would dissolve." The debate on the bill will resume on March 29.
Associated Press - March 29, 2004
Canberra -- Parliament passed legislation Monday allowing Australia and East Timor to share revenue from a Timor Sea gas and oil field in a deal that a Greens lawmaker said robs one of the world's poorest nations of vital revenue.
Australia will take about 80% and East Timor 20% of royalties from the Greater Sunrise field, which some analysts say could hold A$40 billion in gas and oil.
The conservative coalition government of Prime Minister John Howard passed the legislation through the Senate with the support of the opposition Labor Party, 49 votes to 11.
The agreement governs how revenue is shared until the two nations can agree on a new maritime boundary, to replace the one accepted by Indonesia when it ruled East Timor.
Lawmakers who oppose the deal say all of Greater Sunrise should belong exclusively to Australia's impoverished neighbor.
East Timor agreed to the revenue deal in 2002, although that country's Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri later said his government was pressured by Australia and oil companies to sign it, and his parliament hasn't yet ratified the accord.
The fledgling nation hopes to get a bigger share of the oil fields once the maritime boundary is redrawn.
Greens lawmaker Bob Brown proposed two amendments to the legislation but both were defeated.
One would have allowed the International Court of Justice to decide a boundary if negotiations between Australia and East Timor couldn't agree on one by December 31 next year. The second would have allowed the Greater Sunrise agreement to lapse if a permanent boundary wasn't decided by December 31, 2006.
"What a terrible moment this is for Australia and for Timor Leste [East Timor], for this parliament," Sen. Brown told parliament. "The bill is going to rob the poorest country in Southeast Asia to line the pockets of the government and the oil corporations of the richest country in the region, which is Australia."
The Australian Democrats, a minor party, supported Sen. Brown's first amendment but dismissed the second as unworkable. "I feel like this country and this government have just been bushrangers [armed robbers] for oil," Democrats Sen. Natasha Stott Despoja said.
Government minister Eric Abetz defended the deal, saying it provided certainty of some revenue for East Timor while the maritime boundary was being negotiated.
Agence France Presse - March 26, 2004
Dili -- Tiny East Timor accused its giant neighbour Australia on Friday of breaching international law by issuing exploration licences in a disputed section of a giant gasfield in the sea area between them.
Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said his country is committed to honouring agreements with Canberra about the Greater Sunrise field.
However, he said his country's parliament would find it easier to ratify their International Unitisation Agreement on exploiting the gasfield "if Australia was acting in accordance with international law."
Alkatiri has criticised Australian claims that part of Greater Sunrise is under its exclusive control. He says the Timor Sea Treaty which both countries have signed recognises that its status is still in dispute.
The treaty gives Australia interim rights to at least 82 percent of the totalrevenues from the reserves until Dili and Canberra reach agreement on where their maritime boundary should fall.
Australia wants to keep the border which was agreed with Jakarta after Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975. This would give it the lion's share of the reserves.
But newly independent East Timor argues that the border should lie at the mid-point between the two countries, in line with international practice.
In March 2002, Australia withdrew from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea before the dispute reached the arbiter.
Alkatiri, in a statment Friday, again took Australia to task for issuing licences in disputed areas and for refusing to agree a timeframe to settle the border.
Its stance, he said, "does not help Timor-Leste's [East Timor's] trust in Australia to abide by any legally binding agreement entered into."
East Timor was Asia's poorest nation when it became independent in May 2002. It counts on oil and gas reserves to end its dependence on foreign aid.
Green Left Weekly - March 24, 2004
Max Lane -- Since the East Timorese independence referendum in 1999, the Australian government has received approximately $1 billion dollars in taxes on oil taken from the Laminaria Corallina field, which is fully situated in East Timorese territory.
During the same period, East Timor has received absolutely nothing from this oil field. One billion dollars is four times the amount of "aid" that has been "given" to East Timor through AusAID since 1999.
In Melbourne, the Timor Sea Justice Campaign has been established and other groups are screening the documentary "Timor Gap Oil and Gas: Don't Rob Their Future" to raise awareness about this rip- off. Clearly there is a massive challenge to reawaken and mobilise the Australian people's solidarity with East Timor against the Australian government's robbery.
It should concern us all that the campaign to give East TImor its resources back is stronger in the United States than in Australia. The US East Timor Action Network, ETAN, issued a petition signed by scores of organisations worldwide calling on the Australian government to change its position. Even members of the US Congress have written to Howard on this issue.
The complete moral bankruptcy of so-called "mainstream" politics is illustrated by the deafening silence in the Australian media and parliament about what amounts to an Australian occupation of East Timorese territory and the direct theft of billions of dollars worth of oil.
Between Suharto's invasion of East Timor in 1975 and Indonesian president Habibie's agreement to withdraw Indonesian troops in September 1999, the Australian political establishment relentlessly and mercilessly pursued a policy of support for Jakarta's annexation and military occupation of East Timor.
More than 200,000 East Timorese were killed, or died from hunger, during Jakarta's war of occupation. Most of these deaths occurred during periods when the Australian government was sending military equipment to Jakarta.
From 1975, the motivation behind Australian policy was clearly that it would be easier to get access to the oil in the Timor Sea from the dictator Suharto than from a new independent and nationalist East Timorese government, which may have opted for Chinese, Soviet or European oil partners. Now, thirty years on, the Australian government is doing all it can to keep what it was given by Suharto.
According to international law, as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) the international sea boundary between countries situated close to each other is the median line (the half-way point). But the Australian government insists that an old border -- the 1972 Australia-Indonesia seabed boundary agreed with the Suharto -- be the basis of current negotiations between Canberra and Dili on exploration of oil in the Timor Gap.
To protect itself from legal challenge, since March 2002 the Australian government has refused to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice or any dispute-settlement mechanisms under UNCLOS.
There are four major oil or gas fields in East Timorese territorial waters: the Laminaria Corallina oil field, the Elang Kakatua oil field, the Bayu-Undan oil and gas field and the Greater Sunrise gas field. The Australian government, resting on the agreement with the deposed Jakarta dictator, claims 100% sovereignty over Laminara Corallina and sovereignty over 80% of the territory of the huge Greater Sunrise.
Canberra's one concession to the new East Timorese government was that it agreed to accept 10% of taxes, rather than the 50% Suharto had agreed to, on takings from the Elang Kakatua and Bayu-Udan fields (the smaller of the yet unexploited fields). This was set out in the 2002 Timor Sea Treaty signed with the East Timorese government at the time of formal independence.
If this new occupation of East Timor's territory is maintained, East Timor will be robbed of approximately US$30 billion dollars over the next three decades.
On March 10, the federal Coalition government introduced several bills to give effect to an agreement signed in March 2003 between Dili and Canberra on how to calculate the division of revenue from the Greater Sunrise field. Dili signed this under pressure from the Australian government, which threatened to not ratify the 2002 Timor Sea Treaty until Dili signed. Without ratification of the treaty, exploitation of the Baya Udan field was likely to collapse, and East Timor would have lost urgently needed short- term funds.
However, Dili still insisted that the Greater Sunrise agreement include a clause stating that all existing agreements with Australia could be renegotiated once there was an agreement on a new sea border (as Dili rejected the 1972 Australia-Indonesia sea boundary).
Dili has not ratified the agreement, calling for negotiation on the border issue and for a date to be set for the conclusion of these negotiations. The Australian government's refusal to set an end-date and claims that it can only afford to hold two meetings a year have sparked fears that it will attempt to drag out the whole process, knowing that all the oil will be exhausted within ten years or so.
The government initially attempted to get the new bills, including the Greater Sunrise Unitisation Implementation Bill 2004, passed through both houses of parliament in one day. In doing so, industry, tourism and resources minister Ian McFarlane made a point of calling on the East Timorese government to quickly follow suit.
In the House of Representatives, the bill was fully supported by the Labor Party, and several Labor MPs gave speeches discussing the benefits of the bill for the Australian economy. The ALP's only substantive criticism was that the government was not insisting that the oil and gas companies (including British, Japanese and American companies as well as Australian) be forced to buy the equipment they needed in Australia.
Northern Territory MP Warren Snowdon's main concern was that "this stuff is brought onshore", in effect denying the Timorese the right to insist that their oil be refined in East Timor rather than in Darwin. This latter point, and an ALP proposal that companies should lose their lease if they do not start exploitation within a specific period of time, were the only real points of "debate" with McFarlane, who attacked Labor as "anti- business". Neither the Coalition nor the ALP questioned Australia's right to grant leases for East Timorese oil.
Country Liberal MP David Tollner attacked the ALP for allegedly treasonous behaviour in arguing for East Timor's interests rather than Australia's. However, the closest ALP mining, energy and forestry shadow minister Joel Fitzgibbon got to this was his racist and patronising statement: "East Timor is an impoverished nation... We cannot bring it to self-sufficiency by hand-out alone. The best we can do for the East Timorese people is to give them an industry, an economic base and an opportunity to grow their economy to create local jobs." Such a statement ignores the fact that it is East Timor doing the "giving", as all the oil and gas being discussed is within East Timorese territory.
Snowdon read a quote from an ALP national conference resolution, which states that a Labor government will negotiate with East Timor in good faith on a new border, and will accept international law. However the resolution then negates this affirmation by stating that the negotiations may take 3-5 years and: "The conclusion of the maritime boundary should be based on the joint aspirations of both countries".
In reality, there is nothing to negotiate. The Australian government and Labor opposition should simply state that they accept the median line as the border and acknowledge that they have no rights at all over any of the oil and gas resources on the East Timorese side of the border.
This was the stance taken by Greens MP Michael Organ, and even more clearly by independent MP Peter Andren, who made a clear statement that Australia had no moral right to the resources at all. Under threat of an embarrassing attack by the Greens in the Senate, the bill was referred to a committee for one week's perusal. However, this committee has concentrated on ALP concerns about insufficient requirement for purchase of Australian- manufactured equipment and similar matters.
Interpress News Service - March 24, 2004
Bob Burton, Canberra -- East Timor's government, Australian political leaders and community groups are condemning the Australian government for what has been described as an attempt to 'rob' billions of dollars of revenues from oil and gas projects in the sea between the two countries.
The legislation being proposed by the Australian government on dividing potential proceeds from resources is unfair toward East Timor because the sea boundaries between the neighbors remain unsettled, charges the spokesman for the Timor Sea Justice Campaign, Dan Nicholson.
"In the absence of good faith negotiations or international arbitration on sea boundaries with the East Timorese government, the bill will lead to billions of dollars of revenue that should belong to East Timor being appropriated by Australia," he told the Senate economics legislation committee Monday evening.
Two weeks ago, the Australian government rushed legislation through the lower house to ratify an agreement with East Timor over the proposed Greater Sunrise oil and gas project.
Australian Greens leader, Sen. Bob Brown, described the draft legislation as a "travesty". He said: "The loss in royalties for East Timor may be $5.6 billion over the coming decades: a robbery of the region's poorest country by its richest neighbour."
"Just as Australia is honoring the agreement it reached with East Timor by putting in place the necessary legislation, I call on the government of East Timor to expedite its own treaty implementation process," the minister for industry, tourism and resources, Ian Macfarlane, told parliament.
The legislation, named the Greater Sunrise Unitization Agreement Implementation Bill 2004, was backed by the lower house. The Senate, however, insisted that the issue be investigated.
Signed by both countries in March 2003, the agreement divides the revenues with 82 percent of the projected $7 billion for the Australian government and only 18 percent for East Timor -- even though the oil and gas are far closer to the shores of East Timor than they are to Australia.
The project proponents are a consortium of companies including Woodside, ConocoPhillips, Shell and Osaka Gas.
At the time the government of East Timor, referred to as Timor Leste, agreed to ratify the Greater Sunrise agreement in order to ensure it would gain immediate access to desperately needed revenues from the existing but smaller Bayu Undan field covered under the separate Timor Sea Treaty.
Ahead of this week's hearing, the prime minister of Timor Leste, Mari Alkatiri, issued a media statement warning that Australian government statements about the agreement contradicted the accord and could "undermine its prospects for approval".
"If maritime boundaries were negotiated in accordance with international law, all of this field would likely be attributed to East Timor," he said.
At the same time, Dili fears that if the Australian government stalled the negotiations for years, it would then still receive billions of dollars in income from the project until such time as a sea boundary was finalized -- to East Timor's detriment.
Nicholson submitted that there was already evidence that Australia is not negotiating in good faith.
"The Australian government can stall and delay the boundary negotiations with East Timor for years until the Greater Sunrise field is depleted. We have already seen the Australian government stall on these negotiations," he said.
"Usually if negotiations between two countries are proving fruitless, they could go to arbitration. However, two months before East Timor's independence Australia withdrew from the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea," Nicholson added.
Alkatiri also expressed anger at Australia's rejection of the proposal that the two countries meet monthly to promptly finalise the international boundaries. Instead, the Australian government has said it has enough resources to meet just every six months.
John Hartwell from the Australian Department of Industry, Science and Resources told the Senate committee that he could not give an estimate of when negotiations might be completed, but downplayed suggestions that reaching a conclusion within five years is feasible.
While insisting that "Australia negotiates in good faith", Hartwell claimed that holding monthly meetings to resolve a sea boundary would be unrealistic.
Asked what the Australian rationale for six-monthly meetings is, Hartwell searched for an explanation: "The rationale is, is, umm, ah it is in the nature of these discussions that very serious propositions are put by both sides during each round of negotiations and particularly on questions of both I suppose law, geomorphology, geography. a whole range of issues."
"To have a negotiation one month and then to expect all of those issues raised in one round of negotiations be given adequate consideration by respective governments I just don't think is realistic," Hartwell added.
Nicholson proposed that to reassure the government of East Timor, Australia's Senate should amend the legislation to set the funds aside in a special account to be allocated only after the sea boundary is resolved.
"All Australian government revenue from Greater Sunrise should be placed into trust, and that when permanent maritime boundaries are finalized the trust funds automatically be distributed according to the entitlement of each country," Nicholson said.
Opposition to the deal has also spread to the US Congress. Democratic congressman Barney Frank, and 53 colleagues earlier in March wrote to Prime Minister John Howard and endorsed the need to urgently establish a permanent maritime boundary between Australia and East Timor.
They suggested "any revenue from disputed areas be held in escrow until a permanent boundary is established".
Radio Australia - March 22, 2004
East Timor has threatened to withold ratification of an agreement with Australia to develop oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea worth eight-billion US dollars. And East Timor says it could still take Australia to the International Court of Justice, even though Canberra says it will not submit to boundary rulings by the World Court.
Presenter/Interviewer: Graeme Dobell Speakers: Jorge Teme, East Timor's Ambassador to Australia
Dobell: At issue are two resource rich areas in the Timor Sea which fall on the Australian side of a border negotiated with Indonesia more than 30 years ago. The two areas are on either side of the Timor Gap, which is being jointly developed by East Timor and Australia.
East Timor says a new permanent boundary, set at the mid-point between the two countries, would give it complete ownership of the two disputed areas. Dili says Australia is wrong to claim sole jurisdiction when there are overlapping claims, and now is threatening to withold its formal approval for an agreement to develop the Greater Sunrise field. East Timor's ambassador in Canberra, George da Conceicao Teme.
Teme: With this ratification I think East Timor will not benefit much from the exploration.
Dobell: Is the threat that East Timor will not ratify?
Teme: Well, East Timor basically has the intention to ratify, but then a maritime boundary, a permanent maritime boundary along the line must be determined in order to determine a fair and just share of the oil and gas.
Dobell: If East Timor threatens not to ratify, does that raise significant question for the developers, for those who would be looking at developing the seabed resources?
Teme: Well, what East Timor is seeking is frequent negotiations to look at how East Timor could benefit more from what is supposed to be its right. Because East Timor desperately needs the money to reconstruct and rebuild a country that has been devastated.
Dobell: East Timor wants Australia to speed up negotiations on a permanent maritime boundary. Canberra says it wants the formal talks to be held only twice a year. Beyond that process, East Timor holds out a final threat -- to turn to the International Court of Justice, where Dili thinks it'd be well placed to win an argument that the new boundary should be mid-way between the two countries.
To shut off that recourse to the World Court, Australia announced two years ago that it would no longer submit to the Court's rulings on maritime boundaries. But Ambassador Teme says, Canberra may not be beyond the court's reach....
Teme: International Court of Justice ... to insist Australia to reenter International Court of Justice. Because, according to the UN convention 1982, if there are two countries that cannot resolve any problems of any overlapping claims, that International Court of Justice is the only way to resolve. The example is like Malaysia and Indonesia over two islands that has been resolved last year.
Dobell: Australia, though, has said that it no longer accepts the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice over boundary issues. Do you see some legal way around that Australian position?
Teme: Well, we see Australia wants this to be discussed bilaterally. We Timorese are more than happy to be guided under our very developed neighbour and we appreciate it, but we also want to be guided in a just and honest way.
Dobell: Do you think that you will get a better deal, if you can put it onto a mulinational legal stage than you are going to get from Australia bilaterally?
Teme: Well, because we are just starting the negotiations, and we hope more talks can be done in order to explore a more productive and amicable solution over this claim.
Dobell: The Australian approach so far though has not been productive and amicable?
Well it depends on how you or we judge it. But everybody knows that Australia has been broadly involved in the restoration of peace and security around the globe, and we always hoped that Australia would treat its neighbour in a just and honest way, and that should be acceptable for the people of East Timor.
Melbourne Age - March 22, 2004
Brendan Nicholson -- The East Timorese Government says Australia is breaching international law by taking billions of dollars worth of fuel from parts of the Timor Sea oil and gas fields that East Timor says it owns.
Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said Australia had already received more revenue from the Timor Gap oil and gas fields than it spent bringing peace to the new country.
Dr Alkatiri said yesterday that the Timor Gap treaty between his country and Australia was unfairly skewed in favour of the far more powerful partner, Australia.
He said that under the existing arrangement East Timor would receive about $5.3 billion from the Timor Gap resources over coming decades while it was entitled to $16 billion.
He said Australia had earned an estimated $2 billion since 1999 from the Corallina, Laminaria and Buffalo fields in disputed areas -- and that was more than its total peacekeeping commitments to East Timor have cost.
Dr Alkatiri said that East Timor signed the agreement last March on the clear understanding that Australia recognised its claims and sought not to prejudice its rights in the Timor Sea.
East Timor understood that Australia would engage in good faith negotiations on permanent boundaries outlining access to the oil, Dr Alkatiri said.
He said East Timor had asked Australia for a series of monthly meetings so the issue could be resolved quickly but Australia had responded that it had the resources to meet only twice a year.
"East Timor is one of the poorest countries in the world and Australia one of the richest," Dr Alkatiri said.
"International law requires that Australia exercise restraint in respect of the exploitation of disputed maritime areas."
The money was badly needed to help rebuild his shattered nation, to tackle the issue of mass poverty and to allow it to achieve economic independence.
Dr Alkatiri said that while Australia was delaying negotiations it had issued new licences in disputed areas near the Sunrise field and it was continuing to derive revenue from other disputed parts of the Timor Sea.
Dr Alkatiri said the Timor Gap treaty . . . was unfairly skewed in favour of the more powerful partner, Australia.
"If maritime boundaries were negotiated in accordance with international law, all of this field would likely be attrib-uted to East Timor," he said.
A spokesman for Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said exploitation of the Timor Gap resources was going on in accordance with the law and the arrangement was very generous to East Timor.
He said the agreement provided a fantastic opportunity for the development of the Timor Sea resources by both countries.
That was a great opportunity to kick-start the East Timorese economy, the spokesman said, and the process of delineating the boundaries had begun.
Dr Alkatiri said only a permanent maritime boundary established in accordance with international law could deliver the stable investment environment that would serve the interests of petroleum investors and both countries.
The parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Treaties will hear more evidence on the agreement in Canberra today.
Australian Financial Review - March 22, 2004
Mark Davis -- Moves to develop massive natural gas fields in the Timor Sea face new hurdles after East Timor's government yesterday strongly disputed the Australian government's interpretation of a deal between the two countries for exploitation of the resources.
Timor's Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri, said Canberra's claims that the Greater Sunrise gas field lay partly in an area of exclusive Australian jurisdiction contradicted the agreement and undermined its chances of being ratified.
Dr Alkatiri said Australian government officials and MPs had made the claims about the Greater Sunrise International Unitisation Agreement in seeking passage of legislation implementing the deal in federal parliament.
But he said the agreement itself clearly stated that the area in question was subject to overlapping claims which needed to be resolved.
"We signed this agreement on the clear understanding that Australia recognised our claims and sought not to prejudice our rights in the Timor Sea, as stated in the IUA, and that consequently, it would engage in good faith negotiations on permanent boundaries," he said.
But he said the Australian government had delayed negotiations to resolve the issue and instead went ahead and issued new exploration licences in the disputed area.
Dr Alkatiri's statement came before parliamentary committee hearings this week on legislation introduced to the parliament earlier this month to implement the Unitisation Agreement in Australia.
Melbourne Age - March 23, 2004
Brendan Nicholson -- A lobby group supporting East Timor wants Australia to put the billions flowing from some of the Timor Gap oil and gas fields into a trust fund until the boundary dispute is resolved.
East Timor Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said this week that Australia was breaching international law by taking billions of dollars worth of oil and gas from the Timor Gap fields, which East Timor says it owns.
Australia claims that a key part of the Greater Sunrise field lies within Australian control.
Representatives of the Timor Sea Justice Campaign appeared before a Senate inquiry in Canberra yesterday saying legislation now being considered would give Australia control over huge fuel supplies that belonged to the impoverished country.
Spokesman Dan Nicholson said the bill to implement the Timor agreement would give 82 per cent of its revenue to Australia even though the deposit was half the distance from East Timor as it was from Australia. His group wants Australia to negotiate a deal more beneficial to East Timor.
Greens leader Bob Brown said Australia was robbing its poor neighbour of royalties it desperately needed. "It's illegal, it's not moral and it's robbery of the poorest country in the region," he said. "It means for many decades there's going to be bad blood between us and our poor neighbour," he said. "We're talking not about peanuts here, we are talking about billions, tens of billions of dollars, and it's absolutely outrageous that the Australian Government is doing this."
Agence France Presse - March 11, 2004
Washington -- US legislators have urged Australia to negotiate its maritime boundary with East Timor to give the tiny nation a fair share of Timor Sea resources.
The fate of substantial oil and natural gas deposits between Australia and newly independent East Timor depends on a boundary agreement to be hammered out between the two countries.
In a letter to Prime Minister John Howard, 53 members of the US House of Representatives urged Canberra to establish a "fair, permanent maritime boundary and an equitable sharing of oil and gas resources".
Massachusetts representative Barney Frank, who initiated the letter, said a fair agreement would help East Timor rebuild, alleviate mass poverty and avoid long-term dependence on foreign aid.
After winning independence from Indonesia in 2002, East Timor's parliament passed a law claiming a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone from the island and sought negotiations for a permanent maritime boundary with Australia.
Canberra agreed to the talks, which were first held last November, but declined to accept a timetable for resolving the issue. The next round of talks is scheduled for April 19 to 23.
The US legislators urged Australia to hold monthly meetings as sought by East Timor, rather than the twice-yearly talks Canberra has insisted on.
"The world is watching closely how Australia treats East Timor," said Karen Orenstein, the Washington co-ordinator of the East Timor Action Network. "Australia will lose the goodwill it generated in 1999 if it cheats East Timor out of the tens of billions of dollars of petroleum revenue."
In 1999, an Australian-led force helped stem pro-Indonesia militia violence that followed East Timor's vote for independence.
Associated Press - March 10, 2004
Canberra -- Australian opposition lawmakers on Wednesday held up legislation to ratify an oil and gas field development deal with East Timor, saying the agreement exploited the impoverished nation.
Bob Brown of the Australian Greens Party said the deal _ to develop lucrative oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea _ allowed Prime Minister John Howard's government to cheat the world's newest country out of billions of dollars worth of natural resources.
"It's an act of piracy by the Howard government," Brown told reporters. "It really is degrading to East Timor."
The deal, agreed a year ago, gives Australia 80 percent of the royalties from the massive Greater Sunrise gas and oil field _ the richest in the area and which industry analysts have valued at US$40 billion.
The bill introduced by the government on Wednesday was to ratify the agreement. Drilling cannot begin at the field until Canberra has ratified the agreement by making it law.
Speaking to The Associated Press last year, East Timor Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said his tiny country, desperate to get oil and gas revenue flowing, had been pressured into signing the agreement.
The main opposition Labor Party called for more discussion of the bill late Wednesday, after Brown urged its members to reject the legislation.
Kirsty Boazman, a spokeswoman for Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane, said it was now unclear when the legislation would be passed.
"I don't understand. Labor has already agreed to this, and it's been through committee. They've already had the chance to discuss any aspects of it," she said. "It's opposition for opposition's sake."
Boazman also rejected Brown's claim that Australia was cheating East Timor and argued that a delay in development of the oil and gas field would be more harmful to the country.
"East Timor and Australia get nothing when (the reserves are) lying on the bottom of the sea, undeveloped," she said. "At the moment there's nothing for Australia to steal."
Washington Post - March 4, 2004
Nigel Wilson and Roy Eccleston, Washington -- The battle over the Timor Sea's vast gas reserves intensified yesterday with political delays to the Greater Sunrise field development coinciding with a call from senior US Congress members for Australia to accelerate talks on a new maritime boundary with East Timor.
At stake are billions of dollars worth of reserves from existing and future gasfield developments in the Timor Sea, with the fledgling nation of East Timor seeking a new boundary that would vastly increase its share income.
In Canberra, a federal Government bid to put pressure on East Timor was thwarted yesterday when the Opposition sent legislation covering development of the Greater Sunrise gasfields to a committee for review.
Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane introduced bills designed to give legislative force to the so-called international unitisation agreement (IUA) between East Timor and the Greater Sunrise partners -- Woodside, ConocoPhillips, Shell and Osaka Gas. Ratification of the IUA, which sets the amount of revenue East Timor can take from Sunrise, is essential for the $6 billion development to proceed. Under the Timor Sea Treaty, signed in May 2002, Australia and East Timor agreed that 20.1 per cent of Sunrise should be in the Joint Petroleum Development Area, where East Timor is entitled to 90 per cent of production.
But the IUA provides that the revenue split can be redetermined by agreement at any time and on the final delimitation of maritime borders.
The legislation would have put pressure on East Timor to ratify the IUA. But East Timor has indicated it will not ratify the agreement unless Australia sets a timetable for talks on shifting the maritime boundary between the two countries.
East Timor wants the boundary outside Australia's economic zone to a mid-point between the two countries, a move that would give it greater access to billions of dollars in revenue from existing and future fields.
East Timor Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri has also called on Australia to stop producing from oil and gas reservoirs in the Timor Sea that could ultimately come under East Timor's administration.
Last night, Opposition resources spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said the Government had attempted to bulldoze the legislation through both houses of Parliament in one day.
The Opposition blocked the legislation in the Senate and sent it to a committee for review. Its report will not be made for another two weeks.
Earlier, influential members of the US Congress joined international criticism of Australia for moving too slowly on revenue-sharing arrangements with East Timor.
Barney Frank, Democratic congressman from Massachusetts, along with 53 colleagues, has written to Prime Minister John Howard criticising his Government for failing to give a time frame to settle the deal. Mr Frank said an agreement should be possible within three to five years.
Australia should "move seriously and expeditiously in negotiations with East Timor to establish a fair, permanent maritime boundary and an equitable sharing of oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea", the letter said.
"Given the overlapping claims of the two countries, we would strongly hope that any revenue from disputed areas be held in escrow until a permanent boundary is established," it said.
Australia held talks with East Timor on the maritime boundary in November and has agreed to hold another round next month.
|Government & politics|
Radio Australia - March 26, 2004
Reporter: Anne Barker
Hamish Robertson: A children's schoolbook which portrays the President and Prime Minister of East Timor as monkeys has caused a diplomatic outcry.
A Washington-based organisation, the International Republican Institute, has compiled the book to teach children about the processes of democracy.
As Anne Barker reports, even the President himself, Xanana Gusmao, has taken personal exception to being described as a monkey, and the book has now been shelved.
Anne Barker: It's called Faty and Noi's Adventure to Parliament, a colourful picture book designed to teach East Timorese primary school children about the workings of government.
And to make it more engaging, the International Republican Institute, chose to portray the characters as monkeys. One illustration even shows four monkeys outside the Presidential Palace.
But within days of the book's launch the President himself, Xanana Gusmao, had expressed outrage and demanded the book be immediately shelved. East Timor's Education Minister, Armindo Maia, says it should never have been made.
Armindo Maia: It was a book, a book that lacks this culture sensitiveness by comparing the East Timorese to monkeys. And monkeys here in East Timor is like a stupid or nutty and it's a very pejorative character.
Anne Barker: So it was culturally offensive?
Armindo Maia: Yes. Yes.
Anne Barker: Do you think children though would make that connection?
Armindo Maia: Well, you know, it's just like making fun of them (laughs).
And particularly when you look at the cover, I mean, it reminds you of caricatures like the President, the Prime Minister and the President of the Parliament and people they easily recognise.
Anne Barker: So the monkeys were drawn deliberately to look like East Timorese leaders?
Armindo Maia: Yes. Yes.
Anne Barker: But the Republican Institute denies it ever meant to offend, and it's now withdrawn the book permanently. Its program manager in Dili, Rick Smotkin, says he had no idea that in East Timorese culture, the monkey is held in contempt.
Rick Smotkin: We had extensive consultation with the Government leaders, with the President, with students, with teachers and everyone agreed that the monkey was the funnest animal to portray to children, that children would relate to them and it would be a fun story for them.
In no way did we ever mean to offend the people of East Timor, or be culturally insensitive and we apologise profusely for that and for the reaction that came.
Anne Barker: Were you surprised at the reaction?
Rick Smotkin: Yes. I mean, it doesn't really portray individuals. I mean, it's loosely based on the key leaders of today, but like I said, it was never the intention of IRI or IRI especially here in Timor to portray the leaders of the country as monkeys. It was a fun way to educate people on a democratic process here in East Timor.
Hamish Robertson: That was Rick Smotkin, speaking to Anne Barker.
The Australian - March 18, 2004
East Timor's President Xanana Gusmao said today he would not stand for re-election in his country's second presidential elections, are slated for 2007.
"I am tired. Five years is enough for me," the independence hero and former guerrilla leader told the Portuguese news agency Lusa.
Gusmao won a five-year term in a landslide victory in the country's first presidential election held in April 2002. He secured more than 83 per cent of all votes cast, compared to just 17 per cent for his only challenger, Francisco Xavier do Amaral.
East Timor's Roman Catholic Bishop Carlos Belo said last month he would consider running for president if he had strong popular support for the move and if Gusmao decided not to run again.
Belo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996, along with Jose Ramos Horta, a prominent independence activist who is now East Timor's foreign minister, for his non-violent resistance to Indonesia's occupation of his homeland.
A poll carried out last year in East Timor found that more than 80 per cent of the population would like to see Belo run for president.
East Timor spent some 450 years as a neglected Portuguese colony before it was invaded by neighbouring Indonesia in 1975 after Lisbon abruptly withdrew.
The territory of some one million people officially became independent from Indonesia in May 2002 after its people voted overwhelmingly in 1999 to break free from Jakarta.
Associated Press - March 18, 2004
Guido Guillart, Dili -- An American group said on Thursday it cancelled plans to distribute a children's book on democracy in East Timor, after the country's leaders complained that the illustrations portrayed them as monkeys.
Faty And Noi's Adventure To Parliament was released on Saturday at a school with little fanfare by the International Republican Institute (or IRI) as part of a campaign to teach children about the workings of government.
The group said it meant no offence. But within days, East Timor's president, parliamentary speaker and prime minister expressed outrage that all characters in the book were monkeys, including four of them standing outside the presidential palace.
"No matter if our people are good looking or ugly, they should be portrayed as humans. This is definitely an effort to humiliate us because all East Timorese leaders in this book are portrayed as monkeys," said Francisco Guterres Lu-Olo, the head of the country's parliament.
"We may be a small country with many poor people but we still have our dignity," he said. "I will do everything to prevent the International Republican Institute from distributing this book."
The institute is the international branch of the US Republican Party of President George Bush and is dedicated to fostering democracy around the world.
At a news conference on Wednesday, President Xanana Gusmao praised the effort to teach children about democracy, but said that using animals to portray East Timor's leaders was poorly conceived.
"No matter if our people are good looking or ugly, they should be portrayed as humans, not animals," Gusmao said. "We may be a small country with many poor people but we still have our dignity".
Deborah White, the director of IRI in East Timor, said the group was "surprised and disappointed" by the controversy because the illustrations had been viewed and approved beforehand by the country's leadership.
The only animal ruled out in discussions with the government, she said, was a crocodile which is the country's national symbol. Monkeys were settled on, she said, over lions, water buffaloes and chickens because children could better relate to them. "We had the impression from months of consultation that this was an illustration that would entertain kids and educate them about the way their government works," she said.
"We never intended to offend the people of East Timor. We apologise but we are standing by the process we went through to consult and develop the book."
Gusmao publicly acknowledged that he had seen the book beforehand but said he didn't look at it carefully enough to notice the illustrations. The parliamentary head claims to have never seen the book before its issue, saying only his deputy did. It was not immediately possible to reach Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri for comment.
IRI had planned to distribute 5 000 copies of the book across the country at a cost of $15 000, White said. The book is similar to one used in the US by other educational groups, though the characters there are mice not monkeys, she said.
Australian Financial Review - March 5, 2004
Trevor Sykes with Andrew Burrell -- East Timor's Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri, has angrily rejected claims he accepted $US2.5 million in bribes from oil and gas company ConocoPhillips to secure an investment in the Timor Sea, threatening to sue the company for including them in a legal action in the US.
"I have not, nor have I ever, taken bribes from ConocoPhillips or any other party. I regard these allegations as far-fetched and frivolous," Alkatiri said.
"I understand that corruption has the potential to ruin Timor- Leste's [East Timor] prospects; that is why it is my personal mission to build Timor-Leste on principles of integrity, honesty and transparency."
Alkatiri said he had not been named as a respondent in the legal action, but he was seeking advice over a possible legal action in relation to the "defamatory" allegations as he considered Oceanic's claim to be "vexatious" and to have been filed in bad faith.
"Timor-Leste is the newest and one of the poorest countries in the world," he said. "Such allegations come as a highly unfortunate distraction at this difficult and crucial time of nation building. I understand that corruption has the potential to ruin Timor-Leste's prospects; that is why it is my personal mission to build Timor-Leste on principles of integrity, honesty and transparency."
The Australian Government has been accused of helping to bribe Alkatiri in the sensational statement of claim filed in the US District Court in Washington by the US-based Oceanic Exploration Company. Oceanic alleges the Australian government was aware of and participated in the bribery of Alkatiri, whose parliamentary salary is $US450 a month.
When he took office, Alkatiri was hostile to the division of oilfields in the Timor Sea, which Australia negotiated with Indonesia in 1989. However, Alkatiri subsequently moderated his stance and the East Timorese government agreed to a modification of the 1989 agreement in 2002.
Oceanic's filing alleges that in November 2002, members of the ruling Fretilin party individually went to Australian officials to receive $US50,000 in payments from ConocoPhillips, which has interests in several valuable oil and gas leases in the Timor Sea. The statement names an Australian official who is alleged to have made the payments.
The filing claims that former Australian governments colluded with Indonesia during the invasion of East Timor in 1975 and acquiesced in Indonesia's subsequent transfer of Oceanic's oil interests to another US company, ConocoPhillips. The leases cover the valuable Bayu Undan, Elang/Kakatua and Sunrise gas/oil fields in the Timor Gap.
Oceanic is claiming $US10 billion damages for the alleged theft of the leases. As the claim is being made under the USA's draconic Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act (RICO), any damages finding would be automatically trebled, which means the ambit claim is actually for $US30billion.
A spokesman for the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, said the federal government was not aware of the legal action and had not seen the documents lodged with the US court.
"These sound like outrageous allegations," the spokesman said. "Australian officials would not get involved in that sort of thing." He said the government would be able to make a more detailed response to the allegations once it had examined any court documents.
A spokesperson for ConocoPhillips said the company had received Oceanic's court filing and was reviewing it.
The filing names ConocoPhillips and several of its subsidiaries as the main defendants, but other defendants include the Timor Sea Designated Authority for the Joint Petroleum Development Area, the Timor Gap Joint Authority for the Zone of Co-operation and Indonesia's national oil company Pertamina.
Oceanic's filing gives details of the alleged bribery of Alkatiri, specifying dates, amounts and his Australian bank account details.
After East Timor became independent in 1999, Alkatiri -- referring to the Timor Gap Treaty -- said his party "would not legitimise a treaty between a thief and the receiver of stolen goods". He said he believed the Timor Gap Treaty had been illegal. In July 2001, Australia and East Timor signed a Memorandum of Understanding to agree that the Timor Sea arrangement would govern joint exploitation of Area A in the gap. That agreement was signed by Alkatiri as Economic Minister of the transitional East Timorese government and by Alexander Downer on behalf of Australia.
Oceanic alleges that during this time, Alkatiri sometimes used his brother Ahmed to collect bribes made by foreign companies, including ConocoPhillips. In the six months before the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, Oceanic alleges Ahmed received $US74,000 from ConocoPhillips which was paid into Australian bank accounts.
Oceanic said those accounts were with the ANZ Bank in the Darwin suburb of Casuarina. Alkatiri allegedly holds account number 5376-18038 there and another account allegedly used to deposit bribes was account number 5606-24866.
In August 2001, the Fretilin party -- led by Alkatiri -- won a majority in the new East Timor parliament. East Timor was continuing to insist on higher tax rates on the oilfields. The Oceanic filing alleges that senior ConocoPhillips executives held meetings with Alkatiri after which the East Timorese Government had decided to retain the previous tax rates.
Oceanic claims: "Earlier, at the end of October, Mari Alkatiri and Ahmed Alkatiri, on his brother's behalf, received approximately $US44,000, which ultimately were paid into bank accounts in Australia at the ANZ Bank in Casuarina. These payments were made by ConocoPhillips in order to influence the decision by East Timor to reduce its tax rates.
"Oceanic and Petrotimor, both in a visit and discussions with provisional officials of the East Timorese Government and in a public announcement in early March 2002, offered to fund litigation in the International Court of Justice on behalf of East Timor in order that East Timor could pursue the entirety of its legitimate rights under international law to the natural resources of the Timor Sea.
"After Oceanic and Petrotimor made this offer, Australia -- without public fanfare -- withdrew from the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice all disputes pertaining to delimitation of maritime zones. Alkatiri at the time described this action by Australia as 'a lack of confidence in us and an unfriendly act'."
Oceanic also alleges ConocoPhillips paid for the East Timor's independence day celebrations, held on May 20, 2002. During the celebrations, ConocoPhillips allegedly arranged for over $US2 million to be paid to Alkatiri. The bribe is said to have been paid, in varying amounts, into a Westpac bank account in Casuarina, in Ahmed's name.
Oceanic alleges that in transactions with Westpac, Ahmed used four different names: Ahmad Alkatiri, Ahmad Bin Hamud Alkatiri, Ahmed Alkatiri and Ahmade Hamute Alkatiri.
Oceanic also alleges that between May and July 2002, additional bribes totalling $US138,000 were given to Ahmed and Mari and transported to the ANZ accounts.
Fretilin party members were allegedly given $50,000 bribes through Australian officials in November 2002. In the following month, they ratified the Timor Sea Treaty.
Around the end of 2002, Mari, through Ahmed, received another sum of about $US54,000 from ConocoPhillips to ensure his approval of the treaty ratification. These funds also went into the ANZ accounts.
A spokeswoman for ANZ said the bank was aware of the allegations, but "because it is about fraud it is a police matter so we can't really comment further than that."
A spokesman for Westpac said the bank was "unaware of these allegations and customer confidentiality prevents us from commenting on customer accounts."
Oceanic has protested against the loss of the leases since 1975. The lawsuit against ConocoPhillips was listed for hearing in the Federal Court in December 2001. However, a dispute over jurisdiction meant none of the claims were ever outlined. In February 2003, the Full Court ruled that the Federal Court had no jurisdiction over the dispute.
The ruling said: "The court has no jurisdiction to determine or will not adjudicate upon claims which depend upon the exercise by the executive of the prerogative in relation to foreign affairs and, particularly in the present context, involving the territorial boundaries of Australia's claim to the continental shelf between Australia and East Timor."
Oceanic owns 80 per cent of Petrotimor, which originally held the leases. The filing says Oceanic is bringing the action "to redress the harm caused by defendant's theft, misappropriation and conversion of oil and natural gas resources within the plaintiffs' 14.8 million acre concession area in the Timor Sea". Oceanic alleges there was a deliberate scheme to deprive it of the leases.
The filing describes the Timor Sea as one of the world's major hydrocarbon reserves, containing as much oil and natural gas as those in all of Australia and valued at more than $US50 billion. That sounds a big call on the Timor Sea fields.
Of more political and financial interest is the claim that over 30 years "Australia, Indonesia and ConocoPhillips, with varying efforts at different times, stole the plaintiffs' oil and natural gas rights granted to it by Portugal". Oceanic says that Australia, since at least the late 1960s, coveted the Timor Sea oil and natural gas fields and to this end had encouraged Indonesia to invade and annex East Timor.
Oceanic originally applied to the Portuguese government in 1968 for the concessions off the south coast of East Timor. Between 1969 and 1974, Oceanic explored the area, gathered seismic information and compiled maps in preparation for drilling.
Oceanic alleges that after the Indonesian invasion of 1975, its offices were targeted and troops removed all confidential exploration data.
Oceanic claimed ConocoPhillips had been paying bribes to President Suharto for at least 20 years to secure and maintain its position as the largest oil and gas leaseholder in Indonesia. After the annexation of East Timor, Indonesia gave ConocoPhillips the exploration data that had been stolen from Oceanic and ConocoPhillips used the data to secure the lion's share of exploration rights for the Timor Sea.
Oceanic claims that after the withdrawal of Indonesia from East Timor, Australia had pressured the newly formed nation to ratify the development decisions made by Australia and Indonesia in the Timor Sea. ConocoPhillips promised Australia it would invest $US1.5billion in building an undersea pipeline from the fields to Darwin.
"ConocoPhillips also began to pay regular and substantial bribes to the Prime Minister of East Timor, Mari Alkatiri, and to others," the filing stated. "As a direct result of the bribes, ConocoPhillips secured confirmation of its interests in the Timor Sea and Alkatiri reduced the tax rate imposed upon ConocoPhillips. Those bribes, over several years, amounted to more than $US2.5million, or over 500 times Alkatiri's yearly official salary."
The claims reopen the two sorest points in Australia's relationship with East Timor by alleging that Australia condoned the 1975 invasion and that East Timorese parliamentarians had to be bribed before they would ratify the Timor Gap treaty. The Timor Gap has been a longstanding dispute.
|Justice & reconciliation|
Antara - March 26, 2004
Jakarta -- Indonesian will no longer pay attention to East Timor's Serious Crime Unit (SCU) which has accused several Indonesian officials of human rights violations, a spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday.
"We have oversimplified the SCU as being an institution of the United Nations. On the contrary, the unit is only a personnel unit attached to the East Timorese attorney general," said Marty Natalegawa. "It is only an institution at the national level. That's why we do not have to connect its accusations with the UN," he added.
Marty added that the unit was free to issue any statements it wished to, without interference from Indonesia. "We already have a human rights tribunal of our own for those violating human rights in East Timor," he said.
"There have been no official charges against any human rights violators submitted by the East Timorese to the Indonesian government or our representatives in the UN." he said.
Marty further said that such matters should be connected with the ongoing session of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva. "Currently, the US is busy expressing its opinion on human rights conditions in Indonesia," he said.
Melbourne Age - March 25, 2004
Matthew Moore, Jakarta -- Former Indonesian military chief and prominent presidential candidate General Wiranto has challenged United Nations prosecutors in East Timor to come to Indonesia and discuss their allegations that he is guilty of gross human rights abuses.
Acting as General Wiranto's spokesman yesterday, former Indonesian justice minister Professor Muladi said General Wiranto would meet the leaders of the UN's Serious Crimes Unit if they agreed to visit Indonesia before the election, which will take place on April 5.
Professor Muladi accused the UN prosecutors of "character assassination" and released a document, approved by General Wiranto, which argues that attempts by UN prosecutors to obtain a warrant for General Wiranto's arrest are a breach of international law.
The UN this week released a summary of evidence against General Wiranto that says that, as head of the armed forces of Indonesia in 1999, he was responsible for the deaths of more than 1500 East Timorese killed mainly by militias armed, trained and funded by the Indonesian military.
Professor Muladi challenged the UN's attempts to have General Wiranto arrested on the grounds that Indonesia had established an ad hoc human rights tribunal, which had heard allegations of human rights abuses against members of the Indonesian military and convicted several of them.
"As long as the human rights court in Indonesia has demonstrated its willingness and ability to bring to justice those responsible, the international community should respect and honour the existing court in Indonesia unless the UN has made an assessment it's a sham," Professor Muladi said.
While he conceded that Indonesia's tribunal had been severely criticised by many countries and admitted it "may have weaknesses", he defended its work as mainly "professional, independent and impartial".
Associated Press - March 23, 2004
Dili -- UN prosecutors Tuesday urged East Timor's legal authorities to issue an international arrest warrant for Indonesia's former military supremo, saying he was responsible for war crimes committed by Indonesian forces in their former province in 1999.
General Wiranto, who commanded Indonesia's military during East Timor's violence-wracked secession in 1999, plans to run in Indonesia's presidential elections in July. He was indicted in February 2003 in East Timor in connection with the violence, but court officials have yet to issue an international warrant for his arrest. Wiranto -- who resides in Indonesia -- has denied the accusations against him, saying they are part of a conspiracy to undermine his presidential bid.
Indonesian authorities have also said they would not hand over Wiranto or other officers accused of East Timor war crimes, even if there were an international arrest warrant. But if such a warrant were issued, it would mean Wiranto could not travel to a third country without risking extradition.
Nicholas Koumjian, a top UN prosecutor at the Special Court for Serious Crimes in Dili, said in a statement Tuesday that Wiranto should be held responsible for the 1999 bloodshed.
"The evidence we have given to the court proves that [General] Wiranto failed in his responsibilities as the ultimate commander of all army and police forces in East Timor to prevent the commission of crimes against humanity and failed to punish the perpetrators," he said.
Nearly 2,000 people died and much of the territory was devastated by Indonesian troops and their militia proxies before and after a UN-organized independence referendum that ended a quarter-century of Indonesian military occupation. The court has been established to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the violence.tics or not, but what is clear is that we registered this sympathetic campaign with the police," PDS Pontianak secretary John Situmorang was quoted by Antara as saying.
Meanwhile, Panwaslu central board member Topo Santoso said in Jakarta that all forms of gifts from political parties during the campaign period could be considered vote-buying method and violated Article 77 of Law No. 12/2003 on elections.
"Giving money, staple foods and other things, such as free health services can be considered money politics," said Topo, who is also a legal expert at University of Indonesia.
Another Panwaslu member, Didik Suprianto, doubted parties would refrain from money politics due to weak sanctions against the practice.
Money politics carries a maximum sentence of 12 months and a maximum fine of Rp 10 million (US$1,176).
The Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) fears that affluent political parties will buy votes on the April 5 election day given that many of them violated regulations in the first week of the campaign period.
ICW deputy coordinator Lucky Djani disclosed that many parties had distributed food and provided free services to the people, activities that could be categorized as money politics.
"There is a correlation between affluent parties and violations of campaign rules as well as the practice of money politics," he said here on Friday.
ICW monitoring in six cities found money politics conducted by many parties, especially the big and wealthy ones.
Lucky said the parties gave money to all attending their campaigns. "In Jakarta, the fee is between Rp 35,000 to Rp 100,000 for each person attending a campaign," Lucky said.
Associated Press - March 16, 2004
Dili -- A former Australian diplomat said his country's "policy of failure" was partly to blame for Indonesia's 1975 invasion of East Timor and its subsequent 24-year occupation that resulted in more than 150,000 deaths.
Kenneth Chan, who was testifying before Timor's reconciliation commission, said Tuesday the Australian government had decided in 1975 that relations with Indonesia took precedence over any independence bid by East Timor.
Negotiations over sea boundaries with Indonesia and access to lucrative oil and natural gas in the Timor Sea muffled any support for Timorese self-determination by successive administrations until 1999, he said.
"I thought it was a policy of failure because it didn't acknowledge a basic principle of international law that there should be a free and fair act of self-determination for the people of East Timor," Chan said.
"Maintaining an effective relationship with Indonesia was driving policy above all else," he said.
Chan is among a group of United Nations officials, Western diplomats and human rights activists appearing at the three-day hearing sponsored by East Timor's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation. He worked for Australia's foreign affairs department from 1972 to 1997.
Recently declassified US government documents show Indonesia's former dictator Suharto ordered the invasion of East Timor after receiving tacit approval for the attack from US President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who visited Jakarta on the day before the assault.
In his testimony, Chan said the Australian government also told Suharto in 1974 that the former Portuguese colony should become part of Indonesia -- thus clearing the way for the invasion a year later.
"It can be seen, from this discussion, that Australia had already made a substantial concession to Indonesia," Chan told the commission. "It was also delivering a message that Suharto wanted to hear."
Indonesia invaded East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, in December 1975, a few weeks after the territory declared itself independent.
About 150,000 Timorese were killed in the ensuing guerrilla war or died from mistreatment during the occupation.
The bloodshed climaxed in 1999, when Indonesian troops and their proxy militias slaughtered nearly 2,000 people and destroyed much of the region's infrastructure in an orgy of violence before and after voters opted for independence in a UN-sponsored referendum on self-determination.
The violence ended when UN peacekeepers forced Indonesian troops to withdraw from the region. East Timor remained under UN transitional administration until it gained full independence in May 2002.
The panel's hearings are part of a series of debates on issues ranging from massacres during the Indonesian occupation to forced displacements. The proceedings will end later this month and the commission is scheduled to issue a report with its findings.
|Human rights trials|
Jakarta Post - March 10, 2004
Jakarta -- The Supreme Court upheld the acquittal of five top- brass military and police defendants in a case involving East Timor human rights abuses during 1999, a justice said.
The five are former Suai military commander Lt. Col. Sugito, former Covalima regent Col. Herman Sedyono, former Suai military commander Lt. Col. Liliek Koeshadianto, the former Suai military command's chief of staff, Capt. Achmad Syamsuddin, and former Suai Police precinct chief Lt. Col. Gatot Subiaktoro. All were charged with gross human rights violations.
The justices ruled there were no command links between the defendants and pro-Indonesia militia, who fought East Timor separatists.
If found guilty the men would have faced 10 years imprisonment or the death sentence. They were earlier acquitted from wrongdoing by the Jakarta ad hoc human rights tribunal in 2002.
The Australian - March 22, 2004
Sian Powell, Jakarta -- Accused war criminal, love-song crooner and charismatic speaker: Wiranto is an oddity even among Indonesia's eccentric array of presidential candidates.
Five years ago he was in charge of the nation's brutal armed forces and the master-mind of the relentless battle to hold on to East Timor.
These days Wiranto is a modern political campaigner, handing out books and CDs, wooing his audiences with platitudes about stability, security and prosperity. Huge banners bearing his face are hung behind the rostrum, and his memoirs (in Indonesian and English) titled Witness in the Storm: Truth Revealed by Wiranto are piled up to be given away.
Once former dictator Suharto's favourite soldier, Wiranto sees himself as Indonesia's next president his hand on the tiller, his eyes on thee horizon. And his boot, critics would say, on the necks of the dissidents.
Smooth, suave and inscrutably Javanese, Wiranto has denied all responsibility for the carnage in East Timor in the months before and after the 1999 referendum on independence. More than 1500 people dead, villages destroyed, beatings, assaults and torture Indonesian army officers have been implicatedd in all manner of crimes in East Timor.
In his best politician's manner, the retired four-star general tells a lunch of overseas reporters in Jakarta that responsibility for the carnage should not be sheeted home to him simply because he was armed forces chief at the time. "I am a military person," he says. "I don't like bloodshed."
As for those who maintain the principle of chain-of-command is enough to implicate him, Wiranto responds that US general William Westmoreland was not considered guilty of the My Lai massacre because he was in charge in Vietnam.
"I truly believe and feel that as a part of the Indonesian people, I have to do something," he says. "I know I can do something better for Indonesia ... to better Indonesia."
Yet some of us remember when armed forces commander General Wiranto flew into a frightened East Timor in July 1999. He was there for some hours, accompanied by almost half the Indonesian cabinet. The visit was intended to demonstrate Jakarta's good intentions on the independence ballot, but Wiranto wasn't talking.
He hid behind his favourite gold-rimmed aviator sunglasses and studiously ignored the journalists clamouring for answers. Why couldn't thousands of heavily armed Indonesian troops control the violence that had erupted across East Timor? Would there be any investigation into allegations the Indonesian military was controlling and funding the militias?
Wiranto had been to East Timor three months earlier, after two horrible massacres. In Liquica, west of Dili, a huddle of frightened East Timorese had hidden in a church, where they were mown down with bullets and machetes. Witnesses said Indonesian troops stood behind the militia members, firing their guns. At least 25 East Timorese were killed.
Earlier in April, militias had attacked the house of independence crusader Manuel Carrascalao, killing 12 people including his 18- year-old son. Wiranto made the militias, the troops and the independence rebels sign a peace agreement and rapidly left town.
Yet in July, when the general returned to East Timor, the threat was still there. It had become common knowledge the military was behind the militias, although the UN persisted in talking about "rogue elements" in the Indonesian army.
Indonesian foreign minister Ali Alatas was left to do the talking that hot day in Dili, and he assured journalists security would be maintained, as agreed, for the ballot. The Indonesian delegation's official visit, he said, demonstrated the Indonesian government's acceptance of the task.
"It shows our government's determination and our sincerity and our seriousness to really implement what we agreed to do," he said. Alatas admitted there were "some sporadic events that should not have happened" but said they were "being overcome".
That was July. Within three months, East Timor was a smoking ruin. Wiranto has been dodging the accusations ever since.
In December 1999, a commission of inquiry set up by the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights found Wiranto responsible for atrocities in East Timor in September 1999, the month after East Timorese overwhelmingly chose independence. But he was never tried by Indonesia's human rights tribunal on East Timor, dubbed a giant whitewash by international observers.
The UN's Serious Crimes Unit in East Timor has indicted Wiranto and six other high-level Indonesian military officers, as well as many junior officers, but judges have yet to issue an arrest warrant for Wiranto.
The indictment says he was responsible for "crimes against humanity murder, deportatioon and persecution, for failing to punish or prevent crimes committed by his subordinates or those acting under his effective control in the period before and after the 1999 popular consultation in East Timor".
On the weekend, the unit filed yet more evidence to convince the judges to speedily issue a warrant, and there are plans to publicly release some of the evidence.
Indonesia will never send the military man back to East Timor to face justice, but if an arrest warrant is forwarded to Interpol, it could make things sticky for the political hopeful. Wiranto is already on the US visa watch list, a fact leaked to the press last year. He shrugged it off, but an Interpol arrest warrant could prove a major embarrassment.
For now though he is concentrating on the political campaign, zipping around the country in a chartered plane, running a schedule as busy as any US presidential candidate. Wiranto's campaign headquarters are half-way up a skyscraper, he has the benefit of some US political know-how, and he's playing the "return to stability" card for all he's worth. On April 18, soon after the parliamentary elections of April 5, Wiranto will front the Golkar political party's selection machine. Up against five others, including party leader Akbar Tandjung, Wiranto will find the going tough.
If he were to win he would then face a head-to-head battle with President Megawati Sukarnoputri, leader of the Indonesian Democratic Pary of Struggle (PDI-P), in the presidential contest in July.
But Tandjung is the odds-on favourite to become the choice of Golkar, which is leading most respected opinion polls.
Wiranto has travelled through 30 provinces in three months, he says, to see if he was popular enough to stand for president. He found he was. "I have full support, ample support from the people," he says. "The people understand they need a leader with a very strong character. They need a leader with morals and character for Indonesia's future."
Antara - March 5, 2004
Jakarta -- Former president Soeharto's daughter Siti Hardiyanti Indra Rukmana visited former East Timor integration fighters at their "Seroja" housing complex here on Thursday, pledging to help them send their children to school.
To them Mbak (Sister) Tutut said "you are all still fighters and remain fighters for the country, the unitary state although East Timor finally separated from the unitary state."
She said she felt sad hearing that they felt they were no longer being given any attention while in fact they deserved proper attention. She said she would make efforts to enable all the children of Seroja fighters to go to school, especially those who are economically-weak.
|News & issues|
Asia Times - March 24, 2004
Jill Jolliffe, Pante Macassar -- The 45,000 inhabitants of East Timor's tiny enclave of Oecusse have suffered isolation and economic disadvantage as a result of independence in 2002, but this has not altered their passionately nationalist views.
After independence, their borders were sealed, leaving them surrounded on three sides by Indonesian territory classified as more dangerous than Iraq by the United Nations. Customary trade with West Timor essential to the Oecusse economy also ended, and contact with East Timor's main territory was reduced. Jakarta's stubborn refusal to grant a land corridor between the enclave and the border, 80 kilometers away, means that sea transport, which few can afford, is the only effective way to connect.
"The creation of a land corridor to the border is our main problem," Oecusse administrator Francisco Marques claimed. "We have an agreement in principle with Indonesia, but there are still many refugees, including ex-militiamen, living in West Timor, and Jakarta claims it can't guarantee our safety."
The continued concentration of militia groups close to the main border is one reason the UN retains a Phase 5 security alert for the Indonesian half of the island (higher than that for Iraq and Afghanistan, which are Phase 4). It was imposed after three UN employees were murdered by militia gangs in the town of Atambua in June 2000. It remains in force although there has been no violence in West Timor since. Most locals would like to see it lifted because it stokes tensions on both sides, impeding normalization.
Administrator Marques sees the refusal of a land corridor -- still under negotiation between the Indonesian and East Timorese foreign ministers -- as motivated more by bad faith than security concerns. "Indonesia created the [militia] problem -- why can't it control them?" he asked.
These lingering tensions flared in December when the Indonesian military staged war games on an uninhabited island five kilometers offshore from Oecusse. Known as Fatu Sinai in East Timor and Batek in Indonesia, both countries are laying claim to the land. A UN-led joint commission began mapping all contiguous borders before independence and agreement on claims has not yet been reached, but Jakarta didn't wait for the outcome.
According to a UN military observers' report, it turned on a show of force that terrified Oecusse residents watching from a nearby beach, strafing and rocketing the island with an F-16 jet, a helicopter and a warship.
Dili issued a formal protest, and West Timorese commander Colonel Moeswarno Moesanip upped the stakes by announcing he would station soldiers on the island. East Timorese Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta deplored his attitude as "aggressive", saying it would complicate bilateral relations.
Pante Macassar is the capital of Oecusse, where people live much as they did centuries before. Unlike their Dili counterparts, most men wear locally woven sarongs instead of trousers, striding around the town with an air of great dignity. Cigarettes are made from home-grown tobacco rolled in palm leaves and local lighters sometimes consist of two stones skillfully struck against each other to produce a spark.
The town is just a few rows of houses set against a crystal- clear, palm-fringed beach. There is no television, no bank and almost no crime. The only radio station is dependent on an occasionally functioning transmitter, while electricity is restricted to five hours in the evening. But simplicity is happiness: people talk to each other, sharing problems, and the whole town comes to watch the daily soccer match, played beachside as the tropical dusk sets in.
Life in the dry, mountainous interior is even more spartan but, once again, there is a cultural richness lacking in more developed societies.
From Pante Macassar, a ferry plies the 12-hour voyage to Dili twice a week. An economy ticket for a human passenger costs US$7 -- a week's wages -- while a ticket for a cow costs $11. Cattle- raising is key to the local economy, and before independence farmers sold their stock profitably in West Timor. Since the border was sealed, however, they must either sell within the enclave, at about $50 per head, or transport the cattle to Dili, where they fetch $100.
Trials and travails of the 'Black Portuguese'
At Lifau, a kilometer or so along the beach, there is a cairn marking the spot where Portuguese navigators and priests first came ashore on Timor in 1505. It was to be 1702 before they established a permanent foothold, thanks to the tumultuous ways of the Oecussians. Known as the "Black Portuguese", they were famed throughout the South Seas for conducting wars against rival tribes on behalf of the Portuguese one day, and fighting them the next.
In 1653 the Dutch entered the Timorese fray, seizing a Portuguese fort at Kupang, capital of present-day West Timor.
British mariner William Dampier passed by Oecusse in 1699 and observed that its inhabitants "speak Portugueze and are of the Romish Religion; but they take the Liberty to eat Flesh when they please. They value themselves on account of their Religion and descent from the Portugueze ..."
Despite being constantly attacked, Lifau continued as the capital until 1769, when the besieged governor, Antonio Telles de Menezes, transferred to Dili.
The Dutch and Portuguese settled colonial boundaries in the early 20th century, dividing the island in half with the exception of the enclave. Ethnically, the people of Oecusse are closest to the West Timorese, with whom they share a language, but their distinctive personality has bloomed with isolation.
They resisted being absorbed by Sukarno's Indonesia after independence in 1949, and remained loyal to Dili during the Suharto dictatorship's 24-year occupation. At the time of the 1975 invasion they had no option but to surrender quietly, but pro-independence feeling remained as strong as that of the mainlanders.
Francisco Marques recalls that many suffered for their views: "There was no military conflict here, but Fretilin [independence party] supporters were beaten and imprisoned ...There was a lot of repression."
Further, Oecusse was not spared the violence of 1999, after the UN entered East Timor and held an independence referendum. Sixty-five unarmed independence supporters were hacked to death by Indonesian-backed militiamen, and 90 percent of its buildings were torched. Perpetrators are currently being tried for crimes against humanity by the UN's special court in Dili.
Praise for a forgotten land
Although this forgotten land has been prejudiced in many ways by independence, its loyalty also has been rewarded. In 2002 the new constitution granted the enclave special autonomous status. Given East Timor's poverty, it will be some years before all the benefits are realized, although Oecusse residents are already enjoying income tax exemption.
"We need to run our own household," Marques observed. "We are economically disadvantaged by isolation. Our human resources are poorer -- poverty means people's health isn't so good, and they are educationally disadvantaged."
The big concern remains security. Marques believes that, despite the saber-rattling, Indonesia will do the right thing. "We worry about security, but we believe it is unlikely to invade East Timor again," he said. "Now that we are independent, a UN member, it is difficult. There might be small problems of destabilization, but not invasion."
Arsenio Bano, East Timor's youthful secretary of state for labor and solidarity, describes himself as "very proud to be a guy from Oecusse", adding that people from the enclave "feel special, because East Timor was born from Oecusse".
He has long championed the idea of declaring the enclave a special demilitarized zone, pointing out that its isolation and insecurity also affect West Timor. "A military approach is not viable," he asserted, adding that the idea could be incorporated in a treaty between Jakarta and Dili. He believes a phase-by- phase move to total demilitarization, taking in Indonesia's special needs and Oecusse's friendly ties with the West Timorese, will create an exemplary zone of peace, where borders could be relaxed and mutual trade resumed. It would, he thinks, be a fitting tribute to his colorful people.
Scotland on Sunday - March 7, 2004
Brian Brady, Westminster editor -- A fresh row has broken out over the brutal murder of a Scottish journalist and four colleagues at the hands of Indonesian troops almost 30 years ago, after an Australian company revealed they want to make a film of the tragedy.
Arena Films is planning to shoot a drama based on the killings of the five Australia-based newsmen, including Renfrewshire-born Malcolm Rennie, at Balibo, East Timor, on the eve of Indonesia's invasion of the territory in 1975.
The murders sparked outrage at the time, and led to long-running claims that the British and Australian governments sat back and allowed Indonesia to invade the tiny state just months after the end of Portuguese colonial rule. Campaigners have struggled to get the facts about the killings into the public arena, and are still pressing vainly for public inquiries in the UK and Australia.
Scotland on Sunday has learned that relatives of Rennie and Brian Peters, a Bristol-born reporter who also died in Balibo, held a secret meeting with Foreign Office minister Mike O'Brien last week, but left complaining that their fight for a full inquiry had "run into the sand".
And families of the murdered men last night revealed that they are "horrified" at the plans for a film, because it would be based on a controversial book on the tragedy which criticises activists who tried to expose what had happened.
Scotland on Sunday understands that Australian journalist Jill Jolliffe has sold the option on her book Cover-Up to Arena. The company has lined up feted Australian director Robert Connolly and producer John Maynard to bring the dramatic story to the cinema.
Jolliffe was the first journalist to reach the East Timorese capital Dili to report on the deaths of the five journalists, on October 16, 1975. She also had lunch with three of them on the day they left to cover insurgency around East Timor's border with Indonesian territory in 1975.
Her book was a damning indictment of Indonesia's claims that it was not responsible for the atrocity and of Australia's acquiescence in the subsequent invasion. But it also sparked complaints she had been unfair to some of those who had worked behind the scenes for justice over the murders. "I am horrified by the thought of this [film] because Jolliffe criticised many of her colleagues in it," one source close to the bereaved families told Scotland on Sunday.
|East Timor media monitoring|
March 1, 2004
Suara Timur Lorosae -- The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the Government generally respected these rights in practise; however there were a few instances when government officials attempted to interfere with the press.
For example, in August, a senior government official requested in writing that journalists working for the public broadcasting service be disciplined or criminally prosecuted because of their coverage of the eviction of a popular opposition leader. In September, the Government notified one of Dili's two major daily newspapers that it must begin paying rent for the space it was using in a government building. UNTAET had permitted the newspaper to use the space without paying rent. After the newspaper agreed to lease the space, the Government reportedly reversed its position and issued a notice of eviction. Shortly before the issuance of this notice, a senior government official criticized publicly the newspaper's coverage of a case of alleged corruption and threatened to close the paper. At the year's end, the newspaper was still waiting to hear whether the Government would offer a fair market price or follow through with the eviction. The newspaper continued to operate normally.
RDTL's Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri, told the graduates from the engineering courses run by PKF's Japan Engineer Group (JEG) that they have an important role to play in Timor-Leste's development. "You are going to deal with a very important area for the development of this country that is the infrastructure.
It will create conditions to flourish the tourism, investment and so on, that will contribute to the betterment of our economy and bringing wealth to our country", said the Prime Minister. Ten government-selected Timorese graduated from the 3-month engineering equipment and generators maintenance course.
Another 6 graduated from the building works management and planing course begun in December. Since JEG first deployed as part of UNMISET's PKF in 2002, in addition to carrying out their routine tasks, they have trained some 100 Timorese in engineering skills ranging from equipment operation and maintenance to road reconstruction and repair management and planing. Japan for its part has donated several thousand dollars' worth of engineering equipment to Timor-Leste.
The Director for Electricity in Timor-Leste (EDTL), Virgilio Guterres, said that 3.200 pre-paid electricity meters were installed in Dili this weekend in the areas of Vila Verde, Mascarenhas, Bairro Alto, Kaikoli and Colmera. He said that each consumer received an identification card for them to be able to acquire new recharge cards when needed.
Timor Post -- A Member of the National Parliament, Pedro da Costa Martires, said that under international law, the Government of Indonesia have no right to claim their former assets, because the invasion of Timor-Leste was illegal. He said that the international community never gave the recognition to the Indonesian invasion, so how can they claim their assets now?
O Semanario (Weekly) -- In a lengthy wide ranging interview in the Portuguese newspaper (published once a week) the Minister of Planning and Finance, Madalena Boavida, explained the difference about CFET and TFET. The Minister also spoke about the National Development Plan, saying that Timor-Leste has a NDP that few countries in the world wouldn't envy. The Minister of Planing also spoke of the criticism from the people about allegations of corruption. She said, however, that no facts or evidence had been presented. Mrs Boavida said that she's very confident with the implementation of the Government's development program gives priority to the education and health sector' which will help develop an harmonious country for the future. The Minister also said in the interview that she guarantees good management within the Ministry of Planning and finance.
In an interview in the President of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Mario Carrascalao, said that if the President Xanana Gusmao won't stand for the next presidential election, he will. He added that he is confident that President Xanana will run for his second mandate as President. Mr Carrascalao said during the interview that there is no one capable of fulfilling the role of the President to reconcile the people and protect the minorities. He added that he would love to have Presidents or Prime Ministers who are much younger them him.
A fisherman in Santa Ana (outskirts of Dili), Luis da Silva, said that he is very positive about the future, and hopes that the Government can help him and other fishermen with bigger boats, and adequate equipment. He said that he and other's are hoping that the Government will soon give them support. Mr da Silva said that he started fishing for living when he was only 7 years old with his grandfather. He said that in those days, things were different and much harder, and the shops hardly had any fishing gear to sell.
March 2, 2004
Suara Timur Lorosae -- The Presidente of Timor-Leste, Xanana Gusmao, said the he expects from now on the F-FDTL to behave as an army. He said that the recent incident in Lospalos where 100 soldiers were involved in an incident with policegave a bad image to the army and left him sad.
The head of the project to rehabilitate the pre-secondary and secondary schools in the District of Ainaro, Patricio Guterres, said that on Sunday night, someone had dismantled doors and windows from a school building undergoing rehabilitation. He said that the police were called to the scene and they are conducting an investigation.
The Vice-President for Political Affairs and Jurisdiction of Social Democratic Party (PSD), Lucia Lobato, said that the police in Uatolari stop the National Delegation of Political Commission in the sub-district of Uatolari. She said that the police officer said that was not the Commission's fault, but the fault of the "stupid" people who follow this party. Ms Lobato said that the police action was against the people's rights written in the constitution.
The article said that The UN has been continuously criticized by members of the Parliament and by lawyers, who say the Organization no longer shows any enthusiasm regarding the cases of serious Human Rights violations in Timor-Leste. According to the newspaper, such lack of enthusiasm is followed by a tendency for taking from Indonesia's shoulders the responsibility for the crimes committed in the past. "The tendency of the UN is to leave unpunished the serious Human Rights violations in East Timor. It seems the UN wants to attribute to the government of Timor Leste the task of solving these cases, although since the beginning everyone knew that that was a problem under UN responsibility", said Leandro Isaac, Member of Parliament, as quoted by the newspaper. STL also quotes the chief of HAK Association, Jose Luis de Oliveira, according to whom the UN has been practicing a "politics of washing hands" in relation to this subject.
Timor Post -- The Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, made an unexpected visit to the Department of Transport in Balide, after receiving many complaints from people that the service was not up to standard. During the visit the Prime Minister heard from various people that they had being waiting for their registration papers for more than a month. The Prime Minister said afterwards that the inspector had previously conducted an investigation to the Department of Transport. He said that he brought along the Inspector General who heard also the complaints, and he has called a meeting for next week with members of transport division, the Minister and Vice-Minister of Transport.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Dr Ramos Horta, said that he will visit the border region this week to see for himself the situation at the border with Indonesia. He said that he had spoken with the Prime Minister about the border demarcation and the security.
The Brigadier general of F-FDTL, Taur Matan Ruak, said that the Government has said many times that if you don't pay to contribute for diesel to run the electricity generators, then the Government is forced to cut the electricity. He said that if people don't want to pay, why shouldn't the Government cut off their power.
Suara Timur Lorosae -- The Special Representative for SRSG, Kamalesh Sharma, admits that the criticism made by Amnesty International of the local police was correct because the National Police Force had not received proper training, and did not follow the international standards. Mr Sharma said that the Amnesty International report points to failure in areas like guns handling and training. He said these did not follow international standards and the UN did not follow it up with remedial action.
The Vice Consul of Australia in Timor-Leste, Tanya Burke, said that the Government of Australia, through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAid) will give financial support of AUD$ 150.000 (US$ 118,380) to the Reception Truth and Reconciliation Commission to continue with its work of reconciliation. She said that the work of the CAVR is important to maintain stability and peace in Timor-Leste. The Untied States Ambassador in Timor-Leste, Joseph Grover Rees, said that the economy is very important to a country like Timor-Leste as a new nation. He said that it needs lots of training and practice before this country can achieve clear results.
Timor Post -- The Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, said that the Government will double its efforts to have part of the Greater Sunrise exploration rights and rewards deviated to Timor-Leste. He said that before it can be done, a feasibility study needs to be done to see whether extraction from this field is technically possible. Dr Alkatiri said that the feasibility study will also tell whether it is possible to have pipes set up to run from the Greater Sunrise field to Timor-Leste where the raw materials could be processed.
During a ceremony to sign an accord with the Government of Timor-Leste the United States Ambassador in Timor-Leste, Grover Joseph Rees, said that the United States will support the exploration of oil and gas in Timor sea with an amount of USD$ 644,000.
March 4, 2004
ABC News -- East Timor's prime minister, Mari Alkatiri, has denied he accepted bribes to secure the exploration interests of oil giant ConocoPhillips in the Timor Sea.
An american oil company, Oceanic Exploration, has alleged ConocoPhillips paid Mr Alkatiri about $US2.5 million in cash bribes to secure its investments in the Timor Sea. Oceanic made the allegations in a lawsuit in Washington against ConocoPhillips, Australia and Indonesia -- all of whom it accuses of conspiring to steal its right to develop Timor sea oil and gas. However, Mr Alkatiri has denied he ever took bribes from ConocoPhillips or any party, and says he regards the allegations as far-fetched and frivolous. The East Timorese leader says it is his personal mission to build his nation on principles of integrity, honesty and transparency. He says he is considering legal action in response to the allegations.
East Timor's foreign minister, Jose Ramos-Horta, has described the bribery allegations against Mr Alkatiri as absolute nonsense. He says his government will vigorously defend the prime minister. "It really is an aggression against the dignity, the integrity of a government leader, of an individual, whom I know very well for more than 30 years," Dr Ramos-Horta said. "I know that it's absolutely nonsense, absolutely a lie and they will have to prove it," he said.
ABC Radio Australia -- Retired Indonesian General Wiranto says he'll become a farmer if his bid to contest the presidential election fails. The former armed forces chief says he won't have a problem if the Golkar party doesn't select him as its candidate.
General Wiranto is one of six hopefuls seeking the party's nomination for the country's first direct presidential election on July 5. Analysts say Golkar chief, Akbar Tanjung, is strongly placed to secure the nomination after winning an appeal against a graft conviction last month. General Wiranto has been indicted in East Timor for crimes against humanity during the territory's bloody breakaway from Indonesia in 1999. East Timorese prosecutors accuse the general of failing to punish or prevent crimes committed by those under his control.
Lusa -- East Timor's prime minister, Mari Alkatiri, said Wednesday that he "categorically denies" allegations by an American oil company that a rival firm bribed him to get rights to develop hydrocarbon reserves in the Timor Sea.
Oceanic Exploration has launched a multi-billion lawsuit against Indonesia, Australia and the oil giant Conoco Phillips, claiming its subsidiary, PetroTimor, was granted exclusive rights by Portugal before Jakarta's 1975 invasion of Timor to develop the reserves. The US firm wants up to USD 30 billion compensation, claiming it was illegally deprived of its rights and that Conoco Phillips conspired with the Jakarta and Canberra governments to seize control of the oil deposits. Conoco Phillips leads the consortium that is developing the Bayan Undan gas field, expected to generate annual receipts of USD 100 million for Dili over the next 20 years. In the US-lodged case, Oceanic accuses its rival of bribing Indonesian and Timorese officials to secure its control of Bayan Undan. Mari Alkatiri was bribed with at least USD 2.5 million in cash, the American firm alleges. The US company lost a similar case against Australia last year. "I did nor receive bribes from Conoco Phillips or anybody else. I consider these allegations as false and frivolous", Alkatiri said in a statement sent to Lusa. "Timor is the world's newest nation and one of its poorest. Such charges occur at a very difficult moment that is crucial for the country's development". Alkatiri said corruption could ruin Timor's future, by calling into question the integrity and transparency of its leaders. He added that he was preparing a libel case against Oceanic.
The Australian -- For a little known, family controlled company with $US3 million in assets, Ocean Exploration is certainly prepared to make a lot of noise. It is a subsidiary of General Atomics, a San Diego-based uranium operation set-up by General Dynamics in 1956 and subsequently owned by Chev-ron before being acquired by the family of Neal Blue. Its current chairman, in 1986. GA is involved in high-tech nuclear energy for the defence industry in the US and Germany as well in energy activities in Kansas and Calgary. Oceanic Exploration is described in the US trade press as a small international oil company that discovered the Prinos oil field in offshore Greece. But without a doubt its biggest contingent asset is its Timor Sea claim. Portuguese offshoot PetroTimor claims rights to oil and gas in virtually the entire joint Petroleum Development area set-up by Australia and East Timor in 2002, based on a 1974 contract with Portugal, its claims are not recognized by any government. East Timor doesn't because it wants rapid development of the Timor Sea oil and gas reserves so that it can received an income stream through the taxes and charges it places on developers such as ConocoPhillips at Bayu-Undan and Woodside at Greater Sunrise. Neither does Australia because the PetroTimor claim would also include the Laminaria/Corallina oil field which has been Australia's largest producer in recent years, which may leave the government liable for revenue it has already received. Oceanic Exploration and PetroTimor have been pushing their claim publicly since Indonesian troops were withdrawn from East Timor in 1999. The claim was originally couched in terms of getting a better deal for the East Timorese by having Timor Sea oil and gas processed in East Timor rather than in Australia. But a legal action in the Federal Court failed last year when the court ruled it had no jurisdiction. Oceanic has made no bones about the moral certitude of its case but it is surely lifting the bar to a very high level by alleging virtually everyone involved in East Timor in the past 30 years has been corrupt in perverting its rights.
Timor Post -- An Ex-commander of Falintil, Ernesto Fernandes, said that members of National Parliament only think of themselves instead of considering other people's suffering. He said that many people are still suffering from the war like widows, orphans. He said the Parliamentarians don't seem to care about this. Mr Fernandes said that if members of the National Parliament only look after themselves, then those rights were fought for in the struggle?
The Advisor for Gender and Equality in the Prime Minister Office, Maria Domingas Fernandes, said that Timor-Leste still does not have a national day for Timorese women. She said that after the national congress a report will be presented to the National Parliament to debate and a decision will be made on a national day for women.
A Member of the National parliament, Pedro da Costa, said that in February he raised the issue of 400 children in Babore in the District of Viqueque who have no school. He said that so far the Government has not taken any action. He said that the Government does not think about the children's future.
The National Police Commissioner, Paulo de Fatima Martins, said that he would be lying to himself if he said that the National Police Force of Timor-Leste are all professionals. He said that he acknowledges that the 3 month training that the police received is not enough, and thus they cannot be considered professionals. Mr Martins said that he can guarantee that the police force will be professional in 20 years time. He said some police are receiving training abroad, which will raise local standards.
Suara Timur Lorosae -- The commander of F-FDTL Brigadier General, Taur Matan Ruak, said that the members of F-FDTL need to serve the army with loyalty and professionalism, like the Brazilian troops have shown during in the UN mission. He said that the Brazilian army has shown professionalism, integrity and dedication when performing their duties.
The Australian Government has donated books to the library of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. The Ambassador of Australia in Timor-Leste, Paul Foley, said that with the donation of the books for the Department of Foreign Affairs shows that Australia Government has a clear commitment within the region and to Timor-Leste. Mr Foley said that since 200 the Government of Australia has contributed with USD$ 2,6 billion to the development of Timor-Leste and will continue with its support in developing this country.
The Australian government reacted cautiously to court action by a small US petroleum company that is seeking US$10.5 billion in damages over its alleged oil and gas rights in the Timor Sea. A Spokeswoman for the Australian government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said she understands that a civil suit has been filled in the US courts by Oceanic. "Oceanic Exploration's Timorese subsidiary Petrotimor last initiated and failed in an action against the commonwealth (government) in the Australian Federal Court in 2002," the spokeswoman told Dow Jones Newswire. "Petrotimor did not pursue an appeal to the High Court." "After failing in the Australian courts, Oceanic exploration is looking to other overseas jurisdictions in an attempt to have its claims heard," the spokeswoman said. The Indonesian government declined to comment on the lawsuit while a spokesman for the East Timor government couldn't be contacted.
Vox Populi (New Weekly Newspaper) -- In an interview with the Executive Director Timor Sea Designated Authority, Einar Risa, he said that so far, it has not been possible to get an agreement on a maritime boundary with Australia, or with Indonesia to determine ownership of oil and gas in the Timor Sea. He said that sooner or later, there would be an agreed boundary. Mr Risa said that it is difficult to say when the boundary will be defined. He said: "we (Timor Sea Designated Authority) would like it to go very fast, but the Australians seem to be dragging their feet". He said that Australia is a bigger country and thus they wield more power than Timor Leste.
East Timor has repeatedly asked the Australian government to expeditiously negotiate a permanent maritime boundary in good faith within three to five years. If an agreement cannot be negotiated soon the article says, East Timor should have the right to pursue impartial legal arbitration; international mechanisms have been established for this purpose. In a land of intense poverty, this theft of resources from East Timor is not only a critical economic issue, it is also an issue of self- determination and national sovereignty. East Timor feels that Australia is trampling on their newly-won independence, which came at a great cost.
The President of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Mario Viegas Carrascalao, said that until now, the Government of Timor-Leste has not been able to define a border or aerial space between Timor-Leste, Indonesai and Australia. He said that the evidence is clear when looked at the dispute between Australia and Timor- Leste over the Timor Sea resources where the maritime boundaries are not resolved.
The President of the National Timorese Party (PNT), Abilio de Araujo, said that the Government of Timor-Leste needs to quickly solve the maritime boundary with the Government of Australia. He said that the Government of Timor-Leste should use all international mechanisms available. Mr de Araujo said that the only new thing he sees in the agreement is the replacement of Indonesia in favor of Timor-Leste. He said that the exploration accord signed between Australia and Indonesia in 1989 is virtually the same accord still in use today. Mr de Araujo said that until now nothing is clear. He asks and how much will the Timor Leste Government get from the Timor Sea revenues?
March 5, 2004
Suara Timur Lorsae -- The Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, said that he's not afraid or scared of Petrotimor and Oceanic Exploration and he will be waiting for them in court. He said that the accusation against is false and he has a defamation lawyer studing the case. Dr Alkatiri said the lawsuit was filled at American court. Meanwhile the President of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Mario Viegas Carrascalao, said that he agrees with the Prime Minister in taking the oil company to court for defamation because his credibility in on the line as Prime Minister.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Dr Ramos Horta, said that the Council of Ministers, including the Prime Minister, categorically denies the allegations by the American oil company, Petrotimor. He said that he has known the Prime Minister for 30 years, and he has never received any envelope or bribe money from anyone. Dr Horta said that the Prime Minister had not received any money from ConocoPhillips Petroleum. He said Petrotimor has to prove the allegation made against the Prime Minister that he received USD$ 2,5 million from ConocoPhillips as a bribe. Dr Horta said that the accusation made against the Prime Minister is tantamount to Alcapone accusing Mother Theresa.
Timor Post -- The President of the National Parliament, Lu-Olo, said that Timor-Leste still needs the presence of international police to help develop the National Police Force. He said that it is essential for the national police to continue to receive international assistance in areas like traffic control, drug control, infiltration and anti-terrorism in our country.
The Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, said that power cuts are not the reason for the increase in thefts, but it's the people's mentality that needs to change. He said thieves are always thieves, whether the electricity is on or not. Dr Alkatiri said that said that if everyone pays their electricity bill, the tariff will be cheaper, and everyone will benefit from having no more power outages.
Foreign Minister, Jose Ramos Horta has said he is confident a lawsuit by US petroleum group Oceanic Exploration Company over Timor Sea oil and gas rights would be quickly dismissed. Dr Horta said there was no basis for the lawsuit filed in the United States by Oceanic and subsidiary Petrotimor, seeking USD$10.5 billion in damages from East Timor, Indonesia, Australia and US oil giant ConocoPhillips. "I am confident it will be thrown out," Ramos Horta told Reuters in an interview. "We are not terribly worried about it. We will continue our fruitful cooperation with Australia and ConocoPhllips, so the work will continue smoothly without interruption."
The Head of the Hospital in the District of Baucau, Antonio Guterres, said that despite some issues related to the on-time delivery of food for patients, the staff and the doctors at the hospital are disciplined in the attendance to patients needs. He said that the complaints from patients about the food not being on time is because the hospital has 90 beds but 100 patients.
March 8, 2004
Suara Timur Lorosae -- During the Third National Dialogue the President of Timor-Leste, Xanana Gusmco, said that Timor-Leste could become the safe haven for mafia types if the justice system is not strong. He said what was most important was for the people to be guided by their conscience and their sense of responsibility. President Gusmao said that the justice system is a very serious problem that needs to be solved because the courts are the pillars for the democratic state.
The President of the National Parliament, Francisco Guterres (Lu-Olo), said that the accusations made against the Prime Minister by Oceanic Exploration and the Petrotimor have to be proved. It is alleged that CoconotPhilips bribed officials and each member of Fretilin at the National Parliament received USD$50, 000. Lu Olo alleges that this accusation has been made by a member of the Australian Embassy named Jose and it has to be proved. Mr Lu Olo said that these false accusations have damaged the image of the Prime Minister and the National Parliament of Timor-Leste.
Representative of Petrotimor in Timor-Leste, Pedro Carrascalco, said Oceanic Exploration and Petrotimor have concrete proof to support their allegation that ConocoPhilips gave USD$2,5 million to the Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri. He said that Petrotimor is not afraid and will present the evidence in court.
A Member of the National Parliament, Lucia Lobato, said that the Prime Minister Dr Mari Alkatiri needs to address the National Parliament and clarify the allegation made against him by Oceanic Exploration and Petrotimor. She said that the allegations not only denigrates the Prime Minister, but they also adversely impact the credibility of the government of Timor-Leste under his leadership.
Timor Post -- The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Dr Ramos Horta, said that the allegations made by Oceanic Exploration and Petrotimor against the Prime Minister can be heard at the local court. He said that he has offered to help the Prime Minister in seeking a lawyer to assist in the preparation of a defamation case. Dr Horta said that he considers these allegations as serious accusation and Petrotimor has to prove it. He said that he trusts the Prime Minister 100% because he knows the Prime Minister never received any money from ConocoPhilips.
The representant of UNMISET in Timor-Leste, Shui Meng, said that the medicine and equipment donated by the Government of Japan to the Ministry of Health in Timor-Leste will help bring basic health assistance to the people. She said that the support is to given so children and mothers can have a better healthier lifestyle.
The Direcor of the Women Network (Rede Feto), Laura Menezes Lopes, said that Maria Olandina Caeiro and Ivete de Oliveira represented the Women Network at a meeting held in the United Nations about women's issues. She said that both members of the Women Network pleaded for an international support for the establishment of justice and peace for Timorese women. She said that they also asked for support for the establishment of an international tribunal for Timor-Leste.
March 9, 2004
Suara Timor Lorosae -- During the Third National Dialogue, the President of Timor-Leste, Xanana Gusmco, said that justice is an important pillar for a democratic state. He said that the "operators of justice" have to make sure this happens or this nation will be destroyed.
Part of a statement made by Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director, UNIFEM International Women's Day 2004 this year is a crucial period for women. This year marks the beginning of worldwide preparations to commemorate, in 2005, the 10th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference of Women in Beijing.
Everywhere, women are confronting the challenges of our global world, from deepening poverty and economic uncertainty, the rising toll of HIV/AIDS on their lives and those of their children, to the violence they experience in everyday life. This requires governments and the international community at large to stand by their commitments and to allocate resources to translate them into action. Only then we hope to achieve a world in which both men and women are able to to lead the best lives they can.
Timor Post -- On National Women's Day the First Lady, Kirsty Sword Gusmco, said that Timorese women need to be educated on how to prevent HIV/AIDS. She said that the Government has given support, but women themselves need to act.
The Vice-Minister for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Rosalia Corte Real, said that her Ministry will recruit another 300 teachers during the month of March. She said that those who apply for the jobs will sit for a test in their respective Districts.
Mrs Corte Real said that those selected after the test will be sent to the Districts were teachers are most needed.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Dr Ramos Horta, said that the USD$4,5 million is to support the Government of Timor-Leste in sectors that are most needed.
At the conclusion of the third National Dialogue, the Minister for Justice, Domingos Maria Sarmento, said that money is available for the Court of Appeal, Public Defenders Office and the Attorney General's Office. He said its very difficult when the budget has been drastically reduced. Mr Sarmento said the budget allocated in 2003 for the Ministry of Justice was USD$ 2, 3000,000, and in 2004 it had been cut to USD$2,085,000. He said that the Ministry of Justice needs financial support, and a proposal will be presented soon to the Council of Ministers.
The coordinator for the preparation of examination materials, in the District of Baucau, Agostinho Pinto, said that all the heads of the primary, pre-secondary and secondary schools are receiving preparatory training on how to locally implement exams. (As established by the Ministry of Education standarts).
March 10, 2004
Timor Post -- During a speech at the opening of a seminar about democracy at the Hotel Esplanada, the President of Timor-Leste, Xanana Gusmco, said that democracy does not come from the bottom, it starts from the leadership. He said that people have learned about democracy and the country's leaders have to show good example.
The Bishop of the Diocese of Baucau, D. Basilio do Nacimento, said that the he's happy with the findings conducted by a team about the feasibility of opening a Catholic University in Dili. The Bishop said that the result of the preliminary study shows that is viable for the Catholic Church to open a Catholic University. The Bishop said that the report recommends that the Church take into consideration the strategic importance for having a Catholic university. (The article does not explain the strategic importance that the University would play). The President of ASSET Loro Sa'e (a business association), Oscar Lima, said that its important to create a system for the development of this country where the private sector and the Government can be partners. He said that the private sector are the pillars of the development in any society but the Government needs to support their activities.
During a workshop on anti-corruption held in the District of Baucau, the Inspector General, Mariano Lopes, said that eradicating corruption cannot rely only on a few, but it needs the entire population to pull together. He said that every citizen needs to understand corruption, nepotism and collusion so they can prevent it. Mr Lopes said that the workshop is a continuation of the national program which was established for 2003-2004. He said that people have to let go of the corruption mentality acquired during the Indonesian times. He says society has an obligation to this. Mr Lopes said that most of the cases he had investigated are usually bad administration but are in certain ways, linked to corruption.
In a confusing article in today's edition, it says that during a parliamentary plenary session yesterday, Member of the National Parliament, Leandro Isaac, (who used to be the Vice-President of PSD responsible for the Infrastructure) asked if it was Fretilin or in fact, PSD party who had received a USD$50,000 bribe. Mr Isaac alleged that Petrotimor's representative in Timor-Leste, Pedro Carrascalco, used his position to take piles of Petrotimor's documents (the content of the documents is not clearly explained in the article) to the office of PSD.
The article states that Mr Isaac said that these documents were related to Petrotimor and that Petrotimor had asked for them to be distributed as part of PSD's political campaigns. Mr Isaac is quoted as saying that the documents presented Petrotimor proposals for Suai, Maliana and other parts of the territory. Mr Isaac said that at that time, he rejected the proposal from Petrotimor because he was not interested in "filling others' pockets".
Mr Isaac alleges that during the PSD political campaign, the party did not have very much money and Petrotimor wanted to give USD$50,000 to PSD. Mr Isaac said that in November (doesn't say which year) the President of the PSD party said that he had sent the party's savings account number to Petrotimor. The article states that in December 2003, Mr Isaac, said he had heard that this money was deposited into the party's savings account. The article also suggests that, later on, the money was instead deposited into Pedro Carrascalco account. The article states that Mr Isaac said he doesn't actually know whether PSD has received the money.
Meanwhile a member of the PSD at the National Parliament, Joco Goncalves, has told the media that PSD did not receive any money from Petrotimor or from Oceanic Exploration. He said that Mr Leandro Isaac was acting on revenge as he had been expelled from the PSD party.
Suara Timur Lorosae -- The Head of the Health Department in the District of Covalima, Jose Amaral, said that during the month of February, seven people died in the hospital from heart problems, malaria and pneumonia. He said that two of those patients died because of cerebral malaria. Mr Amaral said that only 18% of the population in the District of Covalima had access to medical treatment because of the shortage of nurses in the hospital
March 11, 2004
Timor Post -- The President of Timor-Leste, Xanana Gusmco, said that the allegations made by Oceanic Exploration and Petrotimor was not against the Government of the Republic Democratic of Timor-Leste, but was personally against Mari Alkatiri.
The President said that the bribe accusation against the Prime Minister is false, and the process filed in the court is also wrong.
Semanario -- The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Dr Ramos Horta, said that he knows that there is a Timorese politician behind this process who has been supplying false information. He said that he will not mention the politician's name, but he has to respond the accusation made against the Prime Minister. Dr Horta said that this unnamed politician will sooner or later have to explain to the Timorese people why he got himself involved in this dirty and defamatory campaign against a fellow-countryman, in favour of an opportunistic American oil company.
The President of Timor-Leste, Xanana Gusmco, said that he has no obligation to run for his second term or to fulfill two consecutive terms as President. The newspaper said that due to chronic illness (back and neck pains) the President had considered resigning in 2003. The Newspaper says that the President feels much healthier this year and will stay until the end of his term.
Suara Timur Lorosae -- The President of Timor-Leste, Xanana Gusmco, said that he stands by the Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri, because of the false accusation made by Petrotimor against the Prime Minister. The President said that he cannot accept the allegation against the Prime Minister that he took bribes to sign the Timor Sea treaty with ConocoPhillips. The President said that if the Prime Minister wants a statement than he will give it.
Potentially giving an economic boost to one of the world's newest and poorest nations, Woodside Petroleum (WPLAU) said Wednesday that it may build a 150 kilometer pipeline to East Timor as part of its multibillion dollar Sunrise gas project. The new plan, an alternative to two existing proposals, could bolster East Timor as it seeks a radical readjustment of maritime boundaries with its neighbour Australia. A Woodside spokesman told Dow Jones Newswires that the company is looking at three alternatives for Sunrise consisting of a floating liquiefied natural gas (LNG) facility, piping gas to an LNG facility in East Timor, or a pipeline to a Darwin based plant. "We aim to take one of these options into the basis of design phase for the project by the end of the year," he said. Sunrise partners Royal Dutch /Shell Group (RD) and Woodside have previously backed floating LNG for Sunrise, while US partner ConocoPhillips (COP) has argued in favor of a pipeline to Darwin. ConocoPhillips is separately building a US$1.5 billion LNG plant at Darwin as part of its Bayu Undan project.
Woodside has said previously that there are "possibilities for sharing infrastructure on-shore" if Sunrise gas is landed at Darwin. East Timor is only around 150km from Sunrise, much closer than the 450km-500km distance to Darwin.
But East Timor lacks supporting infrastructure and skilled labor, and is viewed by analysts as a higher-risk site for a major LNG facility. Whichever option is chosen, the design phase will likely take around 14 months, leading to a potencial go-ahead for construction in 2006. LNG exports could start in 2009/10.
Any move to pipe sunrise gas to East Timor could bolster the country's claim that current seabed boundaries are invalid.
March 15, 2004
Suara Timur Lorosae -- The Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, said that he will not resign over the allegations that he took bribes from ConocoPhillips. He said he would not give the Opposition an opportunity to make political milage out of the issue. He said: "My conscience is ruling me, not party A, B or C". Dr Alkatiri said that the President had asked him not to talk about the allegations otherwise people will make it as a political issue.
A Member of the National Parliament from the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Lucia Lobato, said that if she was the Prime Minister, she would resign due to the political scandal about the allegation of bribery. She said that such scandals have political consequences and that the world knows it is better for him to resign. Mrs Lobato said that the Prime Minister should resign until the court makes a final decision on the alleged bribe case.
A Portuguese lawyer, Miguel Galvco Teles, said that the Oceanic Exploration (Petrotimor) has no legal base to take ConocoPhillips to court over the rights for exploration based on the Portuguese legislation. He said that Oceanic Exploration does not have much experience in drilling for oil. Mr Teles said that he had warned the Prime Minister after the Australian court case about the possibility of the case again appearing, in another jurisdiction, and this is what has happened. (Miguel Galvco Teles was the lawyer who represented Portugal in the International Court in Haia, Holland, in a move against Australia and Indonesia after they found agreement to explore the oil and natural gas in the Timor Sea during the Indonesian occupation).
Timor Post -- During a book launch entitled "Faty ho Noi nia Aventura ba Parlamento" (Faty and Noi's adventures in Parliament) the resident program officer from the International Republican Institute (IRI), Riche Smot Kin, said that the objective of the book is to teach school children in primary schools how to help develop democracy in this country. He said the books will be distributed throughout the country, not only for children but adults also.
The Director of the Secondary School in the District of Baucau, Carlos de Jesus Belo, said that the school has 675 students but has few teachers, and a lack of facilities. He said that the school has 30 teachers but 16 of them are working on voluntary bases. Mr Belo said that the students are contributing USD$1 a month to help pay the voluntary teachers some salary. He said that the school has not yet received any support form the Department of Education.
The Manager for the Centre of Managerial Development (CDE) in the District of Baucau, Papito Monteiro, said that the centre has started training small business men how to develop capacity in managing their business. He said that so far, 50 people have registered to attend the course.
The Vice-Minister of State, Ilda Maria da Conceicao, said that the main objective of her visit to the districts is to implement discipline to the public civil servants. She said that the reason is the Government has received reports about undisciplined civil servants. Mrs da Conceicao said that the report shows that some civil servants do not comply with their working hours they have other jobs on the side.
March 16, 2004
Timor Post -- The President of the National Parliament, Lu Olo, said that the book launched by the International Republican Institute (IRI) portraying the Timorese people as monkeys is an offence to the people and its leaders. He said that the book has diminished the dignity of the President, the National Parliament and the Government. Mr Lu Olo said that IRI has shown no respect whatsoever to the people of this country. He said portraying someone as a monkey is very offensive. Meanwhile the President of Timor-Leste, Xanana Gusmco, has said he refuses to have the book in his office and he has written a letter saying he does want to have is name associated with the book. The Office of the President stated that the President supports the promotion of democracy, but any program to do so must the appropriate criteria and cultural values, and cannot offend the sensibility of the people.
The General Director for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Cesar Jose da Cruz, said that the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (MAFF) is studding the possibility of establishing a "Training School for Agriculture" (SPP) in conjunction with the Department of Education. He said that the curriculum would be drafted by the Ministry of Agriculture and it would be responsible for the school. Mr Da Cruz said that the Ministry has already two schools functioning in Natarbora and Maliana, and is supporting the private agriculture school in Fuiluro.
The Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, said if everyone starts paying their electricity bills, he will guarantee that in three or six months everyone, will benefit from cheaper rates. He said that the Government is not seeking profits, but needs to have money to be able to pay for the diesel to run the electricity generators. Dr Alkatiri said people should not expect the Government to allocate money from other sectors to pay for diesel.
The Director for the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery in the District of Baucau, Lourenco Borges Fontes, said that the number of lady birds have doubled but they have not released it yet. The lady birds will combat the disease that is killing coconut tress in the Baucau area. Mr Fontes said that the population had contributed a lot of suggestions and a meeting had been called by the chefe sucos to inform people that the lady birds can't be released until the end of the wet season.
The Technical Officer for the Asia Regional Health Surveillance, Elisabeth Pisani, said that according to data released by Family Health International and the Ministry of Health, shows that of 100 women tested (Timorese and Indonesian sex workers) 3% of them had HIV/AIDS. She said the tests were done amongst a wide range of people, including army (F-FDTL) and taxi drivers. These results were negative. Ms Pisani said that 1% of gay men tested in Timor had tested positive.
Suara Timur Lorosae -- During a Plenary session, a member of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Maria Paixco, said that the statement made criticising the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Ramos Horta for not being neutral in the alleged case of bribery by ConocoPhillips to the Prime Minister, was reflective of her party's views. Mrs Paixco said that Dr Ramos Horta should be neutral, but instead had thrown fuel on the fire for political parties to fight each other. She said that's not the role of a person who has won the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Director of the Catholic Pre-secondary School, Cesario Magno Sarmento, said that the objective of the school directors' meeting was to debate the education project and plan for their annual activities. The meeting will last five days.
Mr Sarmento said that School Directors are always demanding for their rights but it's important for them also to understand their own obligations. The Manager of the Community Empowerment Project (CEP) in the District of Oe-Cussi, Agostinho Piot, said during a meeting with the local population that in March, CEP will start handing over assets to the local government structure in Oe- Cussi, including money that has not being used in projects. Mr Piot said that from the beginning, CEP had to confront many problems and issues, but at the end, it left many people with some experience in management.
March 17, 2004
Antara -- Gen (ret) Wiranto, one of the Golkar Party's presidential hopefuls, acknowledged that his last meetings with former President KH Abdurrahman Wahid, or better known as Gus Dur, were held in an attempt to form a coalition. "In the meetings, we talked about possible formats to solve the country's problems," Wiranto said after he, along with Surya Paloh, another Golkar Party presidential aspirant, attended a campiagn rally at the Merdeka field here on Tuesday. On the meetings with Gus Dur, he further said, they were still exploratory in nature.
Timor Post -- The Program Director of International Republican Institute (IRI), Deborah White, said that the IRI hasn't yet made a decision about whether to change the characters in the book about parliament and democracy. Ms White said was not IRI's intention to offend people, but the book was designed to contribute to civic education. Meanwhile the Vice-Minister for Education, Rosalia Corte Real, said that her Ministry will not support or allow IRI to distribute the controversial book. She said that IRI never consulted the Ministry of Education about the book content or let the Ministry know about the launch. (The illustrations in the book caused controversy as it presented parliamentarians as monkey's).
Australia has become a potential target of Islamic extremists more for its military intervention in East Timor in 1999 than for its support of the US-led invasion of Iraq, a former Australian intelligence chief said Tuesday. "I don't believe that our later involvement in Iraq significantly altered the idea they had of us, that we are a country contrary to their interests and meriting terrorist attacks", Nigel Fergus said in an interview with Australia's ABC radio.
The facilitator for local organization Kilbur Buka Hatene (increase awareness of issues -- KBH), Elias dos S. Fernandes, said that the organization is campaigning throughout the community to raise awareness of children's rights and child protection. He said that the awareness campaign started in November 2003 and will end March 2004. Mr Fernandes said that the project was financed by UNICEF with an amount of USD$ 20,000.
Suara Timur Lorosae -- Australia was a potential al-Qaeda target because of its intervention in East Timor, a former Olympics intelligence chief said. Neil Fergus, who was in charge of intelligence for the Sydney Olympics, said he did not believe that Australia's involvement in the Iraq war had made it a more likely terrorist target. But Mr Fergus said Australia's 1999 military intervention in East timor, after East Timor voted for independence from predominantly Muslim Indonesia, had angered al-Qaeda.
The people of Ermera Province, East Timor have conducted a lottery to decide who will receive solar-power lighting as part of an Inverell Rotary Club international aid mission. The light has already landed on the Dili docks with the Rotary team due in the capital in a little more than a week. The team will leave Inverell for Darwin on Thursday week before jumping off to Dili and making the journey up into the mountainous of Ermera area. Ermera includes the villages of Samalete, Delesuan and Railako, the sites of the Rotary Club's work on medical centres, schools and community centres during the team's first visit in June 2002. The lights were sought by village representatives to assist children studying after school. There is no main power infrastructure in the area, a result of the Indonesian pull-out of East Timor in 1999. The team will install 150 lights; that's about one for every four homes spread around the villages.
A member of Social Democratic Party (PSD) in the National Parliament, Joco Goncalves, said that his party will honour the Prime Minister if the court shows the Prime Minister is not guilty of allegedly taking bribe from ConocoPhillips.
He said that if the accusation is false, PSD will stand by the Prime Minister Dr Mari Alkatiri. Mr Goncalves said that PSD will demand the company that have accused the Prime Minister to clear his name.
As the new country of Timor-Leste develops its own brand of democracy and governance, the media sector is advocating for the inclusion of contemporary principles of freedom of expression and a free media in line with commitments promised in the country's March 2002 Constitution. Internews is assisting the media by facilitating an ongoing series of meetings and providing access to international advice and best practice media regulatory models in press law and broadcast legislation. A working group of journalists and legal consultants from a cross-section of media outlets is drafting best practice media laws to present to Parliament and key community and media interest groups in Timor- Leste over the coming year.
March 19, 2004
Timor Post -- The Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, said that members of the National Police Force had been suspended from their duties and not expelled for undisciplined behaviour and not acting according to police service standards. The Prime Minister said that members of the Police Force cannot participate in protests against the Government. Dr Alkatiri said that an internal investigation is being carried out to find whether or not the police were involved in late night protest.
The Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, said that the special police force unit has not closed down, but they are on leave until the necessary equipment for their training arrives. The Prime Minister said that some members of the special force are on leave for three weeks, while others are back on regular police duties on their respective police stations.
Suara Timur Lorosae -- The Director of the Health Centre in the District of Aileu, Rogerio da Conceicco, said that last month alone 108 patients sought medical treatment for malaria in the health centre. He said that 86 children were treated for pulmonary and throat infections. Mr Da Conceicco said that the Hospital in Aileu has started a campaign of information to the community to use mosquito nets to avoid being infected with malaria.
The Vice-Minister of State, Ilda Maria da Conceicco, said that good public servants are those who fulfil their working hours, and show up for work on time.
She said that she has heard that some public servants are not fulfilling their duties nor showing up on time to work. Mrs da Conceicco said that she had also heard that some Department of Agriculture staff had never sought people's opinion on irrigation systems in the rice fields.
East Timor's President, Xanana Gusmco, said he would not stand for re-election in the country's second presidential elections in 2007. "I am tired. Five years is enough for me," the independent hero and former guerrilla leader told the Portuguese newsagency Lusa.
East Timor's President Xanana Gusmco's announcement that he will not stand for re-election in 2007 has put the spotlight on retired East Timor Bishop Carlos Belo, who has indicated he might run for President. In comments last month that went unreported in Australia, Bishop Belo said he would consider running for President if he had strong popular support for the move, and if President Gusmco decided not to run again.
Senior Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Dr Jose Ramos Horta, has left Dili to speak at the Human Rights Commission in Geneva. He will then have an Official visit to Europe and African countries, such as Switzerland, Poland, Guine Bissau, Angola and Mozambique. In Maputo, Mozambique, Dr Ramos Horta, will officially inaugurate the embassy of Timor-Leste, which will be the first embassy of RDTL in Africa. Ms Marina Alkatiri, will be Charged' Affairs of Timor-Leste to Maputo, Mozambique.
March 25, 2004
Timor Post -- Political Annalist, Julio Tomas Pinto, said that the Government of Timor-Leste has to clearly define the Government's position on the Timor Sea accord and take the Government of Australia to court because it does not recognize the Greater Sunrise Unitisation Agreement Bill by Timor-Leste and Australia. He said that the Australian Government is doing a lot of maneuvering and the Timor-Leste government needs to be careful. Mr Pinto said that since the beginning, the Australian government had shown interest in the resources from the Timor Sea and it is now making life difficult to the Government of Timor- Leste at the negotiating table. Mr Pinto said that everyone, including the NGOs should be prepared to stand and give full support to the Government of Timor-Leste.
A Member of the National Parliament from Timorese Association of Social Democrats (ASDT), Feliciano Alves de Fatima, said that his party will not accept the ratification of the Unitisation Agreement Bill signed between Australia and Timor-Leste. He said that what the Government of Australia wants is to claim the Greater Sunrise oil and gas field to be within the Australia jurisdiction. Mr De Fatima said that from the beginning before ASDT did not agree to have the treaty signed before the definition of the maritime sea boundary was set. A member of Association of Timorese Heroes (KOTA) at the National Parliament, Clementino dos Reis Amaral, said that the Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste should never have created the accord alone. He said that when something like this happens, no one wants to be part of it. A Member of the Democratic Party (PD at the National Parliament, Mariano Sabino Lopes, said that from the beginning his party was against the accord signed between Australia and Timor-Leste. Mr Sabino said that PD wanted put into the agreement that the pipes carrying the crude oil should be channeled to Timor-Leste, not Australia. Mr Sabino said that what was needed was a clearly defined maritime boundary between Australia and Timor-Leste.
The European Commission officially announced, in a joint ceremony with UNDP, UN agencies, IOM and the World Bank, the approval of 25,5 million (euros) for the development of rural areas in Timor-Leste. The objective of this grant is to increase sustainable livelihood, improve access to markets, create employment opportunities, empower communities to improve their local assets, increase women leadership and enhance the capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in assisting rural communities.The Ministry of Agriculture will implement the program with the assistance of the World Bank.
A Member of the Liberal Party (PL) at the National Parliament, Armando da Silva, has congratulated the Dili District Administrator, Ruben Braz, for implementing the "operation animal" and cleaning the city streets of wondered animals. He said that he hopes the operation will continue in the future.
The Manager of the Health Clinic in the Sub-District of Laleia, Loureiro da Costa Ribeiro, said that the health clinic is facing difficulties with shortages of medicines to administer patients. He said that the doctors are working under difficulty conditions to maintain the clinic, and this has been so since January, 2004. Mr Da Costa said that for the last two months 117 patients have sought treatment for malaria, and other 70 patients have sought treatment for pulmonary and throat infection. He said that a report was sent to the Health Department, but until now the clinic has had no response.
The National Police Commissioner, Paulo de Fatima Martins, said that the main road from Dili to the Districts of Ainaro, Suai, Ermera and Maliana has been washed out due to the monsoon weather in the districts. He said that there are alternative roads but people should take extra caution due to landslides in the region.
Suara Timor Lorsae -- The National Police Commissioner, Paulo de Fatima Martins, said that an unidentified youth wearing blue jeans and blue T-shirt was found dead by a security guard (yesterday) in the toilet of the National Soccer Stadium in Dili.
Mr Martins said that this incident shows that nationally we are still having problems with security in the country. He declined to comment further on the tragic incident.
During the commemoration of the World Day for Tuberculosis (TBC) the Minister of Health, Dr Rui Maria de Araujo, said that tuberculosis is not an incurable sickness if people seek medical treatment on time. He said that 50% of the people in Timor-Leste had contracted tuberculosis, and 10% died because they did not seek medical treatment in time. Dr Araujo said that every year the numbers tend to increase by around 4,000 patients and it affects mainly malnourished and poor people.
The State Secretary for Water and Electricity, Egidio de Jesus, said that the Government is doing everything within their capacity to solve the generator problem in the District of Baucau. Baucau has been without electricity for the last two months. Mr De Jesus said that the generators in Baucau are really old and had been being used since the Indonesian times, and could not cope anymore.
Mr De Jesus said that technicians from Macau are working to see whether they can salvage and replace the parts that are in bad condition.
A $10 billion oil and gas development in the Timor Sea would provide a major boost for jobs and revenue for Australia and East Timor, the federal government of Australia said. The Senate is poised to pass two bills giving effect to an agreement between Australia and East Timor to develop and commercialize oil and gas resources in the Sunrise and Troubadour fields, collectively known as Greater Sunrise. Despite signing the agreement last year, East Timor is disputing its seabed and maritime boundaries with Australia and wants a larger proportion of the revenue, currently set at around 18 per cent. Special Minister of State Eric Abetz said the bills would help assure investors about the future of the development, which would benefit the two nations. "From development will flow investment, exports, employment and revenue," senator Abetz said. Labor said that it would support the bills, but the minor parties accused the government of robbing the newly founded nation. Australian Greens and leader Bob Brown said he felt ashamed at the injustice to East Timor, one of the world's poorest countries.
March 26, 2004
Timor Post -- A Member of Social Democratic Party (PSD) at the National Parliament, Maria Paixco, told the National Parliament that two members of her party (PSD) received messages on their mobile telephones, advising them not to raise the subject of the bribery allegations involving the Prime Minister. "If you speak again, we will fix a place for you", said the message sent to the mobile telephones of MPs Lucia Lobato and Joao Goncalves, reported Timor Post on Thursday. Mrs Paixco said Timor Telecom has been approached to provide information on who might be the sender of the messages.
The Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, said that he has no time to threat people and he doesn't know anything about threats against other people related to accusations of alleged bribery. He said that such talk has always been the tactic of the opposition.
The Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, said that Australia has stolen USD$1 billion of Timor's oil and gas, and according to the international law, Australia has no right to it. The Prime Minister said that if international law is applied Sunrise field belongs to Timor-Leste. Dr Alkatiri said that the Government has to set up an strategy to defend the country's position on the issue.
A lobby group supporting East Timor wants Australia to put the billions flowing from some of the Timor Gap oil and gas fields into a trust fund until the boundary dispute is solved. East Timor Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said this week that Australia was breaching international law by taking billions of dollars worth of oil and gas from the Timor Gap fields, which East Timor says it owns. Representatives of the Timor Sea Justice Campaign appeared before a Senate inquiry in Canberra (yesterday) saying legislation now being considered would give Australia control over huge fuel supplies that belonged to the impoverished country. Spokesman Dan Nicholson said the bill to implement the Timorese agreement would give 82 per cent of its revenue to Australia even though the deposit was half the distance from East Timor as it was from Australia. Dan Nicholson group wants Australia to negotiate a deal more beneficial to East Timor.
The Minister for Transport, Telecommunication and Public Works, Ovidio de Jesus Amaral, said that Water and Sanitation Service (WSS) will apply a tariff to consumers from June, 2004 to cover the costs of delivering clean water to each household. He said that consumers will pay 0.20 cents for every 14 milliliters of water consumed. Mr Amaral said that new water meters soon will be installed in every household and the tariff will start in FY05.
The Vice-Minister for Development and Environment, Abel Ximenes, said that the investigation done by the National Investigation Centre and National University of Timor-Leste (UNTL) on the land and proprieties is very positive. He said that the result of the investigation was presented by UNTL in a report with recommendations for the Government to study.
Suara Timor Lorosae -- Former Indonesian military chief and prominent presidential candidate General Wiranto has challenged United Nations prosecuters in East Timor to come to Indonesia and discuss their allegations that he is guilty of gross human rights abuses. Acting as General Wiranto's spokesperson (yesterday) former Indonesian Justice Minister Professor Muladi said General Wiranto would meet the leaders of the UN's Serious Crimes Unit if they agree to visit Indonesia before the election, which will take place on April 5. Professor Muladi accused the UN prosecutors of "character assassination" and released a document, approved by General Wiranto, which argues that attempts by UN prosecutors to obtain a warrant for General Wiranto's arrest are a breach of international law.
March 29, 2004
Suara Timur Lorosae -- During a seminar entitled "Media role for the democracy in Timor-Leste" the President of Timor-Leste, Xanana Gusmco, has asked the media to be conscious of their role, and said they need to fully understand democracy and what it means.
The President said that he understands that the media is still in a process of learning development.
During a ceremony to commemorate National Police Day this weekend, the Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, reminded police that peace, stability and democracy are the basic conditions for success and all 3 should be highly valued.
Dr Alkatiri said that for these 3 elements to be met, the people of Timor-Leste need to have a patriotic spirit and need respect the sovereignty of the country.
Timor Post -- During a meeting with the population of Lospalos, organized by President Xanana Gusmco, Major Maubiti said that no soldiers will face the court over the incident with the police in Lospalos. He said to do so would mean taking all of them (the soldiers) to court. Major Maubiti said that the country's leaders are the witnesses for the community of Lospalos. He said if the soldiers were fired, thewy would all go back to Uaimori. (Site of original cantonment) The Minister for Justice, Domingos Sarmento, said that people have accused the Ministry of Justice of corruption, but they have yet to present evidence and proof of it. He said that many people tend to talk and create false rumours about the Ministry of Justice practicing corruption without any evidence.
Suara Timur Lorosae -- The Vice-Sub-District Administrator of Bobonaro, Mateus de Jesus, said that rain and strong gusty winds that lasted five days destroyed in the vicinity of 18 Sucos, 250 houses, 3 churches and 7 schools. He said that the monsoon also caused landslides that destroyed peoples goods in the fields. Mr de Jesus said that the natural disaster left people without any means to survive.
The Administrator for the Sub-District of Alas, District of Manufahi, Longinhos Monteiro, said that the Department of Agriculture has distributed rice seeds for the population in Alas. He said that the seeds are a great help for them to be able to cultivate their rice fields.
Life, Love and Health, an Australian Organization working for Timor-Leste, in cooperation with the Government of Timor-Leste, announces the launch of the Timor Gathering. The Timor Gathering is an Adventure Challenge and Rejuvenation Concert event in three spectacular areas of Timor-Leste during the week leading up to the second anniversary of the Restoration of Independence.
The aims of the Gathering are to promote regional and international goodwill and to provide another opportunity for District involvement in National events. The Timor Challenge is a multi-sport adventure which involves four-person teams from each District of Timor-Leste, joined by 15 international teams from Timor and overseas to challenge themselves and each other in three, four and five hour outdoor endurance events in the name of friendship and peace. All competitors will receive a memento of the Timor Challenge and awards will be given for the District and international teams with the fastest combined time for the three challenges. Teams from Timor-Leste, the Middle East, Asia and Europe have shown a lot of early interest with entries opening this Monday 29 March and closing date Tuesday 13 April.
The Vice-President of the Social Democrat Party (PSD), Lucia Lobato, said that allegations made by Leandro Isaac (used to be the vice-president of the party responsible for the Infrastructure) to the weekly Portuguese newspaper that the party had received an amount of USD$ 50,000 from Petrotimor during the political campaign is not true, because PSD never received any money from Petrotimor. Ms Lobato said that PSD had requested evidence from Leandro Isaac but so far he hasn't presented any. Meanwhile Lucia Lobato said that she already has the number of the mobile phone from the person who sent her threaten messages not to talk about the alleged bribery by the Conocophillips. Ms Lobato said that the number will be handed over to the Police and Prosecutor General to take action.
She said also that she's not happy with the Prime Minister's attitude over the 51 cases of alleged corruption presented by the General Inspector to the Prime Minister, and no action has been taken.
Timor Post -- The Prosecutor General of Timor-Leste, Dr Longuinhos Monteiro, said that people are still waiting for the results of an investigation done by UNPOL on 4 December. He said that the results have shown that there are no victims and suspects to the case and the report has not pin pointed individuals responsible for the act. Dr Monteiro said that everyone talks about the National Police but they never refer to damage it caused. He said that further investigation is needed to find evidence to be able to take the case forward.
A Member of the National Parliament, Mariano Sabino Lopes, said that one of the reasons for Australia to play games with us is because the administration of the Timor Sea agreement is not clear. He said that it is still not clear who gets what and what percentage, and how much our workers will get for their salaries.
The Minister of Interior, Rogerio Tiago Lobato, said that organized crime can start operating in Timor-Leste, because there is evidence of groups that have initiated their activities in the country, like gambling and prostitutes. He said that crime can be derived from dirty money from gambling.
A member of the population from the suco of Betano, District of Same, Lourenco da Costa Fernandes, said that the irrigation system in Carau-Ulun does not work and people cannot used it for their cultivation activities in rice paddies. He said that because of the malfunction of the irrigation system, people in the suco of Alas have not planted anything until now. Mr Fernandes said that during the Indonesian times the irrigation system was better and reliable, and no one starved.
March 31, 2004
Suara Timur Lorosae -- National Parliament members from Fretilin presented a motion (yesterday) during a plenary session that was adopted and will be sent to the Prosecutor General.
It asks for an investigation into the alleged bribery by ConocoPhillips to the Prime Minister and Members of the National Parliament. A member of the National Parliament for Fretilin, Francisco Miranda Branco, said that the motion was passed and now those who have gone to the media and said that they have proof can present the evidence to the Prosecutor General.
East Timor's viability as a nation depends in large part upon its ability to exploit limited resources. Despite massive international aid efforts since the departing Indonesian military and anti-independence militias laid waste to 70 percent of the island's infrastructure, the East Timorese economy remains fragile. Its limited agricultural base aside, the one bright spot on the economic horizon for the world's newest nation lies deep beneath the Timor Sea.
The oil and natural gas reserves of the surrounding waters represent the future prosperity of this tiny country. Those resources also represent the point at which Australian and East Timorese interests collide. Australia is well aware of the worth of the oil and gas riches in the Timor Sea. It should not be forgotten that when Australia recognized Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor, it took the dubious course of entering into an agreement top develop a "zone of cooperation" with Indonesia for the exploration of those resources, without any reference to the wishes of the East Timorese people. A final delineation of the maritime boundary between Australia and East Timor will determine which nation controls those assets. (Source of the article does not explain -- just says Canberra)
The National police Commissioner, Paulo de Fatima Martins, said that the police have detained three more people in connection with the death of Jose Conio Fernandes Xavier, whose body was found in Dili stadium last Wednesday. Mr Martins said that police believed that ten other people were involved in the killing of Xavier.
According to the article the Indonesian authorities will close the border between Timor-Leste and Indonesia at Kefamananu (Atambua, West Timor) and Pasabe (Oe-cussi) due to the upcoming Indonesian general election in April.
A teacher at the Faculty of Science for Teacher Education at the University of Timor-Leste (UNTL), Nuno da Silva Gomes, said that it is important for everyone to learn the Portuguese language, because the Constitution of Timor-Leste states Portuguese as the official language. He said that the official language is not only for the students but also for the teachers.
Timor Post -- During the closing ceremony for the Truth and Reconciliation Committee (CAVR) the President, Xanana Gusmco, said that the program has come to an end, but that we should not allow the reconciliation flame burn out. He said that this the flame of reconciliation, or the flame of peace, has given the independence to Timor-Leste. President Gusmco said that the flame of reconciliation has to continue as if it was the guiding light for our children, and it cannot be allowed to die.
A press release put out by the office of the Minister of State, Ana Pessoa, and published on today's edition says that if the employees from the Community Empowerment Project (CEP) do not return the Government assets in 24 hours, they will face penal code article number 347. The press release says these employees are guilty of "embezzlement". The press release includes a long list of names of people who still have government assets (cars, motorbikes) in their possession.
The Democrats say, by signing the new East Timor gas deal, the Federal Government is helping itself to resources that potentially belong to the poorest nation in the region. Australia will receive about 80 per cent of the revenue from the Greater Sunrise Gas Field, worth 8.5 billion dollars a year, while East timor will only get 20 percent under the deal. The Democrats' foreign affairs spokeswoman, Natasha Stott-Despoja, says the deal marks a bad day in the relationship between the two countries. "I fear that it has damage our relationship. I fear that it's had an impact on the goodwill ? especially for a nation that played a constructive and positive role in assisting East Timor to eventually attain independence. I think we've jettisoned a lot of that good-will by acting as bullies and, indeed, bushrangers for oil."
The Greens leader, Senator Bob Brown, says it's one of the most despicable pieces of legislation the Australian government could ever approve. "To be robbing the poorest nation in our neighborhood to line the pockets of the richest nation of 8 billion of royalties over the next three decades is a terrible moment in Australian politics." (Source unmentioned however it appears to be from Australia Media)
Compiled by Jose Filipe External Affairs World Bank, Dili Office