I’m sitting in a limousine parked outside an expatriate bar in Timor-Leste’s capital, Dili. I’m told by its proud owner, Fred, that the car was formerly owned by David Bowie. The air outside is ripe with humidity and the smoke of fires frying street food. Further along the road, market vendors are selling fruit to men on scooters. Babies with dirty feet are huddled into the riders’ laps. A stripped-out van (microlet) carrying dusty passengers in a haze of pounding Timorese rap music, narrowly avoids colliding with a U-turning taxi as it passes. Where I sit feels impossibly clean and cool.
Fred tells me his new investment is the first of a fleet to be shipped into the country in preparation for celebrations of Timor’s sovereignty. It’s been 20 years since the people of East Timor voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia. He excitedly tells me that I’m sitting where Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, will be in a month’s time.
When I flew into Dili at the end of June, I had only a vague understanding of Timor’s history. I was there as part of an internship working with Timorese journalist, Jose Belo.
As I met and interviewed the people of Timor, I became aware of the fundamental strength and resilience that formed the foundations of the democracy. As a nation conceived in bloodshed, the feel is of politicians and civilians alike striving to move forward to peace in spite of evident pressures from developed countries with vested interests.
On the 30st of August 1999- 24 years after being invaded by Indonesia in 1975, Timor-Leste held an historic referendum. A staggering 78.5% of people vote in favour of independence. Civil unrest erupted between pro-Indonesia paramilitary groups and pro-independence civilians, by 2002 more than 1400 people had been killed.
Over 5000 Australian personnel were deployed into Timor between 1999 and 2002 as part of the peacemaking mission, International Force East Timor (INTERFET). Ex-Australian soldier, Jason, tells me at a dinner for INTERFET veterans that while the turn of the century evokes memories of fear, violence and chaos for many, for him it was one of his most gratifying experiences as a soldier.
“I went to Afghanistan four times and that wasn’t nice. In Timor, people wanted us to be here and they appreciated the help. You could integrate with them easily and be part of their culture. They were accepting and a beautiful people.”
“[There was] a sense of liberating a country, or helping to liberate a country who had fought for their own independence for 20 odd years and helping to enable that and provide them with the security to take over their own country and be their own government and people.”
As the world’s newest nation, Timor-Leste is still considered ‘third-world’. It held its first election to appoint members of a constitutional assembly to approve the East Timorese constitution in 2001. In 2002 it elected its first president of the republic. Since then, the nation has borne the brunt of a young government system trying to gain its feet. In 2006, conflict between components of the Timorese military over discrimination saw violence and chaos take control once more. The crisis prompted military intervention from several other countries, including Australia.
The effects of the violent confrontations can still be seen today. Burnt out buildings lend an eerie quality to rural towns while mountainous backdrops and smiling people in bright shirts counteract the effect. Dili has the appearance of a hastily put together shanty town. Women bathe their children in small iron tubs outside. Their dirt floored kitchens are swept immaculately clean. Non-government organisations drive initiatives for change while the elected governments strive to implement policies to allow reform.
Pressure from external forces give a sense of Timor’s need to maintain a high-functioning democracy. Talking with Timorese politicians though, I am constantly reminded that many of these men are adjusting into a role they had not seen themselves in before. Many of them were soldiers at the change of millennium and again in 2006. What were once guerrilla fighters, are now the presidents and prime ministers of a democracy.
Jose Ramos Horta former president, prime minister and foreign minister tells me that while he did not personally take up arms, he led the resistance by taking on the role of foreign minister under the liberation movement and first elected party, FRETILIN (revolutionary front for an independent East Timor), and pleaded his country’s cause across the world.
I meet Mr Ramos Horta in a beautiful, airy old-style home. Portraits hang on every wall. He says that even now he continues to help the governing party in passing new policies.
“Even if they are the opposition, I try to help. Whether I agree or not with their policies, they are the government elected. That’s my philosophy in life. In the circumstance of Timor-Leste, it is still a fragile society, a fragile country. I cannot play democracy opposition like you can afford to in Australia”.
Catching a microlet in the direction of my hotel after leaving Mr Ramos Horta I am suddenly aware of the sound of chanting. Up ahead a street has been completely blocked by the bodies of thousands of people shouting and cheering. It is the third LGBTQI + pride parade held in Timor-Leste. An estimated three thousand people are in attendance, six times that of the country’s first ever march held in 2017.
President, Francisco Guterres offers his support for the ‘Marsa Diversidade’ (Diversity March) saying in a statement “I am a president for all people”.
“I respect everyone! Respect and love tie us as a family, as community, as a people. I ask everyone to see diversity as our nation’s wealth”.
A 2018 report by the National Women’s Network (Rede Feto) and the ASEAN OGIE caucus into the treatment of women in Timor-Leste found that while many women feel increasingly accepted as lesbian, bisexual and transgender, they still experience a disturbing level of perverse discrimination and violence.
While this trend is alarming, it is positive to see the young nation striving to move forward by addressing modern issues in a progressive and inclusive manner.
The relationship between Timor-Leste and Australia has a tumultuous history. Our military involvement between 1999 and 2002 is considered to have been paramount to Timor’s independence, politically however our involvement has created deep upset.
In commemoration of Timor’s milestone, Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, has promised to publicly ratify the maritime boundary treaty between the two nations.
The struggle for sovereignty over the maritime territory has been an ongoing battle for Timor-Leste with the Australian government only entertaining discussions following an International Court of Justice ordered ‘compulsory conciliation’ in 2016.
Under the latest maritime boundary agreement, all contracts for petroleum activities in the Timor Sea will belong to Timor-Leste.
Rifts between Timor-Leste and Australia hadn’t been fully resolved when the Maritime Boundary Treaty was signed in March 2018 and the countries remain unwilling to agree on where the gas will be processed, with each nation vying for it to be piped to their own domestic facilities.
Private operators and energy experts support the viable option of piping the gas to Darwin in an arrangement that would see Timor-Leste receive up to $8 billion AUD in revenue, but the Timor-Leste government is adamant that jobs in their already-constructed domestic Tasi Mane facility would create financial security for the country.
In a small yellow painted room, I speak with members of Dili-based NGO, La’o Hamutuk. A fan lazily paddles through the damp air above our heads as they tell me that they’ve estimated the cost of building the required pipeline to the Tasi Mane facilities and the cost of buying out ConocoPhillips and Shell’s stakes in the Greater Sunrise oil and gas field will total more than what is left in the country’s sovereign wealth fund.
In an email exchange, La’o Hamutuk researcher, Charlie Scheiner, tells me how important it is that the Timorese government understand the heavy environmental and social costs of the petroleum industry. He worries that the industry’s reliability on a volatile, evolving global energy market could prove costly to the nation. “We should not put all our eggs in such a costly and uncertain basket, especially when other paths for economic development are more certain, more sustainable, and more beneficial to most of our people”.
Tourism and agriculture are being pushed forward in the public’s conscience. The development of both industries appears at the outset to be a sustainable opportunity for improvement to economic and job growth.
While Timor-Leste continues to face devastating economic conditions as reserves of their current resource projects, which provide up to 80% of their total revenue, are projected to run out within a few years, their insistence on maintaining firsthand control of these seemingly doomed projects feels like a protective act.
Timor-Leste is resting on a knife-edge. While stability and growth sit well within the democracy’s grasp, outside pressures threaten to undo the fledgling nation’s future prosperity and hard work. Reflecting on the history of the nation on its twentieth anniversary, the world would do well to remember how significantly the new democracy has built itself up out of the rubble.
Tempotimor (Dili) - The people of Timor-Leste welcome the 30 of August with a banner expressing support to Witness K and Bernard Collaery who face charges at courts in Australia.
Timor-Leste Government, via the national police-PNTL, has announced that they would not authorize any demonstration on the 20th anniversary of Referendum, but the government and PNTL lost control at sea in front of Palacio do Governo. A big red banner bearing Bernard Collaery’s photo and written “Our Solidarity with Bernard Collaery & Witness K” is hanged on a yacht in front of Palacio do Governo.
“We unfold this banner on the yacht at sea because there is space to speak on shore,” an representative from the Movement Against Occupation of Timor Sea, MKOTT, told TempoTimor.
Witness K and his lawyer, Bernard Collaery helped bring forward information about the Australian espionage activities by planting listening devices at Palacio Governo during negotiations on sharing resources on the oild fields in the Timor Sea.
“Big Brother Xanana and many leaders know that if it wasn’t thanks to Witness K and his lawyer Bernard Collaery, we wouldn’e have been able to remove the listening devices from the office of Prime Minister,” the MKOTT representative explains.
The people of Timor-Leste consider Bernard Collaery and Witness K as big heroes in Timor-Leste’s fight for maritime boundary with Australia. As scheduled, at 16.30 (30/08), Timor-Leste and Australia will exchange the diplomatic notes at the front of Palacio do Governo.
“We agree we should sign this note, but we should not forget our big heroes Witness K and Bernard Collaery are facing difficult situation imposed on them by the Australia Government,” MKOTT states.
By : Oki & Monty Jacka
Tempotimor (Dili) - Alberto Carvalho Araujo has accused Timor-Leste’s current trade system of being designed to benefit foreign companies, sacrificing the needs of domestic companies.
Tempotimor (Dili) - Violence against children in Timor-Leste is ‘exceptionally high.’ A staggering 87.4 percent (612,539 children) of the Timorese children is victim at home of physical and emotional violence, according to the study ‘Unseen, Unsafe’ by Save the Children, ChildFund, Plan International and World Vision. This percentage is higher than in neighbouring countries such as Papua New Guinee and other Pacific nations.
By Oki & Monty Jacka
Tempotimor (Dili) - According to the President of the Timor-Leste Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KKI-TL), Oscar Lima, the government is currently set up in a way which hinders local entrepreneurs.
By : Sally Rummery
Tempotimot (Dili) - Activist group, Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea (MKOTT) has condemned the Australian government for its prosecution of whistle-blower, Witness K and his lawyer, Bernard Collaery, calling it an ‘attack on freedom of expression and democracy’.
The group has launched a public petition against Australian Federal Attorney General, Christian Porter in protest to the prosecution of the men.
Charges were filed against the two men by federal prosecutors, with Mr Porter’s approval, following the exposure of an Australian bugging operation of Timorese government offices during negotiations over how lucrative oil and gas reserves were to be shared between the nations.
As Timor-Leste prepares to celebrate its 20th anniversary of the 1999 referendum on the 30th of August, it also hopes to officially ratify its Maritime Boundary Treaty with the Australian government.
The exposure of the Australian secret service’s corrupt and illegal bugging put pressure on Australia to accept, in 2018, a boundary treaty agreed in a facilitated conciliation process under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
In a media conference held last week, MKOTT called on Mr Porter to use his power under section 71 of the Judiciary Act (1903) to immediately put a stop to the prosecutions, saying that it would ruin the relationship between the countries.
"While Timor-Leste and Australia are about to celebrate this important occasion, we the undersigned note with great regret that the Australian government has continued its prosecution of Lawyer Bernard Collaery and Witness K. These two are heroes of the maritime boundary agreement and thus their prosecution will pollute the celebration and the bilateral relations".
The petition is hoped to have gained the signature of over a thousand Timorese by the end of August.
By ROD MCGUIRK, ASSOCIATED PRESS [link: https://abcnews.go.com/
Tempotimor (Melbourne) - Parlamentu Australia nian aprova ona ratifikasaun ba tratadu fronteira maritima ida ne’ebé mak asina ho Timor-Leste fulan sanulu-resin-nein liu ba no governu daudaun ne’e iha hela presaun nia okos hodi fó fila-hikas osan dolares hamutuk millaun sanulu ba Timor nia direitu husi tasi-kidun ida ba kampu gas nian mak hetan rekoñesimentu katak nasaun ilha-sorin baluk ne’e mak sai nu’udar nia nain.
Iha tempu tarde loron Segunda, Parlamentu Australia pasa ona lejislasaun ne’ebé mak fornese espasu hodi ratifika tratadu refere, semana ida depois de Australia nia viziñu kiak ne’e hetan ona vota afavor ba lejislasaun mak hanesan hodi diriji oinsá nasaun rua ne’e sei fahe osan dolar biliaun ba biliaun husi riku-soi mina no gas ne’ebé mak latan hela iha Tasi Timor nia okos.
Tratadu ne’e uluk asina ona iha Nova Iorke iha fulan Marsu tinan kotuk, maibé la fó influénsia to hetan ratifikasaun liu husi dalan nota diplomátiku interkambiu bainhira Primeiru Ministru Scott Morrison vizita ba Timor-Leste iha loron 30 Agostu, ba komemora aniversariu referendum nian ba dala 20 ne’ebé mak marka nu’udar independensia husi Indonesia, ne’ebé halo ona invazaun iha tinan 1975 ba Portuguese nia kolóni ida ne’e.
Australia sei nafatin hetan osan porsentu 10 nu’udar royalti husi Bayu Undan nia mina no gas to ramata, bainhira Timor-Leste foti sai nu’udar nain tomak ba kampo refere ne’ebé tuir predisaun sei mamuk iha tinan hirak oin mai tan.
Timor nia eroi ba independensia no xefe negosiadór ba tratadu refere, Xanana Gusmão, dehan katak ninia nasaun iha tempu pasadu lakon ona osan dolar milaun 5 kada fulan bainhira akordu ne’e seida'uk hetan ratifikasaun.
Donald Rothwell, peritu ida ba lei internasional husi Universidade Nasional Australia iha loron Tersa ne’e hatete katak provisaun (ketentuan) ne’e forma ona katak sei laiha kompensasaun mak sei selu ba tantu parte rua ne’e hotu nu’udar rezultadu husi regulamentu fronteira foun ne’e.
“Bainhira tratadu ne’e komesa lao ona, totalmente sei laiha obrigatoriu ba Australia hodi selu kualkér tipu ba kompensasaun, tanba iha ne’ebá temi ona iha laran,”
Steve Bracks, sesante prezidente konsellu ba Victoria no fundador ba organizasaun asistensia Projetu Governasaun Timor-Leste nian, deskreve Australia ne’ebé kontinua atu hetan lukru husi Bayu Undan nu’udar “asaun demaiziadu.”
Charlie Schenier, peskizador ida iha La’o Hamutuk, nu’udar institutu peskiza ida iha TImor-Leste, dehan katak Australia hetan ona lukru dolares bilaun 5 husi mina no gas ne’ebé mak daudaun ne’e konkorda ona tama ba Timor ninia teritoriu.
“Australia iha tempu pasadu laiha direitu atu hetan porsentu 10 husi Bayu Undan,” Scheiner hatete ba ABC. “Ami espera katak Australia sei halo buat ne’ebé mak loos no selu hikas fali saida mak sira foti ona husi fatin ne’ebé mak la konsidera sira nu’udar nain tan ona.”
Australia ninia Departamentu Relasaun Esterna no Komérsiu la fó komentariu kona ba pergunta ne’ebé relasiona ho kompensasaun, maibé hatete iha sira nia deklarasaun iha loron Tersa katak: “Ami hein atu lori tratadu ne’e formaliza hodi vigor iha tempu badak nia laran mak posivel.”
Tratadu ne’e deklara katak “parte hirak ne’ebé involve konkorda katak laiha kúalker parte ida mak sei halo reklamasaun ba kompensasaun kona ba atividade mak hala’o ona sobre petroliu nian iha Tasi Timor.”
Rothwell deskreve katak klausa ne’e nu’udar “oinseluk uitoan,” no reflete tuir ba konkordansia barak kona ba Tasi Timor atraves dekada hira nia laran ne’ebé Australia halo ho Indonezia no depois halo ho Timor-Leste.
“Iha klausa ne’ebé mak relasiona ho kompensasaun nian ne’e loloos sai nu’udar advogadu ida nia dalan hodi asegura katak sei laiha tan dalan atu fila fali ba kestaun hirak ne’e iha futuru mai,” Rothwell hatete.
Bazeia ba tratadu refere, Timor-Leste sei hetan asaun ne’ebé boot liu husi lukru ba esploitasaun kampu gas Greater Sunrise ne’ebé mak seidauk book. Asaun ne’e sei fahe tantu 80-20 se pipa nia gas ne’e dada ba Australia hodi procesa ka 70-30 se pipa ne’e dada ba Timor.
Timor-Leste hakarak atu dada gase ne’e hodi prosesa iha ninia teritoria maibé investor sira tauk-tauk hela tanba dalaruma dalan ida ne’e ekonomikamente sei la viavel ka la’o di’ak iha futuru mai.
Asuntu fahe riku-soi mina no gas ne’ebé mak lokaliza entre Australia no Timor-Leste ne’e to’o agora sai ona nu’udar asuntu ne’ebé mak halo deskonfortu entre viziñu rua ne’e deste tinan 2002 bainhira Timor-Leste hakat ba oin nu’udar fini ida hodi sai nasaun ho ema milaun 1.5 ne’ebé independente husi Indonezia.
Australia no Timor asina ona tratadu ida iha tinan 2006 kona ba fahe lukru ba Greater Sunrise nian ba futuru. Maibé relasaun ne’e monu bainhira Timor-Leste akuza Australia ho asaun espioneza ho dalan tau instrumentun espiaun nian ba iha Timor-Leste ninia gabinete laran ne’ebé uza hodi halao diskusaun iha tinan 2004, hodi Australia bele iha vantazen ba negosiasaun ne’ebé mak la justu. Australia nega alegasaun ida ne’e.
Espiaun ida ne’ebé mak lekar informasaun ne’e sai ho ninia advogadu Bernard Collaery aprezenta aan ba hearing iha tribunal Canberra nian ida iha loron Tersa hetan akuzasaun ba konspirasaun hodi komunika sai informasaun sekretu kona ba alegasaun monta instrumentu espiaun ne’e.
Collaery ninia advogadu Ken Archer hatete ba Tribunal Majistradu Teritoriu Capital Australia katak ninia kliente hakarak atu alegasaun ne’e ba hearing iha Tribunal Supremu.
Robert Richter, ne’ebé mak reprezenta espiaun ne’e, ne’ebé mak ita barak hatene ho naran Witness K, hatete ba Xefe Majistradu Lorraine Walker katak ninia kliente hakarak ninia alegasaun ne’e ba hearing ketak husi tribunal majistradu ida.
Walker adia kazu ne’e ba loron 6 Agostu, iha tempu hanesan advogadu sira mós diskute oinsá atu prosesa kazu ne’e. Advogadu no esipaun, sira ida-idak hetan akuzasaun ne’ebé bele lori sira ba kastigu prizaun tinan rua bainhira prova sira kondena halo sala.
Eis prezidente Timor-Leste no manan nain ba prémiu Paz nian José Ramos-Horta demanda ona ba Australia atu hapara alegasaun ne’e tanba ema nain rua ne’e nia asaun bazeia ba sira nia konxiénsia bainhira sira hamosu alegasaun ba Australia.
Timor-Leste ninia reseita ba minan, ne’ebé mak kobre ba governu nia gastus to porsentu 90, daudaun ne’e menus makas ona tanba mina no gas ne’ebé mak iha komesa menus los ona iha sira nia teritoriu laran. Bazeia ba La’o Hamutuk, nasaun ida ne’e ninia fundu riku-soi soberania dollares bilaun 16 bele sei mamuk iha tinan sanulu nia laran tanba tinan-tinan governu foti hakat liu ona investimentu nia retornu.
By : Oki & Monty Jacka
Tempotimor (Dili) – In Timor-Leste, there is currently no law which forces the government to use local industry over international companies.
As a result of this, international companies are used regularly for mega projects across the country, hurting local companies who are being overlooked by their own government.
International companies who win big projects also hold no obligation to utilise local industry. They often refuse to buy sand and stone from local timorese, instead bringing in supplies and even labourers from abroad.
Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KKI-TL), Hergui Luina Fernandes described the situation as worrisome.
"We are sad! In the private sector there is currently no law supporting local industry. We often think this law exists, but actually it is very sad because it doesn’t," Ms Fernandes said on Friday.
While the Timor Sea agreement laid out legislation for 10% of work to be done by local companies, nothing has been created in national law yet, she explained.
"This is very troublesome to the private sector, because people who come and work on big projects in Timor, they have the right to bring everything from their country, one example is the Tibar Port project,” Ms Fernandes said.
“Our country investing a fair amount of money in the project, but the agreement has nothing to discuss about local companies."
This situation is so harmful, especially around Liquisa where there are Timorese investing in sand washing and destroying stones, but being overlooked in favour of overseas companies, Ms Fernandes explained.
"We visited various places up to Aileu, where the Chinese are putting their own machines to wash sand, crush rocks,” she said.
“We as Timorese cannot go forward, when there are no laws to support local companies.”
"International companies have told us that no legal force can force us. There is no law, no agreement that forces them to have a local context.”
“As a private sector, we are saddened by this situation where there is no opportunity for Timorese," Ms Fernandes expressed.
The situation will continue. The oil and gas pipeline to Timor will not benefit the Timorese the way it should, because when this opportunity is open to multinational companies, they will bring everything from their countries, Ms Fernandes said.
"We will not become a sovereign state, economically we will become dependent on foreign countries.”
Businessman Rui Castro also raised the issue about businessmen from abroad coming to Timor, renting land and using it to grow vegetables to sell back to Timorese people.
"This happens in Aileu many times, in Atabae there are also a few, if we keep this sector open and free, it will not provide good protection and eventually people from abroad will take over everything," Mr Castro said.
Mr Castro is urging the Government to establish a good policy in it’s agriculture sector which will provide opportunities to Timorese.
“If not, what will happen in Aileu, Atabae, Batugade (Bobonaro) and Natarbora (Manatuto), is that the overseas people will rent the land and use it to grow vegetables and sell it back to Timorese.”
The Government has established numerous international partnerships with countries such as China and Germany, which are causing this to happen, Mr Castro said.
A chinese company has opened the shrimp industry in Loes, while others have planted chilies in Natarbora and the other one is now in Manatuto, he said.
The Interim Minister for economic affairs and the Minister of Legislative reform and Parliamentary affairs, Fidelis Manuel Leite Magalhaes, responded to the comments, saying the government has noted the them and would inform local entrepreneurs and the relevant law-making ministries.
By : Oki & Sally Rummery
Tempotimor (Dili) -Changes to budget funding in Timor-Leste’s tourism sector have halted the industry’s development progress of basic amenities in tourist areas, with the government instead concentrating on large scale projects.