a pretty unfair place
East Timor Ten Years After Self-Determination
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE
Ken Westmoreland’s interest in East Timor over the past twenty years has taken him around the world, from Portugal to Australia, the UK to Indonesia, and Ireland to East Timor itself. During that time, he has worked as a researcher, a proof-reader, and a Tetum translator for clients from government departments to film companies.
What I can say is simply that the world is a pretty unfair place, that it’s littered over the course of the decades and the centuries with examples of acquisitions by force which have proved to be, for whatever reason, irreversible. – Gareth Evans, Australian Foreign Minister, 1990
a pretty unfair place
East Timor Ten Years After Self-Determination
Published by Lafaek Press, 2009 Copyright © Ken Westmoreland 2009 Ken Westmoreland has asserted his right under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording or information storage or retrieval system, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher. This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not by way of trade or otherwise be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in writing in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser. ISBN: 978-0-557-15827-0
Printed in Great Britain
Acknowledgements Prologue: How Different It Might Have Been Introduction: Deeply Unfashionable 1. The Last Ugly ‘Ism’ 2. Mythology, Dogma and Denial 3. Indonesia: A Squandered Opportunity 4. Australia: As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap 5. Portugal: Emotion is Not Enough 6. The UN: What International Community? 7. Speaking in Tongues 8. E-Locked and Air-Locked 9. Economics: Politics for Grown-Ups 10. The Buck Stops in Dili Epilogue: Signs of Change? Notes Bibliography Index vii ix xvii 1 15 35 53 71 89 105 125 143 159 175 179 201 204
BURMA (M Y A N M A R)
THAILAND PHILIPPINES CAMBODIA
BRUNEI M A L A Y SI A SINGAPORE
N D O N E S I A
0 500m 1km
Nusa Tenggara Bali
EAST TIMOR (T I M O R - L E S T E) A U S T R A L I A
Baucau DILI Manatuto . Lospalos Jaco . . .
. Aileu . Ainaro . . . Same
EAST TIMOR (T I M O R - L E S T E)
I WOULD LIKE to thank the following people from East Timor, who I have had the pleasure to have known over the years: Abel Guterres; Abel Pires da Silva; Acácio Marques; Alfredo Borges Ferreira; Anastácio Moniz; Arsenio Bano, Benjamim Côrte Real; Boaventura Moreira; Carlos Alves; Cesar Dias Quintas; Christopher Henry Samson; Clementino dos Reis Amaral; Dino Gandara Rai; Domingos Savio; Estela Alves Amaral; Estêvão Cabral; Fernando Encarnação; Flavio Simões Martins; Francisco Guterres; Hermenegildo Lopes; Humberto Seixas; Ivete de Oliveira; Jeremias Desousa; José António Belo; José Amorim; José Dias Quintas; José Teixeira; Julia Alves; Kirsty Sword Gusmão; Lilia Paixão Araújo; Luciano da Conceição; Luís Costa; Mito Alves; Nicolau Santos; Nilton Alves Amaral; Pascoela Barreto; Rique Alves Amaral; Valerio Trindade; Ventura da Conceição; Vicky Tchong and Zequito de Oliveira. Obrigadu barak ba imi hotu hosi Maun Ken – many thanks to you all from ‘Brother’ Ken. I would also like to thank the following people around the world, who I have had the pleasure to have met, to have known, or with whom I have had the pleasure to corresponded: Achmad Gozali; Alan Taylor; António Pinto da França; Ann Turner; Aone van Engelenhoven; Arnie Kohen; Ashley GreenThompson; Bill Nicol; Bob Vidoni; Brian Farrell; Carmel Budiardjo; Catharina van Klinken; Catherine Scott; Charlie Scheiner; Chrys Chrystello; Chuck Rice; Clinton Fernandes; David Norris; David Scott; Diane Almeida; Dom Rotheroe; Don Brown; Edson Marinho Duarte Monteiro; Eric Avebury; Erik Mackinlay; Fiona Anderson; Fiona Crockford; Fernando Paulo de Mello Barreto Filho; Francisco Nazareth; Gil Scrine; Geoffrey Hull; Helen Hill; Helen Clark; Helen Yensen; Hugh Dowson;
Hugh O’Shaughnessy; Humberto Ribeiro; Irena Cristalis; James Dunn; Janelle Saffin; Janet Steele; Jennie Herrera; Jim Hewitt; João Paulo Esperança, Joe Davies; John Hajek, John Macdougall; John Taylor; Jonathan Humphreys; José António Rocha, Julian Gill; Kerry Taylor-Leech; Lance Eccles; Liston Siregar, Lev Lafayette; Lucy Williamson; Maire Leadbeater; Margaret Wilson; Margarida Azevedo; Margarida Gonçalves; Maria Bandeira Neves; Maria Emília Irmler, Marie Quinn; Mary Skinner; Martin Maguire; Maureen Tolfree; Max Stahl; Michael Kirby; Michael Leach; Mike Pothier; Noel Stott; Paul Barber; Paula McBride; Peter Carey; Peter de Haas; Pedro Braga; Robert Connolly; Roger Gill; Rosely Forganes; Roy Wiles; Ruy Jobim Neto; Sean Steele; Russ Feingold; Saimoni Nacolawa; Shirley Shackleton; Simon Long; Soei Liong Liem; Steve Alston; Steve Kibble; Thomas Nehrmann; Tom Hyland; Toni Pollard; Tony Leon; Virgínia Sampaio and Wayne Brittenden. However long or brief our acquaintance, however recent or long ago, I have not forgotten you, and however great or small your contribution may have been, every little has helped. However much we may have disagreed with each other in the past, or indeed, you disagree with each other now, again, many thanks to you all. I would also like to dedicate this work to the memory of Michele Turner and Lieutenant Colonel Mervyn Jenkins. Lastly, I would like to thank my family for their indulgence of my interest in this and other ‘lesser-known’ parts of the world over the years. Eccentricity is the mother of creativity – maybe one day it will pay off!
PROLOGUE HOW DIFFERENT IT COULD HAVE BEEN
JAKARTA, 8 JUNE, 2008. It was President Suharto’s birthday. After four decades in office, during which Indonesia had seen unprecedented economic growth, he saw no reason to step down, or even groom a successor, and had been re-elected for a ninth term by the People’s Consultative Assembly. Unopposed. And why not? Joaquin Balaguer, President of the Dominican Republic, had remained in office until he was ninety-one, and had even attempted a comeback at the age of ninety-four. If Balaguer could do that, then why not Suharto, a sprightly eighty-seven year old, unfettered by such things as multi-party democracy and the risk of losing elections? The guest list at the celebrations included all the usual suspects. There was the President of Australia, Richard Woolcott, who had been Ambassador to Indonesia in the 1970s, and the Foreign Minister, Greg Sheridan, who, before embarking on his political career, had been foreign editor of The Australian, and a staunch defender of Suharto’s Indonesia. On the other side of the world, in El-Aiún, the capital of Western Sahara, José Ramos Horta, the ‘foreign minister in exile’ of East Timor, watched coverage of the celebrations on CNN. On seeing the presidents of the two countries, both dressed in Indonesian batik, he turned to his Sahrawi colleague and remarked ‘See? Two pieces of shit in matching shirts!’
HOW DIFFERENT IT COULD HAVE BEEN
Western Sahara, or to use its official title, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, was regarded as an ally by Horta and others seeking independence for East Timor, since it had finally gained independence in 2002. There were many parallels between the two. Both had been colonised by Iberian countries; Western Sahara by Spain; East Timor by Portugal; and both had been abandoned by them in 1975. Both were subsequently invaded and annexed by their more powerful neighbours: Western Sahara by Morocco; East Timor by Indonesia. In 1999, Morocco finally agreed to a referendum on the future of Western Sahara, in which its people were to choose between autonomy within the Kingdom of Morocco, or full independence. However, it was not an amicable divorce; as the departing Moroccan military and local militias laid waste to the infrastructure. After international condemnation, King Mohammed VI agreed, albeit grudgingly, to a French-led international peacekeeping force. This gave way to a UN transitional administration, known by the acronym ATNUSO – Administration Transitional des Nations Unies au Sahara Occidental in French, preferred by the Moroccans, Administración Transicional de las Naciones Unidas en Sahara Occidental in Spanish, preferred by the Sahrawis. José Ramos Horta was visiting Western Sahara at the invitation of its President, Mohamed Abdelaziz. His colleague, Mari Alkatiri, was already living in El-Aiún, where he was East Timor’s Ambassador. It had been thirty-three years since Horta had last seen East Timor, and there was no prospect of him going home, short of throwing in the towel, and siding with the Indonesians, as his brother, Arsenio, had done. Yes, Maun Arsenio, his big brother, was now a member of Suharto’s Advisory Council for East Timor Affairs.
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE
While there had been a glimmer of hope that the Suharto regime would collapse after the student demonstrations in Jakarta in 1998, this quickly disappeared after they were bloodily suppressed. Horta had been so optimistic about change, that he told his friend David Scott that he would celebrate his fiftieth birthday in a free East Timor. (He ended up spending it in Ireland, still in exile.) The scenes of demonstrators being gunned down in Merdeka Square were reminiscent of those in Dili seven years earlier, which were captured on videotape and shown around the world, tragic when they happened, but soon forgotten. Even the deaths of two American journalists in Dili, Amy Goodman and Allan Nairn, killed with guns that the US had supplied to the Indonesian military, did not stir Washington into changing its policy. ‘Who cares? They were liberals!’ a White House aide smirked. Suharto’s Indonesia was too important to the West to antagonise, and that was certainly the case after 9/11. Despite having the world’s largest Muslim population, Indonesia prided itself on its religious tolerance. Of course, it paid a price for this: Defence Minister Benny Murdani, was killed in 2002 when Jemaah Islamiyah suicide bombers targeted Jakarta Cathedral, along with the former Australian Prime Minister, Paul Keating. After the attack, Osama Bin Laden made a video address, in which he denounced Suharto as an apostate, and Indonesians as kufar, or infidels. Portugal, East Timor’s former ruler, and according to the UN, still the administrating power, was a sad case in 2008: ‘the Albania of the Iberian Pensinsula’ as one British newspaper columnist called it. Unlike other countries in the European Union, like Ireland or Greece, no amount of subventions from Brussels had helped Portugal to escape poverty, its economy was stagnant, dwarfed by that of Estonia and Romania. Finally, in 2000, after
HOW DIFFERENT IT COULD HAVE BEEN
years of throwing good money after bad, Brussels lost patience, and Portugal was the first country to be expelled from the European Union. Since then, it had struggled to survive, dependent on a mixture of loans from Brazil and Angola, remittances from migrant workers in Sweden and Norway, laundered money from Russian billionaires, and duty-free goods smuggled into Spain. It was one part Andorra and one part Morocco. Such was Portugal’s insignificance, that when the Lisbon daily 24 Horas published unflattering cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2005, there was barely a reaction in the Islamic world. It was probably because Portugal had so little presence there that would-be protesters could not find anything to attack. Or even boycott. Had it been Denmark, they could have vented their hatred by boycotting Lurpak butter, Bang & Olufsen television sets, or Danish biscuits. But the imams found it so difficult to find anything visibly Portuguese that indignant Muslims could boycott, attack, or burn, it simply wasn’t worth the trouble. Even the South African restaurant chain, Nando’s, had decided to drop the Portuguese theme from its restaurants because Portugal was so unfashionable. While Brazil had economic and geopolitical clout, its leaders had little interest in the plight of East Timor, not least since President Celso Amorim had sought to forge strong links with Indonesia, as part of his ‘Look Outwards’ policy. The Indonesian Minister of Technology and Research, BJ Habibie, was a great admirer of Brazil’s aircraft industry, and was looking to produce Embraer aircraft under licence. The fact that Brazilians spoke Portuguese, a language that Indonesia had been trying to stamp out in East Timor, did not really trouble the Indonesian authorities. Such was the lack of interest in learning Portuguese among young East Timorese, that
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE
Jakarta felt that it was no more a threat to national unity than the learning of Chinese. Like Sanskrit or Arabic, Portuguese could be taught as a religious language, or, like Latin or Greek, as a classical one. When Horta had tried to find the contact details for the newly opened Sahrawi Embassy in Moscow, he had to go to the trouble of calling the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in El-Aiún, because the Sahrawi Foreign Ministry website had been in a state of disrepair, and the information had not been updated in years. It was par for the course: foreign advisers would design attractive, but over elaborate websites, which they would update for the length of their contract, and then abandon on their departure. And then there was the expense of calling Western Sahara from the rest of the world. For some perverse reason, telephone calls cost around US$3 a minute, even using a discount phonecard. (Assuming that you could get through at all: many telecom carriers did not recognise Western Sahara’s +297 country code, or still listed it as being the code for Aruba in the Caribbean, which now used the code +1 297.) Despite the astronomical cost of telephone calls, the unreliability of the internet, and the barely functioning postal service, Horta was astonished that the Sahrawi government did not see the benefits of having fax machines, never mind separate fax lines, in government offices. When he mentioned this in passing to government’s media advisor, she was distraught. ‘Please be more understanding, José,’ she sobbed, ‘this country is so new!’ Well, not that new; Montenegro and Kosovo were newer, and if East Timor, by some act of divine intervention, became independent tomorrow, Western Sahara would be even less new. ‘Being correct does not necessarily bring about change!’ she added.
HOW DIFFERENT IT COULD HAVE BEEN
Maybe not, Horta thought, but it doesn’t mean it never will. Even he, an exiled resistance leader, had a separate phone line and fax line, while the Conselho Nacional de Resistência Timorense (CNRT) had a regularly updated multimedia website, maintained by a committed volunteer in Washington, Will Sommer. Will had, in fact, offered to do the same for the Sahrawi government, whose advisors either changed the subject by waffling on about servers and bandwidth, or gave him the brushoff. In this case, it was the presidential brush-off: Abdelaziz had told him that the government had the matter in hand locally, even though it did not. ‘It’s crazy,’ Will told Horta, ‘I offer to do things for them, free of charge, that they’re too busy or unable to do themselves, and what do they say? “How dare you”!’ He added ‘the problem with the Sahrawis, is that they’ve forgotten their all-weather friends, and how useful they can still be. You know what I call that country? Alice in Wonderland meets Dog in the Manger.’ While some commentators had denounced the Internet as promoting a ‘cult of the amateur’, with crudely edited videos on YouTube and inane outpourings on blogs, for the East Timorese resistance, it had proved a powerful tool. It no longer mattered that the resistance could not afford a satellite television transponder, as the Tamil Tigers were able to do, although it was just as well, as Sri Lankan pressure had led to it being dropped. Instead, the CNRT had its own video channel on YouTube, TV Maubere. Surprisingly, the Indonesian authorities had not tried to block access to TV Maubere when it posted a video address by Xanana Gusmão, recorded on a mobile phone smuggled into Cipinang prison in Jakarta. However, it was so inundated with abuse from posters like ‘Proud To Be Indonesian’, ‘Proklamasi1945’, ‘Prajurit Pancasila’, ‘Pramuka65’, and ‘Pattimura4Ever’ that it had to
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restrict comments. (It was later revealed to be the same person, Purba Negoro, in Jakarta, using multiple accounts.) Riding in the President’s Land Cruiser from the airport into the El-Aiún, Horta could see reminders of the scorched earth policy of the departing occupiers. Would the Indonesians behave the same way if the East Timorese had the effrontery to vote against them? Quite possibly. However, the Sahrawi President was more scathing about the UN. Speaking in French (the only language common to both him and Horta) he remarked: ‘l’ONU nous a donné une squelette d’un état’ – ‘The UN gave us a skeleton of a state’. Despite being used by the UN as a poster boy for nation building, Western Sahara was a fragile state. It was not, as some people unkindly called it, ‘Western Somalia’, but it was still fragile, economically as well as politically, despite the revenues from phosphates, and, potentially, from offshore oil and gas. The withdrawal of Moroccan subsidies and the adoption of the euro as Western Sahara’s currency meant that living costs in the country had sky-rocketed, and El-Aiún rivalled Tokyo and Oslo as the world’s most expensive capital. The UN was looked upon by Sahrawis with contempt, and indeed, by expatriate aid workers, one of whom described UN staff as WILCs – Wankers In Land Cruisers. Even Western NGOs were less than altruistic in their motives, and some had no qualms admitting it. The director of one NGO remarked to her friend: ‘You know what we’re here for, don’t you? To pay for our early retirement!’ Inevitably, ‘capacity building’, that piece of jargon beloved of the UN, had even entered the local vocabulary, as a euphemism for pointless exercises in wasting time and money. While many of the foreign consultants and advisors were hardworking, Horta learned, they worked very, very hard trying to take the mountain
HOW DIFFERENT IT COULD HAVE BEEN
to Mohammed, instead of taking Mohammed to the mountain. The German general, Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord, said that the worst kind of officers to have were not the clever and lazy, but the stupid and industrious. He would have hated El-Aiún! Horta thought of what East Timor would be like in the hands of such people: the only difference would be that rather than escaping to Marrakech or the Canary Islands, they would be going to Bali or Darwin, and rather than ‘wadi-bashing’ (driving over sand dunes in the desert) they would be scuba-diving.
INTRODUCTION DEEPLY UNFASHIONABLE
Where I go, fashion follows me - Earl of Kildare WHENEVER I hear the words ‘East Timor’ and ‘fashionable’ in the same sentence, I laugh. East Timor has never been fashionable, unless one counts the fifteen minutes of international fame that it had in 1999. Somebody once described East Timor as being my ‘hobby horse’, but I would rather be accused of riding my own hobby horse than of jumping on somebody else’s bandwagon. Had East Timor been a cause celèbre like nuclear disarmament, saving the rainforest, or animal rights, then I would probably not have taken the interest in it that I have over the past twenty years. That has been the case for East Timor, both in the ten years before the act of self-determination in 1999, and in the ten years thereafter. What many people have forgotten is how thankless and hopeless a cause East Timor was, virtually unknown even among those who espoused similar causes. Writing in 1987, José Ramos Horta, now the country’s President, contrasted the plight of his country with that of Cambodia, which had aroused righteous indignation in the West.
We Timorese only wished that Indonesia was a Vietnam, run by the communists; then, our tortured land would be flooded with crocodile tears, our tragedy would be sung by international stars, Western governments would condemn the violation of our xix
DEEPLY UNFASHIONABLE human rights, Christian agencies of mercy would race with each other to help us. But because Indonesia is not Vietnam, the West doesn’t give a damn about the Timorese.1
As a six-year old in North Yorkshire in 1978, I can remember how I and my classmates had to draw a green blob, label it ‘CAMBODIA’ and then add a black dot with ‘Pnomh Penh’. None of us knew where it was, but the plight of its starving people was all the rage, just as that of Biafra had been a decade earlier. There were, inevitably, tasteless jokes about starving Cambodians being uttered then, which were recycled a few years later as jokes about starving Ethiopians. Tasteless they were, but it did at least show that the Cambodians and the Ethiopians were being noticed, whereas the East Timorese were not. In fact, for many years, the biggest problem was not that nothing was being done about East Timor’s plight under Indonesian occupation; it was that it was not known at all. Growing up in Singapore, what I knew about Indonesia was far from negative: it was the next door neighbour, with which both Singapore and Malaysia had many affinities, despite the different colonial histories, and Indonesian was largely intelligible to speakers of Malay. Indonesia wasn’t alien, much less malign. I had heard of a former Portuguese colony called East Timor, which had been absorbed into Indonesia in much the same way, as far as I knew at the time, as Goa had been into India. The Portuguese connection aroused my curiosity, because at this time I had developed an interest in Portuguese colonial history, and more specifically, the Portuguese language. However, while Portugal had had a trading empire in the region until the 17th century, it had since been completely forgotten, and Asians could be forgiven for regarding the
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Portuguese in much the same way as Europeans regarded the Vikings, as a people who no longer existed. It was only when I returned to Europe in 1989, that the way that I saw East Timor, and Indonesia, began to change. On the flight to London, I remember sitting next to an Australian man, who asked me if Lee Kuan Yew, then Prime Minister of Singapore, was ‘like Suharto’, the then President of Indonesia. I answered, reasonably enough, ‘no’, but that was as much out of ignorance of Indonesia as it was regard for Singapore. In October of that year, I saw a documentary featured in the TV listings, called Buried Alive: The Story of East Timor, produced in Australia by Gil Scrine, who I have since described as the man who I have to thank for my interest in East Timor, and the man who my family and friends have to blame. It was not actually filmed in East Timor, instead relying on archive footage, but what was compelling was how it followed a man called José Ramos Horta, who had the thankless job of trying to get the UN to take an interest in the plight of his country. And, if that were not enough, he had to do so on a budget of next to nothing: I remember a scene in which he was on the phone to American Express, trying to sort out a credit card payment. What had the most effect on me was in the film was the way that East Timor’s plight was ignored by the countries of the ‘Third World’, which were all too prompt to denounce Western colonialism, and indeed, apartheid in South Africa. However, as José Ramos Horta pointed out, when it came to the repression of one ‘Third World’ people by another, they were silent. The film featured coverage of the 1986 Non-Aligned Movement summit in Harare, Zimbabwe. I remembered this when I lived in Singapore: a talking shop of countries with nothing in common apart from a desire to indulge in anti-Western posturing.
The film had certainly had an effect on me, but what could I do? Most people I knew had either never heard of East Timor, or regarded it as a lost cause if they had. There were no shortage of causes to espouse; at the time, Nelson Mandela was still imprisoned by the apartheid regime, the Berlin Wall had yet to come down, the Baltic States were still under Moscow’s yoke, and Eritrea had yet to win independence, so East Timor had to get to the back of a very long queue. I often encountered supposedly ‘progressive’ Western people, who were familiar with the plight of Tibet, or what was then called ‘Irian Jaya’, the Indonesian-administered part of New Guinea, now known as Papua, but knew nothing of East Timor. One backpacker, on hearing about someone who had visited East Timor, asked ‘is it like Irian Jaya?’ Well, yes, and no. Over the years, people have had misconceptions, if understandable ones, about my interest in East Timor, for example: that I am left wing; that I am a human rights activist; or that I have an interest in development issues generally. I am not left wing, although for various reasons, I have become less right wing as I have got older, unlike many other people, for whom the reverse is true. I once described myself as a conservative, but what I was really trying to be was contrarian. Indeed, it was precisely the fact that East Timor was not a cause celèbre of the left in Western countries, except in Australia, which appealed to me. Nor am I a human rights activist: the only human right that I was advocating in East Timor was that of self-determination. Amnesty International does not support any specific political cause; it campaigns simply for the release of political prisoners and for the abolition of the death penalty. I might have some sympathy with the former of Amnesty’s objectives, but have less with the latter.
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A family friend had the idea that once I had done what I had set out to do in East Timor, I would be able to do similar things in, say, Eritrea. Well, no, because Eritrea already has people doing what I would be seeking to do in East Timor, and even if there were not, what little I know about Eritrea tells me that I wouldn’t want to go there. Of course, when it comes to taking up these issues, Westerners are caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, if they turn a blind eye to the plight of the oppressed in a ‘Third World’ country, they are attacked as callous and accused of siding with the oppressor. On the other hand, if they do not, and take up such causes, they are vilified and branded as hypocrites, especially if their country is a former colonial power. Yet did the fact that Edward Morel, who helped to expose the horrors of the Belgian slave trade in the Congo, was of French and British parentage, make his arguments any less compelling than if he had been, for example, Swiss? The Belgians would have been in a far stronger position to accuse their French and British critics of hypocrisy in 1899, than Asian governments (and their Western defenders) were in accusing their Western critics of double standards over East Timor a century later.2 It has been even worse for people in ‘Third World’ countries themselves. People speaking out against abuses, be they Indonesians under Suharto, or Zimbabweans under Robert Mugabe, were smeared as Western stooges by those regimes, and indeed, by Westerners themselves, on the left and right alike. Add to this the fact that the East Timorese are predominantly Catholic (although this owes more to Jakarta than Lisbon), and Islamists, along with their Hindu and Buddhist imitators, start spouting the line that this is all a Christian plot to dismember their countries. Yet one of the architects of the Indonesian
invasion, General Benny Murdani, was Catholic, and the first Prime Minister of East Timor, Mari Alkatiri, was a Muslim. During the 1990s, following the opening up of East Timor to foreign visitors, and foreign journalists, Indonesian rule was placed under greater scrutiny. In 1991, video footage of the shooting of demonstrators in the Santa Cruz cemetery, made East Timor headline news since the invasion sixteen years earlier. Granted East Timor’s plight was still not as well known as that of Cambodia, much less that of South Africa, but it was starting to be noticed. With the end of the Cold War, there was less need for authoritarian pro-Western regimes like that of Suharto, and 1991 saw the Gulf War, to liberate Kuwait, a small country invaded and annexed by Iraq, its larger neighbour. But Suharto remained in charge, and despite East Timor becoming, as Foreign Minister Ali Alatas put it, ‘a pebble in the shoe’, there was to be no change of policy, and even autonomy within the Indonesian state was ruled out. In a draft of my MA dissertation ‘International Responses to the Indonesian Annexation of East Timor’ in 1996, I even wrote that Jakarta’s annexation of the territory was ‘unlikely ever to be rescinded’! Rather than being filled with hope by my interest in East Timor, it made me more of a pessimist. When I often thought ‘there’s more chance of East Timor getting independence than of me…’ it was a reflection of how bad I thought things were, and sometimes how I think they still are. However, despite my pessimism, political change in Indonesia came about in 1998, following the Asian financial crisis, the collapse of the Indonesian economy, and the resignation of Suharto, succeeded by B J Habibie. At long last, Indonesia seemed to be experiencing its version of glasnost. The position on East Timor softened, with autonomy being a possibility, although selfdetermination and independence were ruled out: Habibie made it
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plain that Portugal, and the UN, would have to recognise Indonesian sovereignty. Then on 27 January 1999, there was a sudden change. That afternoon, I had tuned in to the BBC’s domestic radio news bulletin, The World at One, rather than the World Service’s Newshour. I cannot recall what the lead story was, but it was a subsequent one which was a shock: Indonesia had raised the possibility of independence for East Timor! I felt vindicated, because for years I had been told that this could never happen. But I also felt a degree of discomfort, because I knew East Timor’s history, and feared that it would repeat itself. The Indonesians, like the Portuguese before them, went from being totally inflexible, to being more interested in cutting their losses than in overseeing an orderly and dignified process of selfdetermination. (Or, rather, some of them: Habibie’s decision was anathema to the military, and even to pro-democracy civilian politicians like Megawati Sukarnoputri, daughter of the country’s first President.) Not only would it be a loss of face for Indonesia, resulting in a backlash by the military, but it would see East Timor thrown in at the deep end, totally unprepared. In a referendum on 30 August 1999, voters were made to choose between two options, both of which flawed: limited autonomy within the Indonesian state for ever; or immediate separation from it. An Indonesian officer in East Timor warned that the military would not leave peacefully: ‘we came in blood, and we will leave in blood’ and so it did. During the violence, one Indonesian soldier scrawled the graffiti Timor merdeka akan makan batu – ‘a free Timor will eat stones’.3 After peace was restored by the International Force for East Timor (InterFET) and Indonesia formally rescinded its annexation of the territory, the United Nations Transitional
Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) was established. Yet again, within a much shorter timeframe, East Timor’s rulers in New York, like their predecessors in Lisbon and Jakarta, wanted to cut their losses. They may have been more benign, but in the eyes of some politicians in East Timor, they were still foreign occupiers, and UN member states saw no point in outstaying their welcome and spending more of their taxpayers’ money. On 20 May 2002, East Timor celebrated its independence, or as some saw it, the restoration of independence, declared on 28 November 1975 (by coincidence, my third birthday). It was moving to watch, but I still felt discomfort. I also bristled when I heard the then UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, say ‘I still recall the day, forty-five years ago, when my own country Ghana attained its independence. Tonight, I am as excited as I was then.’4 Really? Ghana at independence had one of the best starts of any post-colonial state, in terms of economic development, infrastructure and education. With most of the infrastructure destroyed by the Indonesian military and local militias, East Timor was off to the worst start possible. Four years later, divisions in the army and police led to widespread unrest, and those in Australia and elsewhere who had opposed East Timor’s self-determination, began to hit back. Having long accused their critics of a ‘vendetta’ against Indonesia, they began to wage one of their own, promoting a version of history that could only be described as counterfactual, and better suited to a parallel universe. It was all the fault of the wicked Western activists, the so-called ‘East Timor lobby’, spreading ‘propaganda’, raising false hopes among the East Timorese, and developing a cult of personality around independence leaders like José Ramos Horta and Xanana Gusmão, along the lines of Che Guevara.
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By contrast, poor old Suharto’s Indonesia supposedly had no resources to argue its case in the international media, much less Australia, where it had to make do with a praetorian guard of academics, politicians, journalists, bureaucrats, diplomats and businessmen – all supposedly powerless against supporters of a cause so ‘fashionable’, that its best known supporter was not Bono, Sting, or Bob Geldof, but Noam Chomsky! This is in no way meant to downplay the role of people in East Timor who took part in the resistance, nor that of people around the world who supported them, at risk to their livelihood, if not their lives. On the contrary, it is a tribute to them that they kept on going when theirs seemed a lost cause, in the face of vilification and abuse. Granted, the young people who took part in the demonstrations outside the Santa Cruz cemetery may not have been saints, and there were foreign journalists present. Yet in what way were they different from their counterparts in Sharpeville or Soweto in South Africa? Or worse than those who took part in the Easter Rising in Ireland? One of these praetorian guards, the late economics professor Heinz Arndt, warned that an independent East Timor would be a ‘mendicant state, indefinitely dependent on foreign aid’.5 The reality is, in some respects, worse than that: East Timor is a state of mendicants, who have to go around with a begging bowl in search of funding, either from the UN, which infantilises the country, or from the Ministry of Finance, in which all control over spending was centralised. (This was, supposedly, in order to reduce corruption, but in reality, it centralised sloth and incompetence, if not corruption as well.) On two occasions, I had the opportunity to work in a government ministry in Dili. The first job opportunity, which involved having to secure funding from the UN Development
Programme, also involved me having to write my own terms of reference, because the official who told me about the job thought it ‘over her head’. I thought better of it. The second opportunity involved people in the same ministry having to go back and forth to the Ministry of Finance. Once funding had been secured, all that was left was the approval of the incoming minister, who, for reasons best known to him, decided to put all recruitment on hold. ‘Okay, so the new minister is being briefed and getting to know his team…’ said one official. Well, no, it wasn’t okay, and it would be even less so for people less sympathetic to East Timor than I was. But who else would have been dumb enough to have gone through all that inconvenience for nothing? However, I still wanted to hit back at the powers-that-be in Dili. I considered writing an article for Quadrant magazine in Australia, many of whose contributors, including Heinz Arndt, and its previous editor, the late Paddy McGuinness, had been staunch defenders of Suharto’s Indonesia and its rule in East Timor. I mulled over what to call it – ‘Make Timor Pay’ was one possibility, in which I would call for Australia to cut off aid to East Timor, start billing Dili for the upkeep of the Australian military deployed there, and even more mischievously, break off relations with Portugal and Brazil on the grounds that they, and their language, were an irrelevance. Another title was more selfexplanatory, and inflammatory – ‘East Timor and Indonesia: The Case for Reintegration’. I started writing something, but later abandoned it. It wasn’t because I was afraid of provoking people, as I enjoy using sarcasm and hyperbole, and am unafraid of being branded self-important, tendentious and arrogant. Nor was it being a ‘trophy activist’,
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although that would have just led to me being branded as a bitter and twisted nobody. It was because contrarian writing, far from being bold, thought-provoking, or original, is actually lazy. No, I thought, much better to attack everyone, than to attack only a select few, and express unfashionable views about an issue that has always been deeply unfashionable. Even those who were once sympathetic to East Timor’s struggle have had an axe to grind. ‘If I sound angry, I am,’ wrote New Zealand Herald columnist John Roughan, complaining that ‘the steady drip of propaganda for East Timor’s independence had us believing the place was a cohesive, capable political community.’6 Well, I too am angry, but precisely because I knew what was going to happen as a result of things going the way they did. In a remarkable display of naïveté, Roughan remarked that ‘nobody imagined… that within seven years the state would fail.’ Nobody? In 2007, José Ramos Horta told Australian radio: ‘we received a country in 2002 that was a half-baked, half-cooked state. The UN Security Council decided that we had to have only two years transition to independence.’7 The only thing that I find astonishing about this is how astonished other people are. The people of East Timor have had to make very difficult choices under very difficult circumstances and for outsiders to patronise and insult them because of that, is, quite frankly, a cheap shot. While it is time for the powers-that-be in Dili to snap out of their ‘only over time’ mindset (indulged by Westerners as a charming and amusing local custom) there are scores that need to be settled with people in New York, Canberra, Jakarta and Lisbon first. This is not an exhaustive account of what has happened before or since East Timor’s act of self-determination in 1999, nor is it
intended to be. I have not, for example, focused on the role of the United States or Britain, because neither of those countries has been directly involved in administering East Timor, nor have they had substantial military presence. I have instead chosen to focus on areas such as language policy and communications links. These represent two different sides of the same coin: in order to communicate and interact with each other, and with the rest of the world, people in East Timor need both. Sadly, while essential for East Timor’s development, these are areas in which other countries have been working against each other, rather than with each other, or have failed to deliver at all.
CHAPTER ONE THE LAST ISM’ UGLY ‘ISM’
If the East Timorians decide to revolt, I’m sure I’ll have a statement. - George W Bush, 16 June 1999 IN BRITAIN, I still frequently have to deal with people who have never heard of East Timor, never mind ‘Timor-Leste’ – ‘Where is it? What was it called before?’ At least people who have never heard of East Timor are honest – customer service staff in India are adamant that the country is ‘under Indonesia’. While Indonesia recognises East Timor as an independent state, many organisations do not. One East Timorese friend of mine, studying in London, was told by a bank that in order to open an account, he would have to be classified as stateless. (He took his custom elsewhere.) When José Ramos Horta was in exile in the United States, he had to explain to people that he was not an Eskimo, nor was he from Istanbul!1 One British woman living in Dili still has her bank statements addressed to ‘East Timor, Indonesia’, although given how East Timor’s (non-Indonesian) postal service barely functions, it would be better to have them online instead, and save time, paper and postage. Anyone attempting to book a flight to Dili online, will have discovered that the city’s airport, renamed after the slain independence leader, Nicolau Lobato, is still listed as being in Indonesia.
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After I had been corresponding with it for nearly a year, a US travel site has updated its entry, which now says ‘Dili, Timor-Leste, Nicolau Lobato’. If the Irish had named Dublin Airport after Pádraig Pearse, would they stand for it being listed under ‘United Kingdom’? What is even worse than a small country being lumped together with its larger neighbour, is it being described as a ‘new’ this, or ‘another’ that. Cape Verde, another former Portuguese colony, has been described as ‘the new Caribbean’. Some have suggested that East Timor could be ‘the new Thailand’,2 or more depressingly, ‘another Bali’.3 For some people, the fact that East Timor has a land border with another country would be something of a revelation, given that it is all too often described as ‘an island’. Other misconceptions about the country are that it is ‘tiny’ and ‘remote’. It is not tiny: it is several times larger than Singapore or Luxembourg: hundreds of times larger than Macau or Gibraltar. Nor is it remote: it is located between the Indian and Pacific Oceans; and between two regional giants; Indonesia and Australia. Some people think that calling it ‘East Timor’ is a tautology, as Timor, from the Malay timur simply means ‘east’, but it does not mean that in Tetum or other indigenous languages spoken on the island. The usual pronunciation of Timor in English is ‘tea-more’, rather than ‘ti-mour’ or ‘timm-or’, although even those are preferable to ‘tai-more’ or ‘tai-moore’. The most bizarre name for the place which I have ever heard, however, was from a family friend who called it ‘PNG’ – and this from an Australian! Calling East Timor ‘Papua New Guinea’ is like calling Tasmania ‘New Zealand’. Even people who call the country ‘Timor-Leste’ in English, still use ‘East Timorese’ as an adjective, which is clumsy.
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‘Timorese’ is the obvious alternative, but are the people in the western part of the island not Timorese as well, even as part of Indonesia? When Western Samoa decided to call itself ‘Samoa’ in 1997, the people of American Samoa took exception. In December 1991, the now defunct news magazine Asiaweek had an editorial piece called ‘The Last Ugly “Ism”‘, referring to nationalism. For a publication which went in for chest-beating about so-called ‘Asian values’, it seemed rather odd that it should have been calling for less nationalism, rather than more. Perhaps the last ugly ‘ism’ is parochialism, but even that is term is unsatisfactory, as is ‘isolationism’. While many people are dismissive of places in the world of which they know nothing, they can be very well travelled and can speak authoritatively about countries which they know well. Instead, one could call it ‘anti-differentism’: hostility towards anything different from what people know, or what they are accustomed to. But whatever the ‘ism’ is, not being well known is a handicap for any country trying to forge links with the outside world. In most Western countries, such as Britain, it is easy to dismiss East Timor as ‘obscure’, but what were the Falklands for most British people before the war with Argentina in 1982? Virtually nobody in Britain knew or cared about the islands before the conflict, and few have cared about it since. East Timor has oil; Sierra Leone has diamonds, but what do the Falklands have, apart from sheep and squid? A tiny population of British descent, who before the war, many saw so little future for then in the islands, that they were emigrating either to Britain (until they lost the right of abode there) or to New Zealand. While the British contribution to the International Force East Timor (InterFET) was relatively small, consisting of a regiment Gurkhas (Nepalese mercenaries) stationed in Brunei, which only
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served in East Timor for six months, there were some commentators who thought that this would be another Kosovo. It wasn’t. Many were prompt to point out that there was no historical link between Britain and East Timor, but it was in no small part to Britain that East Timor and its people played a role in defending Allied and Commonwealth interests in 1942, despite being a territory of neutral Portugal. While it was Australian, not British, troops, who were deployed to East Timor, the British government was well aware of the territory’s strategic importance. In correspondence with Australian Prime Minister John Curtin, Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, Lord Cranborne, wrote:
His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom agree that Japanese occupation of Portuguese Timor would constitute serious threat and that consultation with the Netherlands authorities would be desirable. It is felt, however, that this subject should be discussed with the Portuguese also.4
It is still a matter of some debate as to whether or not Japan would have invaded Portuguese Timor had it not been for the deployment of Australian troops, but the contribution of its people to Commonwealth defence should be better known in Britain, and more widely acknowledged. Commenting on a piece in the Daily Mail erroneously titled ‘President of East Timor shot during failed coup in country where Gurkhas keep peace’ (they no longer do) reader Ian Millard wrote: ‘Would this “country” not be a better place if it were, say, an Australian quasi-colony? Yes, but we are not usually allowed to suggest that.’5 Who did he mean by ‘we’? Many Australian commentators have no qualms in suggesting it.
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And why did he put the word ‘country’ in quotation marks? Millard is a barrister who was admitted to the Bar in Anguilla, a small island in the Caribbean. There is nothing wrong with that, but why is East Timor’s status any more absurd than that of Anguilla, which rebelled against rule by St Kitts and Nevis, despite having a population of less than 15,000 people? Indeed, why should St Kitts and Nevis have been separated from the other Leeward Islands in the first place? The only reason why Anguilla has been able to survive economically is as a tax haven. So who are British people to be lecturing others about the absurdity of creating unviable microstates? Few of them realise that the Solomon Islands, now racked by poverty and instability, was a British colony until 1977, although it is Australia and New Zealand which are clearing up the mess. Another misconception is that East Timor was an example of so-called ‘liberal interventionism’, like Kosovo and Sierra Leone. It was nothing of the sort: had the Indonesian government not changed its policy, and accepted the need for an act of selfdetermination in East Timor, the idea of UN intervention there would have remained as far-fetched as it was before 1999. Kosovo was one in a series of many conflicts to arise from the break-up of Yugoslavia, whereas Indonesia had remained intact, along with its grip over the ‘27th province’. Despite the fact that the UN had never recognised Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor, the deployment of international peacekeepers was with the consent, however grudging, of Jakarta. Indeed, in June 2000, the Australian commander of InterFET, General Peter Cosgrove even went as far as to say that ‘the mission in East Timor was accomplished with the co-operation of the Indonesian armed forces, not in spite of them, or in opposition to them’.6
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By all means, let people in Britain denounce New Labour’s interventionist foreign policy, but they should not blame East Timor for it, however ridiculous the late Robin Cook appeared by jumping on the ‘Something Must Be Done’ bandwagon. Internationalism is a term which has been given a bad name, partly because of its socialist connotations. It is the reason why Cuba sends doctors to East Timor and other countries. More recently it has become synonymous with the term ‘liberal imperialists’ used by isolationists on the right, like Correlli Barnett.7 The problem with isolationism is not that it is unethical or uncaring, but that it is counterproductive. ‘What does it matter to you if a million Eritreans die?’ somebody asked me. If it means that their relatives start turning up in large numbers in our country, a great deal! To paraphrase John Quincy Adams, why go abroad in search of monsters to destroy, when all those monsters are turning up on your shores intent on destroying you? In his book The Bottom Billion, the Oxford economist Paul Collier wrote:
I have a young son, and when he is older I don’t want him to be exposed to the risks of being a peacekeeping soldier. But I don’t want him exposed to the risk of being blown apart in London or shot in Bradford by some exile from a failing state, either.8
The late Australian academic Herb Feith, one of the country’s first specialists on Indonesia, wrote how, after living and working among Indonesians, he and his colleagues saw themselves as being
in the van of enlightenment on things like racism and parochialism. And when I speak of parochialism I don’t mean merely Australian parochialism, I also mean Western parochialism, which is sometimes called first-world 6
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE parochialism and which is, as you well know, well and truly alive.9
However, parochialism, is not objectionable because it is unenlightened, but because it is bad for business. Of course, countries are entirely within their rights to hide themselves from the rest of the world, gaze at their navels or live in the past, but they should have no right then to complain that they are not taken seriously, or completely ignored. The reaction of the government of Kazakhstan to Borat, a creation of British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, is a case in point. How many people had even heard of Kazakhstan before then? Had it been better known, it is less likely that the urinedrinking, Jew-hating, gypsy-hating and sister-raping TV reporter would have been portrayed as one of its citizens. It was only with the release of the Borat film, that Kazakhstan’s tourist board began advertising on CNN and other international channels. In 1997, Frances Cairncross of the Economist wrote a prescient book called The Death of Distance. Although much of what she wrote is now commonplace; e-commerce, streaming of video and audio, telephone calls over the internet, all over high-speed broadband connections, psychological barriers about places being ‘far away’ are alive and well. When the miniseries Answered by Fire, set in East Timor during the 1999 referendum was shown in Australia and Canada in 2006, I contacted Power, the international distributor in London to enquire as to whether it would be shown in the UK. I was told that there had not been any interest from the ‘English [sic] channels’, possibly because East Timor was ‘far away’. Yet in what way is it ‘far away’? It is closer to Britain than Australia and New Zealand, and was of enough interest in the 1990s to warrant two ITV documentaries, Max Stahl’s In Cold Blood and John Pilger’s Death of a Nation.
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One can only hope the Australian feature film Balibo, set during the 1975 invasion of East Timor is not orphaned by a distributor as surly or unresponsive as that of Answered by Fire. The deaths of five TV newsmen in Balibo in 1975 has long been a cause celèbre in Australia. However, the issue has also been used as a way of stifling debate about East Timor, with any negative media coverage of Indonesia’s role in East Timor being portrayed as an attempt to ‘get square’ over the deaths. Of course, focusing on the ‘Balibo Five’ has played to Australian parochialism, with talk of ‘our boys’ or ‘our journos’, even though only two of the men, Greg Shackleton and Tony Stewart were Australians. Two others, Malcolm Rennie and Brian Peters, were British, while another, Gary Cunningham, was a New Zealander. Very few East Timorese I know have never heard of the ‘Balibo Five’, and probably could not have cared less if they had. Given what they and their families had to go through for twenty-four years, who can blame them? Certainly the families of these men were badly treated by all three countries’ governments, but not to the extent that people in East Timor were by the Indonesian military. As with the Bali bombings and the Tsunami, Western media focus on the Western victims, not the local ones. As the apocryphal newspaper headline reads: ‘Thousands Die In Earthquake, No Local People Involved’. I remember talking with one progressive type in Britain, who bemoaned how many feature films about Asia and Africa like Beyond Rangoon and Hotel Rwanda focused on Westerners. ‘Don’t people in these countries have their own stories to tell?’ he asked. Yes, they do, and they make their own films about them, but unless you go to an art house cinema or film festival, you won’t see them. In fact, while Westerners wring their hands in angst,
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most East Timorese I know who have heard of Balibo are just glad that foreign film makers have taken notice of their country at all. While Portugal is dismissed as being ‘far away’, the Portuguese, sadly, are less intrepid in the age of the jet aeroplane than they were in the age of the sailing ship. When I told a Portuguese colleague that I was going to New Zealand, he looked at me aghast: ‘it’s so remote!’ Vasco da Gama would be turning in his grave. If East Timor has suffered from ignorance and prejudice towards it, then it has also suffered from the ignorance and prejudice that the main foreign players in the country, Australia and Portugal, display towards each other. There have been few other instances in the world in which those countries in particular, or indeed, Asia-Pacific and Portuguese-speaking countries generally, find themselves living and working side by side. Portugal is looked upon with suspicion in the region, not, as some Portuguese acquaintances have complained, because of ‘Lusophobia’ or anti-Portuguese sentiment, but ignorance. Some people, like former Australian Prime Minister, Paul Keating, have accused others of viewing Indonesia through the ‘prism of East Timor’,10 but in reality, many Australians still view Portugal in much the same way. Many Australian commentators have conjured up absurd images of Portugal, bordering on Black Legend and blood libel, attributing all kinds of sinister and ulterior motives for its involvement in East Timor. Yet, far from having a hidden agenda in East Timor, the problem is that Portugal has no agenda at all, and simply uses the promotion of its language and culture as a fig leaf for its lack of investment. It is not a country to be despised, it is to be pitied.
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Sadly, disagreements in East Timor over the use of Portuguese have damaged the image of the language in the region, and it is seen as the source of the fledgling state’s problems. Worst of all, a belief has emerged that because Portuguese is regarded as a useless language by many people in East Timor, it is, therefore, a useless language. Yet if the use of Portuguese in East Timor is anachronistic and impractical, then what about the use of French in Cambodia, which France has spent millions trying to promote as a medium of instruction in schools and universities, with little success? Why have no Australian commentators denounced this as a ‘whacky insistence’,11 ‘bizarre project’12 or ‘pseudo-colonial’?13 Why has Paris not been accused of ‘preening chauvinism’ over language in Cambodia, as Lisbon has been in East Timor?14 Partly because Australia does not regard Cambodia as its turf, as it does East Timor, but also because French is widely taught in schools and universities in Australia, whereas Portuguese is not. If Australia were to dismiss French as a useless language, many teachers and lecturers would be out of a job. Yet why do so many universities in Australia teach Spanish, given that it has died out in the Philippines, the only country in Asia where it was ever spoken? Does Australia have strong trade links with Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries? No, and nor has there been much immigration from those countries. In fact, Australia’s largest trading partner in South America is Brazil, the largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world. Perhaps it is because Australia’s few Latin America specialists look adoringly on Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, or Hugo Chávez, just as many of its more ubiquitous Indonesia specialists looked adoringly on Suharto. As a Portuguese-speaking capitalist, I do not know what is more depressing: Australians having the idea that
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everybody in Latin America is a socialist revolutionary; or that everybody in Latin America speaks Spanish. It all comes down to image: Portuguese is the Cinderella and Ugly Duckling of the Latin languages, certainly compared to Spanish. As A A Gill put it ‘Spain got bullfights, flamenco, Penélope Cruz and Real Madrid; Portugal got golf courses, porto, gout and domestic servants.’15 While the Australian media have been accused of looking at Portuguese as ‘Latin with a triple by-pass’,16 even this is overgenerous, given that several Australian universities teach Latin, but not Portuguese. Some people from Western countries, even those who consider themselves well-informed and culturally sensitive, think that the poorer a country is and the darker-skinned its people are, the more right they have to patronise the people of that country, and insult their intelligence. It is, as always, a case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’, for example, East Timorese who may wish to have dealings with Portugal are given lectures on geographical realities by Australians, who think nothing of visiting Europe, without the slightest interest in visiting Southeast Asia. To paraphrase Gore Vidal, it is a case of globalisation for the rich and parochialisation for the poor. A family friend in Singapore told me that ‘when you’re giving advice to people in developing countries, you need to be diplomatic’. That is not the point. If what you are telling them is ill-informed, no amount of ‘diplomacy’ is going to make it any more palatable. Why would you want to be lectured about the importance of learning a language which you already speak, by those who a) cannot pronounce the name of your country correctly, and b) cannot get the name of that language right, let alone speak it themselves?
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Among some supposedly culturally sensitive people there is a belief that non-Western languages should have authentic names in English: ‘Panjabi’ instead of ‘Punjabi’; ‘Kiswahili’ instead of ‘Swahili’; ‘te reo Maori’ instead of ‘Maori’, and ‘Bahasa Indonesia’ instead of ‘Indonesian’. Names of languages in Indonesian and Malay always include the word ‘Bahasa’, but why should English speakers follow suit? Nobody calls Latin ‘Lingua Latina’ in English, they call it ‘Latin’. Even sillier has been the tendency to refer to the Indonesian language as ‘Bahasa’, which simply means ‘language’, and is the equivalent of referring to Latin in English as ‘Lingua’. I do not mind what speakers of other languages call Britain, as long as it is not the same as their word for England. Strangely, while even the BBC’s Indonesian service refers to Britain as ‘Inggris’, its Radio Netherlands counterpart calls it ‘Britania’. There are even disagreements over whether Tetum should be called ‘Tetun’, which is what it is called in the language itself, rather than ‘Tetum’, which is influenced by Portuguese, in which ‘m’ at the end of the word is pronounced as a nasal ‘n’. The late Cliff Morris, who compiled a Tetum dictionary, wrote:
The wise old men (KATUAS) tell us that the people who lived on the plains (TETU, adjective), therefore the people who spoke the language were of the plains (TETUN, noun). There can be no argument as to the name of the language or its spelling as adjectives are changed to nouns by adding N. In any case no other Tetun word ends in M.17
Well, the katuas are entitled to call Tetum anything they want in their language, but it does not follow that people should call it that in English. However, we should all be able to agree that it is not called ‘Teton’,18 which is the language of the Sioux Nation, and nor is it a ‘kitchen dialect of Indonesian and Portuguese’!19
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While internet services from Google like YouTube and Blogger have helped promote East Timor internationally, Google does not recognise Tetum, and the local homepage, google.tl, is in Portuguese only. Having suspended its Google in Your Language project, it seems unlikely that Tetum will have the same recognition as such languages as Klingon, Hacker, Pirate, Elmer Fudd, and Bork! Bork! Bork! (spoken by Swedish Chef on The Muppet Show). There have also long been people on the left who live in the modern societies and enjoy its benefits, who look upon those who do not as being noble savages. ‘I don’t want the Eastern Europeans to be like us,’ one of them said to me after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Why not? They were before, and given the choice in 1945, would have been again. Similarly, some on the right think that it is clever to deny such things to others on the grounds that they loathe modernity and despise progress. Yet would they want to swap place with people living on a remote island with no airport, no electricity, no telecommunications links, and no economy? In his book The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Power to the East Singaporean diplomat and academic, Kishore Mahbubani wrote: ‘If I were asked to name the date when my life entered the modern world, I would date it to the arrival of the flush toilet.’20 Few people would take issue with Mahbubani on that, not least people in Indonesian West Timor, who still have to use a plastic scoop filled with water from a tank. I do not expect people to champion the rights of every ethnic group or territory seeking independent statehood, because I certainly do not. However, I do not wish ill of anyone in South Ossetia, Transdnestria, Western Sahara, Dagestan or elsewhere who seeks it, nor anyone in other countries who support them.
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Nor do I expect everyone to be a world citizen. Most people in the US will never travel outside their country in their entire lives. Nor will many people in large countries like Indonesia or Brazil. However, the reason why the US is a world power, and China is becoming one, is because it has a critical mass of people who are exceptionally well-informed about the rest of the world. While there is much talk of Brazil, along with Russia, India and China, being one of the BRIC nations, it is still the most inwardlooking of them all. How many Southeast Asia specialists are there in Brazil? How many Latin America specialists are there in Indonesia? Answer: not enough. This is because, unlike the US or China, these countries still see each other’s part of the world as either ‘far away’ or a ‘no go area’. For years, there has been talk about ‘south-south cooperation’, but very little else. To paraphrase what Mahatma Gandhi said when he was asked what he thought about Western civilisation, ‘south-south cooperation’ would be ‘an excellent idea’. While China has forged close trade links with Brazil, there has been little incentive for Indonesia to do so, given that unlike China, both are resource rich, rather than resource hungry, and see little advantage in forging such links, despite both countries being members of the G20. What I do, however, expect, is that when a people have chosen independent statehood, in accordance with international law, however small or ‘obscure’ that state may be, the rest of the world should recognise that. It is not really too much to ask.
CHAPTER TWO MYTHOLOGY, DOGMA AND DENIAL
History is a pact between the dead, the living, and the yet unborn - Edmund Burke HISTORY is not necessarily written by victors, but it is invariably written by the powerful. In the case of East Timor, while those foreigners who opposed its self-determination may have lost the argument, they are still in a position to manipulate and distort history. Indeed, while these people are prompt to accuse people of peddling myths about East Timor, they have been peddling a whole mythology about the issue. Here are some of its most ‘fashionable’ orthodoxies: East Timor cannot be a nation state, because it is based on artificial colonial boundaries Most national boundaries in the region are those inherited from Western colonial powers, including those of Indonesia. While Indonesian nationalists alluded to the Majapahit empire, which covered much of the archipelago in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, this did not correspond to the boundaries of the Republic of Indonesia of today. If this were to be used as an argument for Indonesia’s claim to East Timor, then it could also be used for claims to Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and the southern provinces of Thailand.
MYTHOLOGY, DOGMA AND DENIAL
When it was pressing its claim to West New Guinea at the UN in 1957, Indonesia stated:
[T]he attempt to link West Irian to east New Guinea would create a very dangerous precedent, for example, in the case of the islands of Borneo and Timor. Indonesia had no claims on any territories which had not been part of the Netherlands East Indies. No one should suggest otherwise or advance dangerous theories in that respect.1
Certainly, colonial boundaries are not sacrosanct, and there are precedents for a former colony of one European country merging with one a former colony of another. For example, Cameroon was created through the merger of a British colony, with a former French one, although not without friction between English and French-speaking regions, while attempts to unite formerly British Gambia with formerly French Senegal, even in a loose confederation, foundered. Such mergers are the exception rather than the rule. Yet even homogeneity is no guarantee of national unity. The people of Somalia are from the same ethnic group, language and religion, but the country has broken up, with the formerly British part declaring independence from the former Italian part, now the quintessential ‘failed state’. The former Australian Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, claimed that ‘the great tragedy’ of East Timor under Portuguese rule had been that it had been ‘kept in a cocoon’. ‘There is no question’, he said, ‘that but for the arrangement made by Alexander VI and approved by Julius II, each side of 1500, the island would have been united. It was a pure accident of history that it was separated.’2 Separated, yes, but by whom? If any European country were responsible for the separation of the island, it was the
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Netherlands, which occupied the west of the island in 1640, leading to its eventual partition. As late as 1769, the capital of Portuguese Timor was not Dili, but Lifau, in the west of the island, in what is now the enclave of Oecussi. Yet Whitlam claimed that:
There were no contacts with West Timor, and there has been no trouble in West Timor. The point is that they both had an indigenous language, Tetum … they did have the same language … There was a possibility that if they could meet each other, as they would over a three - or five - or eight-year period, that they would learn to communicate … there was a chance, with proper preparation, that the two Timors could have got to live together.3
In what way would they have ‘got to live together? ‘João’, interviewed by the Australian author Michele Turner in 1986, was well aware of conditions in the Indonesian part of the island:
The people from West Timor used to cross the border to come to our market in Maliana … They traded kerosene, food, dresses for medicines… they were so desperate for them. So we could see that the level of life there was lower than ours. Indonesian doctors used to come to watch operations and learn from Portuguese surgery and West Timor authorities and their wives came to Dili Hospital to be operated on.4
It is, therefore, far from clear that increased contact between the two halves of the island would necessarily have convinced the people of East Timor of the merits of integration with Indonesia. In fact, José Manuel Duarte, one of the participants in a rebellion against Portuguese rule in 1959, stated that: ‘We are not interested in the government of Indonesia, but in the integration of East and West Timor.’5
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Support for independence came from Fretilin, a communist party. When East Timor’s decolonisation began in 1974, the Cold War was at its height, and those in Jakarta advocating the incorporation of East Timor were able to take full advantage of Western fears of a ‘communist threat’ in the region. Consequently, one of the objectives of Indonesian military intelligence (BAKIN) was to portray the Frente Revolucionária de Timor-Leste Independente (Fretilin or Revolutionary Front of Independent East Timor) as a communist party, which would turn East Timor into a Soviet or Chinese satellite. Yet Fretilin in 1974-75 was not so much the most radical party in East Timor, so much as, in the words of Australian journalist Bill Nicol, ‘the least conservative’, with members from the right to the extreme left.6 In fact, Fretilin was originally founded in May 1974 as the Associação Timorense Social Democrática (ASDT or Timorese Social Democratic Association) and it was only in September of that year that it adopted the more radical-sounding name. Clearly the similarity of its name to Frelimo in Mozambique did not help, nor did the demand in its manifesto to be recognised as the ‘only legitimate representative of the people of East Timor’.7 In an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Gerard Henderson wrote that ‘[José] Ramos Horta acknowledged Fretilin had made a “tremendous mistake” in willingly [!] allowing itself to be portrayed “as communist”‘,8 yet what Horta had actually said was:
Sure, there were some elements who had come from Portugal -Marxist orientation, but there were no more than five elements, very vocal, made sounding speeches with Marxist slogans and so on. That is what was exploited by Indonesian to portray Fretilin as Communist, but that was an enormous exaggeration. But I acknowledge that was a tremendous mistake on our part.9 18
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In fact, Mari Alkatiri, later to become Fretilin’s leader after independence, and branded a ‘Marxist’ by Henderson and other Australian commentators, was critical of how detached from geopolitical reality these students were, seeing Portuguese colonialism as a greater threat than Indonesian neocolonialism.10 Although Fretilin always advocated independence, it was not the only party in East Timor to support independence. While the more conservative União Democrática Timorense (UDT or Timorese Democratic Union) joined with Fretilin in a pro-independence coalition, having previously favoured continued links with Portugal. The only party to advocate integration with Indonesia was the Associação Popular Democrática Timorense (Apodeti or Timorese Popular Democratic Association), which had only limited support. It had originally called itself Associação para a Integraçao de Timor com a Indonésia (Association for the Integration of Timor with Indonesia) but had felt the need to downplay its intentions. Although it advocated East Timor becoming an autonomous province within the Republic of Indonesia, this became untenable when Jakarta made it clear that it would have no special status and would be no different from any other province. Two other parties were established: Klibur Oan Timor Asuain (KOTA or ‘Union of Timorese Warriors’ and Partido Trabalhista (Labour Party) but never gained official recognition from the Portuguese authorities. Indonesia would later take advantage of this, by claiming that there were four parties in opposition. Even a pro-Australian party emerged in East Timor, known as Associação Demócratica para a Integração de Timor-Leste com a Austrália (Aditla or Democratic Association for the Integration of East Timor with Australia) but soon folded after Canberra rejected the idea,11 just as it did António Salazar’s suggestion that the territory become an Australian dominion or condominium in 1964.12
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Indonesian radio broadcasts to East Timor not only denounced Fretilin as ‘communist’ but also denounced UDT as ‘fascist’, playing to the prejudices of Fretilin’s more extreme members, who at this time, were daubing such graffiti as ‘Burn the Traitors!’ and ‘Death to the Fascists!’13 These broadcasts also took to accusing both pro-independence parties as ‘communist’, claiming that UDT’s leader João Carrascalão, supported the Soviet Union, while Fretilin supported China.14 As early as October 1974, BAKIN was planning to brand Fretilin as communist. Harry Tjan, of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, who acted as a conduit between Indonesian military and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, told First Secretary Jan Arriens that Australia ‘need not worry that there would be adequate evidence of communist subversion in Portuguese Timor. We will look after that.’15 Testifying to East Timor’s Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (known by its Portuguese acronym CAVR) Xanana Gusmão recalled how the ‘communist’ label was used as an excuse by UDT supporters to attack Fretilin members physically. Although Vicente Reis, also known as Sahe, was accused of ‘bringing communism from Portugal’, others, including Gusmão, were also accused of being ‘all communists’:
They yelled ‘Communist!’ as they beat and kicked Sahe’s body until he staggered. But he never complained. A UDT guard told us that we were in detention because we were all communists. Sahe asked him whether he knew what communism was. He said: ‘Communism, yeah, ah, I am not sure’ and he left.16
Fretilin did not, in fact, declare itself to be a Marxist-Leninist party until 1977, after the Indonesian invasion, and did not formally reject this until 1984.17
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In an interview for ABC Radio National, Richard Woolcott, who was Australian Ambassador to Jakarta in 1975, emphasised how Indonesia’s position on East Timor had to be seen in the context of the Cold War:
Indonesia was seriously afraid that if an independent East Timor were to emerge at that time it might be recognised by the Soviet Union or China, and actually the phrase was quite commonly used, it would become a South East Asian Cuba, by which they meant that the Russians might put missiles in there and point it [sic] at Jakarta. Now this all seems very fanciful now but at the time it was a real thought.18
Yet in his memoirs, Woolcott portrayed the Soviet Union as indifferent to the prospect of an Indonesian takeover of East Timor in 1975.
I recall asking the Soviet ambassador how the Soviet Union would react if Indonesia moved to incorporate East Timor. We went through a revealing charade. Taking me over to the map of Indonesia on his office wall, he said: ‘Where is East Timor?’ Playing my part, I pointed to it on the map. ‘It is very small and surrounded by Indonesia, isn’t it?’ he said, and then changed the subject.19
Although China recognised Fretilin’s unilateral declaration of independence, and condemned the Indonesian invasion at the UN, it was anticipated by Indonesia, and seen merely as ‘an obligatory protest’. In a cable to London on 2 January 1976, the British Ambassador to Jakarta, John Archibald Ford, wrote:
Apropos the Fretilin delegation’s visit to Peking and the Chinese ostensible support of Fretilin, the Chinese had apparently commented to the effect that too much notice should not be 21
MYTHOLOGY, DOGMA AND DENIAL paid to their support of Fretilin: there were occasions when cannons need to be fired even if only paper balls were shot.20
By 1990, diplomatic relations between China and Indonesia had been restored, and Beijing, mindful of its own problems with those seeking independence for Tibet or Xinjiang, assured Jakarta that it would not provide aid for subversive activities or interfere in Indonesia’s internal affairs.21 Indonesia only took military action in East Timor reluctantly, after the territory erupted into civil war When Indonesian military intelligence launched Operasi Komodo, with the objective of ensuring that East Timor opted for integration with Indonesia, it planned to use Apodeti as a vehicle for integration. Yet when Apodeti failed to gain widespread support, it turned instead to UDT, warning its leaders that Jakarta would not tolerate an independent East Timor under Fretilin control.22 This led to the break-up of the pro-independence coalition between Fretilin and UDT, and the staging of a coup on 11 August 1975. During this time, the Portuguese Governor Mário Lemos Pires moved to the island of Ataúro, north of Dili, where he remained until the Indonesian invasion. While bloody, with an estimated 3000 dead,23 by September 1975, fighting had largely ended, with UDT and Apodeti leaders and their supporters fleeing across the Indonesian border. As a condition for being granted asylum, they were required to sign a petition calling for integration with Indonesia. UDT and Apodeti later became known as the Movimento Anticomunista (MAC or Anti-Communist Movement).24 José Martins, leader of the small KOTA party, who had addressed the UN Security Council in support of Indonesia, later
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escaped and wrote a letter to the UN Secretary-General, in which he said:
The very moment we entered Indonesian territory in the first week of September 1975, fleeing from advancing Fretilin forces, we became instruments of the Indonesian government. I wish to stress the fact that while the Indonesian authorities claimed that over 40,000 East Timorese sought refuge in West Timor, the real figure was no more than 20,000. It is also necessary to stress that these people did not flee to Indonesian territory because they wanted to join Indonesia. The refugees were either forced to take military training and fight against Fretilin or to work without pay for the Indonesians. Their belongings were confiscated, such as money, jewellery and so on. As early as October, the refugees wanted to return to East Timor, but the Indonesian authorities did not allow them to do so.25
At the same time, the CIA was reporting that: ‘Jakarta is now sending guerilla units into the Portuguese half of the island in order to engage Fretilin forces, encourage pro-Indonesian elements, and provoke incidents that would provide the Indonesians with an excuse to invade if they decide to do so.’26 Gough Whitlam accused the political parties in East Timor of intransigence. He said: ‘We said we would make Darwin available for all the parties to get together, and I think Macau was suggested, and Lisbon, and there were other ones. But whoever was winning, or hoping to win, would not come.’27 Yet a paper prepared by the US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, pointed out that Fretilin, which it described as ‘vaguely leftist’, would now be outnumbered in any conference by ‘the two rival parties now under de facto Indonesian control’.28
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In East Timor itself, Fretilin was calling on the Portuguese Governor to return to Dili and resume the decolonisation process. The Portuguese flag continued to fly over government buildings, and the Banco Nacional Ultramarino remained locked. The Governor, however, argued that he was awaiting instructions from Lisbon. In a memorandum to the Portuguese government, he stressed:
…the existence of a Fretilin that proposes negotiations while I am running out of excuses. Though I agree that any solution in the region must pass through negotiations with Indonesia, it is a fact that Fretilin declares to control most of the territory, and has been seeking negotiations for a while now, and these have been postponed because of the prevailing situation.29
Pires had sent several messages to Lisbon asking for instructions and help, but none was forthcoming. His last telegram, according to José Ramos Horta, pleaded with Lisbon to answer ‘the 17 telegrams I sent earlier’.30 Far from provoking an Indonesian invasion, Fretilin’s unilateral declaration of independence on 28 November 1975 was taken at a time when border regions had already fallen to the Indonesian forces. James Dunn, former Australian Consul in Dili, had advised José Ramos Horta that Fretilin should wait a few more months before declaring independence unilaterally. Horta had advised his colleagues to wait until at least January 1976, but Fretilin made the decision to declare independence on 1 December.31 With the fall of the town of Atabae, forty kilometres west of Dili, this was brought forward. On the day that he was sworn in as President of East Timor, Fretilin’s president, Xavier do Amaral, said:
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE The Indonesian army have already entered Atabae… They have occupied Atabae! If we wait until 1 December we might not have time to declare independence in Dili. So we’d better proclaim independence today.32
Under Indonesian rule, human rights abuses in East Timor were no worse than Portugal’s In an article in The Australian in 2007, former diplomat Cavan Hogue wrote:
We hear much about how Australia should have done something about the Indonesian invasion because of our debt to the Timorese who supported Australian soldiers during World War II. Nobody, however, showed much concern for the Timorese when they were being oppressed by the brutal dictatorship of Antonio Salazar. Why not? Is European oppression more acceptable than Asian oppression?33
Certainly, Portugal’s human rights record in East Timor was far from unblemished, before or after the Second World War. In 1959, the rebellion in Viqueque was suppressed by the Portuguese, who brought in soldiers from Goa, with estimates of the death toll varying between 160 and 1000.34 Many people involved in the rebellion were subsequently exiled to Angola and Mozambique. The Portuguese secret police (PIDE) was active in East Timor, described by José Ramos Horta as ‘omnipresent and powerful, feared and hated by everyone’.35 In 1970, Horta had been interrogated by PIDE and exiled to Mozambique, after he had suggested to visiting Americans that ‘if Portugal is too poor to develop Timor, better give it to the Americans.’36 Shortly before the Carnation Revolution in 1974, Horta was preparing to go into
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exile again, following an Australian newspaper article in which he had said that the East Timorese were ‘lagging behind in education, professional opportunities and prospects’.37 However, to paraphrase what Hogue himself said in his article, any suggested action must be put within the framework of the world as it was then, not as it is today. Australia was under the conservative government of Robert Menzies, the ‘White Australia’ policy was alive and well, and there was little interest among Australians in their Asian neighbours, much less in East Timor. Nevertheless, Australian soldiers had not forgotten their debt to those in East Timor who had helped them, and in 1946, even lobbied Canberra to purchase the territory from Portugal in order to improve living conditions.38 Yet even their efforts to show concern for East Timor were frustrated by the lack of transport and communications links; direct flights from Darwin did not begin until 1966. Despite this, Arthur ‘Steve’ Stevenson, a commando who had served in Portuguese Timor, did maintain in contact with Celestino dos Anjos who had helped him evade capture by the Japanese in 1945, and was awarded an Australian loyalty medal. In 1986, Stevenson received a letter from dos Anjos’ son, Virgilio. It was an account of how his father and his wife had been killed by the Indonesian military.
…on 27/9/83 they called my father and my wife and not far from the camp, they told my father to dig his own grave and when they saw it was deep enough to receive him, they machinegunned him into the grave. They next told my pregnant wife to dig her own grave, but she insisted that she preferred to share my father’s grave. They then pushed her into the grave and killed her in the same manner as my father.39
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The letter was dated 2 March 1984, but the flow of information in and out of the territory became far more restricted under the Indonesian military than it had been under the Portuguese. Interviewed by Michele Turner, ‘Justino’ described the risks involved in sending and receiving letters:
Mail could take up to five months in Dili to be censored. There was a unit of Indonesian Military Intelligence that did this work. People who understood Portuguese, Tetun [sic] and Hakka [Chinese] read all the letters. If there was nothing about the military situation, your letter might get through. I wouldn’t write to my family. A simple letter from outside could turn into a trap for them. After it was censored they’d be watched.40
East Timor saw rapid development under Indonesian rule after centuries of Portuguese neglect Under Indonesian rule, Indonesians made up a fifth of East Timor’s population by 1998.41 It was not just the indigenous population of the ‘27th province’ who were entitled to all those schools, hospitals, churches and roads, but the growing number of transmigrants from Java and Sulawesi, who also dominated commerce and administration. By contrast, the Portuguese spent little on infrastructure in East Timor because there were so few of them, or indeed, people from elsewhere in their empire, in comparison to colonies like Angola and Mozambique. However, writing in The Australian in 2007, the late Paddy McGuinness claimed that:
[B]y the time of independence [East Timor] was far better off than it had ever been under Portuguese rule, and so far arguably than under the regime which has followed independence. And its social services and education system were far superior to
MYTHOLOGY, DOGMA AND DENIAL anything the Catholic Church had allowed when it controlled these areas.42
McGuinness described the claim that East Timor experienced deprivation and famine under Indonesian rule as ‘a myth… beloved of the activists’. Yet as late as 2009, malnutrition rates in West Timor were on a par with sub-Saharan Africa.43 Bill Nicol gave this account of conditions in Indonesian West Timor, at a time when East Timor was still under Portuguese rule.
The Timor archipelago had poor harvests in 1974 and 1975 because the annual wet seasons came too late. The 1975 corn crop was cut in half. The result was famine in Savu, Sumba, and all of Indonesian Timor except the Amarisi region in the south.44
If East Timor’s social services and education system under Indonesian rule were ‘far superior’ to those provided by the Catholic Church, then why that was the case? The answer is because Indonesian authorities prevented schools operated by the Church from receiving aid from foreign donors. Teachers had to choose between remaining in Catholic schools, denied funding, or working in Indonesian schools, on wages treble their existing income.45 The total number of jobs in East Timor created by the whole Indonesian Fourth Five-Year Development Plan (1983-89) was just 1,675, less than 4 per cent of what would have been necessary for all school leavers. In 1990, one disaffected youth said:
What’s the use of school if there’s no way of getting a decent job? These days, all office jobs are closed to us. If the Regional Office Head is a newcomer, he will only be interested in having his relatives or at least people from his own region working in his office.46 28
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Visiting East Timor in February 1993, the US Ambassador to Jakarta, Robert Barry, described the situation as ‘calm but grim’. He gave this assessment of economic development in the territory:
Economic backwardness is remarkable despite the efforts the Indonesians have put into building up the infrastructure, improving education and investing in agriculture over the past few years… Efforts to get domestic and foreign investors to build factories in [East] Timor have failed, and there is little question that the province is a drain on the Indonesian treasury.47
Bill Nicol also gives an insight into the ‘superiority’ of Indonesia’s social services and education system in the Indonesian half of Timor.
There had been a flourish of economic activity in Kupang since the Portuguese revolution. Roads and bridges were rebuilt and buildings were given a drab, cement-rendered facelift. But the work was only superficial. Beneath the surface the schools still had a chronic shortage of teachers and textbooks, the hospital a chronic shortage of doctors and so on.48
Jose Dinoy, a resident of Kupang, gave this account of conditions in West Timor today:
Roads are a state of ruin, electricity supply is intermitted [sic], there is no potable water supply provided by PDAM (there are no water treatment plants in the entire province of NTT), town planning does not exist and where it does it is at the mercy of corrupt practices, the health and education systems are in chaos, etc.49 29
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Independence leaders were unrepresentative of the people of East Timor Since 1975, many commentators have tried to depict East Timor’s independence leaders as unrepresentative and illegitimate. When political parties first emerged in East Timor, Gough Whitlam claimed that:
There may well be, beneath the surface, thoroughly indigenous political forces which would carry the support of the inhabitants of Portuguese Timor in directions different from those on which their present leaders are set.50
Gough Whitlam regarded political leaders in East Timor as unrepresentative was on the grounds that they were mestiço or mixed race. In 1979, he said:
Political parties emerged there for the first time in May 1974… They were led by mestizos [sic]… who seemed to be desperate to succeed the Portuguese as leaders of the rest of the population.51
When challenged about this by José Ramos Horta in 1982, Whitlam replied that ‘the most articulate spokespersons of the Timorese happened to be mestiços’.52 In fact, there were relatively few mixed-race people in the Fretilin leadership, with José Ramos Horta being an exception. When fighting broke out in August 1975, many mixed-race East Timorese fled to Australia. Far from considering it a bastion of mixed-race (or white) privilege, they were accusing Fretilin of forcing them out. Interviewed by The Age, José Gonçalves said:
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE The Fretelin [sic] is taking little babies and cutting their heads off. The Fretelin are racists. They don’t want white people to have cars and things like that.53
There were mixed-race people in the UDT leadership, although having Portuguese ancestry did not preclude them from taking up an allegiance to Indonesia. Mário Carrascalão served as Governor of East Timor between 1981 and 1992, while his brother, Manuel, was a member of the territory’s Assembly. Following the end of Indonesian rule in 1999, independence leaders returned from exile. Whereas ethnicity had previously been used to discredit many of East Timor’s leaders, the fact that many leaders, had been in exile, was now being used against them. When José Ramos Horta, Mari Alkatiri and others left East Timor on 4 December 1975, it was in the full knowledge that Indonesia was about to invade. Short of collaborating with Jakarta, returning to East Timor under Indonesian rule was not an option, nor was basing themselves in neighbouring countries like Thailand or the Philippines. Even Australia and New Zealand refused entry to Fretilin leaders until the 1980s. Worse still, in the eyes of Australian commentators, was the fact that several leaders, like Fretilin leader Mari Alkatiri, had lived in Mozambique, with references to a ‘Mozambique clique’.54 Yet José Ramos Horta also received support from Mozambique when he represented Fretilin at the UN, working at the country’s New York mission, and travelling on a Mozambique diplomatic passport. East Timor was hardly the first post-colonial state in which nationalist leaders had spent long periods in exile. Thabo Mbeki, the former President of South Africa, spent nearly thirty years in exile, during which time he received military training in the Soviet Union.
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Another stereotype of East Timor’s leaders in the Australian media was that they were ‘aging’,55 although in 1975, the problem was the precise opposite: they were mostly young and inexperienced. When he left East Timor just days before the invasion, José Ramos Horta was only 25. By contrast, Gough Whitlam was 56 when he became Prime Minister of Australia in 1972, while Nelson Mandela was 76 when he became President of South Africa in 1994. Divisions in East Timor itself are the cause of political unrest in the country since 1975. When East Timor saw widespread unrest during 2006, this was used by Australian commentators as proof that East Timor was as irreconcilably divided as ever. It became fashionable to talk of a regional division between lorosa’e and loromonu or ‘east’ and ‘west’. It was easy to characterise this as being due to ethnic and linguistic differences, with easterners being Papuans, and westerners being Austronesians, speaking completely unrelated languages. Yet this was simplistic: in the district of Bobonaro, on the Indonesian border, many people speak Bunak, a Papuan language, while in Viqueque, in the southeast, speakers of Naueti, an Austronesian language, have intermarried with speakers of Makassae, a Papuan one.56 The division was based more upon the fact that under the Indonesian occupation, the western districts were the first to be brought under Indonesian control, while the eastern ones were the last. (Even when Indonesia declared East Timor an ‘open province’, and allowed foreigners to visit, the eastern districts initially remained off-limits.) As a result, what remained of the Forças Armadas de Libertação Nacional de Timor-Leste (Falintil or Armed Forces for the National Liberation of East Timor) was dominated by people from the east.
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Following independence and the formation of the Falintil Força Defesa de Timor-Leste (F-FDTL or Falintil-East Timor Defence Force) the first battalion to be recruited was dominated by former combatants from the three eastern districts, also creating a sociolinguistic imbalance.57 However, by 2006, 65 per cent of the F-FDTL members were westerners.58 Despite the differences between the three main parties in East Timor in 1975, many of their leaders were closely related. While José Ramos Horta supported Fretilin, his brother, Arsenio, supported UDT, while João Carrascalão, a UDT leader, was his brother-in-law. Mari Alkatiri and his brother Djafar were members of Fretilin, but their brother Maharus, was a founding member of Apodeti.59 Osorio Soares, an Apodeti leader, was the brother-in-law of Fretilin’s president, Xavier do Amaral. Even after the emergence of local militias supported by the Indonesian security forces in 1999, many commentators claimed that the post-referendum violence was the result of divisions between the East Timorese themselves. Referring to the destruction of the infrastructure, Paddy McGuinness wrote:
The events of independence unfortunately, with fault on both sides, destroyed a good deal of this beneficial Indonesian legacy.60
The Final Report of the Commission for Truth and Friendship, established by the governments of both Indonesia and East Timor places greater blame on the Indonesian military and on local militias than on independence supporters. During the time when militia activity was increasing in the run-up to the referendum on 30 August 1999, the Falintil guerrillas were in cantonment.61 However, while largely unarmed, Falintil and other proindependence groups were responsible for illegal detentions, not
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only of militia members, but also non-combatant civilians. For example in Liquiçá in June 1999, Falintil captured a policeman and a militia member and held them hostage for several days until the UN negotiated and oversaw their release. During this time, the men were beaten.62 Yet the evidence compiled by the Serious Crimes Unit also showed that there was widespread co-operation and collaboration between the Indonesian security forces and the militias, whose membership often overlapped.63 The Final Report stated that:
Analysis of this evidence leaves no doubt that gross human rights violations in the form of murder, sexual violence, forcible transfer and deportation, and persecution, as well as others, occurred in East Timor in 1999. The evidence also leaves no doubt that pro-autonomy militias were typically the primary perpetrators of these crimes and that the consistent, patterned, and systematic manner in which they were carried out demonstrates institutional responsibility for these crimes.64
‘The fact is that virtually no influential politicians or commentators in Australia barracked for Indonesia’s repression of East Timor,’ wrote Gerard Henderson in 2006.65 Indeed they did not, but that is not the point. They downplayed it and ignored it. This is not, however, to suggest that Australian commentators alone are ‘in denial’. So too are the Portuguese, albeit for different reasons. East Timor and its foreign supporters are also ‘in denial’, although more about the present and the future than the past.
CHAPTER THREE INDONESIA: A SQUANDERED OPPORTUNITY
Whereas freedom is the inalienable right of all nations, colonialism must be abolished in this world as it is not in conformity with humanity and justice. - Preamble, Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia
WHETHER IT WAS the colonial power governing the Dutch East Indies, or independence leaders governing the modern Republic of Indonesia, no one can deny that governing a sprawling archipelago of more than 17,500 islands, with dozens of ethnic groups has been a monumental task. If the forging of a national identity among Indonesians was a challenge, then so too was the choice of a common language: a balancing act between different linguistic groups, as well as ethnic and religious ones. What is now almost forgotten is that the basis of Indonesian, a form of Malay, was once only spoken by a small minority, even as a lingua franca, not only by the different peoples of the archipelago, but also as a contact language by the Dutch themselves. This meant that it gained far more acceptance than Hindi in India, Sinhala in Sri Lanka, or indeed, Malay in Malaysia. Despite the Malaysian government’s attempts to rebrand Malay as Bahasa Malaysia, as Indonesians rebranded it Bahasa Indonesia, it was still identified with the largest ethnic group, just as Javanese was in
INDONESIA: A SQUANDERED OPPORTUNITY
Indonesia. It is a reflection of the mixed fortunes of the two countries’ language policies that while people talk in English about an ‘Indonesian’ language, no one talks about a ‘Malaysian’ one. Indeed, the lack of interest on the part of the Dutch in spreading their language, religion and culture in the East Indies was in marked contrast to that of the Portuguese, who, along with the Spanish and the French, were assimilationists. One French academic, George Henri Bousquet, remarked that it was the fault of the Dutch themselves that Indonesian nationalists had adopted Malay, which he described as ‘a terrible psychological weapon’, and what little social role the Dutch had would soon disintegrate.1 If there were ever to be a pan-Asian language, Indonesian would be a strong candidate, deriving much of its vocabulary from Asian languages like Sanskrit, Arabic and Chinese, as well as from Western ones like Portuguese, Dutch, and, increasingly, English. Sadly, despite having the advantage of being written in Roman script, and not having tonal pronunciation, it is all too often overlooked in favour of other Asian languages, just as Portuguese is in favour of other Western ones. Some people in East Timor have tried to make Indonesian more acceptable by referring to it as ‘Malay’, but this is confusing and counter-productive. While Malay and Indonesian are still mutually intelligible, and have shared a common orthography since 1972, there are differences in vocabulary, partly the result of different colonial legacies. Whereas Malay is more influenced by English, using universiti, fakulti, Ogos, kempen, kualiti and kuantiti, Indonesian is more influenced by Dutch and Latin, using universitas, fakultas, Augustus, kampanye, kualitas and kuantitas, which in turn have similarities with Portuguese. During Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor, it became fashionable to draw an analogy between East Timor’s relationship
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with Indonesia and those of Goa and Macau with India and China, and describe East Timor as an ‘enclave’ in a larger country’s national territory. Yet no comparable relationship ever existed between East Timor and Indonesia; despite the fiery anti-colonial rhetoric of Sukarno, East Timor never became a cause celèbre, as West New Guinea did, while under Suharto, relations with the Portuguese authorities in East Timor were cordial. Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas later asked:
If we ever had expansionist designs, or coveted that territory, as Portugal now alleges, then would it not have been easier to realize such an ambition at a time when Portugal under the Salazar/Caetano regime was so universally unpopular as to foreclose any international censure, as in the case of Goa in 1964 [sic]?2
Far from rejecting the principle of self-determination, or independence, Jakarta had always argued that the people of East Timor had chosen ‘independence through integration with Indonesia’.3 In fact, the only occasion in which Indonesians were involved in an anti-Portuguese uprising in East Timor was in Viqueque in 1959. Far from being supported by the Indonesian government, they had sought asylum in Portuguese Timor, and were feted by the colonial authorities, who settled them in Baucau and gave them a daily subsidy.4 The fact that the men had arrived in Portuguese Timor on a boat laden with guns and ammunition did not alarm the Portuguese; this was at the time of the failed Permesta rebellion in Sulawesi, which had been crushed by Jakarta in 1958. However, once granted asylum, they soon made common cause with disgruntled civil servants and members of minor royal families.5
INDONESIA: A SQUANDERED OPPORTUNITY
Following the brutal suppression of the rebellion, the alleged conspirators were sent to prisons in Angola and Mozambique. Several returned to Portuguese Timor, later joined the proIndonesian party Apodeti. This was later used by Jakarta to claim that the ‘Viqueque Movement’ was the ‘embryo’ of a process towards integration with Indonesia.6 In April 1972, when Adam Malik, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister, was asked how Indonesia would respond if people in Portuguese Timor were to set up a liberation movement, he replied: ‘We shall finance and wish it [sic]’.7 He had dismissed a report in the newspaper Indonesia Raya accusing the Soviet Union of trying to set up a ‘Dili Timor State’.8 Indeed, when Indonesian nationalists did consider the incorporation of Portuguese Timor, it was in addition to other neighbouring colonies. In 1945, a group of Indonesian nationalists were gathered together by the occupying Japanese to determine the boundaries of the new state. Known as the Badan Penjeledik Kemerdekaan Indonesia (BPKI) – Body for the Investigation of Indonesian Independence, it voted on three options:
• former territories of the Dutch East Indies, plus the
territories of British North Borneo (now Sabah), Brunei, Sarawak, Portuguese Timor, Malaya, New Guinea and surrounding islands; • former territory of the Dutch East Indies; or • former territory of the Dutch East Indies excluding New Guinea but including Malaya Despite 39 of the 66 members voting for the first option, and only 19 for the second, the leaders of what became the Republic of Indonesia declared that its territory consisted solely of the
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former Dutch East Indies, including West New Guinea, which remained under Dutch rule after 1949.9 India’s military takeover of Goa, along with Daman and Diu, in 1961 was relatively bloodless. As J K Galbraith, US Ambassador to India remarked: ‘The casualties were minimum. I am in favour of all wars being like the war between India and Portugal – peaceful and quickly over’.10 This was entirely attributable to the fact that Goans had such close links with the Indian hinterland that they already saw themselves as Indians, and so openly greeted Indian soldiers as liberators. As Tristão de Bragança Cunha put it ‘Goa can have freedom only in unity with India’.11 He and other ‘freedom fighters’ in Goa had formed a local branch of the Indian National Congress, and had strong links with the ‘Quit India’ movement against the British. Such was the attachment of many people in Goa to the Indian hinterland, that rather than advocating statehood within the Union, they advocated merger with the neighbouring state of Maharashtra. However, in a referendum in 1967, this was rejected by 172,191 votes to 138,170.12 It was not until 1987 that Goa finally became a state. Although Portuguese ceased to be the official language in Goa, as it did in East Timor, its place was taken by languages which were already widely spoken, Marathi and Konkani, as well as English, rather than a language which was largely unknown, as was the case with Indonesian in East Timor. Unlike Indonesia, where regional languages are largely vernaculars, with no official status, in India, regional languages are used extensively in administration, education and the media, particularly in the southern states, where attempts to introduce Hindi, completely related to local Dravidian languages like Tamil, have been met with hostility.
INDONESIA: A SQUANDERED OPPORTUNITY
In fact, the decline in the use of Portuguese in Goa had started long before the Indian takeover, as the ever-growing number of Goans working in British India, in both the civil service and the church, meant that there was a considerable demand for education in English.13 In 1947, Dr Froiliano de Melo told the National Assembly in Lisbon that there were now 63 English schools in Goa, employing 389 local teachers, 71 foreign ones, and 8890 pupils – twenty-two times the number in the Portuguese lyceum.14 Yet in East Timor, even the pro-Indonesian Apodeti, which advocated the continued ‘right to enjoy the Portuguese language’, had few leaders with any grasp of the Indonesian one. Only days before the invasion, an Indonesian radio broadcast told listeners in East Timor that Jakarta would ‘respect and allow use of the Portuguese language for communication between people and organisations’.15 When a ‘People’s Assembly’ met to vote unanimously for East Timor’s integration with Indonesia, all of its proceedings were conducted in Portuguese.16 However, once East Timor became the ‘27th province’, the Indonesians banned the use of Portuguese, which they saw as being used as a ‘secret’ language.17 Students and teachers at the Externato de São José, the last Portuguese-medium school to remain during the Indonesian era, were regularly harassed by Indonesian military intelligence, which regarded the school as a hotbed of ‘anti-integration activities’.18 In 1992, shortly after the killings of student demonstrators at the Santa Cruz cemetery, the school was finally closed. Yet the survival of the Portuguese language in East Timor was already in question, as US Ambassador to Jakarta Robert Barry presciently observed following his visit to East Timor in 1993:
Cultural autonomy, including the preservation of elements of Portuguese culture, would not seem to be a problem; Governor 40
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE Abilio [Soares] even said he would be glad to see a Portuguese cultural center in Dili (although the military might feel differently). The offer of education in Portuguese in addition to Indonesian may appeal to some, but missionaries estimate potential interest as low.19
In Goa, the use of the language was in such sharp decline that it was not seen as a threat, although the Portuguese-language daily newspaper O Heraldo survived until 1987, when it became an English-language title, The Herald, and the civil code, which Goa still uses as the basis of its legal system, remained in Portuguese for decades. However, India, as a federal democracy, has been far better equipped to deal with regional aspirations, be they related to language or other issues, than has Indonesia. This is in part a legacy of the Dutch East Indies, which were governed as a centralised unitary state, unlike British India or Malaya, which were patchworks of separately-administered provinces and princely states. Malaysia, unlike India, still has states with monarchies, with the position of head of state being rotated between the nine Malay rulers. Such was the opposition of the Dutch authorities to any form of self-determination, that they even rejected the moderate proposals of the Soetardjo petition in 1936. Supported by a majority of the Volksraad, the colony’s legislative council, it called for a conference to arrange autonomy within a Dutch-Indonesian union over a period of ten years.20 (This was a similar timeframe to that advocated by East Timor’s independence leaders until 1999.) Yet the Dutch did not even dignify the petition with a response until 1938, which was ‘no’. If the Dutch could not countenance autonomy for the Indies as a whole, then what chance was there that they would do so for different islands and regions?
INDONESIA: A SQUANDERED OPPORTUNITY
While a large proportion of seats were reserved for natives in the Dutch East Indies Volksraad, these members were either indirectly elected by local councils (resulting in a franchise of only 2228 out of a population of 70 million in 1931) or appointed.21 By contrast, the Portuguese, unlike the Dutch, extended political rights to colonial peoples deemed to be assimilated, both culturally and linguistically, but so few native people in Timor were classified as assimilados, that the franchise for both the local Legislative Council and the National Assembly in Lisbon was confined to only a few thousand.22 Following the end of the Second World War, the Dutch returned to their colony, and attempted to reimpose their authority, despite the declaration of an independent republic on 17 August 1945. With only parts of Java and most of Sumatra under the control of the Republican government, the Dutch established a federal system in the rest of Indonesia, with selfgoverning states. One of the largest, the State of Eastern Indonesia, comprised all the islands east of Java and Borneo, and west of New Guinea. Consequently, Indonesian nationalists looked upon federalism as partition in disguise. The United States of Indonesia was a lopsided federation, in which the Republic of Indonesia was only one state, albeit the largest. Shortly the Dutch finally departed in 1949, the federal system disappeared, and with it the idea of regional autonomy. Due to this suspicion of regional autonomy, the incorporation of East Timor raised constitutional and legal problems for Indonesia. Although Apodeti had advocated that East Timor became an autonomous province of Indonesia, its leaders were told that this was not possible: Indonesia was not a federation. Suharto also stated this to Australian Prime Minister Gough
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Whitlam in September 1974. In a meeting with US President Gerald Ford in July 1975, he stated that:
If they want to integrate with Indonesia as an independent nation [sic] that is not possible because Indonesia is one unitary state.23
While Macau was not returned to China by Portugal until 1999, its links with mainland China were even stronger, not least as by 1976, the majority of people in the territory had come from the mainland. The first President of China, Sun Yat-sen, even built a house in Macau, having lived there as a child, which served a base for his ‘revolutionary activities’ after he left office.24 Nor was Macau immune from effects the Communist-led ‘Cultural Revolution’, which inspired riots during 1966, culminating in the ‘12-3 Incident’, in which eleven people were killed. In response, local Chinese began a campaign of ‘three noes’ – no taxes, no service, and no selling to Portuguese, which led to a statement of apology by the Portuguese authorities, and a recognition of de facto Chinese sovereignty. As a result, activities in support of the Kuomintang, based in Taiwan, were banned in Macau.25 In 1972, China successfully argued for the removal of both Macau and Hong Kong from the UN’s list of non-self-governing territories. Its ambassador to the UN, Huang Hua wrote that:
Hong Kong and Macau are part of Chinese territory occupied by the British and Portuguese authorities… Consequently they should not be included in the list of colonial territories covered by the declaration on the granting of independence to colonial territories and people... With regard to the questions of Hong Kong and Macau, the Chinese government has consistently held
INDONESIA: A SQUANDERED OPPORTUNITY the view that they should be settled in an appropriate way when conditions are ripe.26
‘When conditions are ripe’ meant that in the interim, the status quo would remain: despite China’s distaste towards the European colonial presence on its soil, Hong Kong, and to a lesser extent, Macau, played a useful role in entrepôt trade with the rest of the world. Consequently, when Portugal offered to return Macau following the ‘Carnation Revolution’ in 1974, this was refused by China, fearing that this would have a destabilising effect on Hong Kong. Instead, Macau was redefined as a ‘Chinese territory under Portuguese administration’. Three years after it signed agreement with the British over Hong Kong in 1984, China encountered little difficulty in signing a similar one with Portugal over Macau, under which it became a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China in 1999. China’s grounds for devising the ‘one country, two systems’ policy were economic, rather than cultural, given that Macau and Hong Kong had completely different economies from mainland China, as does Taiwan, for which was originally intended. It has ruled out any similar status to Tibet, which the Dalai Lama has proposed, arguing that:
Tibet is a case totally different from Hong Kong and Macao, and Taiwan. It won peaceful liberation in 1951; in 1959, it underwent the Democratic Reform; in 1965, the Tibet Autonomous Region was founded to enjoy autonomous rights according to the Chinese Constitution and PRC laws. Tibet is already part of China and it is therefore seeking the independence of Tibet if the ‘one country, two systems’ policy is followed there.27
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Indonesia under Suharto was even more inflexible about autonomy for East Timor, refusing even to countenance the status of daerah istimewa or special territory, accorded to Yogyakarta and Aceh. This would have resulted in very limited autonomy, confined largely to education and culture. When Foreign Minister Ali Alatas raised the possibility of a similar status for East Timor, he was rebuffed by Suharto, and told that the status was being phased out.28 Following Suharto’s death in 2008, former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating suggested that had it not been for him, Indonesia would now be like Nigeria, an ‘economic and social wreck’.29 Yet Zaire under Mobutu was even more of a ‘wreck’ than Nigeria, but it was supported by the West for the same geopolitical and economic reasons as Indonesia under Suharto. To paraphrase what Niall Ferguson wrote about Augusto Pinochet in 1973, Suharto ‘did not have to be good… he just had to be less bad than the alternative’.30 Indeed, the British had thought the same about Idi Amin in Uganda when he seized power. Suharto, according to Richard Woolcott, did at least know ‘what he did not know’,31 and brought in US-trained academics known as the ‘Berkeley Mafia’ as his economic advisers, just as Pinochet brought in the ‘Chicago Boys’, inspired by the work of Milton Friedman. Unlike Suharto, Pinochet envisaged a return to a genuine multi-party democracy, albeit on his terms. When he stepped down as President of Chile in 1990, he remained commander-inchief of the armed forces, declaring himself a life member of the country’s Senate, and immune from prosecution. Yet Suharto was determined to continue in office, having been re-elected unopposed in March 1998. Paul Keating had suggested to that, he should announce that he would not serve the full fiveyear term.32 Instead, Suharto appointed B J Habibie as Vice45
INDONESIA: A SQUANDERED OPPORTUNITY
President, as if to discourage any thoughts of a succession, and make it as unpalatable as possible. By May 1998, Suharto had bowed to pressure, and the unpalatable had happened. Only with the departure of Suharto from office did the idea of autonomy for East Timor become a possibility. When Australian Prime Minister John Howard wrote to President B J Habibie in 1998, suggesting ‘wide-ranging autonomy with a built-in review mechanism’, he mentioned the Matignon Accords, in which a vote on New Caledonia’s final status could be deferred indefinitely. Habibie did not understand the reference, but when Foreign Minister Ali Alatas explained, he retorted: ‘That’s a colonial arrangement, that’s France. I object to that.’33 It may have been this analogy, however unintended, by Howard, which prompted Habibie to have ‘a brain snap’,34 and propose a referendum immediately, rather than ten to fifteen years hence. Howard could not have been more insensitive if he had drawn an analogy with Aruba, which had postponed independence from the Netherlands. However, by the time the proposals for the Special Autonomous Region of East Timor (SARET) were finalised in 1999, and were considered derisory. After President B J Habibie agreed to independence being an option, they had been watered down – the Region was not even allowed its own flag.35 Under the proposals, Indonesian laws in force could not be altered or repealed. The Indonesian military presence would remain unaltered, and Indonesian police could still intervene in the Region’s affairs. Jakarta retained control over immigration, meaning that it could deny entry to East Timor, and deport people from it. Revenues from East Timor’s natural resources would continue to be channeled through Jakarta.36 Following Suharto’s death, Paul Keating claimed that ‘even Soeharto’s [sic] annexation of East Timor was not expansionist. It
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had everything to do with national security and nothing to do with territory.’37 Keating did his Indonesian friends a disservice by using the term ‘annexation’, as they much preferred the term ‘incorporation’ or ‘integration’. If this were the case, then why did Indonesia need to incorporate East Timor into its territory at all? Israel never annexed the West Bank and Gaza Strip, despite the growing numbers of Jewish settlers. Nor did Turkey annex northern Cyprus, despite its large military presence there, and a large settler population. In meetings with Harry Tjan, Australian diplomats in Jakarta raised the possibility of East Timor being a client state or satellite of Indonesia, as an alternative to incorporation. While Tjan was responsive to the suggestion, he told the Australians that the ‘satellite option’ had ‘absolutely no support elsewhere’.38 As late as April 1975, José Ramos Horta had tried to convince Tjan’s colleague, Liem Bian-Kie, of the merits of a ‘hearts and minds’ campaign, but, he later wrote:
[A]ll our assurances of friendship, cooperation, membership of ASEAN, a foreign policy that was tantamount to Finlandization of East Timor – all fell on deaf ears.39
Becoming a satellite or client state instead of a province may not have spared East Timor from Indonesian invasion or military occupation, but it could have allowed for greater autonomy than would have been possible within the Indonesian state at that time. There would have been no need for Indonesia to force refugees to sign petitions calling for integration when they fled across the border in 1975. Nor would there have been any need for the ‘Act of Integration’ in 1976, described by the US Embassy in Jakarta as stage-managed.40 One of the members of the People’s Assembly, Clementino Amaral, described the selection process:
INDONESIA: A SQUANDERED OPPORTUNITY What was this process? They [the Indonesian authorities] wanted two people from each district to represent the district, to make the petition to ask Indonesia to allow us to enter Indonesia. In Baucau, how did this go? Hold an election? [No.] The functionaries that were close to them chose the two people…41
While the decision of Xanana Gusmão to attend Suharto’s funeral in 2008 may have been distasteful to many, it was a recognition that even if East Timor had become independent in the 1970s, it would have had to have lived with Suharto’s Indonesia. It would have had to distance itself from separatist movements in West Papua, Aceh or Maluku, and prevent them from using the country as a base for their activities. Members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) like the Philippines either barred foreign delegates from attending conferences on East Timor,42 or in the case of Malaysia, prevented them from being held altogether.43 Fretilin would have had to tone down its left-wing rhetoric, and recognise, as the Portuguese officer Luís Freitas put it in 1975, that ‘what is right for Africa is not always right for Timor’.44 Even Frelimo in Mozambique, despite its Marxist and anti-apartheid stance, would eventually sign the Nkomati agreement with whiteruled South Africa in 1984, in which Pretoria halted military support for Renamo, in return for Maputo ending support for the ANC. By contrast, India was not only predisposed to regional autonomy, but also relatively tolerant of mini-states on its doorstep. Although it supported the rebellion against Portuguese rule in Dadra and Nagar Haveli in 1954, which resulted in Portuguese surrender, India did not incorporate the enclaves into its territory until 1961, effectively allowing them to function as an independent state in the interim. While the Himalayan kingdom
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of Sikkim voted against joining India in 1949, it became an Indian protectorate and later voted in favour of Indian statehood in 1975. In 2001, Heinz Arndt branded Fretilin not only as Marxists, but also Catholics ‘filled with hatred for Suharto’s anticommunist Muslim Indonesia’.45 Yet one of Fretilin’s leaders, Mari Alkatiri, later Prime Minister after independence, was a cousin of Mari’e Muhammad, Suharto’s last Finance Minister.46 Nor were Fretilin’s leaders originally anti-Indonesian. Before the change of government in Portugal, José Ramos Horta was in close contact with Indonesia’s consul in Dili, Elias Tomodok, often meeting in the middle of the night to avoid surveillance by Portuguese secret police.47 In fact, in 1974, Fretilin advocated the teaching of Indonesian, not as a medium of instruction in place of Portuguese, but as a foreign language in addition to French, the only foreign language other than English taught under the Portuguese system. Yet at the time, this modest proposal was met with a hostile reaction.48 Despite moves away from Indonesian-medium education in East Timor, Indonesia remains the destination of choice not only for university, but even for secondary school. Education in Indonesia, like many other things from East Timor’s giant neighbour, has the advantage of being accessible, affordable, and available. As Prime Minister of East Timor, Mari Alkatiri notoriously described people who had Indonesian university degrees as sarjana supermie or ‘instant noodle graduates’,49 i.e. easily bought and of no nutritional value. Yet while Alkatiri supported the training of East Timor’s doctors in Cuba, his brother, Djafar, had no qualms about his son studying medicine at an Indonesian university in Jakarta.50 Writing about the first generation of Indonesian university students to emerge under Dutch rule at the beginning of the
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twentieth century, Anthony Reid could have been describing East Timorese university students towards the end of it: fluent in the language of their rulers; open to other cultures; ‘moving confidently in the modern technocratic world of Indonesian cities, though less sure how to put their knowledge to the service of the traditional societies they had left.’51 The goodwill of many East Timorese towards Indonesia and its people is not due to realpolitik but to the fact that the East Timorese did not see themselves as the only victims of the Suharto regime, and were able to make common cause with those seeking democracy in Indonesia itself. This is in marked contrast to the relationship that South Koreans have with Japan, and that of the Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians have with Russia, which remain acrimonious – Moscow still rejects the claim that the Soviet Union illegally annexed the Baltic states in 1940.52 While it is tempting to dismiss ‘Asian values’ as anti-Western posturing by authoritarian governments, it is often all too easy for Westerners to forget their rationale. It is no coincidence that the most vocal proponents of ‘Asian values’ have been those in countries that are the most heterogeneous: Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Malaysia describes itself as ‘Truly Asia’; Singapore has been described as ‘Instant Asia’ or ‘Asia for Beginners’, but Indonesia is ‘Southeast Asia for Grown-Ups’. If the East Timorese under Portuguese rule were ‘kept in a cocoon’ and insulated from Indonesia, the same is still often true of Malaysians and Singaporeans, never mind Western expatriates. It is not that they are ignorant about what has been bad about Indonesia, human rights, the environment, labour issues, but that they are ignorant about what is good about Indonesia. Many are surprised to learn that Indonesia is not an Islamic state, despite having the world’s largest Muslim population, and an
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overwhelmingly Muslim population. Pancasila, the Indonesian state philosophy, enshrines religious diversity, according official recognition to Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism and Protestantism. It can be preferable to be a non-Muslim in Indonesia to being a non-Muslim in Malaysia, despite, or because, of the fact that they make up a smaller percentage of the population. Indeed, Indonesia should be in a better position than either Singapore or Malaysia to talk about ‘Asian values’ or ‘shared values’, given that it has had far greater experience of having to find common ground between ethnic and religious groups than their neighbours, and on a much larger scale. Why should it be left to Singaporeans like Kishore Mahbubani, from a country unkindly described by B J Habibie as ‘a little red dot’?53 East Timor’s relationship with Indonesia today gives it the worst of both worlds. Whereas under Indonesian rule it had all of the disadvantages of being part of Indonesia, but all of the advantages, it now has none of the advantages, but all of the disadvantages. Travelling to and from East Timor across the Indonesian border, I had to change time zones, as the country is now an hour ahead of the rest of the island, even in the enclave of Oecussi. In order to re-enter Indonesia, I needed to apply for a visa at the cost of US$45, which, while manageable for me, would be expensive and inconvenient for most East Timorese. Had Indonesia’s leaders been more intelligent and imaginative in 1974, an independent East Timor would have been no more of an anomaly, and posed no more of a threat, than San Marino has done to Italy, or Lesotho to South Africa. Unlike East Timor, which is half of an island, San Marino and Lesotho are entirely surrounded by their larger and more powerful neighbours.
INDONESIA: A SQUANDERED OPPORTUNITY
Like San Marino and Lesotho, however, East Timor would have been heavily dependent on its giant neighbour, economically and politically. Yet this could have given it many benefits: a customs union, a common currency, a postal union, freedom of movement, access to consular assistance overseas, all of which could have been offered to an independent East Timor in 1974. Indeed in March 2008, Paul Wolfowitz, former US Ambassador to Jakarta, suggested that, rather than invade, it may have been better for Indonesia to have let East Timor ‘stew in its own juice’.54 This may have been more effective in convincing East Timor’s leaders, not least Fretilin ones, of the merits, and the inevitability, of being closely linked with Indonesia.
CHAPTER FOUR AUSTRALIA: SOW, AS YE SOW, SO SHALL YE REAP
In many Australian households, Asia is seen as the place where Bad Things Happen. - Eric Ellis, ‘The Whingers of Oz’, The Spectator, 11 June 2005 AUSTRALIA’S response to the East Timor issue since 1974 says as much about Australia, and how it sees itself in the wider region, as it does about East Timor and Indonesia. The way that Australians changed their perception of Indonesia in 1965 was as dramatic as the way that Americans changed theirs of Iran in 1979. Of course, it was in exactly the opposite direction; whereas Iran suddenly became a scary place for Americans after the Shah gave way to the Ayatollah, Indonesia ceased to be a scary place for Australians after Sukarno gave way to Suharto. Despite Richard Nixon describing Indonesia as ‘the greatest prize in Southeast Asia’, during the Cold War, Suharto was just one of many US allies, along with Pinochet in Chile, Mobutu in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), and Park in South Korea. When Jeane Kirkpatrick, later appointed US Ambassador to the UN by Ronald Reagan, wrote her essay ‘Dictatorships and Double Standards’, she made no mention of either Suharto or Indonesia, although it could easily have applied to them. Written in November 1979, after the fall of the Shah in Iran, and Somoza in Nicaragua, it argued that ‘traditional autocracies’ were preferable to anti-Western populist regimes.1
AUSTRALIA: AS YE SOW, SO SHALL YE REAP
While many in Australia, like B A Santamaria, supported the Suharto regime because of its anti-communist and pro-Western nature, others supported it because it was Asian. In an article in The Monthly, Don Watson, speechwriter to Paul Keating wrote that:
Suharto gave us nothing less than the chance to shed our ancient fears of Asia. It is more than a coincidence that the generation of Australians that took such pride in open immigration policies and declared pluralism, tolerance and diversity among the country’s defining characteristics corresponded to the rule of Suharto.2
This gave them a great sense of moral superiority – if Suharto’s critics could not be branded as being left-wing, then they could always be branded as racist, with attitudes harking back to the White Australia policy.3 Indeed, it is notable that as late as the 1960s, Australian universities, even the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, showed little interest in the study of Indonesia, unlike Cornell, Yale, Michigan, Wisconsin and Berkeley in the US.4 In an article in The Age, former Australian diplomat and journalist Peter Rodgers wrote that Australians should be able to debate their links with Indonesia ‘without resorting to namecalling’.5 So indeed they should, but not resorting to name-calling should work in the other direction. If Australians should abstain from accusations of ‘stooge’, ‘quisling’ or ‘Jakarta lobby’, then what about ones of ‘lunatics’, ‘prigs’, ‘aggrieved journalists’, ‘emotional priests’, ‘misguided idealists’, ‘kumbaya crowd’, and ‘war party against Indonesia’, to name but a few of the names applied to those who supported East Timor’s right to self-determination?
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The term ‘Jakarta lobby’ arouses defensiveness among many influential people in Australia, particularly academics at the ANU. Indeed, a shibboleth of those who are accused of being part of the ‘Jakarta lobby’ is that they do not use the term. They call it ‘the Indonesia lobby’, perhaps because it suggests an interest in the country as a whole, rather than in its central government alone. In response, they talk about an ‘anti-Indonesia lobby’, or more specifically an ‘East Timor lobby’, as did the late Heinz Arndt. While others, like Richard Woolcott, accepted that East Timor’s independence was ‘a reality to which the region must now adjust’, and got on well with Xanana Gusmão, who he described as ‘flexible, forgiving and magnanimous’,6 Arndt did not adjust. He described José Ramos Horta as ‘a Marxist guerrilla leader – an Asian Che Guevara’, with ‘personal responsibility for the deaths of countless [!] victims of the civil war in which he had a major role.’7 He described as ‘utterly grotesque’ the decision to award Horta the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996,8 but it was no more so than awarding it to Menachem Begin, Yasser Arafat, and Nelson Mandela, all of whom were once branded as terrorists. Even Arndt’s colleague, Jamie Mackie, wrote that ‘in a way’, he behaved ‘like a caricature of the Indonesia [sic] Lobby’:
He used to get very angry when people attacked Soeharto [sic], which one would hope was happening a great deal more than it did. But Heinz couldn’t bear criticism of these guys he thought were doing a great and good job, which they were, but you had to balance the picture.9
What was most undignified was not Arndt’s defence of Suharto and Indonesian rule in East Timor, when there was a government and a policy to defend, but his diatribes against East Timor’s independence leaders after the change of government and the change of policy, up until his death. Nevertheless, what can be
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said in defence of the ‘Jakarta lobby’, or whatever people may choose to call them, is that it at least they have been Australians living in Australia, not Western expatriates living in Asia. There are others in Australia who have not moved on, accepted that an independent East Timor is now a reality, and stopped being defensive over their role in the past. While some former Prime Ministers, like Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke, have moved on, others, like Gough Whitlam and Paul Keating, have not. In 2002, Bill Nicol invited Whitlam to launch his book, Timor: A Nation Reborn, an update of his 1978 work Timor: The Stillborn Nation. In a conversation with a friend, Geoff Forrester, who had become Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Nicol had expressed regret that Whitlam had ‘given Timor away’, to which Forrester retorted ‘no, he didn’t!’ adding that he had been present at the talks with Suharto in 1974.10 Yet while Whitlam may not have given Indonesia the ‘green light’ to invade East Timor, he was convinced that integration with Indonesia was the only option, and the wishes of the people of East Timor were of secondary importance. Richard Woolcott, Australia’s Ambassador to Jakarta quoted Whitlam as saying:
I am in favour of incorporation but obeisance has to be made to self-determination. I want it incorporated but I do not want this done in a way which will create argument in Australia which would make people more critical of Indonesia.11
Whitlam saw self-determination purely in terms of convincing the people of East Timor that they were Indonesians. He claimed that:
Four hundred years of Portuguese domination may have distorted the picture which the people of East Timor have of 56
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE themselves and perhaps obscured for them their ethnic kinship with Indonesia. Time will be required for them to sort themselves out.12
There were other flaws in Canberra’s approach. One was the decision to snub East Timor’s politicians. In November 1974, Graham Feakes of the Department of Foreign Affairs advised Foreign Minister Don Willessee against receiving José Ramos Horta. After weighing up the pros and cons of a meeting, Feakes told Willessee: ‘The reasons against were stronger than those in favour, and I recommend accordingly that you do not receive him.’13 Willessee also argued against an all-party parliamentary delegation to East Timor, which would, he said ‘be unwelcome in focussing public attention on the issue of Portuguese Timor and involving us more intimately in it’.14 Another was the decision not to reopen the Australian consulate in Dili, which had been closed in 1971. Shortly after his appointment as Ambassador to Jakarta in 1975, Richard Woolcott remarked that ‘with the value of hindsight, it may have been a mistake.’15 The arguments against reopening the consulate were that it might arouse Indonesian suspicions as to Australian intentions, and raise false hopes among Timorese politicians. Yet reopening the Dili consulate in 1975 would not have precluded Australia from supporting integration with Indonesia: in 1998, it opened a consulate general in what it then recognised as the ‘27th province’. In an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Peter Hastings admitted that these were ‘undeniable risks’, but, he added:
[I]n view of East Timor’s rapidly changing political scene, the divisions and splits in the parties, the growing tension between independence forces and the numerically small pro-Indonesian groups, and the fact that the only reliable source of information 57
AUSTRALIA: AS YE SOW, SO SHALL YE REAP on day-to-day developments is not distant, distracted Lisbon, but Dili, the advantages of re-establishing our mission outweigh the disadvantages.16
In fact, in the same year that the Dili consulate was closed, Australia opened an embassy in Lisbon. In 1974, Whitlam told Suharto that ‘our own objective in Lisbon would be to put to the Portuguese Government the view that Portuguese Timor was part of the Indonesian world.’17 While Whitlam argued that he was no longer in government when the Indonesian invasion occurred, this did not stop him from becoming a vocal defender of Indonesia over East Timor, and attacking its critics. In 1982, after the head of the Catholic Church, Monsignor Martinho Costa Lopes wrote a letter detailing Indonesian military operations and impending famine, Whitlam went on a three-day trip to East Timor, supposedly under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).18 At a press conference in Jakarta, Whitlam branded Lopes ‘mendacious’. Claiming that Lopes and his clergy ‘simply lamented and resented the departure of the Portuguese’, Whitlam said ‘I cannot understand why he perpetrated this wicked act and sent this cruel letter.’19 Later that year, Whitlam petitioned the UN Decolonisation Committee, saying that it was ‘high time that the question of East Timor was voted off the United Nations agenda...’20 Another former Prime Minister who has not moved on from Suharto and Indonesian rule in East Timor is Paul Keating. When he became Prime Minister, people must have wondered if he could have been any worse over Indonesia than Bob Hawke, who once told Suharto that he was one of the ‘most respected heads of state… in the world’, adding that ‘your people love you, Mr President’.21 Yet he was.
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What is often forgotten is that as Treasurer, Keating infamously described Asia as the place where ‘you fly over on your way to Europe’.21 As Prime Minister, he described his Malaysian counterpart, Mahathir Mohamed, as ‘recalcitrant’, thereby threatening diplomatic and trade relations.22 In 1995, Keating refused to let 1500 East Timorese apply for refugee status, on the grounds that they were entitled to Portuguese nationality.23 However, previous governments in Canberra had allowed people from East Timor to do so, despite having recognised de jure Indonesian sovereignty since 1979. After a decade in legal limbo, they were finally allowed to remain in Australia.24 Also that year, Keating concluded a security treaty with Indonesia without the knowledge or consent of the country’s Parliament.25 Yet four years later, Keating argued ‘the only way you could have ever given autonomy to East Timor let alone independence was if the whole Indonesian nation wanted it to happen’.26 In common with other democracies based on the Westminster model, the Australian Parliament has little control over foreign policy, which remains the preserve of the government, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It cannot, for example, vote to block arms sales to foreign countries, as the US Congress has done in the case of Indonesia. Whitlam exercised an even tighter grip over foreign policy as Prime Minister, also serving Foreign Minister during his first year in government. Even after he had relinquished the portfolio to Don Willesee, he continued to maintain a hold on foreign policy. In 2005, declassified documents revealed that there had been no discussions in Cabinet regarding policy on East Timor.27 Following East Timor’s referendum in 1999, and the subsequent violence and Australian-led military intervention,
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Keating attacked his successor, John Howard, accusing him of opportunism over East Timor, and of not caring about the relationship with Indonesia.28 Yet far from pandering to the ‘East Timor lobby’, Howard’s track record was the precise opposite. In opposition, he had criticised Labor governments for placing too much importance on human rights and East Timor, rather than too little. After becoming Prime Minister, he told Suharto that these issues ‘should not be allowed to damage or affect or to upset the relationship between our two countries.’29 As for opportunism, it was Labor’s foreign affairs spokesman, Laurie Brereton, who successfully campaigned for a change in policy over East Timor in 1997, supporting the right of selfdetermination.30 Not only did this cause annoyance to Indonesia, where Suharto was still in power, but it also meant breaking the consensus over East Timor which had existed in Canberra since 1975. It was not without critics in the party itself; one of them was Kevin Rudd, now Prime Minister.31 In the lead-up to the federal election in 1998, Brereton said that a Labor government would appoint a ‘Special Envoy on East Timor who will work closely with the United Nations and all the parties involved’.32 Even after Labor lost the election, Brereton was calling for a ‘permanent international presence to monitor military activity in East Timor’ in response to ‘allegations of clandestine military action and arming of paramilitary squads’. Downer, by contrast, had praised reports of Indonesian troop withdrawals from East Timor as ‘a step in the right direction’,33 despite army personnel records, which had been smuggled out, showing that the number of troops had remained unchanged.34 Yet at this time, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer had been arguing against any such moves. As late as January 1999, Downer said ‘I do not think that immediately moving into some sort of
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active self-determination in East Timor is a solution at all’, only a fortnight before Indonesian President Habibie announced a move in that direction.35 In the fourth paragraph of his letter of December 19, 1998, to Indonesian president, B J Habibie, Howard wrote:
I want to emphasise that Australia’s support for Indonesia’s sovereignty is unchanged. It has been a longstanding Australian position that the interests of Australia, Indonesia and East Timor are best served by East Timor remaining part of Indonesia.36
As regards autonomy, Howard said:
The successful implementation of an autonomy package with a built-in review mechanism would allow time to convince the East Timorese of the benefits of autonomy within the Indonesian republic.37
Responding to accusations by Mark Aarons of being an ‘apologist for Indonesia’,38 Gerard Henderson claimed that there was ‘a debate about how the interests of the East Timorese could be best advanced’, pointing out that:
In July 1994, for example, I advocated that Indonesia’s president, Soeharto [sic], should step down and that East Timor should be granted wide-ranging autonomy. Yet this was sufficient for me to be branded a member of the Jakarta lobby. The supporters of Fretilin in Australia were, and remain, uncompromising.39
It was certainly bold enough for Henderson to advocate wideranging autonomy as far back as 1994, never mind that Suharto step down. However, if anyone were ‘uncompromising’ back then, it was not supporters of East Timor in Australia (who were
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not necessarily supporters of Fretilin) but Suharto himself. In fact, Aarons, who was once supportive of Fretilin, has since become a vocal critic of the party’s track record in government, and has been attacked by those in Australia who still support it. The involvement of the extreme left in East Timor support groups in Australia put considerable strain on them. David Scott told hard left members of the Australia East Timor Association (AETA) that they would not be involved if it had been Sukarno or a government that they viewed as ‘progressive’ which had invaded East Timor.40 After all, the left in Australia was happy to side with Jakarta over its claim to Dutch New Guinea, or ‘West Irian’. Scott added that if that had been the case, conservative Senator Brian Harradine ‘would be the AETA Chairman’. In a debate following the Indonesian invasion of East Timor, Harradine remarked:
‘If it is correct to criticise Indonesia today for its action over East Timor it was also correct to criticise Indonesia for its actions in West New Guinea, but the forces which are beating the drum now about East Timor were silent in 1962. Why were they silent?... Mr. Laurie Aarons in the Communist Party Tribune of 20th May 1962 wrote... ‘Communist policy is for complete support for Indonesia’s claim for West Irian, and complete independence for the peoples exploited and oppressed by Australian Capitalism’.41
Laurie Aarons was the father of Mark, the family being described as ‘the Royal Family of Australian communism’.42 In fact, while Australia supported self-determination for West New Guinea, it was the US and Britain which brought pressure to bear on the Dutch to cede the territory to Indonesia. In December 1961, Harold Macmillan wrote a letter to Robert Menzies to that effect, or as Paul Monk put it:
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‘Dear Bob, I’ve had a chat with Jack [Kennedy] in Bermuda about this New Guinea situation. We think that, on balance, it would be best for all concerned if you were to roll over on this one… If we throw Sukarno this bone, we’ll rob the Communists of a stick to beat us with. We can then find other means for dealing with the problem of the Indonesian Communist Party.’43
This may have influenced Gough Whitlam’s thinking on East Timor: even if Australia were to support self-determination for the Portuguese territory, the US and Britain would side with Indonesia instead. As Graham Freudenberg put it: ‘Whitlam, as Prime Minister, was determined never again to have a bar of the humbug, humiliation and hypocrisy which had occurred over West Irian.’44 It was against the backdrop of West New Guinea that the government of Robert Menzies had considered the future of East Timor, which, it reasoned, could be the next target for Indonesian expansion. In 1963, James Dunn, Australian Consul in East Timor, sent a report to Canberra, with this analysis of the situation:
1. The Portuguese in Timor have little real support from the indigenous population who, if given the opportunity, will probably favour a change in the status of their territory. In these circumstances there would be some pressure towards the setting up of an independent state but the majority would probably favour Indonesian rule as the alternative to the continuation of Portuguese rule. 2. (a) Portuguese Timor is a poor and extremely underdeveloped territory. It has no secondary industries, poor mineral resources and low-level subsistence production in agriculture. Very little 63
AUSTRALIA: AS YE SOW, SO SHALL YE REAP has been done by the Portuguese to remedy these weaknesses and there is no evidence of any genuine effort to overcome them in the foreseeable future. (b) As an independent state it is difficult to see how Portuguese Timor could exist as a viable economic state without substantial financial and technical assistance from outside. (c) Continued Portuguese rule will mean further stagnation of the economy with increasing dissatisfaction on the part of the indigenous population and probably some attempts at insurrection. There is already some evidence of the existence of a movement with the aim of ousting the Portuguese, with aid of Indonesia. 3. In the event of an Indonesian attack few of the Timorese would remain loyal to the Portuguese. The Portuguese forces, with no air or sea support would be overwhelmed or driven into the interior of the island within a matter of hours. Without the support of the native population it is unlikely that they could resist long in guerrilla warfare. 4. If Indonesia were to send in agitators they would undoubtedly win support and, with appropriate supplies of arms etc., could start a campaign of insurgency throughout the province. 5. The Timorese themselves are unlikely to succeed in any attempt to overthrow the colonial regime if only through lack of leadership. However, with Indonesian aid and inspiration the Portuguese position might soon become untenable.45
This was used by Whitlam to discredit Dunn, who was a vocal critic of the Indonesia occupation of East Timor.46 What Dunn wrote, however, should be seen in the context of the time. Not only had the Dutch capitulated to Indonesia over West New Guinea, but barely a year earlier, Portugal had just been ejected
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from Goa by India, with local support. Four years earlier in East Timor itself, there had been the uprising in Viqueque, which had been bloodily suppressed. Five years later, the situation had changed; Indonesia was under a pro-Western government, which was anxious to promote a moderate foreign policy, distance itself from Sukarno’s expansionist and irredentist tendencies, and which shared Salazar’s dislike of communism or left-wing ‘liberation movements’. If Suharto’s Indonesia had, as Don Watson claimed, enabled Australian governments to pursue a progressive immigration policy, then it might also have enabled them to pursue a progressive foreign policy, as long as it involved countries on the other side of the world. Writing in The Australian, former diplomat Cavan Hogue said that in 1975, Australia ‘could have been more active in the UN, but the world took the same interest in East Timor that we take in Africa.’47 In fact, such was Gough Whitlam’s interest in Africa that in 1973, he recognised the unilateral declaration of independence by the Portuguese colony of Guinea-Bissau.48 Hogue claimed Fretilin ‘was and remains a communist party’,49 but Canberra supported the ANC in South Africa, which ‘was and remains’ in coalition with the Communist Party. It was also an Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, who aided the rise to power of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, despite ZANU advocating a Marxist-Leninist one-party state. As Mugabe said of Fraser ‘I got enchanted by him, we became friends, personal friends... He’s really motivated by a liberal philosophy’.50 Paul Keating claimed that it was thanks to Suharto that Indonesia had not become an ‘economic and social wreck’ like Zimbabwe.51 Yet perhaps it was also thanks to Suharto that the man responsible for turning Zimbabwe into such a wreck came to
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power, with Australian support. Would this have happened if Canberra had not embraced a progressive foreign policy? Many commentators in Australia who supported Indonesian rule in East Timor, now complain about now having a ‘poor, backward and unstable entity on our doorstep’, but why did an independent East Timor need to be poor, when it could have profited from oil reserves in the Timor Sea? This was one factor in Australia’s support for East Timor’s incorporation into Indonesia, and its decision to recognise Indonesian sovereignty in 1978. In a cable to Canberra in 1975, Richard Woolcott suggested that closing the gap in the maritime boundary ‘could be much more readily negotiated with Indonesia than with Portugal or independent Portuguese [sic] Timor.’52 In 1989, the Foreign Ministers of Australia and Indonesia signed the Timor Gap Treaty, or to use its full title, ‘Treaty between Australia and the Republic of Indonesia in an Area between the Indonesian Province of East Timor and Northern Australia’. Under an interim agreement following the end of Indonesian rule, Australia was granted access to two-thirds of Timor Sea oil fields, from which it was earning US$1.7 million a day. In 2004, Oxfam warned that tensions over access to oil ‘stand to push East Timor to the brink of becoming a failed state through no fault of its own’.53 Two years earlier, Alexander Downer had told Mari East Timor’s Prime Minister Alkatiri: ‘We don’t like brinkmanship. We are very tough… Let me give you a tutorial in politics – not a chance.’54 The media in Australia were accused of conducting a ‘vendetta’ against Indonesia over East Timor after the deaths of five TV newsmen in Balibo in 1975. Yet Jakarta was not without its defenders in the Australian press, not least in News Limited’s newspapers like The Australian, whose proprietor, Rupert
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Murdoch, introduced East Timor campaigner David Scott as ‘trying to set up a communist base north of Darwin’.55 However, while Fairfax newspapers like the Sydney Morning Herald were accused of a ‘vendetta against Indonesia’, its foreign editor Peter Hastings argued that Australia should accept the Indonesian annexation as a fait accompli.56 Even the Melbourne Age, denounced as the ‘Spencer Street Soviet’ and more recently as ‘The Guardian on the Yarra’, infamously headlined a story about famine in East Timor in 1980 with ‘Timor wins famine war’.57 Such was its cultural sensitivity in 1974, that the Age described the people of the territory as ‘betel-chewing tribesmen’.58 Ten years later, it described East Timor’s independence struggle as a lost cause:
One fact does seem clear, however. Indonesia regards East Timor as part of the nation. History may often surprise us all, but the incorporation seems irreversible and an act of free choice inconceivable… There is nothing to be gained by bullying the Indonesians.59
Channel Nine, despite the deaths of two of its employees (Malcolm Rennie and Brian Peters), gave airtime to B A Santamaria and his pro-Jakarta and anti-communist views. In his programme Point of View, he expressed the same opinions as he did in his column in The Australian, and in his National Civic Council’s magazine, News Weekly. Public broadcasters in Australia like the ABC and SBS were often attacked for their ‘anti-Indonesia campaign’, but they were certainly not immune from government pressure, not least as the ABC’s Radio Australia broadcast to Indonesia. The ABC’s bureau in Jakarta was closed in 1981, and was not reopened until a decade later. In order to avoid future misunderstandings with Jakarta, officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in
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Canberra would have regular meetings with the ABC, ‘to discuss where problems ‘might arise’.60 This was in anticipation of the launch of the Australia Television International service in 1993, which was carried on the Indonesian Palapa satellite. Far from being an outlet for the ‘East Timor lobby’, when exclusive video footage of an interview with guerilla leader Konis Santana was given to the channel, it was ‘lost’ en route to its studios.61 Even ABC domestic news coverage, particularly from Darwin raised the hackles of Jakarta and Canberra alike.62 While East Timorese who supported integration with Indonesia may not have got a fair press in the Australian media, such people had the advantage of having the Indonesian government, and its supporters in Australia, to fight their corner. Following the crisis in 2006, some commentators in Australia have advocated turning East Timor into a satellite or vassal state, along the lines of Papua New Guinea. Writing in The Australian, Paul Kelly remarked:
The feature of East Timor’s brief history is that Portugal has exercised more influence than Australia, notably on its language, constitution and institutions. This is one of the reasons for its failure. It is obvious that as ultimate security guarantor, Australia must exert a greater authority.63
This had echoes of the US’s ‘civilising mission’ in the Philippines, whose people were described by the GovernorGeneral, William Howard Taft, as ‘our little brown brothers’.64 Australia did, of course, exercise considerable influence on Papua New Guinea’s language, constitution and institutions, but with what results? Hank Nelson, a Professor of History at the ANU, described white expatriate members of the territory’s parliament as often ‘rambunctious, hard-drinking and
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womanising while the blacks were uneducated and had scarcely been into a town, let alone an Assembly with a Speaker and ceremonial rules’.65 One of the white expatriate members of the territory’s House of Assembly was John Pasquarelli, later advisor to Pauline Hanson’s anti-immigration One Nation party. Writing about East Timor in his column in the Melbourne Observer, Pasquarelli jumped on the anti-Portuguese bandwagon: ‘Timor’s problems are exacerbated by… the lunatic decision to have Portuguese as the national [sic] language’.66 Compared to what – the use of English in Papua New Guinea, still spoken by less than half the population? How many of Pasquarelli’s constituents would have spoken English? Or for that matter, how many of his fellow members of the House? Not many, which is why he used Tok Pisin, just as his counterparts in East Timor’s parliament use Tetum. It is, of course, telling that while East Timor’s lingua franca is an indigenous language, albeit with Portuguese influence, Papua New Guinea’s derives at least 80 per cent of its vocabulary from English. While Fretilin has been depicted in the Australian media as anti-Australian, many of its former ministers and current members of parliament lived in Australia, are married to Australians, and are still Australian citizens. While Fretilin has been depicted in the Australian media as ‘Marxist’ or ‘communist’, its real problem in government was that it was the worst of both worlds: a socialist party which believes in fiscal conservatism. Yet even this had advantages: it delivered little because it promised little, whereas the Aliança da Maioria Parlamentar (AMP) or Parliamentary Majority Alliance has promised more than it has delivered, amid accusations of corruption.
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Writing in The Australian, Paul Toohey remarked: ‘For those who condemned the Fretilin government – and I was one of them – it now seems that they were a better lot than the great libertines who replaced them.’67
CHAPTER FIVE PORTUGAL: PORTUGAL: EMOTION IS NOT ENOUGH
We must face facts, it’s the raw and naked truth that we’re not capable of penetrating international markets where competition is strong and productivity is higher… - Aníbal Cavaco Silva, President of Portugal
PORTUGAL is a country which is not well known, and even less well understood, and if that is the case in Western Europe, then it is manifestly even more so in Asia and the Pacific, a part of the world in which Portugal has more of a past than a present, and one which has long been a ‘no go’ area. Portugal’s continued inability or unwillingness to engage with the countries of the Asia Pacific region, particularly Indonesia and Australia, has exacerbated misunderstandings over East Timor since 1999. However, Portugal’s relations with East Timor have been bedevilled by the lingering and pervasive concept of ‘Lusotropicalism’, the belief that the people in the colonies in Africa and Asia were as Portuguese as the people of Portugal itself, and therefore what is appropriate for Portugal is appropriate for East Timor. Unlike the British and the Dutch, the Portuguese, in common with the French and Spanish, saw themselves as assimilationists, rejecting racial segregation in favour of miscegenation. While this sounds laudable in theory, in practice it meant the marginalisation, if not abandonment, of indigenous languages and cultures.
PORTUGAL: EMOTION IS NOT ENOUGH
The brainchild of Brazilian sociologist Gilberto Freyre, ‘Lusotropicalism’ was based on the premise that relations between Portuguese and the ‘natives’ were friendly and that the Portuguese had a ‘natural aptitude’ in dealing with different cultures.1 Embraced by the Salazar regime, ‘Lusotropicalism’ became an article of faith, particularly when it had to defend itself against international criticism of its colonial policy. There was no colonial empire, the Portuguese argued, only a pluricontinental nation, in which the highest mountain was not in Malhão de Estrela in Portugal, but Ramelau in Timor, one of several ‘overseas provinces’. It was, therefore, unsurprising that anyone who challenged this would be subjected to vilification, and even abuse. When the British historian C R Boxer, then living in Portugal, published Relations in the Portuguese Colonial Empire 1415-1825, he received hate mail from ordinary Portuguese. One postcard simply was addressed to Canalha Boxer, Filho de Puta, bandido, ladrão de livros que nos roubaste – ‘Bastard Boxer, Son of a Bitch, bandit, thief of books that you stole from us’.2 Even today, there is still a considerable degree of selfjustification among Portuguese about their colonial past (‘we were different’) and indeed, denial. In Portugal itself, what has been described as a ‘well-constructed myth’ has resulted in a ‘no problem here’ approach to race relations.3 There is no ‘black armband version of history’, comparable to that in Australia or elsewhere in the English-speaking world; expressing shame or remorse over the country’s historical track record. It is true that Portugal was politically unstable during 1974-75, and was more preoccupied with having to resettle hundreds of thousands of Portuguese, known as retornados, who had fled Angola and Mozambique. Yet Portugal also failed to take
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advantage of the international goodwill towards it following the change of government in 1974. Far from internationalising the East Timor issue, Portugal was engaged in secret talks with Indonesia during 1974 and 1975, which actively discouraged it from doing so. It made no effort to involve the United Nations, by inviting it to send a fact-finding mission to East Timor. The UN Special Committee on Decolonisation, the so-called ‘Committee of 24’ met in Lisbon in June 1975, but a fact-finding mission was not considered, nor were leaders of political parties in East Timor encourage to attend the meeting.4 Such a visit may not have prevented a subsequent Indonesian takeover – a similar mission to the Western Sahara in 1974 did not deter Morocco from its ‘Green March’ into the territory the following year – but it could have helped to internationalise the issue. Portugal’s last Governor in East Timor, Mário Lemos Pires, told the Commission for Truth, Reception, and Reconciliation in 2003 that:
The United Nations should have been the principal player in this process…I think it would have been better for Portugal [and] for the East Timorese decolonisation process if Portugal had internationalised the problem from the moment that the need for self-determination was recognised in 1974…The Portuguese Government did not ask the United Nations to be present in the territory…I think that was a mistake.5
In a meeting with the National Commission for Decolonisation in Lisbon in February 1975, a government delegation from Portuguese Timor stressed ‘the urgent need to clearly define a policy’, and defended ‘the internationalisation of the Timor issue through the UN, especially an appeal to the
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Third World countries as the only safeguard against Indonesian military intervention’.6 Yet the Commission only accepted internationalisation as a last resort, and rejected it again in June 1975. In September 1975, the Portuguese and Indonesian Foreign Ministers met in Rome, in which they urged talks between ‘all parties in Portuguese Timor… aimed at ending the armed strife and bringing about a peaceful and orderly process of decolonisation’.7 As José Ramos Horta recalled:
The Indonesians did not want an East Timorese involvement in the Rome talks and the Portuguese did not insist on it. The Indonesians did not want any United Nations involvement in the Rome talks, and the Portuguese went along with that, too. As it happened, the Rome talks were a Portuguese recognition of Indonesia as a principal party to the Timor question – a more principal party than the East Timorese themselves!8
In much the same way that Australia’s stance on East Timor was influenced by the experience of West New Guinea, perhaps Portugal’s leaders were similarly haunted by the experience of Goa, which Salazar had refused to relinquish. President Costa Gomes later remarked that he thought that an Indonesian takeover of East Timor would be no different from India’s takeover of Goa fourteen years before.9 Although Portugal restored diplomatic relations with India in 1974, backdating recognition of Indian sovereignty to 1961, it made little effort to restore links with Goa, and did not open a consulate there until as late as 1991. Until 2006, Portugal’s diplomatic corps in New Delhi consisted of only two officers, and there is not a single Portuguese media correspondent in the whole of India.10
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Despite accusations of left wing leaders in Lisbon supporting Fretilin in East Timor, many communists and socialists in Portugal saw integration with Indonesia as a preferable to either continued Portuguese rule or independence. Not only would this rid Portugal of an embarrassing relic of colonialism, but also rid it of a continuing financial burden. It was only at China’s insistence that Portugal remained in Macau in the 1970’s, although it withdrew its military forces. Although Portugal had withdrawn most of its forces from East Timor during 1975, it had two brand new corvettes, the João Roby and Afonso Cerqueira patrolling the coast, ‘showing the flag’.11 On the day that Indonesia invaded East Timor, they sailed away. As a result of Portugal’s support for East Timor’s selfdetermination, and the suppression of the Portuguese language during the Indonesian occupation, there has been a great deal of importance attached to the revival of the Portuguese language by East Timor’s leaders, most of whom were educated during the Portuguese era. Yet while it was the Topasses, mixed-race and assimilated people, who spread Portuguese cultural influence throughout Southeast Asia, rather than the Portuguese themselves, it was a form of Tetum, not Portuguese, which developed as a contact language in Timor. Indeed, as late as the 1870s, the most important foreign language in Dili was Malay, as in much of the archipelago.12 Portuguese creoles developed in several parts of Indonesia, including Java, Ambon and Ternate, but not in East Timor. The only Portuguese creole ever used in East Timor was brought by people from Larantuka in Flores, which was only used in the Bidau district of Dili, and had died out by the 1960s.13 By contrast, in the Malaysian state of Malacca, there are still a few thousand people who speak Papia Kristang, a Portuguese
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creole, despite the lack of contact with Portugal since the seventeenth century. In fact, despite Lusotropicalism’s Brazilian origins, for much of Brazil’s history, the contact language between the Portuguese, the Indians, and the African slaves was Nheengatú, a form of the Tupi and Guaraní languages, developed by the Jesuits. Significantly, it was also the language used by mestiços, rather than Portuguese. Miscegenation did not necessarily result in assimilation. Also known as Língua Geral or ‘general language’, it remained the main language of Brazil until the late eighteenth century, when Brazil saw increased Portuguese migration. At this time, the Portuguese government expelled the Jesuits from the Portuguese Empire, and banned use of the language with which they had become identified.14 By contrast, Guaraní in Paraguay, is today not only the only indigenous language in the Americas to be an official language (alongside Spanish) but the only one in which the overwhelming majority of speakers are not indigenous peoples. This does not mean that Portuguese should not be an official language in East Timor, but rather that it has to adapt to a very different environment from that of 1975, in which it had a captive audience. Until 1975, Portuguese was the sole medium of instruction in schools, Tetum and other local languages were largely oral languages, and there was limited contact with Indonesia and Australia. There was no daily newspaper, and no television. Today, it no longer has that captive audience. There is far greater exposure to Indonesian and English, and more significantly, Tetum is now widely used for written communication, from newspaper articles to internet discussion forums.
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Even Portugal’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation João Gomes Cravinho acknowledged this when he stated that Portuguese teachers going to work in East Timor should attend courses in learning Tetum.15 However, this was seven years after the Australian linguist Dr Geoffrey Hull advocated this in an address to the Conselho Nacional de Resistência Timorense (CNRT) – National Council of Timorese Resistance Congress in 2000, in which he said that ‘such a tribute to the main language of the people would make it clear to all that the work of restoring the Portuguese language in East Timor has no neo-colonialist ulterior motives.’16 Although the Portuguese and Brazilians are not the only foreigners in East Timor guilty of not making the effort to learn Tetum, the fact that Portuguese, rather than English or Indonesian, is an official language, places a greater duty of care upon them than, for example, Australians or Indonesians. While Portuguese-speaking foreigners may wish to speak to East Timorese in Portuguese, the reality is that there are many people who are neither able to do so nor willing to learn. Using Tetum to communicate with such people is preferable to using English or Indonesian, and the fact that Tetum is heavily influenced by Portuguese should allow them to learn the language more quickly than other foreigners. The difficult and sometimes thankless task that Portuguese language teachers have faced in East Timor has been exacerbated by different Portuguese organisations competing with each other. In 2006, João Paulo Esperança, a Portuguese teacher living in East Timor (and one of the few Portuguese to speak both Tetum and Indonesian) described the absurdity of the situation:
When I arrived in Timor six years ago, to work for an institution teaching Portuguese at the national public university, the ‘rival’ was the Portuguese Ministry of Education, which had a hundred 77
PORTUGAL: EMOTION IS NOT ENOUGH and fifty teachers in the field and was willing to cede some to give lessons to students. The Instituto Camões… quickly recruited a group of teachers here to give classes to the [university]. Shortly after the ‘enemy’ became the Foundation of Portuguese Universities (FUP)... As the Instituto Camões also supported a course with the same objectives, there would be at the same time, at the same college, two degree courses… which operated in adjacent classrooms, but with their backs to each other.17
Any language policy involving a ‘language shift’ is problematic, but in East Timor these problems have been exacerbated the absence of Portuguese-Indonesian and Indonesian-Portuguese dictionaries, much less other Indonesian-language materials for learning Portuguese. Visiting a bookshop in Dili, Esperança noticed the number of foreign language dictionaries from Indonesia’, in which he counted:
one English-Indonesian dictionary, one Indonesian-English dictionary, one Swedish-Indonesian [!] dictionary, two different German-Indonesian dictionaries, one Indonesian-German dictionary, one German-Indonesian and Indonesian-German dictionary, one Italian-Indonesian dictionary, one TetumIndonesian and Indonesian-Tetum dictionary, one KoreanIndonesian and Indonesian-Korean dictionary, one FrenchIndonesian and Indonesian-French dictionary, one FrenchIndonesian dictionary, one Indonesian-Spanish dictionary, one Spanish-Indonesian dictionary…18
But no Portuguese-Indonesian or Indonesian-Portuguese dictionaries. While an Indonesian-Portuguese dictionary was compiled in 2004, by the National Institute of Linguistics in East Timor, neither the Instituto Camões, nor other Portuguese
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cultural organisations like the Fundação Oriente showed any interest in publishing it. However, as it had been involved with the Portuguese translation, the Instituto Camões held the rights to the work, thereby preventing anyone else from publishing it elsewhere. For several years, there have been discussions between the Indonesian Embassy in Lisbon, Universidade Católica and Gramedia about the compilation of a Portuguese dictionary, which have come to nothing. The Indonesian Embassy in Lisbon also compiled two Portuguese-Indonesian phrasebooks Conhecer a Língua Portuguesa and Mengenal Bahasa Portugis, but it has not been published commercially. The irony is that were such dictionaries to become available, the number of words in Indonesian derived from Portuguese would become evident to speakers of both languages.
gereja/igreja, sepatu/sapato, garpu/garfo, roda/roda, pesta/festa, palsu/falso, Sabtu/Sábado, terigu/trigo, keju/queijo, mentega/manteiga, lelang/leilão, meja/mesa, bendera/bandeira, Minggu/Domingo, jendela/janela, boneka/boneca, serdadu/soldado, Paskah/Páscoa, Natal/Natal, bendera/bandeira, aula/aula.
This problem should have been anticipated as far back as the mid-1990s, when Indonesian-educated East Timorese arrived in Portugal unable to speak Portuguese. Unfortunately, there has been a dogmatic belief among Portuguese language advocates in East Timor, and among the Portuguese themselves, that, following liberation from Indonesian rule, people in East Timor would miraculously become Portuguese speakers. And yet, the Instituto Camões expects the language of Camões to be taught in Indonesia without any such materials. Maria Irmler, then its lecturer in Jakarta, told me that she had been feeling the lack of them ‘in every day of my work’. Nevertheless,
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that has not discouraged her Indonesian students, who learn Portuguese because they consider it to be an interesting European language, with the added bonus of historical links with Indonesia. East Timor is a non-issue for them, as it should be, and of no more relevance than Vietnam and the Philippines are to Indonesians who want to learn French or Spanish. However, if Portugal wants its language to be taught in Indonesian universities, it should get Portuguese-educated politicians in East Timor to stop talking about their graduates as sarjana supermie, and even worse, references to Indonesian as ‘a language of donkeys’.19 The problem with those Portuguese who say that the East Timorese should ‘forget’ Indonesia and its language is not that they are unrealistic, but that they never put forward alternatives, be it in terms of trade, education or popular culture. By turning completely against the teaching of Indonesian in the absence of a viable alternative, East Timor has risked throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Portuguese is at an even greater disadvantage in Asia than it is in other parts of the world: not only because it lacks the status and prestige of other Western languages, and secondly, learning languages is on commercial or utilitarian grounds, rather than learning for learning’s sake. This is amply illustrated by the often dismissive attitude of many Indonesian-educated people in East Timor towards learning Portuguese. The fact that the Externato de São José in Dili not only continued to teach in Portuguese under Indonesian rule, but also taught Latin and Greek, reinforces the stereotype of Portuguese language advocates as out of touch with East Timor’s geographical and economic realities. Unlike those in Africa or the Americas, the use of Western languages other than English in post-colonial states in Asia declined rapidly after the departure of the European colonial power, as there was an indigenous language ready to take the place
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of the old colonial language, for example, Dutch in Indonesia and French in Indochina, as the language of the state. This accounts for the ‘abolitionist’ sentiments towards Portuguese among some Indonesian-educated people in East Timor. Portuguese is not widely taught at universities in the Asia Pacific region; some universities, like the National University of Singapore, do not even teach Spanish. It is not even widely taught at universities in Australia. One Portuguese language lecturer, who had lived and worked in Australia for many years, told me that ‘you cannot promote Portuguese in Australia against the wishes of the Australian public.’ But what made him think that Australians were against it? He continued:
To do that, before you may send in anything related to a language programme, you need to create a different cultural awareness and that depends upon a strong policy of cultural awareness: It is my belief that, to create a language program in Australia, you need a strong programme of history, culture, sociology, literature, tourism, etc. for a few years – TAUGHT IN ENGLISH – before you create a language program.
This struck me as being a shockingly defeatist attitude. It was both insulting to the intelligence of Australians, and to the Portuguese language. If Portuguese could be taught at universities in Indonesia, a country where Portugal has had a far worse press than it has in Australia, then why not in a Western country where there are 56,000 people of Portuguese origin? It is not the job of universities, in Australia or elsewhere, to promote cultural awareness of Portugal, much less tourism, trade and investment. It is the job of organisations like the Instituto Camões, Turismo de Portugal, and AICEP, the Portuguese investment agency, none of which are represented in Sydney, the largest city in Australia, and one of the most cosmopolitan in the
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region. Yet the Instituto Camões decided to promote the teaching of Portuguese at a university in New Zealand, where there are few Portuguese migrants and there is no Portuguese embassy. João Paulo Esperança has written about Portugal’s continued inability and unwillingness to engage with the Asia Pacific region. Visiting East Timorese studying at university in Yogyakarta, he noted ruefully that there were far more facilities for people wanting to learn French than Portuguese, and that the local French Cultural Centre was larger than its Portuguese counterpart in Dili.20 He could have made the same conclusion about facilities for studying German in Bandung and Surabaya. However, setting up Portuguese Cultural Centres across Indonesia would be putting the cart before the horse, as Portugal’s links with Indonesia are negligible compared to those of France and Germany, or even small countries like the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium and Denmark. The paradox is that Portugal is a small country with a big language, but the reason why this is the case is because of Brazil. Of course, pooling resources with Brazil in promoting the Portuguese language would mean swallowing a great deal of pride on Portugal’s part. The orthographical accord between Portuguese-speaking countries, which involved harmonising Brazilian and European spelling, still rankles with Portuguese, who resent using ‘Brazilian’ spelling.21 Yet Malay and Indonesian have had a common orthography since 1972, despite still being considered two separate languages. An obvious framework for international cooperation in promoting the Portuguese language worldwide would be the Comunidade de Países de Língua Portuguesa (CPLP) the Portuguesespeaking equivalent of the Commonwealth and La Francophonie. However, even the CPLP countries alone may not be effective, and they might need to form a common front with Spanish82
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speaking countries in pooling their resources, within an ‘IberoAmerican’ framework. It is notable that while the Instituto Camões is represented in other Portuguese-speaking countries, including Brazil, Spain’s equivalent, the Instituto Cervantes is unrepresented in other Spanish-speaking countries. Admittedly, the Alliance Française is well represented in Canada, as is the British Council in the US, but while others expand, Portugal mainly consolidates. Still, at least there is an advantage in Portugal being poor, in that it has been unable to engage in anything as delusional as France has in Cambodia. In 1989, the French funded the Institut de Technologie de Cambodge, in which instruction was entirely in French. Posters around the campus proclaimed, optimistically ‘La Francophonie Existe!’ and ‘La Francophonie Toujours!’22 Any attempt to introduce English as a medium of instruction has been met with French threats to withdraw funding. One advantage that Portuguese has in East Timor is that it has had far more influence on Tetum than French has ever had over Khmer in Cambodia, which, unlike Vietnamese, is not even written in Roman script. Nor has Portugal’s reputation in East Timor been as tarnished as that of France in Rwanda, where its support for the Frenchspeaking Hutus, who butchered English-speaking Tutsis during the 1994 genocide, was motivated by language considerations.23 In Portugal, East Timor was at least a national issue, unlike in Brazil, which only jumped on the East Timor bandwagon in 1999. Even now, most people in Brazil know and care about East Timor as much as people in the US do about the Solomon Islands. A less charitable explanation for Brazil’s involvement is that, as in Angola and Mozambique, is that it is to clear up the mess of Portugal’s incompetent imperialism.24
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Brazil should have a considerable advantage over Portugal, in that it does not have the historical or colonial baggage, and should be able to promote Portuguese as it should be promoted, on purely commercial and geopolitical grounds, as the language of a regionally important country, which, like Indonesia and Australia, is a member of the G20. In fact, it is thanks to Brazil, not Portugal, that as many people in Asia speak Portuguese as they do – as a result of Brazilian migration, there are 317,000 Portuguese speakers in Japan,25 more than in East Timor, Macau and Goa combined, and are living proof that being a Portuguese speaker in Asia is not a handicap. Yet it is almost as if Brazil has an inferiority complex about Portuguese. Is it a symptom of wishing it had been a colony of somewhere other than Portugal? Or because Portuguese nearly did not become widely spoken in Brazil? A worrying symptom of how Brazil sees the Portuguese language is the fact that it has a museum dedicated to it. While a museum is not necessarily a place for redundant relics of the past, it is not the best way to promote a modern language either. To paraphrase the old joke, Brazilian Portuguese is the language of the country of the future, and always will be. However, irrespective of what future Portuguese may have in East Timor, it is Brazil’s language, and it needs to take the promotion of that language more seriously. It was, apparently, Charles De Gaulle who said that ‘Brazil is not a serious country’. Brazilians may resent that notion, but what have they done to dispel it? Certainly, Brazil is known as a place that likes to have fun – carnival, football, samba and in 2016, the Olympics – but there is more to it than that. It has a world-class aircraft industry; Airnorth, which flies between Darwin and Dili uses Embraer aeroplanes, and while Australians may dismiss Brazil as too poor
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and far away to be of commercial importance, their country exports left-hand drive Holden Commodores to Brazil.26 Brazil has no equivalent of the Instituto Camões, although it may not need one. The irony is that people in Southeast Asia have had exposure to Brazil through its telenovelas, but as these are invariably dubbed (Escrava Isaura in Chinese, Sinha Moça in Malay and Terra Nostra in Indonesian) people there could be forgiven for thinking that Brazilians did not speak Portuguese at all. The reason why Brazilian and other South American telenovelas are dubbed is because of an assumption that nobody wants to learn Portuguese, or even Spanish, but that is no reason why audiences in the region cannot watch them in the original language with subtitles. Despite the popularity of learning English, satellite channels like HBO, Star World and BBC Entertainment all subtitle their English-language programming in Asian languages. By contrast, Portugal’s RTPi does not even subtitle programmes in English, nor does Brazil’s Record. This is surprising, as while RTPi is publicly funded, Record is a commercial channel. The practice of subtitling in local languages is hardly an alien concept in Portugal, where dubbing is rare compared to either neighbouring Spain, or Portuguese-speaking Brazil. Not only there is there a strong preference for watching foreign television dramas or films in the original language, but even on television news. Whether people are speaking in English or Tetum, their dialogue is subtitled, not dubbed over. East Timor badly needs a counterweight to Indonesia and Australia, not just cultural one, but a geopolitical and economic one. While Portuguese-speaking countries are poorly equipped to perform the latter role, it helps that the country which is best equipped to do so, China, sees Portuguese as an asset, not as a handicap, and recognises the language’s commercial value. Indeed,
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there may soon be more Portuguese speakers in Macau than there ever were under Portuguese rule.27 These growing links with the Portuguese-speaking world have more to do with Brazilian soya and Angolan oil than with Portuguese literature or Macau’s colonial heritage, hence the fact that there are now direct flights from Beijing to São Paulo and Luanda, but no longer ones between Macau and Lisbon. In fact, while talk between the CPLP countries about launching an international Portuguese-language television channel remains just talk, Teledifusão de Macau (TdM) has gone ahead and launched its own,28 with China Central Television to follow suit in 2010. Helping East Timor and promoting the Portuguese language are both laudable objectives for Portugal, but they are distinct, and it is not always necessary or desirable to do one in order to achieve the other. It is like being parents of Siamese twins: while they care about them both, it would make life so much easier for them, and for the parents, if the two were not joined at the hip. In fact, linking the two can be often be counter-productive, being of little benefit to people in East Timor, and causing further damage to the image of the Portuguese language. If it is not unreasonable to ask ‘does East Timor need the Portuguese language?’ it should not unreasonable either to ask ‘does the Portuguese language need East Timor?’ Among many Portuguese, there is a feeling that Portugal is wasting its time in East Timor, and that they should cut their losses and return home. Certainly there are people in Jakarta, Canberra and Dili who would shed no tears if they did. However, it is in no one’s interest that the Portuguese throw in the towel. It would be letting them off the hook. Not only would they be giving up on East Timor, but they would also be giving up on Asia. If they find the idea of forging
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strong ties with Asia and the Pacific too much of a burden, then that is all the more reason why they should be forced to do so. But why should it be a burden? Other small countries in Europe, like Denmark, are actively involved in trade with Asia and the Pacific. Or indeed, the Netherlands. The Dutch once feared that were they to lose the East Indies, their country would be no more important on the world stage than Denmark,29 yet both the Netherlands and Denmark have a far higher profile in the Asia Pacific region than Portugal. Ignoring a whole continent, particularly one of growing importance as Asia, is a sign of ‘Third World’ status, and in this regard, Portugal is more like an African or South American country than a European one. It cannot be a mere coincidence that the poorest and least developed country in Western Europe is the one which has fewer trade links with Asia than other countries in the region. Fortunately, however, there are Portuguese in East Timor who do not see the country in isolation from the Asia Pacific, but in the context of it, and have taken advantage of the ability to travel around the archipelago as freely as any other foreign nationals, or indeed, as their ancestors did centuries ago. And while many react with horror at the suggestion that they should learn Tetum, never mind Indonesian, there are some who have learnt both. One of them, Margarida Gonçalves, told me about the hostility that she encountered from other Portuguese for learning both Tetum and Indonesian. It was, she told me, as if she had ‘committed lèse majesté’. She told me how she once viewed Indonesia, and how she views it now:
‘I once burnt cuddly toys marked ‘MADE IN INDONESIA’. I hated Indonesia and Indonesians, without really ever realising who they were. That was more than fifteen years ago. I became passionate about Timor, but I would only really start to 87
PORTUGAL: EMOTION IS NOT ENOUGH understand the country when I understood Indonesia. It was like that. Now, I only hate Suharto and his coterie of generals.’ ‘But after having been immersed in some of the cultures of Indonesia, I have discovered that the country is not at all like what the propaganda of the 1990s had me believe. It is that propaganda (understandable at the time) which is nowadays an affront to those Portuguese sailors who signed treaties in Sunda Kelapa with the Bataks, sang with the inhabitants of Manado, prayed with those of Flores, Ende, Solor, Alor and Rote and left descendants from Aceh to Ambon.’ ‘Fernão Mendes Pinto did not describe these people in such rabid and hateful terms as do the majority of Portuguese of the present day. And today, in the information society in which we live, I think that it is inexcusable.’
They are far worthier successors to the likes of Fernão Mendes Pinto, who travelled and traded in Southeast Asia in the sixteenth century, than those ‘big fish in a small pond’ in Dili who thumb their noses at local cultures and languages. Portugal cannot be a player in East Timor unless and until it becomes a player in the wider region. Its decline as a world power began when it ceased to be a player in Asia. A past, however glorious, is not a substitute for a future.
CHAPTER SIX THE UN: WHAT INTERNATIONAL ‘INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY’ COMMUNITY’?
If the U.N. Secretariat building in New York lost ten storeys, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. - John Bolton, US Ambassador to the United Nations
FOLLOWING the war in Iraq in 2003, Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland advocated that the country be placed under UN administration, as East Timor had done. He wrote ‘think of it as the East Timorification of Iraq. Maybe that’s not a slogan for a street-march banner, but the peace camp has to put its victory in the last argument behind it - and fight the battle ahead.’1 He could not have chosen a worse model. At least the US and British forces in Iraq were able to communicate with each other in the same language. They also had actually heard of the country, and knew what language the people spoke. By contrast, the UN’s Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) recruited staff from 113 of its member states,2 most of whom would not have known East Timor from East Grinstead or Tetum from Teton. Being governed by two countries is problematic enough; as the people of Vanuatu know from when their country was the AngloFrench condominium of the New Hebrides, known as the ‘Pandemonium’, with two heads of state, two flags, two languages, two currencies, two education systems, two police forces, but three legal systems, for the British, French, and the Islanders
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themselves.3 In 1964, Australia had rejected Portugal’s offer of a similar arrangement in East Timor, yet nearly forty years later, became involved in a far more cumbersome arrangement. People in the UN have been described as ‘liberal imperialists’, but the term could not be more inappropriate. For a start, the term itself is an oxymoron, as imperialism is, by definition, illiberal. It needs to be; otherwise it would not be able to maintain its control. Furthermore, UN staff can be as contemptuous of their host country as any expatriate administrators in the days of empire. On arriving at Dili Airport, one seasoned UN official, who had flown first class all the way from New York, bellowed: ‘You call this a capital city?’4 Yet if Dili had been like Tokyo, why would the UN have been required at all? Writing in 2003, Helen Hill pointed to the ‘failure to establish an effective and sustainable communications and transportation system in [East] Timor during the period of United Nations transitional government,’ the consequences of which are still felt.
Under UNTAET public telephones were not repaired, nor public transport revived to its former strength, nor the Post Office, with its banking system. Legislation on radio was left till the last moment. Donors were wary of funding television.5
When I was in contact with UNTAET’s Information Technology, Posts and Telecommunications Department, my impression was of people who were not given enough time and resources to do the job properly. Its deputy head, Erik Mackinlay, had come from Bosnia, and returned to the former Yugoslavia not long after, this time to Kosovo, after being in East Timor for little over a year. Of course, it is significant that while the UN made a rapid exit from East Timor, a place dubbed ‘Quickfixville’,6 it remains in Kosovo, despite the declaration of an independent state. There
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were, and are, significant differences between the two places: Indonesia relinquished its claim to East Timor, while Serbia remains adamant that Kosovo remains part of its national territory. In the case of Kosovo, there were neighbouring countries, and regional organisations, like the European Union, which have had long-standing interests in the former Yugoslavia and in a position to lighten the UN’s burden. Indeed, in Bosnia, the High Representative, charged with overseeing the Dayton Peace Agreement, is ex officio the EU’s Special Representative in the country. ‘Overseeing’ that Agreement, is sometimes construed as acting like an imperial Viceroy,7 or perhaps more like the Resident or High Commissioner in a British protectorate. In East Timor, by contrast, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) had long regarded the territory as an internal affair of Indonesia, and its members were as lukewarm about the emergence of a new state in 1999 as they were in 1975. While they bristled at how Australia took charge of the peacekeeping operation, ASEAN states like Malaysia would have been less welcome in East Timor than Australia or New Zealand, or even Pacific countries like Fiji, because of their support for Indonesia in the past. Another important difference is that the people of Kosovo had had considerable experience of self-government, not only within Yugoslavia, but even Serbia, as an autonomous province. Such was the degree of autonomy that it enjoyed that Kosovo functioned as a separate constituent republic within Yugoslavia in all but name. While most people in the province were Albanians, rather than Serbs, the idea of union with Albania, then under the Maoist rule of Enver Hoxha, was not attractive. Only in the 1980s, when the government of Slobodan Milosevic stripped Kosovo of its political and cultural autonomy, did separatist demands grow, with the
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provincial government holding its own referendum on independence. East Timor, by contrast, had not originally been regarded as part of the Republic of Indonesia, having not been part of the Dutch East Indies. Shortly before his death, the former Indonesian Foreign Minister, Subandrio, told Singapore academic Bilveer Singh, that ‘Papua’, as the Indonesian half of New Guinea was now known, ‘has always been part of our soul. It can never be separated…’ East Timor, on the other hand, was ‘more of an appendix. Its loss was not fatal. But Papua is one of our legs.’8 East Timor was manifestly not Indonesia’s Kosovo, a place with historical and cultural resonance. Certainly the UN administration in East Timor was too short, lasting less than three years, and should have continued in some form even after independence in 2002. The UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) should have had a much larger role in the running of government departments, which were headed by people appointed on political loyalties than on their abilities. Yet the assumption of the UN was that there was nothing that the East Timorese could do that could not be done better by foreigners, and if foreigners could not do the job, then it was an impossible task. In fact there many instances where East Timorese, with some training, could have done the job infinitely better than foreigners. Take, for example, translation work. In Lonely Planet’s Guide to East Timor in 2004, Tony Wheeler remarked how ‘difficult’ it was to translate from Indonesian to Portuguese, as few Portuguese could speak Indonesian, and how it had to be done via English.9 Yet why was this work not given to those East Timorese who could speak both Portuguese and Indonesian fluently, not least those living in Australia and Portugal? Why were they not trained?
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In fact, translating from English to Tetum has also been problematic, because while there was a Tetum-English dictionary, there was no accompanying English-Tetum volume. There was, however, a Malay-Tetum dictionary (the use of the world ‘Indonesian’ was deemed politically incorrect) which I could use, with the result that translation from English to Tetum had to be done via Indonesian. Perhaps the most negative attitudes towards East Timor’s choice of languages came not from monoglot English speakers, but from Indonesian-speaking Westerners, usually, but not always, Australians. Having the advantage of speaking a language which was widely understood, they worked on the basis that ‘all you need is Indonesian’. One told me that Indonesian was ‘so useful’, that it was ‘hard for us to learn another language’. Fortunately, this dismissive view is not shared by international agencies in East Timor, which, while recognising the continued usefulness of Indonesian, see the language as auxiliary to Tetum. Indeed, even Greg Sheridan, the foreign editor of The Australian, a newspaper whose leader writers once called for Indonesian and English to be East Timor’s official languages, asked:
How many of our personnel in East Timor – be they army, police, aid workers, diplomats or others – speak Tetum? Whatever our military doctrine, the practice of the past 10 years shows us that we need a lot of soldiers who speak Tetum…10
Although as a Brazilian, the UN’s Special Representative in East Timor, Sérgio Vieira de Melo, shared a language with Portuguese-educated leaders, he was aware of the language’s limited use, and learnt Tetum, which no Portuguese Governor ever did.11 While many different languages have made a valuable contribution to East Timor’s linguistic heritage, a less welcome
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contribution has been UN jargon, for example, the term ‘capacity building’, used instead of ‘education’ or ‘training’. Unfortunately, East Timorese now use it liberally, translating it into Tetum as hari’i kapasidade. They talk of people having the ‘capacity’ instead of ‘competence’. One legacy of the UN administration was its decision to establish a defence force for East Timor. For many years, independence leaders had argued against having an army (the first Fretilin member I met told me that an independent East Timor would not have one) and José Ramos Horta reaffirmed this position in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. Certainly, the violence in 1999, and the continuing threat from militias was a factor in the decision to establish the defence force, but it was a long term solution to a short term problem. By the time peacekeepers left in 2005, the militias had ceased to be a major threat. UNTAET commissioned a report from King’s College London, which did not consider whether or not there should be a defence force at all, but rather, the shape that it should take and how large it should be.12 No consideration was given to the merits of having a paramilitary police force, with a single command. One model for such a force could have been that of the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, which has 10,000 personnel, in a country comparable in population and size to East Timor. It incorporates a paramilitary Special Mobile Force, the Coast Guard, and a Police Helicopter Unit. Such a force may not have been immune from the regional divisions which sparked the violence in 2006, but it could have avoided the rivalry between the Defence Force and National Police. Unfortunately, the idea of abolishing the army is now regarded with hostility in East Timor, perceived as part of an Australian conspiracy to turn the country into a protectorate.
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In deference to Indonesia, troops from Muslim Jordan were brought into the Peacekeeping Force (PKF), with a battalion being stationed in Oecussi. During that time, local children began complaining to the Australians that the Jordanian troops had offered them money and food in exchange for oral sex and intercourse. At one point, Australians and Jordanians nearly came to blows, with Australian Steyrs and Jordanian M16s pointed at one another.13 There was even worse behaviour, with two Jordanians evacuated home with injured penises after attempting sexual intercourse with goats. Soon after, people started calling the animals ‘Jordanian war brides’.14 East Timor was the first country to be governed by the United Nations. Unlike Zimbabwe, which reverted to the status of a British colony for a few months between 1979 and 1980, there was no prospect of Portugal doing the same after Indonesia rescinded its claim to East Timor. In 1995, Richard Woolcott argued that ‘the assertion that Portugal is the administering authority [in East Timor] is fatuous, except in the most arcane interpretation of UN General Assembly resolutions’.15 Yet it was the fact that Portugal remained the de jure administering authority that differentiated East Timor from Aceh, which had always been recognised as part of Indonesia. Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald in 2006, George Quinn claimed that were it not for the Asian financial crisis, and the demise of the Suharto regime, ‘Indonesia and East Timor’s secessionists [sic] would have hammered out a resolution of their differences such as has been worked out in Aceh, and East Timor would have remained part of Indonesia’.16 However, the most likely scenario would have been a stalemate between Indonesia and Portugal, given that the Suharto regime continually ruled out autonomy for East Timor, and refused to be
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involved in any talks at the UN that would have involved East Timor being separately represented. Although there was an AllInclusive East Timorese Dialogue (AIETD), it was not allowed to discuss the political status of the territory.17 More importantly, were it not for the change of government in Jakarta in 1998, and the subsequent change of policy on East Timor, it is questionable as to whether Indonesia would have had any incentive to change policy on Aceh, over which its sovereignty was not in question. Although the UN refused to recognise the decision by the ‘People’s Assembly’ to approve East Timor’s integration with Indonesia in 1976, it had acquiesced in Indonesia’s incorporation of West New Guinea, by recognising the similarly stage-managed ‘Act of Free Choice’ in 1969. Indeed, when Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies had suggested to António Salazar that East Timor’s future should be a matter for the UN, Salazar described this as naïve, pointing out that the UN had overseen the transfer of West New Guinea to Indonesian sovereignty in 1962, without an act of self-determination.18 Perhaps the strongest argument against independence for West Papua is not that the Indonesian military would behave as vindictively as it did in East Timor, but rather that the UN would leave yet another fragile and skeletal state, poorly prepared for independence. The limits of international law were demonstrated when Portugal took Australia to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1991 over the signing of the Timor Gap Treaty with Indonesia. Portugal argued that there was a binding obligation under international law not to recognise the acquisition of territory by force, and therefore, the treaty between Australia and Indonesia was unlawful.
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Indonesia, on the other hand, did not accept the jurisdiction of that Court, meaning that while there were only two parties to the case, there were three parties to the dispute. In 1995, the Court ruled that it had no authority to rule on the case as Indonesia had not given its consent to jurusdiction.19 Two months before East Timor gained independence, which would have allowed it to take Australia to the ICJ over its dispute over oil reserves, Australia ceased to recognise the Court’s jurisdiction over maritime boundary disputes.20 In 1950, the UN completely deprived the former Italian colony of Eritrea of the right of self-determination, on the grounds of its close political and economic association with Ethiopia, or landlocked Ethiopia’s access to the sea. Instead, Eritrea became ‘an autonomous unit federated with Ethiopia’ in 1952.21 The federal arrangement did not last, with the Ethiopian government stripping Eritrea of its autonomy before finally dissolving its parliament in 1962. This led to a war between the Eritrean Liberation Front and the Ethiopian government, first the pro-Western regime of Emperor Haile Selassie, and from 1974 until 1991, the Marxist military junta or Derg, led by Mengistu Haile Mariam. In 1993, the UN established the UN Observer Mission to Verify the Referendum in Eritrea (UNOVER), in which 99.79 per cent of the electorate voted for independence.22 Even in the case of Western Sahara, where Morocco had accepted the need for an act of self-determination, disagreements over who should be entitled to vote, and the options that should be offered in a referendum, have resulted in stalling since 1991. In fact, before Morocco began its ‘Green March’ into Western Sahara in 1975, it had sought an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice, to determine if: a) the territory were terra nullius at the time of its colonisation by Spain: and b) if
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it were not, what were the the legal ties between this territory and Morocco and Mauritania?23 The Court decided that there were ties between the territory to both Morocco and ‘the Mauritanian entity’, but that these did not imply sovereignty or rightful ownership over the territory, nor did they apply to self-determination ‘through the free and genuine expression of the will of the peoples of the Territory’.24 In addition, in October 1975, a UN mission which had visited Western Sahara, reported that it ‘did not encounter any groups supporting the territorial claims of neighbouring countries and consequently had no say of estimating the extent of their support, which appeared to be submerged by the massive demonstrations in favour of independence’.25 Yet unlike Portugal, which always maintained that it was the de jure administrative power in East Timor, Spain had agreed to relinquish sovereignty of the Western Sahara. In November 1975, shortly before the death of General Franco, a treaty was signed with both Morocco and Mauritania, between which the territory would be divided. In return, Spain would have a 35 per cent stake in a company mining phosphate deposits.26 In the case of the UN General Assembly, many countries had reasons to vote for, vote against or abstain from resolutions from East Timor between 1975 and 1982. Indonesia was backed by the ASEAN countries, India, and most Muslim countries. Those countries which supported East Timor were mainly the five Lusophone African countries and a few others, including Algeria, Cuba, and South Yemen,27 as well as Greece and Iceland.28 While it made sympathetic noises about East Timor at the UN, Brazil always maintained diplomatic relations with Indonesia, although not without some friction. In 1987, José Ramos Horta, wrote:
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE A Brazilian trade mission to Indonesia was called off abruptly. Brazilian businessmen were told that their Government’s position on East Timor was hampering trade relations between the two countries. Sure enough, the businessmen (who had probably never heard of East Timor and couldn’t have cared less if they had) carried the message to Itamaraty. Arch-pragmatists, the Brazilians tried to play both sides: pleasing the Lusophone community by sponsoring the [UN] draft; placating the Indonesians by letting them know that Brazil would not ask other countries to support it.29
However, were the Brazilians interested in trade links with Indonesia, any more than they were in supporting East Timor’s right to self-determination? Perhaps conservative and anticommunist military leaders like Geisel and Figueiredo would have found much in common with Suharto, but would they have seen any point in meeting him, or vice versa? If the UN is of limited use, then what of other international organisations, which encompass far fewer countries, few of which can find anything on which to agree? In 2008, there was a suggestion by Francisco Lopes da Cruz, Indonesia’s Ambassador to Portugal, that Indonesia should become an observer member of the CPLP.30 If there had been any mention of this in the media in Indonesia, it is likely that it would have been met with incomprehension and ridicule. Indonesians might well think that it might be better to seek membership of the Commonwealth, given the far greater interest in learning English than other western languages, least of all Portuguese. The reality is that Indonesians know and care as much about their country’s Portuguese heritage, as the Portuguese do about their Arab one. The name of an Indonesian island, Flores, comes from Portuguese, but the name of a region of Portugal, the Algarve, comes from Arabic. Using the same criteria, Portugal could seek observer status at the Arab League. (Brazil, which has
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had some Syrian and Lebanese immigration, already has.) The Commonwealth does not even expect members to have English as an official language, which Malaysia has not done since 1968, and which formerly Portuguese Mozambique has no plans to do. The CPLP was founded in 1996; a year after Mozambique joined the Commonwealth, which sent alarm bells ringing in Lisbon, although Guinea-Bissau had joined La Francophonie sixteen years earlier. Unlike the Commonwealth, the CPLP allows regions of countries to be associate members; hence the fact that while Hong Kong’s links with the Commonwealth ended with British rule, Macau has observer status in the CPLP, as a Special Administrative Region of China. In fact, it is a sign of insecurity that Portugal felt the need to set up a Commonwealth-style club at all. There is no Spanishspeaking equivalent, although King Juan Carlos of Spain is head of the Organisation of Ibero-American States or OEI, which includes both Portugal and Brazil. On the other hand, if the Commonwealth did not exist, there would have been no need to invent it. The reason why it is of any importance is not because of what it is, but who its members are: countries like India, South Africa, and Malaysia; as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Britain itself. The US has never been a member, while Ireland left before the rules were changed to allow republics to be members. Every two years, British Prime Ministers and Foreign Secretaries attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the knowledge that they will be given moral lectures from their former colonies, or in the case of Mozambique, from one of Portugal’s. If East Timor joins, then there will be another. In an article in the Sunday Telegraph in 2003, Kevin Myers wrote:
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Mozambique’s President Chissano is demanding that Zimbabwe be re-admitted to full membership of the Commonwealth. Good on Mozambique, whose historic right to be in the Commonwealth is precisely zero. Unlike Ireland, the US, Burma or Sudan, who aren’t present in Abuja, Mozambique was never part of the British Empire. But one of the more absurd fictions of the Commonwealth is its denial of its origins: that it is a club of the former ruled and the former ruler.31
An even more absurd international organisation, if it can be regarded as such, is the Non-Aligned Movement, to which Indonesia, as a founder member, still attaches some importance. It was in the city of Bandung in 1955 that the first (and only) AfroAsian Conference was held. Yet what does Indonesia have in common with Cuba? Or Singapore with Burkina Faso? Or Brunei with Honduras? It is undignified for Singapore to maintain the pretence that it is a ‘Third World’ country. I remember a Tanzanian girl at school asking me about Singapore. ‘Is it as nice as everyone says?’ she said. When I replied that it was, she said: ‘But what about the slums? There must be slums!’ Her logic was that all countries in Southeast Asia were like countries in Africa or South America. In fact, even some Indonesian commentators have openly questioned the value of the Movement. Writing about the Middle East in the Jakarta Globe, Taufik Darusman remarked:
That the conflict has been embedded with a religious twist by officials since time immemorial has more to do with the anachronistic Asia-Africa solidarity and the hapless Non-Aligned Movement than faith.32
He also added:
THE UN: WHAT ‘INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY’? It is noteworthy that this so-called Asia-Africa solidarity was nowhere to be seen as Indonesia, year after year, took a beating at the UN after it ‘accepted’ East Timor as part of the nation in the early 1970s.
Yet if Suharto’s Indonesia resented African countries’ interest in East Timor, then why did it allow South Africa’s Nelson Mandela to meet Xanana Gusmão when he was still in prison?33 A source of resentment in East Timor has been the high salaries and living conditions of foreign UN staff. In 2000, many of them did not live in Dili at all, but on the Olympia, a luxury floating hotel moored offshore.34 The UN’s use of bottled water imported from Indonesia, also rankled with local people, reinforcing an attitude of ‘them and us’. However, the cost of supplying 1.5 litre bottles of water to UN staff worked out as 37.5 US cents per bottle, in total US$4 million a year.35 Were local suppliers to provide this to the UN instead, they might be able to sell it at a premium, which would distort the market and disadvantage an already poor people. In the miniseries Answered by Fire, Canadian policewoman Julie Fortin snaps ‘I’m here to pay my fucking mortgage!’ within earshot of her East Timorese interpreter. While it may have sounded crass, it could have been anyone serving with the UN, in East Timor or elsewhere. While I do not have a mortgage to pay, there is a limit to how much even I am prepared to do on a pro bono basis. There are many things that I would be able and willing to do in East Timor in addition to having paid employment, but I would not be able and willing to do them instead of it. A common complaint is that while large amounts of money have been spent on East Timor, US$8.7 billion, relatively little is being spent in East Timor. Certainly a great deal is spent on foreign consultants, not least with the World Bank. The argument is that these people are professionals, like bankers and lawyers, and
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expect to be paid accordingly.36 Indeed, while the six-figure salaries of these foreign consultants may be distasteful to local people, it should be even more distasteful to people in developed countries, out of whose taxes these salaries are paid. Yet did the Marshall Plan in Europe after the Second World War involve consultants? Or people like the UN official who said: ‘This is going to be a very poor country for a very long time, and we cannot build what the East Timorese cannot then afford to run’?37 If the US had taken a similar attitude towards Europe in 1945, Italy, France and Greece would have ended up with communist governments. Indeed, helping other countries did not always involve highlypaid consultants. Shortly before his death, Herb Feith wrote about how he and Australians like him saw Indonesia in the 1950s, where he worked as a civil servant on a local salary, and becoming fluent in the language:
We were young; we were a bit radical, so we also saw ourselves as engaging in a form of protest, staying with Indonesian families and hostels rather than European enclaves, riding our bikes when other slack people were being driven in cars. We saw ourselves as particularly against white colonial attitudes, against expatriate lifestyles and so on. In fact we had a pretty a strong sense of our own moral superiority towards them.38
An international forum which should have a future is the G20, which started out as the G7. It is not an organisation in the sense of the UN; it has no secretariat, no headquarters, and no staff, which is exactly as it should be. While it has only twenty members, one of which is in fact the European Union, it is neither a rich man’s club nor a white man’s club, with its membership including China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Nor is it the World Bank in which the
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president is always from the US, or the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in which the managing director is always from a Western European country. It may not be inclusive, but it is extensive. While Portuguese speakers have long complained that their language is not a working language of the UN, the fact that Brazil is a member of the G20 should be far more effective in increasing its international status and prestige. The same should also apply to Indonesian. There should be more people in the world who speak both Portuguese and Indonesian, not because of East Timor, but because there should be stronger trade links between the two regional giants. Yet even now in East Timor, people still arrive knowing little or nothing about the country, and leave it much the same. In August 2009, the blog Dili Insider quoted one expatriate who, after having been in the country for three months, asked: ‘what language are the locals speaking?’39 He could have been forgiven for asking that in remote rural areas, but in Dili? ‘Where do they find these people?’ I asked someone. ‘From the bottom of the barrel’, she replied.
CHAPTER SEVEN SPEAKING IN TONGUES
For all of our languages, we can’t communicate. - ‘Natives’, Christy Moore WHENEVER people say something dismissive about East Timor’s language policy, it is usually prefaced with ‘I can see why they would want to do that, but…’ Sadly, the issue of language is one that has brought out the worst in East Timor and its people, when it could so easily bring out the best in them. There are few other issues that can bring out such negative attitudes: paranoia; posturing; selfishness; ignorance; prejudice and crass insensitivity. It has certainly brought out the worst in foreign journalists, particularly Australian ones, whose coverage of language issues in East Timor has been negative and sensationalist, depicting the country as a ‘Tower of Babel’.1 Yet while there remain legitimate concerns over language policy, the role of Tetum, the country’s lingua franca, and its rapid development as a modern language, has all too often been ignored. Of course, nobody would suggest that Tetum, Portuguese, Indonesian and English were mutually intelligible. On the contrary, people choose languages because of what they are not as well as what they are – some people choose Portuguese because it is not Indonesian, others Indonesian because it is not Portuguese,
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others English because it is neither, and others Tetum because it is none of the others. However, the four languages do share a great deal of vocabulary, which facilitates the learning of one language by speakers of another. This is not limited to the Portuguese loanwords in both Tetum and Indonesian, which entered those languages over four centuries ago, but the new Portuguese loanwords that have entered Tetum in the past decade. While some people talk dismissively about ‘Portuguese-like Tetum’ thinking that Portuguese is as unrelated to most other European languages as Basque, Hungarian, or Finnish, most of these new loanwords are, in fact, intelligible to speakers of other languages such as English and, increasingly, Indonesian. Or should that be ‘English-like Indonesian’? Duncan Graham, an Australian journalist based in Indonesia has written about attempts to keep Indonesian ‘pure’ in the wake of an everincreasing flood of English loanwords:
If [Education Minister Bambang Soedibyo] is serious then we’re going to hear some bizarre speeches as the words Presiden, demokrasi, delegasi, perspektif, kampanye, informasi, problem, sistem, partisipasi, strategic planning, sosial, politik, ekonomi, krisis, teori, fakta and scores of others get deported. Can you imagine any official harangue which doesn’t contain most of the words above – all lifted from English with the spelling warped to satisfy local palates?2
Similarly, these ‘lusisms’, or Portuguese loanwords in Tetum are very similar to English loanwords in Indonesian, because they are what are known in linguistics as ‘cognates’ - words that are similar to their equivalents in another language, and have the same root.
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE prezidente/presiden, demokrasia/demokrasi, delegasaun/delegasi, perspektiva/perspektif, informasaun/informasi, problema/problem, sistema/sistem,partisipasaun/partisipasi, estratejia/strategi, planu/plan, sosiál/sosial, polítika/politik, ekonomia/ekonomi, krize/krise, teoria/teori, faktu/fakta.
While English is a Germanic language, much of its modern vocabulary is of Latin or Greek origin (via French) and so many words are similar to their equivalents in Portuguese and other European languages:
president/presidente, democracy/democracia, delegation/delegação, perspective/perspectiva, information/informação, problem/problema, system/sistema,participation/participação, strategy/estrategia, plan/plano,social/social,politics/política, economy/economia, crisis/crise, theory/teoria,fact/fa(c)to.
There is a growing overlap between the vocabulary of Tetum, Portuguese, Indonesian and English, and language teaching in East Timor should therefore have a greater emphasis on this ‘transferable vocabulary’. In fact, it is increasingly more appropriate to talk of these loanwords as internationalisms, rather than ‘anglicisms’, or ‘lusisms’. In a recent interview, the Indonesian ambassador to Portugal, Francisco Lopes da Cruz, said that 80 percent of Indonesian words with the suffix ‘-si’ were similar to their equivalents in Portuguese, which have the suffix ‘-ção’.3 For example, imigrasi in Indonesian (from immigratie in Dutch) is similar to imigração in Portuguese (or imigrasaun in Tetum). Of course, there are obvious exceptions as nasi, which means ‘rice’ not nação or ‘nation’. Despite Dutch being a Germanic language, unlike Portuguese, the influence of French and Latin has meant that many Dutch loanwords in Indonesian resemble Portuguese loanwords in Tetum, such as:
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frambus/frambueza, aktualitas/aktualidade, redaktur/redatór, persik/pésegu, pabrik/fábrika, advokat/advogadu, kanker/kankru, kampanye/kampaiña, kasus/kazu, mebel/mobília, hipotek/hipoteka, provinsi/provínsia, lisensi/lisensa, gratis/grátis, nomor/númeru, mesin/mákina, supir/xofer, karta/kartaun
Some Portuguese-educated East Timorese even complain about Portuguese loanwords ‘not being used the right way’, i.e. transliterated to reflect phonetic pronunciation. Yet do Indonesians complain about English loanwords in their language ‘not being used the right way’ and advocate that they use the original English spelling instead, for example, flexible instead of fleksibel, or arrogant instead of arogan? Indeed, there are examples of Portuguese loanwords in Tetum being ‘Indonesianised’, for example, ezije, uza and presiza (‘demand’, ‘use’ and ‘need’) as ijiji, uja and persija. A common feature of Indonesian-educated East Timorese is the confusion between ‘z’ (or ‘s’) and ‘j’. The effect of lusification on Tetum is evident, even among those who do not speak Portuguese at all well. When I have proofread essays in English written by East Timorese students, I have noticed other instances of confusion between English and Portuguese words, for example, ‘comparation’ (from comparação) instead of ‘comparison’, ‘recourse’ (influenced by recurso) instead of ‘resource’, or ‘explorator’ (influenced by explorador) instead of ‘exploiter’. Another interesting trend has been attempts to make English loanwords in Tetum sound like Portuguese ones, for example, developmentu, akuntabilidade, manajementu and estafe. The Tetum word for ‘bankrupt’, bankarrota, similar to bangkrut in Indonesian, has a Spanish equivalent bancarrota, but not a Portuguese one. This
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is similar to what has happened in Brazilian Portuguese, with ‘sport’, ‘stock’ and ‘train’ becoming esporte, estoque and trem. Of course, Tetum is only one of thirteen indigenous languages spoken in East Timor, and is still not widely spoken in some areas, for example, in the enclave of Oecussi, people speak Baikenu, a form of the Dawan language used in the Indonesian part of the island, and Lautem, the easternmost district, where people speak Fataluku, a Papuan language. This has prompted some foreigners to question Tetum’s suitability as a lingua franca, with some dismissing it simply on the grounds that it is not widely spoken in these areas, and arguing that Indonesian is more useful. Yet there is a difference between not wanting to speak a language with foreigners and not being able to speak it at all. When I travelled by bus to East Timor from Kupang, I met a young man from Lospalos, the main town in the Lautem district, returning from university in Indonesia. He was unresponsive when I spoke to him in Tetum, but happily spoke it with the driver and other passengers. In any event, not only do 80 per cent of the population of East Timor already speak Tetum, but the figure is only likely to increase as the language continues to make inroads into more remote areas of the country. In fact, as late as 1980, 39 per cent of people in Indonesia did not speak Indonesian at all, although this number had halved a decade later.4 In East Timor itself, census figures in 1990 showed that while up to 85 per cent of people between 15 and 19 spoke Indonesian, among people between 40 and 44 this proportion dropped off sharply to only 35 per cent for males and 17 per cent for females.5 It is also important to distinguish between the two different forms of Tetum used in East Timor: the pure form spoken as a native language in rural areas, known as Tetun-Terik, and the
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creolised form influenced by Portuguese, used as a lingua franca, known as Tetun-Prasa or Tetun-Dili. In some countries, like Iceland, there has been a trend towards linguistic purism. However, whereas Iceland is in the fortunate position of being an isolated island, with a single language, East Timor is wedged between two regional giants, from which it faces tremendous pressure, economic, political and cultural, and also has a population that speaks separate, and often mutually unintelligible, languages. It is not a case of keeping a language pure as keeping it distinct. The problem, for example, with Luís Costa’s TetumPortuguese dictionary is not that the Tetum vocabulary it uses is pure, but that its modern vocabulary is far too limited, giving rise to the belief that Tetum is ‘a language devoid of technological diversity’.6 Modern vocabulary has to come from somewhere. If people do not want to use loanwords from other languages, so be it, but why should people wait years until some committee coins a pure word? Even if somebody decides that the Tetum word for ‘helicopter’ is to be liras nakdulas (literally ‘spinning wing’) are people to be prevented from using elikópteru or helikopter? In any event, many of these ‘pure’ words are actually ‘calques’, or translated loanwords, like the German word for ‘telephone’, fernsprecher, which translates as ‘far speaker’, like the Greek tele fone. (Increasingly, German speakers use the word telefon instead.) But this is not to suggest that the development of Tetum is only about borrowing and transliterating words from Portuguese or another language. On the contrary, there are many lusisms in the official Tetum vocabulary, for example: deverdekaza for ‘homework’, abregarrafas for ‘bottle opener’ and abrelatas for ‘can opener’ which can be complemented, if not replaced, by existing
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Tetum words, knaar uma (literally ‘work home’) maklokek botir (‘opener bottle’) and maklokek kaleen (‘opener can’). Ironically, many of these ‘lusisms’ are calques such as luademel which means ‘honeymoon’, or arrañaseu which means ‘skyscraper’. Since the Portuguese lua de mel and arranha-céus and the Indonesian bulan madu and pencakar langit literally mean ‘moon of honey’ and ‘scraper of sky’, perhaps their Tetum equivalents could be fulan bani-been and maksukit lalehan. Indeed, while many people use either Indonesian or Portuguese numbers, there are Tetum equivalents that can be used instead, including ordinal numbers, for example, dahuluk, daruak, datoluk, dahaat, dalimak and daneen for ‘first’, ‘second’, ‘third’, ‘fourth’,’fifth’ and ‘sixth’. Perhaps one reason why Indonesian or Portuguese numbers are commonly used is that they have fewer syllables than Tetum ones. For example, twelve is duabelas in Indonesian and doze in Portuguese, in Tetum it is sanulu-resin-rua, literally ‘ten-plus-two’, but this could be contracted to sanulu-rua. The fact that Tetum has been heavily influenced by Portuguese, does not mean that it is any less of a language in its own right, any more than the fact that English has been heavily influenced by French does. Tetum is, and always will be, an Austronesian language, not only with similarities to languages in Indonesia and Malaysia, but also the Philippines, and even places as far away as New Zealand, Hawaii, and Madagascar. For example, ‘one’, ‘two’ and ‘three’ in Tetum, ida, rua, and tolu are similar to isa, roa, and telo in Malagasy. The words for ‘dog’ and ‘cat’ in Tetum are asu and busan, are similar to aso and aso and pusa in Tagalog, while the word for ‘fire’ in Tetum, ahi, is identical to those in Hawaiian and Maori. While it is unlikely that many Tetum speakers will learn these languages, or vice versa, there is no harm at all in them being more
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aware of this common Austronesian heritage, as opposed to seeing the surrounding region through a narrow ‘Australo-Indonesian’ prism. In fact, the distinction between the two forms of Tagalog in the Philippines, is similar to that between the two forms of Tetum in East Timor. One of them, a creolised form influenced by Spanish, is the basis of the national language, Filipino, and the other is the form used by native speakers, although both are referred to as Tagalog. Similarly, East Timor could make a clear distinction between the varieties of Tetum, with Tetun-Dili being known as ‘East Timorese’, and the Tetun-Terik simply as ‘Tetum’ or ‘Tetun’. While the former, as the national lingua franca, would be creolised, the latter, as just one of many languages in the country, could be kept pure. If East Timor is to be known as ‘Timor-Leste’, then perhaps its people and its first official language might be called ‘TimorLestean’. It helps that ‘-an’ sounds similar to ‘oan’ in Tetum (in which ‘Timorese’ is ‘Timor oan’, literally ‘Timor child’) and ‘ana’ in Mambai, which also means ‘child’. For people who have previously studied French and Spanish, Portuguese grammar, despite some anomalies, is largely similar to that of other Romance languages. On the other hand, for people in East Timor who were educated in Indonesian, which does not use verb conjugations, or even verb tenses, Portuguese grammar can be a shock, and, consequently, often a turn-off. João Paulo Esperança recognises this failure by Portuguese authorities to recognise the usefulness of Indonesian in teaching Portuguese in East Timor:
Another serious shortcoming from the strategic point of view is not exploiting the Indonesian language. Don’t get me wrong, dear reader, I’m one of those who considers Indonesian as a 112
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE latent threat to a distinct Timorese cultural identity, and I think it is important to provide support for the development of Tetum. But it is sometimes useful to use the weapons of the adversary (Falintil used American weapons captured or bought from the military occupiers, they did not fight them with the surik – a traditional sword – in the name of cultural purity).7
By contrast, many Indonesian books for learning English explain how verb tenses are used, if not always correctly. For example, in one dictionary, akan is translated as both ‘will’ and ‘would’, despite the future and conditional having different meanings – mungkin akan would be closer to ‘would’. Portuguese, unlike English, has two verbs for ‘to be’ ser and estar, but these can be explained in Indonesian using the words adalah and berada. For example, the sentences João está em Díli and João é o nosso professor in Portuguese (‘João is in Dili’ and ‘João is our teacher’) can be translated into Indonesian as ‘João berada di Dili’ and ‘João adalah guru kita’ respectively. In fact, it may not always be necessary to use Indonesian at all, but explain Portuguese verb tenses using Tetum. At the Espaço por Timor cultural centre in Lisbon, I bought a Tetun-Terik grammar manual, which sets out the past, present, conditional and subjunctive using such words as sei (‘shall’), karik (‘maybe’) or ona (‘already’). Unlike Indonesian or even Tetun-Dili, it still has verb inflections. In Tetun-Dili, the verb ‘to eat’, han, remains the same, but in Tetun-Terik, ha is conjugated as:
ha’u ka – I eat ó ma – you (sing.) eat nia na – he/she/it eats ami ha – we eat imi ha – you (pl.) eat sira ra – they eat
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One East Timorese friend remarked that ‘Tetun-Terik is very hard, it has grammar!’ – yet every language does. Unfortunately, as Tetum and other languages in East Timor have traditionally been vernaculars, they are erroneously called ‘dialects’, despite Baikenu and Fataluku being as closely related to Tetum as Portuguese and Finnish are to Danish. One Portuguese man, who had grown up in East Timor, said that the East Timorese could only learn Portuguese through immersion. According to one of them he had spoken to, that was how they had learned Indonesian. ‘Vox populi!’ he proclaimed. But it was not – many East Timorese who came to Portugal to study at university had dropped out. I would counsel him against going back there again, as it would break his heart. The vox populi is more along the lines of ‘I hate Portuguese language [sic]’ or ‘Portuguese no good! Portuguese bad!’ A common feature of media coverage of language issues in East Timor is the depiction of Tetum as being undeveloped, and inadequate for use as a modern language, as illustrated by the following comments:
Tetum is used in daily interaction but some experts say it is mainly a spoken language and has to be developed further for wider usage.8
Who are these ‘experts’? Do they even speak the language?
While sufficient for everyday conversation, Tetum does not possess the rich vocabulary required to express sophisticated concepts and is not much use, for instance, in teaching a biology course or writing a judicial decision.9
This argument is now increasingly tenuous. The problem with Tetum is no longer a lack of vocabulary, but a lack of written material available in the language. Even now there remains an inferiority complex about the use of Tetum as a written language,
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partly a legacy of both the Portuguese and Indonesian education systems, neither which did anything to promote it. This difficulty in visualising Tetum words is common to both Indonesian and Portuguese-educated people alike.10 This has even given rise to the belief among some foreign observers that most young East Timorese speak Indonesian as their ‘first language’.11 The reluctance to use a traditionally oral language for written communication is commonplace even in Western countries. In Switzerland, Romansch is now the country’s fourth official language, despite being spoken by less than one per cent of the population, but many native speakers prefer to use German for official communication.12 Even among the few who speak the language, there are disagreements between speakers of different dialects over what constitutes ‘standard’ Romansch. While there are different spelling forms in use in Tetum, some for indigenous words, or transliterated Portuguese loanwords, they are not substantially different from the official orthography. More importantly, there is a growing consensus over vocabulary, even among people who have had sharply different opinions on the use of Portuguese. Reviewing Geoffrey Hull’s Standard Tetum-English Dictionary in 2000, Catharina van Klinken advised against using it to write in Tetum, ‘as a lot of it won’t be understood’.13 Some Indonesianeducated people have criticised Hull’s work because of the large number of Portuguese loanwords, yet I met a Portugueseeducated East Timorese in Dili who criticised van Klinken’s Tetun-English Wordfinder because of its use of Indonesian ones. I had not seen the book, but when I did I found that, apart from Indonesian-influenced spelling and a few Indonesian loanwords, van Klinken’s use of Portuguese-derived words was comparable to Hull’s.
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There is a degree of paranoia among many Portuguese language advocates in East Timor about bilingualism, whether it be in government or in education, as if to suggest that the use of Tetum will undermine the role of Portuguese, and reduce it to merely a decorative language, an ‘anachronistic add-on for some formal occasions’.14 The thinking of East Timor’s leaders, has been that Tetum can only be fully promoted as an official language once Portuguese has been ‘securely restored’,15 but a language cannot be made a language of the people simply by using it as the language of the State and its institutions, be they parliament, the ministries or the courts. The experience of post-independence Ireland demonstrates the flaws of a statist or state-centric approach. Not only was proficiency in the Irish language made compulsory for many posts in the public service, but passing school examinations and entering university.16 Fortunately, Tetum and Portuguese in East Timor do not suffer from the same disadvantages as Irish. Tetum was never sidelined by Portuguese as Irish was by English, and anything written or broadcast in the language will be accessible to a wide audience. Similarly, while Portuguese may not be used in the surrounding region, it is still one of the world’s major languages, with no shortage of written and audio-visual material available, via satellite television and the internet. There is also a problem in that while a language might be used in the classroom, it is left there. Children in East Timor might study Portuguese in school, but when they go home, they will watch an Indonesian sinetron, and listen to Indonesian pop songs. Australian linguist Catharina van Klinken identified just one of the reasons why Portuguese was such a problematic language for young people in East Timor: ‘they don’t have exposure to it.’17
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Indeed, the tendency to consider Portuguese as a ‘high’ language in East Timor, and the insistence of using it in situations where it is not understood, is reminiscent of how Arabic is used in many Islamic schools in Indonesia. In 2005, Yusman Roy, a Muslim preacher in East Java was jailed for two years. His crime was to lead prayers in Indonesian rather than Arabic. He was later released, but had no regrets about taking on the traditionalists and fundamentalists. He told the Jakarta Post:
The problem with many Muslims in Indonesia is that they don’t think for themselves… They stand in the mosque and mumble, but they don’t understand what the clerics are saying because they don’t know Arabic. What’s the problem with using Indonesian? God understands everything we think and say whatever the language.18
Of course, neither Portuguese nor Arabic are dead or high languages, but many East Timorese and Indonesians could be forgiven for thinking that they were. There is a misconception that according official status to one language precludes people from learning or using another. Many people complain about Portuguese being the ‘national language’ of East Timor, unaware that it is neither the national language nor even the sole official language. While some people are aware that Indonesian and English are working languages under the Constitution, they are divided as to whether this status gives them too little recognition, or too much: ‘as long as deemed necessary’ can be taken to mean ‘indefinitely’. Originally, in April 1998, the first conference of the CNRT, held in Portugal, decided to adopt Tetum as the national language and Portuguese as the official language in an independent East Timor. At the time, José Ramos Horta stated that English would
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be taught at school from primary level, but there would be no place for Indonesian in the new education system.19 In 1999, Xanana Gusmão took a more pragmatic line on the continued use of Indonesian:
Bearing in mind our history, present reality and the economics and culture of the regions surrounding our country, we must develop our Tetum language, generalise and perfect people’s command of the Portuguese language, and maintain the study of the Indonesian language.20
Contrary to claims in the Australian media, support for Portuguese as an official language was neither confined to Fretilin nor to people who had been in exile during the Indonesian occupation. Xanana Gusmão had never set foot in a Portuguesespeaking country before 1999, while Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo chose to return to East Timor under Indonesian rule, rather than remain in Portugal. Even Mário Carrascalão, who banned the use of Portuguese while he was Indonesia’s Governor21 said: ‘Portuguese will give us an identity. It is part of our cultural background.’22 If ever there were a case of returned exiles imposing a language on a country, it was in Rwanda. After the genocide in 1994, people who had been living in exile in Uganda returned to the country and declared that Rwanda would henceforth use English, not French, as an official language alongside Kinyarwanda.23 (Paul Kagame, now the country’s President, served as an officer in the Ugandan Army.)24 Although the change was on economic and geopolitical grounds, there were also emotional ones, namely resentment of France. Madagascar has also adopted English as an official language, alongside both Malagasy and French.25 However,
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Equatorial Guinea, a former Spanish colony, has made French its second official language, with plans to make Portuguese its third.26 In fact, the official status of a language is of secondary importance to how widely it is actually used. For example, English is spoken by only 38 per cent of people in Hong Kong, where it is an official language,27 but 87 per cent in the Netherlands, and 86 percent in Denmark where it is not.28 In Britain, the US and Australia, English has no official status at all, while Italian was not declared the official language of Italy until 2007.29 While Spanish remained an official language in the Philippines until 1973, this was a dead letter, as it had long since given way to English, a legacy of US influence, as well as Filipino. A similar experience happened in Malta under British rule, where Italian was downgraded in favour of English and Maltese, but Malta’s proximity to Italy has meant that the language is now more widely spoken than it was when it had official status. As a result of international migration, many countries have sizeable numbers of people who do not speak the main language of the country. For example, in Northern Ireland, few East Timorese migrant workers speak English, despite having lived there for years. Consequently, government departments and local authorities now translate documents into Tetum, something that their counterparts in East Timor have all too often failed to do. While many East Timor government websites are entirely in English, Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council’s website not only has pages in Polish, Lithuanian, Russian, Portuguese, Irish and Ulster Scots, but also Tetum. Until recently, only one daily newspaper in East Timor, Jornal Nacional Diário was published entirely in Tetum and Portuguese, but all local news articles are in Tetum, with foreign news in Portuguese being from newspapers in Portugal or the Lusa news agency. In the other two daily newspapers, Suara Timor Lorosae
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and Timor Post, most local news articles are now in Tetum, rather than Indonesian, but as most foreign news is from Indonesian newspapers or the Antara news agency, Indonesian has a disproportionately high profile. Indeed, even Jornal Nacional Diário now carries sport and show business from Indonesia, illustrating that Indonesian, unlike Portuguese, or English, is still a language of popular culture. Similarly, Indonesian television channels, widely available in East Timor via satellite, have had an even more captive audience. Until 2007, the TVTL signal was confined to Dili, and in much of the country, it can still only be received via satellite. A positive, albeit short-lived development in East Timor in 2005 was the introduction of a bilingual Tetum-Portuguese weekly newspaper called O Jornal Lia Foun. This included Portuguese translations of local articles written in Tetum (or vice versa) as well as Tetum translations of articles from Público and Lusa. Unfortunately, disagreements over funding with the Portuguese Embassy in Dili, which had already given support to another local newspaper, Jornal Nacional Semanário, it folded within the year. Although Singapore has been mooted as an example of a multilingual education system, there has been relatively little opportunity for children to study a third language beyond English and their mother tongue (Chinese, Malay and Tamil) with only a few schools offering French, German or Japanese. Indeed, when it comes to the merits of multilingualism, there is little that the East Timorese have to learn from people in Singapore. And while Singaporeans of all races know how to sing their national anthem, Majulah Singapura, in Malay, most cannot understand the words. When Singapore despatched a relief mission to Aceh following the Tsunami in 2004, few members, apart from Malays, could speak Malay, let alone Indonesian.30
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However, where East Timor can learn from Singapore and other countries, is in the use of bilingual documents and multilingual public signs. In Singapore, many public signs are in all four official languages, unlike in East Timor, where they are in either one official language or the other, but not both. A more appropriate model for East Timor’s education system could be that of Luxembourg, to which multilingualism is central. For the first four years, teaching is in Luxembourgish, to which German is added. Then, the medium of instruction changes to German, to which French and English are added, for the next four years. Finally, for the last four years, teaching is in French, with children learning another European language, in addition to Luxembourgish, German and English. When I have suggested something similar for East Timor, the reaction has been that it would ‘dilute Portuguese’. No, it would simply acknowledge the reality that East Timor, like Luxembourg, is multilingual. Others claim that it would be a ‘Tower of Babel’, yet this has already been the case. In school classrooms, teachers from Portugal and Brazil, in addition to having to teach students who speak very little Portuguese, have been unable to understand the Indonesian language textbooks still used by their students, as well as their local colleagues. Diane Almeida, a Brazilian teacher working in East Timor, told me:
‘I don’t know if any Portuguese-Indonesian dictionaries exist. We need to find one, because in our work here we need to translate syllabus textbooks in Indonesian into Portuguese. We often count on the Timorese themselves to help us, and do a lot of work with the help of an Indonesian-English dictionary, but much of it is lost in translation.’
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One implausible excuse that I was given for why a PortugueseIndonesian dictionary had never been compiled was because Portugal and Indonesia did not have diplomatic relations. Yet political objections could have easily have been overcome by calling it a ‘Portuguese-Malay dictionary’, with Indonesian words included. There should be less emphasis on compulsion to learn languages, and more emphasis on exposure to them, for example, through subtitling of television programmes and films. In Croatia, Brazilian telenovelas are shown in the original language with subtitles, rather than dubbed, even though few people there have an interest in learning Portuguese. Indeed, when I stayed with an East Timorese family in Britain, we were all able to follow a Hindi movie on DVD with English subtitles. Yet dubbing could have its uses in East Timor, as a way of raising the status of Tetum as a modern language. One idea I had was to dub television dramas and feature films from the Philippines into Tetum. ‘Why the Philippines?’ a relative asked, ‘why not Albania?’ To the best of my knowledge, he has never met an East Timorese or an Albanian, but if he met one, he would be able to work out which one looks more like his wife, who is a Filipina. Like the East Timorese, the Filipinos are of mainly Austronesian stock, are predominantly Catholic, have an Iberian heritage, and are not Indonesian. Having them talking in Tetum would look no more bizarre than Brazilians or Venezuelans talking Indonesian. In addition, not only would the East Timorese be watching upwardly mobile people in smart clothes, living in nice houses and driving new cars speaking their language, but they would also be watching upwardly mobile people who look like them speaking it.
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Writing in 2000, Dionisio Babo Soares raised concerns about the introduction of the Portuguese language policy:
Cautious measures need to be taken and decisions on sensitive issues such as language need to be handled carefully because these could become a source of negative feelings in a stilltraumatised society.31
This was written before the decision by the Constituent Assembly to declare both Tetum and Portuguese official languages in 2001, but those concerns are still valid, as East Timor has yet to create an environment in which people do not feel threatened or disadvantaged by the use of languages that they do not speak. As in other countries where there has been a language shift, there will be many people who do not want to make that shift, do not want to learn a new language, and want to go on using the language that they already speak. While languages in Europe like Welsh and Basque are now being actively promoted after centuries of official prohibition, most people in Wales and the Basque Country, by choice, still do not speak them. It is likely that most Indonesian-educated people in East Timor will never learn Portuguese, nor indeed will many people educated in Indonesian after independence. The best way of healing these divisions is through the use of Tetum, which is spoken, in some form or other, by most people of all generations. All too often, languages can be used as a means of excluding other people. That is certainly how many people see Portuguese in East Timor. However, even indigenous languages can be used as a weapon. For example, Brigadier-General Taur Matan Ruak would address soldiers in Fataluku,32 which was even less intelligible to speakers of Tetum and related languages than Portuguese.
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On the other hand, while people should have the right not to learn a language, this should not give them the right to behave like a ‘dog in the manger’, and deny others to learn that language if they so wish. Unfortunately, many people, not necessarily monoglot English speakers, cannot understand that for many others, multilingualism is the norm. I speak around a dozen languages in varying degrees of fluency, which I tend to downplay, because people who are multilingual are either looked upon as eccentrics or incredibly gifted. ‘You’re quite a linguist!’ people say. Well, no, I am not. Being able to speak several languages does not make you a linguist any more than being good at arithmetic makes you a mathematician. In fact, there are many linguists who are monolingual. Most East Timorese who I know speak between three and five languages, and speak most or all of them during the course of an evening without a second thought. One friend of mine speaks Fataluku, Tetum, Indonesian, Portuguese, English, and Cantonese – not because he has Chinese ancestry, but because he lived in Macau. What right have people to lecture him about what language is more important for him than others, particularly when they would not dream of doing that to people in Europe who speak Welsh or Basque?
CHAPTER EIGHT AIRAIR-LOCKED EAND E-LOCKED
I hope that someone gets my message in a bottle. - ‘Message in a Bottle’, The Police ‘MY FRIEND,’ the official at the Ministry of Infrastructure in Dili said, ‘everything here does not work’. To prove his point, the electricity went off three times during our meeting. In his book The Bottom Billion, Paul Collier offered this advice to countries in the developing world landlocked with bad neighbours: ‘Don’t be air-locked or e-locked’.1 While East Timor is not landlocked, and now has amicable relations with its two giant neighbours, it remains cut off by limited or inadequate air or electronic communication links with the rest of the world. This was exacerbated by the departure of the Indonesians in 1999, which not only saw the destruction of most of the local infrastructure, but also the withdrawal of Indonesia’s telecommunications and postal services, as well as flights and ferry services from Kupang, and elsewhere in Indonesia. In June 1999, I wrote to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) about assigning a country code to East Timor, assuming that it were necessary at all. Even if it had voted for independence, I would have had no problem with East Timor continuing to use the Indonesian area codes +62 390 (for Dili) or +62 399 (for Baucau) at least for a transitional period. Following the break-up of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, the new countries that emerged sought all the trappings of
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independent statehood: flags; armies; embassies; currencies – and international dialling codes. While Canada shares the code +1 with the US, only Kazakhstan was happy to continue sharing the code +7 with Russia, and during the 1990s, the ITU began assigning new country codes. Not only were these assigned to former Soviet and Yugoslav republics, but also to European microstates which had previously been part of their larger neighbours’ telephone systems. When Liechtenstein decided to take control of its telecommunications from Switzerland, and adopt its own code, it was entirely amicable. During 1999, the Swiss area code +41 75 was phased out, and the new international code +423 was phased in. Despite the change, international calls were still routed via Switzerland, and Liechtenstein telephone numbers were still listed in the telephone directory for the neighbouring Swiss canton. When I wrote to the ITU, I had hoped that any changes to East Timor’s telecommunications would be similarly seamless. Subsequent changes that year, however, were anything but. Along with everything else, the departing Indonesian military and local militias laid waste to the telecommunications infrastructure. Telkom Indonesia withdrew its services from East Timor, and anyone attempting to call a number there using the Indonesian code would hear the recorded announcement: ‘The number you have dialled is incorrect… nomor ini salah…’ To this day, Telkom Indonesia payphones remain on the streets of Dili, neither repaired nor removed, ten years after the Indonesian withdrawal. As an interim measure, Australia provided international access to East Timor using the code +672, used for Norfolk Island and its Antarctic territories. The irony was that +672 had originally been assigned to Portuguese Timor, but was never brought into use.
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The UN, however, connected its telephone network in East Timor to its switchboards in New York, Rome and Darwin. When I spoke to someone in the Information Technology, Post and Telecommunications department in Dili in 2000, I dialled a number in Manhattan, and then an extension number. To add even more confusion, people were also using satellite telephones in areas where there was no mobile phone signal, which required yet another international code. In early 2000, the ITU finally assigned a country code to East Timor, +670. When the ITU told me this, I was surprised, as I thought that this was the code for the Northern Marianas, a US territory in the Pacific. However, in 1997, the code had been withdrawn from use, when the Northern Marianas adopted the North American area code +1 670. This resulted in a great deal of confusion, as many international carriers, particularly in the US, continued to list +670 as being the code for the Northern Marianas, several years after East Timor’s independence. Some carriers even list the two destinations together, as ‘East Timor Saipan’, Saipan being the main island in the Marianas. Initially, few people were using the +670 code to call East Timor, which could only be used to call landlines. Most people were using Telstra’s mobile phone service in East Timor, which used Australia’s international code, +61, and Australian mobile phone numbers. Telstra had no desire to remain in East Timor, and did not bid for the US$16 million contract to build a new telecommunications network. At the time, East Timor’s leaders, like José Ramos Horta had no regrets. In an interview with the ABC, he said:
Telstra did not put much back into East Timor, in terms of infrastructure, they simply piggybacked on what was there, what 127
AIR-LOCKED AND E-LOCKED was not destroyed by Indonesia. They made millions and millions of dollars out of East Timor’s situation and I don’t think anyone will be missing them... when they leave and other companies take over. There will be no farewell (or) goodwill.2
In May 2003, shortly after its withdrawal from the country, Telstra raised the cost of a three-minute call to a mobile in East Timor from A$3.35 to A$9.44. The only company to build for the contract, at least officially, was Portugal Telecom. Another bidder, the Australian entrepreneur Robert Cooksey, had put together a consortium called Telekomunikasaun Timor Lorosae, backed by BT and Siemens. Owing to disagreements over how and when the bid had to be submitted, it was not considered. Cooksey had claimed that he could not submit the bid on time because flights to Dili were fully booked by visitors to the independence celebrations. East Timor’s Minister for Communications, however, claimed that Cooksey had been permitted to file documents by e-mail, but these had not been submitted on time either.3 While using Telstra had helped many East Timorese in the diaspora to call their families at relatively little cost, this was an interim measure, as many were later shocked to learn when Telstra withdrew its services in 2003. Whatever pride they might have felt in using their homeland’s own country code for mobiles as well as landlines, was cancelled out by the greatly increased expense. Many of those carriers that had implemented the +670 code for calls to East Timor were charging disproportionately high rates, in the region of US$3 a minute. When I complained to Timor Telecom about the cost of calling East Timor, its response was that other companies’ prices were not its responsibility. However, telecom operators like BT
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argued that their international call charges reflect how much they have to pay for termination costs. Timor Telecom’s website states that it has signed roaming or SMS agreements with operators in Morocco, or Hungary, but how many East Timorese are in those countries, compared with the UK or Ireland, where there are many of them? Timor Telecom has not yet signed agreements with many operators in the world, not least in the UK. For example, I cannot send a text message to East Timor from my Orange mobile phone, or vice versa because Timor Telecom has not signed an agreement with Orange. Two years after it had introduced its own country code, Liechtenstein announced that at least 1220 telecom operators around the world had confirmed that they had implemented the +423 code. How many of them have implemented +670 for East Timor, how long did it take them to get round to it, and how much are they charging? In 2004, Timor Telecom told me that:
The main connection route to East Timor is via Marconi (Portugal) and Marconi has informed every telecommunication operator worldwide regarding the allocation of 670 to East Timor. All this has been made through the International Telecommunication Union.
Leaving aside the absurdity of routing calls to East Timor via a country on the other side of the world, there is nothing that the ITU can do to ensure that telecommunication operators comply. The onus is on Timor Telecom and Marconi Portugal. East Timor is still not an ITU member state, seven years after independence, and six years after it was first proposed. All that it would take would be a signature, and yet it remains in the decision mode.
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The ITU allocates country codes under Recommendation E.164, which, as the name suggests, is nothing more than that. There are many instances of states using their own dialling arrangements for calls to other countries, and there is nothing that the ITU can do to stop them. In fact, in deference to China, the code used by Taiwan, +886, is listed as ‘reserved’, not assigned to any country. Similarly, until 2007, Spain refused to recognise Gibraltar’s country code +350, and treated it as part of its numbering plan. This meant that when calls from the rest of the world were routed via Spain, people would hear a recorded announcement telling them that the number they had dialled did not exist, even though they were using the correct international code.4 This caused considerable problems for Gibraltar, a small territory with an economy based on offshore finance, shipping and tourism, all dependent on international communication.5 What Gibtelecom decided to do was take a proactive approach, by cutting its termination costs and encouraging least cost routing carriers to route their calls directly to Gibraltar. Following Spain’s recognition of the +350 code, the problem has effectively been resolved. The cost of international calls from East Timor can also be disproportionately high, because of the charge bands that Timor Telecom uses. The countries in the lowest charge band, Group 1, are, understandably, Indonesia and Australia as well as Portugal. Countries in Group 2 are those in the surrounding Asia-Pacific region, those in Group 3 are the US, Canada, Brazil and the Portuguese-speaking countries of Africa, while those in Group 4 are France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the UK. All other countries are in Group 5, which is the highest charge band. As with many other telephone companies, Timor Telecom’s assumption is that the lower the volume of calls to a destination,
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the higher the cost should be. Yet why should anyone be made to pay a premium for calling a particular country, simply because few others do? The company which I use for my calls to East Timor tells me that I am the only customer to call that destination, but its charges are reasonable. It has nothing to lose in offering me telephone calls to a low-volume destination, because it has no overheads or ongoing charges to pay. Certainly there are people from Guinea-Bissau in East Timor, I have met one, but there are many people from Ireland, Norway, Egypt and India, who have to pay twice as much to call home. It is fortunate that those East Timorese working in Ireland live in Northern Ireland, rather than across the border in the Republic, as their families would be paying US$1.53 a minute rather than 90 cents. In fact, charging local or discounted rates for cross-border telephone calls is commonplace in many parts of Europe, and indeed Asia. Calls from Malaysia to Singapore are still charged at domestic rates, not international ones, while calls from Singapore to Indonesia’s Riau province are charged at a lower rate than those to the rest of Indonesia. Although the use of fixed line telephones or landlines has decline, particularly in poor countries where mobile phone ownership has taken off, they are still essential for most offices. The whole point of telephones in an office is that they are not mobile; they are fixed, and cannot be lost or stolen by employees. In fact, not all wireless telephone networks are mobile. There are many fixed wireless networks, in which subscribers are connected either through an aerial on their roof, or through a telephone with a wireless terminal inside the building. (Telkom Indonesia uses the latter for its FlexiHome service.)
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Subscribers have numbers with local area codes, and calls to and from landlines are charged at the same rate as those using the fixed telephone network. One mistake that East Timor made was to allow TT to charge the same for calls between landlines as landlines to mobiles. Free calls to and from landlines would certainly be an incentive for people to use them. Another technology that people have been too hasty to write off is the fax machine, which is still useful in a place where the postal service barely functions, call costs are high, and where internet connections are unreliable. Even in developed countries, faxes are useful during postal strikes. Yet a year after Timor Telecom began operations in East Timor, its office still did not have a separate fax line. The Prime Minister’s office, on the other hand, did not have a fax machine at all. The obvious solution is to have fax-to-email, with local telephone numbers, although given the cost and difficulty of calling East Timor from the rest of the world, services with US or other numbers might still be required. Services like eFax allow subscribers to send and receive fax messages via the Internet, and offer telephone numbers in different countries. However, in many countries, there are still faxmail services, similar to voicemail, allowing people to retrieve fax messages remotely by dialling an access number and a personal identification number (PIN). This offers more security and privacy than having faxes for different people being printed off and filed together in a post office or shop. One telephone company which has expressed an interest in entering East Timor’s telecoms market is Digicel, owned by Irish entrepreneur Denis O’Brien, which has been offering mobile phone services in the Caribbean, and more recently, the Pacific. When Digicel entered Papua New Guinea, the incumbent operator, Telikom PNG, reacted by refusing to enter an
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interconnection agreement. Consequently, Digicel subscribers could not call Telikom PNG subscribers or vice versa, until 2008, a year after the operator had entered the local market.6 It remains to be seen whether or not Digicel will enter East Timor, but at least the threat of competition has prompted Timor Telecom to improve its services. In September 2009, the Chief Executive Officer of Portugal Telecom, Zeinal Bava, announced a new strategic plan for Timor Telecom, which would increase fixed line and mobile coverage to 90 per cent of the population within the next four years, introduce and expand 3G technologies, and build an underwater fibre optic cable, which would connect East Timor with the international data network and allow cheaper and faster Internet services.7 It also remains to be seen if Timor Telecom will actually deliver these services. It was not until 2007, four years after it entered East Timor, that Timor Telecom introduced a voicemail service for its mobile phone subscribers. There is still no broadband internet service available, either through telephone lines (ADSL) or wireless (WiMAX). Even by the standards of poor countries in the region, East Timor’s internet services are inadequate. Vanuatu, a country with only 215,000 people has ADSL, while Fiji, with only 840,000 people, offers WiMAX. In Ta Van, one of the poorest and remotest areas in Vietnam, villagers are able to access broadband internet via a satellite connection and WiMAX.8 Some people in East Timor have smuggled in VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) equipment from Indonesia, which allows them to connect to the Internet via satellite. Given the popularity of satellite television, the sight of a satellite dish on somebody’s roof does not arouse suspicion. A Thai company, IPSTAR, has resellers for its satellite broadband services, not only in Indonesia, but also in Australia
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and New Zealand. An Australian company, Oceanic Broadband, uses similar services not only to provide wireless broadband in the Pacific, but also telephone services and pay-TV. In the absence of other technologies, why should East Timor be denied this one, which is readily available? It would not be difficult for Timor Telecom to become a reseller, which would provide it with an attractive new product. The argument against opening up the telecommunications market to competition is that it is too small to support more than one operator. This is based on the assumption that new market operators would need to build their own infrastructure. Yet would this need to be the case? A more effective solution would be to split Timor Telecom into two companies, one wholesale, the other retail. In many countries, former telecom monopolies, like BT in the UK or Telstra in Australia, have been required to give new market entrants access to their fixed line network, in what is known as local loop unbundling. Consequently, while BT and Telstra continue to own the telephone lines in homes and offices, people can access other telephone and broadband internet services without needing to have a new line installed. Even cable companies like Virgin Media in the UK use BT lines in areas where they do not have their own infrastructure. In a case of history coming full circle, the Post Office in the UK, from which BT was split in the 1980s, now offers a fixed line telephone service which, despite being in competition with BT, is provided by BT’s wholesale division. In the 1990s, Telstra and Optus in Australia spent millions building separate networks, with each digging up streets to lay its own cables. In Sweden, by contrast, Stockholm built its own fibre optic cable network, which private companies could then pay to use.9 This allowed operators to offer services without having to build their own infrastructure, and brought in revenue for the
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city. Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) will work on a similar basis, as an open access network, although it is to be built by a public private partnership. All of East Timor’s communications services could also work on an open access basis, be they fixed line or mobile telephones, broadband internet or pay-television. Companies could either resell services from Timor Telecom’s wholesale division, or offer their own services via the open access network. Curiously, while East Timor has yet to join the International Telecommunication, it has joined the Universal Postal Union (UPU) despite the decreasing importance of postal services. Yet while they are of decreasing importance, they still remain useful. Under Indonesian rule, each district capital in East Timor had a post office and there were deliveries to street addresses as well as post office boxes. Following the Indonesian withdrawal, all of this disappeared, and has never been reintroduced. Not only is the idea of door-to-door delivery a distant memory or a pipe dream, but in Dili, there is a waiting list for PO boxes stretching back more than a year. One possibility would be to have a general delivery or poste restante service, not for foreign travellers, which is usually the case in other countries, but for residents. Instead of items of mail being sorted by name, they would be sorted by street address, but instead of the mail being delivered to the recipient, the recipient would collect the mail over the counter. In fact, in the UK, mail sent to a PO Box address is collected over the counter, with box holders showing a card instead of opening a box themselves with a key. Mail to a street address can also be redirected to a PO Box number and vice versa. Even the postcode system was not reintroduced after the Indonesian withdrawal. ‘Postcodes are something we will be dealing with at a later stage’, UNTAET told me in 2001, ‘it does
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not have priority right now.’ Yet all that it needed to do was to adapt the old Indonesian postcode ranges, with Dili 88000 becoming TL-1000 and Baucau 89000 becoming TL-2000, and so on. While it may not be viable to have automated sorting in East Timor, postcodes could still be useful for sorting by postal administrations overseas, not least Indonesia and Australia. Andorra has a separate postcode system from both France and Spain, with AD and three digits for the parish, but La Poste and Correos (both of which provide postal services in Andorra) will recognise AD500 as being the postcode for Andorra la Vella, and sort mail automatically. Some British overseas territories now have them just to avoid mail being sent to the other side of the world. For example, all mail to the Falkland Islands now has the postcode FIQQ IZZ, to avoid it being sent to the Faeroe Islands, Iceland or Falkirk in Scotland.10 As well as being more dignified than having to put ‘via Darwin, Australia’ on items of mail, a postcode system would help people in East Timor to order items online - although Hong Kong and Ireland do not have one at all. Post offices in East Timor could easily offer other services, including banking, thereby saving privately owned banks the expense of setting up their own local branches. In many countries, post offices are being subsumed into privately-owned shops (in Australia and New Zealand, they are already known as post shops) although in the UK, one local council took over the running of post offices from Royal Mail when they were threatened with closure.11 Even outbound international mail takes months to reach its destination, because of disputes between Correios de Timor and the Indonesian airline Merpati over payment. The only item of mail that I have received with East Timor stamps and postmarks was a letter dated 10 September 2006, which I did not receive
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until 18 December of that year. The fact that it was from the then Prime Minister made no difference; it spent three months in an ever-growing pile of letters gathering dust. In a reversal of history, mail from Portugal to Indonesia now takes less time to arrive than mail from the former ‘27th Province’. There are historical and political reasons why depending on Indonesia for air links is not a good idea for East Timor. Following the coup attempt in August 1975, the Portuguese government sent Colonel José Gomes as an envoy to mediate, but Darwin airport had closed in the wake of Cyclone Tracey in 1974, depriving East Timor of an alternative air link to Indonesia. When Gomes attempted to fly to East Timor via Jakarta, the Indonesian authorities refused him entry, forcing him to return to Lisbon.12 Today, the reasons why depending on Indonesia for air links is not a good idea are more practical. Even under Indonesian rule, there were no direct flights between Jakarta and Dili, which was only served by flights from Denpasar in Bali, and not only treated East Timor as an appendage of Indonesia, but an appendage of Bali, an outer region. It is the equivalent of the only direct flight from Ireland to Britain being to Blackpool instead of London. Following independence, this is still the case. East Timor’s main air links are with Denpasar and Darwin, neither of which is well served by international flights, compared to Singapore, or even Jakarta. Many flights to Darwin from London even involve flying from Perth, Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne, rather than Singapore. It has been virtually impossible to book flights between Denpasar and Dili online – Merpati’s ‘internet reservations’ page had the words ‘under construction’ on it for several years. Although it was possible to reserve flights from a mobile phone using text messaging, the number could not be accessed from outside Indonesia. When I tried to book a Merpati flight through
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Flight Centre in London, I was told that the airline was not ‘ticketable’. Although it has been updated since then, any attempt to book flights online results in the message: ‘We could not find any flights or seats available on the date selected’. However, at least Merpati stated clearly that it only accepted credit cards issued in Indonesia, which saved people in other countries time and frustration up front. While the safety record of Lion Air, which has the unnerving slogan ‘We Make People Fly’, left much to be desired, my main source of concern was that it kept on rejecting my credit card payment, without explaining why. The only way that I could book a flight from Singapore to Kupang was the old-fashioned way, which involved going into Lion Air’s office in Singapore and buying a paper ticket. Earlier, I had tried to telephone Lion Air’s call centre in Jakarta, but the line quality was so poor that I could barely hear anyone. When I tried to contact the call centre to confirm my return flight, I was told ‘your voice is not good enough!’ When I mentioned the idea of East Timor having its own airline, even a domestic one, to one of the country’s trainee diplomats, he said: ‘we can’t have our own airline!’ It was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction, but to be fair, he had a point. Many countries have wasted millions setting up flag carriers, and wasted even more keeping them going. European airlines like Italy’s Alitalia and Greece’s Olympic have only narrowly escaped bankruptcy, while oil-rich countries in the Middle East shared an airline, Gulf Air, until the 1990s, when they began setting up their own airlines. (The airline is now owned entirely by Bahrain.) Yet East Timor did have an airline before – Transportes Aereos de Timor (TAT). Founded in July 1939, it operated scheduled passenger services linking Dili with Ataúro, Baucau, Maliana,
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Oecusse and Suai, although perhaps it would have been wiser of the Portuguese to have spent money on improving the road network rather than on domestic flights. International flights were operated on behalf of TAT by Merpati, between Dili and Kupang once a week, while Trans Australian (now part of Qantas) operated an F.27 service from Baucau to Darwin.13 Today, there are no domestic flights within East Timor, while the service between Dili and Kupang was suspended after less than a year in 2006. This was operated by Merpati on behalf of a company in East Timor called Kakoak Air.14 Jeremias Desousa has been trying to set up Timor Air for years. In 2008, he announced that Timor Air was going to start flying between Darwin, Dili and Denpasar, and would compete directly with both Merpati and Airnorth. This was in a joint venture with an Australian company, SkyAirWorld, which was due to start in February 2009. Unfortunately, SkyAirWorld collapsed in March of that year, with debts of US$37 million, and had its aircraft repossessed.15 This was the second time in seven years that plans to launch Timor Air had had to be shelved. In 2002, the length of Dili Airport’s runway meant that it could not use the aircraft it had wanted,16 which has remained a stumbling block for airlines since. Under the Portuguese, the main international airport in Baucau, the second largest city, with Dili Airport only able to handle small turboprop aircraft. After the Indonesian takeover, Baucau was used by the Indonesian air force, and Dili’s runway was expanded, although to this day, it remains too small for most large jets. Baucau is 120 kilometres east of Dili, but even with paved roads; it takes three hours to reach the capital. During the Portuguese era, it was faster to travel between Baucau and Dili by barge. However, it is not unprecedented for a country’s
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international airport to be located in the second largest city; while Suva is Fiji’s capital and largest city, Nadi is the country’s main international airport. One benefit of using Baucau would be that it could help promote economic development outside of the capital, and with it, improvement of the transport infrastructure. Nevertheless, at this stage of East Timor’s development, it is questionable as to whether the country would need an international airport that could accommodate large wide-bodied aircraft. Even Royal Brunei, despite being the flag carrier of a fabulously wealthy sultanate, did not expand its network outside the surrounding region for the first fourteen years of its existence. Instead, it concentrated on serving regionally important airports like Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Later on, it started flying to London via Singapore and Dubai. There have been plans to extend Dili’s runway from 1800 to 3300 metres, although this could require land reclamation. Wellington Airport in New Zealand, which has had similar problems with expansion, has been able to accommodate widebody Boeing 767s, despite having a 1936 metre runway. However, few flights to Wellington use such large aircraft, and even smaller ones like the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 cannot take off from the airport fully loaded. In 2008, a twice-weekly service between Singapore and Dili was established by a company called Austasia Airlines, which chartered an Airbus A319 from SilkAir, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines. Not only was it no longer necessary either to change planes in Darwin, or to have an overnight stay in Bali, but it also meant that Dili was no more than two stops from Europe, not least Portugal. Even more revolutionary was Austasia’s use of online booking, using a website based in Canada. Unfortunately, the cost of a standard return economy fare between Singapore and Dili – US$840 – was nearly as much as the cost of a non-stop
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flight between London and Singapore. Although there were discounted fares, these could only be booked through approved travel agents, none of which would have allowed customers to book online. However, it would have been better for the airline to bypass Denpasar, and fly to Singapore via Jakarta, from where it could link up with flights to the Middle East and Europe. Alternatively, it could have flown between Darwin, Dili and Singapore, thereby bypassing Indonesia altogether. As the service is operated as a charter, rather than by an airline in its own right, it is not possible to book the flights through SilkAir, as it is not a SilkAir destination. Yet many travel websites do not take account of this, and only link to SilkAir. Nor is it possible to have codeshares. TAP and Singapore Airlines are both members of the Star Alliance, as is Lufthansa, with which TAP already has a codeshare agreement and offers flights from Lisbon to Singapore. Portugal and Singapore now have an ‘Open Skies’ agreement, despite the fact that TAP has no interest in flying to Singapore, and Singapore Airlines has no interest in flying to Lisbon, although it could be a stopover en route to North America. TAP stopped flying to Bangkok in 1998 after only a year, and Macau after only two, although it still has a stake in Air Macau. Singapore Airlines suspended flights to Madrid in 2004, although it still flies to Barcelona. In fact, not only are Star Alliance members pooling their resources, but they are even painting their aeroplanes in the same livery. While British Airways was ridiculed for dropping the Union Jack on its tailfins in favour of multicoloured ‘ethnic’ designs, they were at least more appealing than the black and grey livery now used by TAP and Lufthansa (though not Singapore Airlines.)
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In fact, in January 2008, the Portuguese charter airline, euroAtlantic, flew directly to Dili from Lisbon using a Boeing 757, carrying 140 officers of the Guarda Nacional Republicana (GNR).17 Perhaps euroAtlantic could operate services between Portugal and East Timor on behalf of Timor Air, just as it does on behalf of STP Airways of São Tomé e Príncipe, in which it has a 38 per cent stake. One route that I envisaged was Lisbon-Rome-Male-DiliSydney. Even if few people wanted to fly between Portugal, East Timor, and Australia, there would be enough people wanting to travel to the Maldives from Italy and Australia to ensure that the aircraft did not fly half-empty. (The cynic in me suggested that most of the passengers from Lisbon would disembark in Rome.) I once designed a logo and a route map for an East Timorese airline, ‘Loriku Air Timor-Leste’ which I called after a bird, similar to Indonesia’s Garuda Indonesia. Whereas the ‘Loriku’ is a species of parrot, Garuda is a mythical bird in Hindu and Buddhist legend. I sent a picture of it to someone in the embassy in Beijing, who took it more seriously than I did:
Is it a proposal from the company? Is the airline an existing one? Is it operating already? Who is the owner? Will they consider stopping at the major cities in China? Especially, the ones that have the most outbound tourists from China?
I had to break it to her that it was just an idea. Yet not so long ago, so was an independent East Timor. If you don’t have a dream, then how are you going to have a dream come true?
CHAPTER NINE ECONOMICS: GROWNPOLITICS FOR GROWN-UPS
It does not matter if a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice. - Deng Xiaoping ‘SEEK YE first the political kingdom, and all else shall be added unto you….’ Thus spake Kwame Nkrumah, first leader of independent Ghana, who led his country into economic meltdown. Hong Kong, on the other hand, sought the economic kingdom, albeit partly as it had no choice. While no representative democracy, either under Chinese rule, or British rule before 1997, Hong Kong would be a strong candidate for it, because of its economic freedom. Of course, it is not surprising that East Timor is an intensely politicised place, nor has it been without good reason. During the Suharto era in Indonesia, economic development was used as a smokescreen for political repression, in East Timor, and in Indonesia itself. The word consensus was also tarnished, becoming a euphemism for the Suharto regime getting its way. But the word ‘political’ is overused in the context of East Timor. If people don’t like something, it must be ‘political’. If there is a reason why something has not happened, it must be ‘political’. And if they think something is innovative, they call it ‘political’. ‘Politics is a good thing, it’s like a car or a train to take you to your destination…’ said one East Timorese. I worked out later that he meant ‘policy’, not ‘politics’, but it was still misguided.
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One friend of mine from East Timor returned home and set up his own political party, which fared poorly in the parliamentary elections in 2007. When another friend who was visiting East Timor asked me if I had a message for him, I replied: ‘get out of politics and get into business’. If people in East Timor are not being political, they are being religious. One Fretilin supporter I know, to my considerable annoyance, would greet me as ‘comrade’, but later on, he suggested that I should become a numerary of Opus Dei. (He was originally a seminarian.) This was puzzling, as Opus Dei membership does not lend itself to left-wing views, even liberation theology. When asked why India’s economic growth lagged behind that of China, the chairman of Peregrine Investment Holdings in Hong Kong, Philip Tose, replied: ‘One word: democracy.’1 In the case of East Timor, the Philippines, Spain, Portugal and Latin America, and why their growth has lagged behind the rest of the world, that one-word answer might be ‘Catholicism’. However, it does not follow that Catholicism is a stumbling block to economic development. While Spain and Portugal have been relatively poor, Belgium and Ireland have been relatively prosperous, while the ‘north-south’ divides in Italy and France are based on region, not religion. Chile, one of Latin America’s most advanced economies, may have had immigration from northern Europe, as has the south of Brazil, but it remains as predominantly Catholic. This antipathy towards commerce may be a legacy of East Timor’s Portuguese past. Portugal had few commercial interests in East Timor, apart from sandalwood and coffee, and it was only as late as March 1974, that it showed any interest in exploiting East Timor’s oil reserves, causing annoyance in Australia.
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(Portugal had granted an oil exploration and drilling lease for what Australia claimed was part of the Australian continental shelf.)2 Writing about Portugal’s renewed involvement in East Timor in 2002, Bill Nicol described it as a ‘vulture’ descending on the ‘slim pickings of the Timorese carcass’. He claimed that, ‘as in earlier times’, the interests of the Portuguese ‘are primarily commercial’.3 In fact, with the exception of Timor Telecom, Portugal’s interests in East Timor are not in investing in the future, but in preserving faded relics of its colonial past. The fact that the Portuguese had a trading empire in Asia in the sixteenth century is irrelevant: Italians and Swedes are now far more ubiquitous today, forging links through investment and tourism. ‘It’s not just about trade,’ one Portuguese said, ‘it’s about heritage and culture’. Talking about East Timor, another said ‘it’s about language, religion, and costumes [sic]...’ Indeed, but which ones: East Timor’s or Portugal’s? By contrast, such was the commercial importance of Indonesia to the Dutch, that one of the colony’s Governors-General, de Jonge, had been a director of Royal Dutch Shell. And why else would the East Indies have originally been governed by the Dutch East India Company, rather than the Dutch Crown? Yet this belief that Portugal’s campaign for East Timor’s selfdetermination had commercial motives was held by Indonesian President B J Habibie, who, according to Australian Ambassador to Jakarta, John McCarthy, saw Portugal’s interest in East Timor as ‘exploitative’ and motivated by oil in the Timor Gap.4 In many parts of the world, economic power has been the preserve of non-indigenous ethnic groups; in East Africa, it has been the Indians, in Southeast Asia, it has been the Chinese, once described by King Vajiravudh of Thailand as ‘the Jews of the East’.5
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East Timor has been no exception: during the Portuguese era, it was the Chinese, mainly from Taiwan, most of whom left after the Indonesian invasion, with most going to Australia. There has been a lack of entrepreneurship or business acumen in East Timor, compared to places like Somalia, where the state has ceased to exist, but the culture of private enterprise has never been stronger. It is the birthplace of anarcho-capitalism, looked upon admiringly by libertarians as an example of what can be accomplished without government regulation. When I told an East Timorese friend that Somalia had one of the best telecommunications systems in Africa, despite there being no functioning government, he looked at me with astonishment and incomprehension: ‘But how?’ The obvious answer is that if you have the money to set up your service and there is a demand for it, then it will do well, although the absence of a legal system may make it difficult to enforce contracts. Or ensure that people pay – one mobile phone company in Somalia, NationLink, calls on customers’ clan elders, families, or the local Muslim sheikh to make sure debts are paid.6 In fact, under UN administration, East Timor did experience a form of anarcho-capitalism, but unlike Somalia, it was exclusively by foreigners, for foreigners, with even foreign labour being used. A sad reflection of the economic situation was the fate of a project called Bele Halo (‘can do’ in Tetum) which was launched in May 2000, with the objective of helping businesses in East Timor participate in international markets, but folded three months later. On its website read the following message:
Please note that this site has been temporarily [!] closed due to failure to be funded. We apologise for this. We have tried our best and were not supported. We wish all East Timorese business luck.
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Sadly, Bele Halo had quickly become ‘La Bele Halo’, or ‘can’t do’. Another important difference is that Somalia has a very large and very entrepreneurial diaspora, in the Middle East, Europe and North America as well as Africa, which not only supports families back home through remittances, but also helps support them in business. By contrast, many East Timorese working abroad are in low-paid jobs and do not have disposable income, much less venture capital, and are mainly concerned with helping their families. Of course, many people of the anti-interventionist or ‘Walk On By’ school of foreign policy, like the British columnist Simon Jenkins,7 are often also members of the immigrationist ‘Let Them All In’ camp.8 ‘So what if their countries go up in smoke or become bloodbaths’, they argue, ‘if they can come here and do the jobs no one else will do? [read: that no one else will do under those conditions]’. While there is something of a cop-out about the ‘Let Them All In’ school of thought, one can hardly blame people in countries like East Timor from wanting to seek a better life overseas. I remember telling an official in East Timor’s foreign ministry about the people moving to live and work in the UK, and was astonished by her negative response. ‘Brain drain…’ she complained. That would be understandable if East Timor were a developed country, like Ireland or New Zealand, with highly educated and skilled people leaving in droves, but not one in which people were leaving to work in factories. Not only was it a case of brawn drain rather than brain drain, but it was also a case of money gain – remittances from migrant workers go a long way back in their countries of origin.
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Did the Democratic Republic of East Timor want to forbid its citizens from leaving, as the German Democratic Republic did until 1989? Would she have preferred that the Indonesian authorities had not allowed her and her family to emigrate to Australia? In fact, she did not even know that anyone born in East Timor before independence, including her, was entitled to Portuguese nationality, enabling them to work in the European Union without visas or work permits. On the way back from a visit to East Timor, I told a family friend in Singapore about how many people wanted to come to Europe to work. ‘But aren’t these the kind of people East Timor needs?’ she asked. Well, one could argue that Filipinos, Sri Lankans, and Indonesians, working in Singapore and elsewhere are the kind of people that those countries need, but that is not the point. At least East Timorese working in Europe are able to send home more money than if they were living in Southeast Asia or the Middle East, and have better working conditions. While Malaysia is near East Timor, and has a language that most East Timorese can understand, the low pay and poor working conditions outweigh those benefits. Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia, particularly women, are often badly treated, with their employers locking them inside their houses, or taking away their passports. As an East Timorese friend living in the UK told me, ‘why would we want to be slaves there when we’re already citizens here?’ If people from the Philippines and Brazil, who do not have the benefit of being entitled to nationality of an EU member state, seek to come to the UK in large numbers, then why should the East Timorese, who do, not do the same? Ironically, while the view of English as the key to economic prosperity has almost resulted in a ‘cargo cult’ in East Timor,
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many East Timorese working in the UK, speak very little English. Despite being in an English-speaking environment, they resent the suggestion that they should learn it, on the grounds that they are too busy working long hours. East Timor finds itself in a similar situation to Malta sixty years ago. Then a self-governing British colony, Malta was so poor and overpopulated, that it had a Minister for Emigration, which it saw, in the words of its then Prime Minister, Paul Boffa, as a ‘safety valve’.
Were it possible for my Government to send 50,000 registered prospective emigrants in one day, I would do so... Let them keep their religion but they should strive to become Australian and after two generations or three their children will be able to say that their grandfather was Maltese but they were Australian.9
Similarly, Mauritius had a Minister of External Affairs and Emigration, who subsequently also acquire the portfolio of Tourism. On the one hand, his job was to encourage his own people to leave their country, and on the other, to attract visitors from abroad. There are other places where emigration has been a fact of life, such as Cape Verde, which has a large diaspora in the US (larger than the population of Cape Verde itself) and Western Europe, with as many living in France, Italy, or the Netherlands as in Portugal. During the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, the existence of oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea, was seen by supporters of independence as proof that an independent East Timor could be economically viable. Yet while these reserves were large enough for Australia to seek to carve up with Indonesia, they would not be enough for East Timor to be as wealthy as Brunei. Or Kuwait, which had briefly experienced the same fate as East Timor,
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becoming the 19th province of Iraq in August 1990, before being liberated six months later. For decades, Brunei has talked about diversifying its economy, but has had little incentive to do so. In the meantime, it continues to maintain a generous welfare state, with free education and health care (even flying patients to Singapore for treatment) as well as subsidised housing and car loans. While the ethnic Chinese dominate commerce, the sultanate provides jobs in the public service to the Malay majority. Only now is the country trying to diversify into ecotourism, and position its large underused airport as an international hub to rival Singapore and Bangkok as a stopover on the way to Australia and New Zealand. Ecotourism has also often been mooted as a source of revenue for East Timor, which would be preferable to the mass-market model. Rather than seek to become ‘another Bali’, or ‘the new Thailand’, East Timor should look to places like the Seychelles as a model for its tourism industry.10 The Fretilin government chose to establish a Petroleum Fund similar to that of Norway (now called the Pension Fund) restricting the spending of oil revenues, which would be saved for future generations. José Ramos-Horta, by contrast, said that ‘romantic people, poets who don’t have a sense of reality, always talk about saving the money for future generations. I’m not going to save money for any future generation. If I have my way, I’ll spend it today on starving, malnourished children and on old people who have dry skin showing their bones.’11 Norway’s circumstances were completely different from East Timor; it was already a developed country, and would have remained one without the discovery of oil. Although it could fund its generous welfare state from oil wealth, Norway still chooses to fund it through high levels of taxation instead, although not without criticism domestically.
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The populist Progressive Party, the second largest party in the country’s parliament, advocates cutting taxes and use oil revenues to fund public services. Siv Jensen, the party’s leader remarked: ‘To me it’s strange that a country as rich as Norway has worse roads than Sweden… There are also a number of unsolved problems in welfare and health care that many other countries in Europe have managed to solve – countries without oil money.’12 Yet compared to how other developing countries have spent these revenues, a Petroleum Fund may have been the lesser of two evils for East Timor. In Angola, the amount of ‘petrodollars’ embezzled in 2001 was US$1.2 billion.13 (By way of comparison, East Timor’s Petroleum Fund only has revenues of US$5 billion.) In 1975, the Venezuelan energy minister Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso, famously described oil as ‘the devil’s excrement’. He said: ‘It brings trouble… waste, corruption, consumption, our public services falling apart. And debt, debt we shall have for years.’14 However, it is not only oil-rich countries which have been cursed. Nauru, and how it used its phosphate revenues, is a textbook example of what East Timor should not do. During the years when the small Pacific island’s economy was booming as a result of phosphate revenues, Nauru Phosphate Royalties Trust invested the revenues in real estate. In 1972, it built an office tower in Melbourne’s central business district, officially known as Nauru House, but less kindly as ‘birdshit tower’.15 At one point, Air Nauru was flying to thirty destinations around the Pacific, despite the fact that its fleet of seven aircraft flew at 20 per cent capacity, or sometimes, with no passengers at all. When the phosphate revenues dwindled in the early 1990s, the fleet was cut back to a single aircraft, and, like the country itself, Air Nauru found itself struggling to survive. So desperate was the
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government to keep the airline operating, that it switched diplomatic recognition from China to Taiwan.16 Even after becoming bankrupt, the country continued to spend beyond its means. As late as 2001, it was employing 95 per cent of islanders in work, paying for all education, including university in Australia, and flies people to hospitals in Melbourne for treatment, although hospitals there threatened to turn them away until medical bills were settled.17 More ominously, when Nauru became independent in 1968, and took ownership of the phosphate industry, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, which had jointly governed the island, forced its government to borrow against its future earnings, something that East Timor under Fretilin had resisted doing. The fact that East Timor’s oil reserves are more limited, and more finite, means that it has the incentive to diversify sooner rather than later. Oil revenues should be used to build up an infrastructure that will not only support the growing tourism sector, but possibly even manufacturing, as has Mauritius. Not only has Mauritius prospered thanks to upmarket tourism (a lesson here for East Timor) but also thanks to its role as an Export Processing Zone (EPZ). It is a far cry from the situation at independence in 1968, when its economy was dependent on sugar, and a high-cost low-efficiency, import-substituting manufacturing sector.18 Of course, it is going to be a considerable challenge for East Timor to develop its own manufacturing industries when so many products are readily available from Indonesia, or even further away, like Brazil. The usual dismissal of Portuguese-speaking countries in East Timor is that they are ‘poor and far from us’,19 and therefore their goods would be unaffordable. Yet supermarkets in Dili sell frozen
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chickens from Brazil for as little as US$2 each. (More worryingly, so do open-air markets, where they are allowed to thaw.) Are they subsidised by the Brazilian government or given away free by the producers as a sign of Lusophone solidarity? No. The reason why they are so cheap is because of economies of scale. Brazil is a very large country with a very large poultry industry, exporting 3.6 million tonnes of poultry a year to 153 countries.20 In fact, there are many East Timorese working in the poultry industry, in Northern Ireland, although it is questionable as to how competitively these chickens could be priced compared to locally bred ones in East Timor, never mind cheap frozen imports from Brazil. Yet while importing these goods from neighbouring Indonesia might be more geographically correct, would it do anything more to encourage self-sufficiency in East Timor? Indeed, despite having far greater economies of scale than East Timor, Indonesia has always imported food from other countries, including grapes from Chile and apples from the US. Even Bulog, the Indonesian state agency with a monopoly on the distribution of many basic commodities, continued to import rice well into the 1990s. Nevertheless, Indonesia also exports goods to the most unlikely of markets; in one supermarket in the English Midlands, I came across shampoo from Indonesia, complete with price tag in rupiah, while Indomie noodles are produced under licence in Nigeria, from where they are exported to the UK. The term ‘globalisation’ is often misconstrued to mean homogenisation. What it should mean is that no market is too ‘far away’ from another, and distance is no longer the stumbling block that it once was. Manufacturing industries should not be about import substitution, or at least, not exclusively, but about making what the rest of the world wants to buy. Many import-substituting
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industries have only produced what most local people cannot afford to buy, and the rest of the world has no need to. New Zealand is an example of what not to do: until 1998, it had a car assembly industry, which, while saving the country export dollars, earned it none. It became even more unsustainable when import restrictions were removed, and used cars from Japan, cheaper and better equipped than identical locally assembled models, flooded the market. Even Toyota New Zealand took to importing used models from Japan and reconditioning them locally. By contrast, Toyota Indonesia exports its home-grown Kijang model to neighbouring countries, and in the 1990s, was even exporting to countries as far away as South Africa and Suriname, which, like Indonesia, is a former Dutch colony that drives on the left, and has a large Javanese population.21 Similarly, most cars in East Timor are imported second hand from Japan, Singapore and Australia, rather than brand new. I even saw one car with an East Timor number plate superimposed onto a Singapore one. Despite having stopped assembling cars decades ago, Singapore has a profitable business in exporting used ones which would otherwise be scrapped. One thing that struck me when I was in Dili was the number of Rover cars (as opposed to Land Rover four wheel drives). I had not seen so many since I had left the UK. It seemed appropriate as Rover, like the British Embassy in Dili, was now defunct. But why were there so many of them? ‘Because no one else will buy ’em!’ laughed an Australian. Actually, it was because despite being built in the UK, they were thinly disguised Honda models, so easier to find spare parts for them than, say, Volkswagens or Peugeots. One industry that could be developed is telecommunications, with East Timor using its telephone numbering as a revenue
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generator. In 2000, East Timorese economist João Mariano Saldanha gave the example of Guyana, where revenue from telecommunications traffic accounted for 40 per cent of the country’s GDP. Understandably, he did not advocate that East Timor rent its numbering space to companies providing sex chat lines.22 One possibility would be providing numbering space for mobile phone services in other countries, as Monaco has done in Kosovo and Liberia. Kosovo has yet to be allocated a separate country code from Serbia, but despite its distance from Monaco, calling numbers with the +377 prefix is not disproportionately high, and nor are there roaming charges. In Liberia, LoneStar mobile phones originally also used a Monaco prefix +377 47, but this changed to a Liberian one +231 6. However, there was some continuity; as the unique six digits of the subscriber’s number remained the same. By contrast, when Telstra withdrew its mobile phone service from East Timor, new numbers had to be allocated from scratch. Similarly, many other countries, like Estonia, offer their numbering space for global SIM cards. These allow people to use their mobile phones in most countries around the world, without incurring roaming charges for incoming calls, although coverage is limited, and usually unavailable in East Timor. In order for East Timor to offer a similar service, of course, it would need to ensure that the cost of calls from the rest of the world were not disproportionately high. Many small countries have also used their internet country names as a way of generating revenue, the best known example being Tuvalu’s ‘.tv’ leased to a company in the US, for use by television stations. Similarly, the Federated States of Micronesia’s ‘.fm’ is used for FM radio stations, while Moldova’s ‘.md’ is used for Medical Doctors.
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In fact, in 1997, when East Timor was still under Indonesian occupation, it managed to get its own internet domain, .tp (from Timor Português) with the help of an Irish company, Connect Ireland. While ‘.tl’ (for either Timor Lorosae or Timor-Leste would have been more appropriate, ‘TP’ was used by ISO (the International Organisation for Standardisation) for Portuguese Timor, which in the eyes of the UN, the territory still was. In 2002, Connect Ireland’s director, Martin Maguire, proposed using ‘.tp’ for as an abbreviation for ‘telephone’, as a way of generating revenue. This would allow a universal, worldwide directory to be compiled through a system such as ‘firstname.lastname.tp’, or ‘phonenumber.tp’ in which people could keep updated contact details about themselves for the world to see.23 This never materialised, partly because the intention was to change the domain to ‘.tl’, although that would have been better as an abbreviation for ‘telephone’ than ‘.tp’. For example, whereas ‘.tp’ could only be an acronym for téléphone in French, or telepon in Indonesian ‘.tl’ could represent telefone in Portuguese, telefoon in Dutch, or telefon in Turkish. However, this idea was never pursued, and has since been overtaken by events: in March 2009, the domain ‘.tel’ was introduced, for precisely the purpose that Maguire had envisaged. Even now, many web addresses with the ‘.tp’ domain are still in use, while their ‘.tl’ domain equivalents are inaccessible. For example, Timor Telecom’s timortelecom.tl address no longer functions, despite it belonging to the country’s only telecom operator, and internet service provider. One of the justifications for high call costs in countries like East Timor is that the domestic market is too small. However, a telephone company in a small country need not confine its services to its domestic market. On the contrary, thanks to Voice
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over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, a telecom operator in a small country can have a global market. The best known VoIP service, Skype, is based in Luxembourg, a country with less than 500,000 people. In addition to making free calls to other users, people can also use VoIP services to make calls to regular telephone numbers, and receive calls on telephone numbers. For example, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in East Timor has a connection to a service called MyNetFone, on which personnel can make and receive telephone calls as if they were using a landline in Australia.23 As it uses a satellite connection, it completely bypasses Timor Telecom. If the MyNetFone subscriber has a number with a Melbourne area code, people calling that number from Melbourne will need only pay for a local call, even if the subscriber is in Dili. If the call is from another MyNetFone subscriber, the call is free, which is just as well, as MyNetFone charges US$3.40 a minute to call East Timor. Skype is not much better, charging US$1.65. An additional advantage is that subscribers can receive calls on numbers in several different countries, with some companies offering numbers in the US and UK free of charge. As many VoIP services simply resell other companies’ services under their own brand name, there would be no need for Timor Telecom or other operators in East Timor to build and maintain their own local infrastructure. They could, however, offer operators reduced call to East Timor, thereby addressing the problem of disproportionately high termination costs. If Timor Telecom’s plan for an undersea cable connection went ahead, and bandwidth became readily available at reduced cost, then perhaps it might become viable to base such services in East Timor itself. In other countries, like Bangladesh, local internet service providers have acted as ‘gateways’, allowing international carriers to bypass the local telecom monopoly and cut the cost of calls to
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those countries, which benefited the large numbers of Bangladeshi migrants working overseas. However, when the government tried to clamp down on these services, they were unable to reach numbers in Bangladesh, although these services have now been licensed.25 As East Timor is likely to remain a low volume destination, there would be a limited market for inbound international calls, but the market for calls to Indonesia, which has a growing number of migrant workers in neighbouring countries and the Middle East, would be much larger. In East Timor, there are signs with the slogan Sosa Iha Rai Laran, Hari’i Timor-Leste – ‘Buy Local, Build East Timor’. Perhaps a better slogan would be Sosa Iha Rai Laran, Fa’an Ba Rai Li’ur – Buy Local, Sell Abroad. East Timor must be a libertarian’s nightmare. While libertarians distrust the state but do not expect it to provide them with anything, people in East Timor distrust the state it but expect to provide them with everything. On the other hand, there are people like Mari Alkatiri, who expect people to trust a state that provides them with nothing. ‘We need to push the people to work for their livelihood, not to depend on social spending,’26 he told Time magazine, but what did he do to encourage investment? Rather than being used for welfare payments or a large public sector, public spending could instead be used for wage subsidies or ‘workfare’ schemes, with foreign investors receiving tax breaks. ‘If the people of Mozambique could eat slogans’, wrote Edward Theberton in 1984, ‘they would be fat’.27 If the people of East Timor could eat slogans, they would be morbidly obese.
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Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds. - ‘Redemption Song’, Bob Marley ‘I WOULD ask you to be patient and understanding’, José Ramos Horta, then Prime Minister, told me, adding that ‘a new democracy faces many demands and they all take time’. No, not all of them do. Many things that I have advocated that should be done in East Timor could be done in days, others can be done in minutes. How do I know this? Because I have been able and willing to do them myself on behalf of the government. But what was the response? ‘Yes, please’? ‘No, thanks’? Neither – it was ‘these things can only be improved over time…’ Even Western expatriates seem to indulge the ‘only over time’ mindset, believing that the country needs time to ‘mature’. This suggests that a country is like a child, when it is not. It is a far more complex entity, in which some people are more mature than others, and there are people from other countries who are able and willing to help. Another idea along these lines is that countries should be allowed to learn by trial and error, like a child learning to ride a bicycle rather than be helped along. Yet while it is patronising for Australians to talk of ‘hand holding’ for East Timor, letting national governments ‘make their own mistakes’ can have
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devastating consequences for the people of the country concerned. In his preface to Michele Turner’s book Telling – East Timor: Personal Testimonies 1942-1992 wrote:
There will be some who say: wait for changes of liberalism and democracy to emerge in Indonesia itself. Wait until some new kind of federal arrangement emerges to permit the Timorese to live in association with the vast republic around them… Just wait. Yet, for some, each day is painful… For such people, the demand to wait is unconvincing.1
If the demand to wait for political freedom for East Timor was unconvincing then, how much more unconvincing is the demand to wait for economic and social development now? A road does not pave itself ‘with time’. A house does not build itself ‘with time’. A telephone network does not become more reliable ‘with time’. In one internet discussion, an East Timorese lamented the lack of progress over the last ten years since self-determination. ‘Don’t rush,’ a Western contributor replied, ‘it will come, with time…’ He was rebuked by another East Timorese, who said that ‘with time’ was just a diplomatic way of saying ‘never’. ‘East Timor is a timeless place so ditch your watch’. Ryan Ver Berkmoes wrote in the chapter on East Timor in Lonely Planet’s Southeast Asia on a Shoestring. ‘Go with the flow’, he said, ‘and you’ll be relaxed even the restaurant preparing your meal seems to be growing the plant’.2 Yet in one restaurant in Dili where I ate, it was someone born and bred in East Timor, not a Western expatriate, who was being bossy towards the waitresses. When I was being kept on stand-by, waiting to know whether or not I had a job in East Timor, a friend from there told me: ‘on’t rush, you’ll need time to prepare’. Yes, but that was not the point.
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In order to prepare for something, you need to know when it is going to happen. Time is for preparation, not procrastination. Talking about the lackadaisical attitude towards time in East Timor, someone told me: ‘that’s how they lost their country!’ I had to disagree with her: in 1975, people in East Timor were deprived of time, and made decisions when they were caught between a rock and a hard place. One thing that can appear unnerving about some East Timorese is that they laugh and smile at things that are anything but funny. Perhaps that’s how they dealt with many things in their history, however horrific or traumatic. Or maybe it’s like the Maori custom of sticking out your tongue as a way of warding off evil, which Westerners find hilarious, but Maori find anything but. Whatever the reason is, East Timor bureaucracy is no laughing matter at all. When Hiroyuki Hata, a retired businessman from Japan, worked as an advisor to the then President, Xanana Gusmão, he had difficulty getting used to how East Timorese dealt with time. Although bills had to be signed by the President within a month of passage by Parliament, some crucial documents took more than twenty days to reach him. This left Hata with only a few days for him to review them and make his recommendations to the President. Sometimes, he received bills more than a month after they passed Parliament. Finally, Hata expressed his concerns to the President in a report, in which, he said ‘I recommended that time be valued more. I don’t know how he took it because I never asked him.’3 However, there is no questioning the ability and willingness of East Timorese to work hard when they go abroad, compared to their local counterparts. Indeed, one source of consolation for the East Timorese, is what somebody visiting a developing country
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once said about the work ethic of its people. He remarked that, ‘to see your men at work made me feel that you are a very satisfied easy-going race for whom time is no object.’4 Which country’s people was he describing? Jamaica? El Salvador? Gambia? No, Japan in 1915! Unfortunately, rather than being used as an incentive to address issues in East Timor, the experience of other countries is used as an excuse not to do so. ‘Other problems had these problems, even Indonesia…’ is one popular refrain. Yes, as did many European countries, but the question is: how did they overcome them? Answer: by addressing them. The word ‘priority’ has to be one of the most abused in East Timor’s lexicon, used to stifle criticism and close down debate. ‘We have other priorities’ means ‘it doesn’t matter to us, so it shouldn’t matter to you.’ Of course, there are things which do require time and money, which, while desirable, are not priorities. For example, building a railway in East Timor might be desirable, but it would involve a huge amount of time and money, which would be better spent on improving its roads and airports instead. It is, therefore, not a priority. Even in wealthy countries, it took decades before projects like the Channel Tunnel between Britain and France, or the railway between Alice Springs and Darwin in Australia were finally built. In East Timor, it would also mean having to blast holes into mountains in order to drill tunnels. Therefore, I do not advocate that the country consider building a railway for a very long time. Yet looking at some of the things that East Timor’s leaders do regard as priorities, I wonder if they are any more extravagant or unnecessary. In 2007, a report called Força 2020 described, in great detail, plans to expand East Timor’s defence force to comprise an army, navy and air force. It was larger and more detailed than the
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entire National Development Plan produced at independence five years earlier. There are also plans for a new Parliament building, which, unlike the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Presidential Palace, would be financed by East Timor itself, not by China. Whatever next? A monument with bronze statues built by the North Koreans, like those in Zimbabwe, Namibia, and now, Senegal? The assumption is always that everything involves time, effort, and money, when not everything does. Therefore, it is unreasonable to talk of something that can be done in minutes, at no cost, in terms of whether or not it is a priority. ‘It won’t make any difference!’ I can hear people say, but if it doesn’t cost them anything, and I am prepared to do it for them, then what do they stand to lose? While one advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs went to the time and trouble of setting up an embassies and consulates for East Timor, he seemed affronted by my suggestion that the Ministry’s website should be updated so that people knew where they were. But why? Updating a webpage is not a herculean task. Besides, an embassy is not a safe house for the resistance; its whereabouts should be public knowledge, not shrouded in secrecy. If I were that desperate to update the government’s websites, I could have learned to become a hacker, and do the job for them, whether they asked me to or not. However, without them giving me up-to-date information – ‘you can ask our public affairs people, I guess’ – there’s not much point. ‘A website is easy to establish, but a truly great website requires an enormous amount of regular updating and expertise’, José Ramos Horta told me. Not necessarily: under the UN, there was one basic but informative East Timor Government website, which was abruptly shut down before independence. Following
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independence, every ministry tried to set one up, as did the Prime Minister’s Office, which chose to use a company in the UK! And what was he implying? That he knew more about web design than me? In fact, in 1999, before the vote on independence, Horta had seen the potential of the internet, and advocated that hackers attacked Indonesian websites. Connect Ireland, the company that had established a ‘virtual East Timor’ in cyberspace, condemned this,5 which might be why the company was later sidelined. Often the problem is not that people are not doing enough work, but that they are doing too much. ‘It ain’t easy street,’ someone told me – I never said it was – ‘we’re doing two or three jobs at once here’. Yes, and in some cases, they are doing the same jobs at the same time, and duplicating resources in the process. For five years, the public broadcaster RTTL has been barely able to maintain a basic website, much less stream audio and video. Yet, in 2009, a website called timortoday.com appeared, with radio and TV news items (hosted on YouTube) produced by local journalists with the support of USAid. This created a bizarre scenario: on the one hand, neither RTL nor TVTL have any presence on the internet, which would give them an international presence and allow them to reach the diaspora. On the other, hardly anyone in East Timor is able to listen to or watch timortoday.com’s output, because few people have internet access, and internet connections are excruciatingly slow. In fact, RTL and TVTL are available across the region via the Indonesian satellite Telkom 1, covering an area from Darwin to Taipei. RTTL has become, more by accident than by design, an international broadcaster, at the cost of just US$1.3 million,6 yet has failed to take advantage of this as a means of ‘soft diplomacy’. It would be easy for an internet service provider in, say, Hong
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Kong, to pick up the RTTL broadcasts via satellite, and then stream them over a far faster internet connection than that available in East Timor. One East Timorese said: ‘maybe they don’t want to broadcast to their enemies…’ Yet what were Voice of America and Radio Moscow doing during the Cold War, if not that? In fact, in 1975, José Ramos Horta expressed concern about Indonesia’s plans to broadcast television via satellite, which could be received in East Timor.7 If the Indonesians could provide cheap – or free – TV sets, they would have a powerful propaganda weapon. Indeed, one Indonesian blogger, Tony Hamidi, who could watch TVTL, wrote that using English and Indonesian subtitles could help the channel to promote East Timor in the surrounding region.8 It could certainly dispel the notion that East Timor is using Portuguese (or Tetum) to thumb its nose at its neighbours. However, TVTL has been wary of showing programming which its target audience in East Timor itself would enjoy, never mind an international one, even when people have been prepared to provide it free of charge. When local production houses offered to do just that, TVTL told them that they would have pay for their programmes to be screened, or find independent funding to cover the costs.9 With professionals like these, who needs amateurs? In his 2007 book The Cult of the Amateur, Andrew Keen denounced how the Internet had given rise to user-generated content on blogs and video-hosting sites like YouTube. Highlighting the threat that this content posed to professionally-produced material, culturally and economically, Keen called for ‘cultural gatekeepers’10 to filter it out. That is laudable, and may be feasible, in developed countries with professional journalists and producers, but in a country with almost none, it would be a disaster. Could you imagine the daily
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newspaper Suara Timor Lorosae and RTTL as ‘cultural gatekeepers’? Thanks to sites like YouTube and Blogger, now both owned by Google, the weekly newspaper Tempo Semanal has put both these organisations to shame. In addition, while TVTL turns its nose up at locally produced music videos, people have put them up on YouTube. Of course, anybody can preach, and many people who do are not taken seriously. In 2000, the Australian linguist Geoffrey Hull advocated the subtitling in Tetum of foreign non-Portuguese television programmes and films.11 (Why not Portuguese ones as well? Perhaps they could be subtitled in Indonesian or English instead.) He suggested that this could be made compulsory, although it is difficult to compel people to do things that they have no means of doing. And given that the National Institute of Linguistics has an annual budget of just US$6000,12 it is hardly in a position to act as a ‘language police’, like its equivalent in Canada’s French-speaking province of Quebec. However, it was not enough for me just to preach, I wanted to practise what others were only preaching. And what was more, I wanted to show that it could be done with next to no money and resources. Yet there are still people doing things the expensive and time-consuming way. The Brazilian Ambassador to Dili told me that Canal Futura was still training TVTL to use subtitling equipment which had been donated, yet I could have given them a couple of free programs which would done the same thing in a fraction of the time. ‘You make it sound so easy!’ somebody once exclaimed. Well, it is, in the same way that writing something using Microsoft Word is easier than using a hammer, chisel, and piece of rock. As impressive as timortoday.com’s work was, its international appeal was limited by the fact that it was in Tetum. So why not
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subtitle the output in English? In fact, YouTube allows users to have subtitles in several languages, including Indonesian and Portuguese, with the option of being able to translate them automatically into even more. I have to say that, unlike the guy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, timortoday.com’s response to my offer of help was exemplary. Did its director start spouting mumbo-jumbo about ‘priorities’ or ‘capacity building’? No. Did he change the subject and start talking about bandwidth or Virtual Private Networks? No. And did he react with self-justification and admonish me to ‘be more understanding’? No, not at all. He actually took me up on it. He told me:
We just added the subtitles to the piece. They look great!!! Thanks so much for doing this for us. Much appreciated. Next time you are up this way, dinner is on me.
Aw, shucks. Sadly, I fell behind because of the increased amount of material to translate and other pressures. However, although it would have been nice for other people to have picked up from where I left off, at least I had been given the opportunity to improve things, and did not have to pay for it myself. There is an ingrained belief among many people, East Timorese and Portuguese alike, that everything is for a reason, and cannot, therefore, be challenged or altered, however absurd. When I mentioned to one East Timorese that Dili Airport was listed as being in Indonesia, he said perhaps it was because East Timor wasn’t a member of the relevant organisation. But why should that be relevant to anything? Singapore is not a member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, but does that mean that its member states should consider it part of Malaysia? There is an appalling lack of communication between people in East Timor. For years before I went to East Timor, people
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there would tell ‘although you’re very far away, it’s as if you’re with us’. In other words, I was closer to them than they were to each other. ‘Your comments suffer for not being here’, a government advisor in Dili once wrote to me. I resented that, because a) she hadn’t actually read them, and b) they referred to people, publications and institutions of which she had never heard, and vice versa, despite them all being within a one-mile radius of one another. Earlier, I had told her about Connect East Timor, an Australian NGO setting up a radio telephone network in rural areas of the country. She had never heard of it, and asked how I had. ‘On the Foreign Ministry website,’ I said, this being before it stopped being updated. ‘I’ve never hear of it and I work in the bloody Ministry!’ she exclaimed. As a result, people develop very different perceptions of the same country. It is reminiscent of the Indian fable of the blind men and the elephant, in which one of the men grabs a tusk and thinks that the elephant is like a spear, another feels its side and thinks it is like a wall. As John Godfrey Saxe puts it in his poem:
And so these men of Indostan Disputed loud and long, Each in his own opinion Exceeding stiff and strong, Though each was partly in the right, And all were in the wrong!
Also embarrassing is how badly informed East Timor’s diplomats can be about their own country. In October 2009, East Timor’s Ambassador to Malaysia announced a Memorandum of Understanding with that country to train teachers. Malaysia’s Deputy Education Minister, Dr Mohammed Puad Zarkashi told
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the press that ‘I was told that in Timor-Leste, they don’t have any institute for teacher training... so, what we can do, maybe, is accept a few teachers from Timor-Leste to be trained here’.13 That prompted an irate response from the director of the Instituto Católico para Formação de Professores, who confirmed that there was such an institution, and gave a detailed account of what it did, how teachers were being trained, and how only two had dropped out, because they had accepted scholarships to study abroad. He remarked: ‘What may need to be put in place by the government is a special institution to adequately train people for the role of being an ambassador and to emphasise their responsibility to be aware of what is actually happening on the ground within Timor-Leste.’14 Indeed. There has been some suggestion that East Timor should have an embassy in London, given that there is a large number of East Timorese in the UK. Even a consulate in Belfast might be an idea. Perhaps it is appropriate that there are so many East Timorese in Northern Ireland, a place with many similarities to their homeland. One of them is a divided, dysfunctional entity in which people live parallel existences, do not communicate with one another, and do not identify with the institutions of the state in which they live, while the other is a country in Southeast Asia! Some people claim that this is unnecessary as almost all of the East Timorese in the UK have Portuguese citizenship, and even if they do not speak either Portuguese or English, there are enough of them who can act as interpreters. However, embassies should do more than provide consular services to their citizens; they should promote political, cultural and economic relations with the host country. Some countries have lost sight of that, like Portugal, which still has six consulates in France, despite it being a European Union country and much
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smaller than Brazil or the US. Until 2007, it had ten, two of which were within reach of the Embassy in Paris. By contrast, British passport applications in Portugal are processed in Madrid, and US passport applications in East Timor are processed in Jakarta. The fact that there is no longer a British Embassy in Dili is irrelevant – Singapore, for example, may not have embassies in the Netherlands, Spain or Brazil, but all of those countries have embassies in Singapore. East Timor’s embassies and consulates should also be its trade missions, unlike those of Portugal, which duplicates resources in Singapore, by having a separate consulate and AICEP delegation instead of combining them. By contrast, many Australian consulates are operated by Austrade, meaning that the trade commissioner in Dubai is also consul-general. East Timor should also have something in the UK which many other countries have, but Portugal does not, namely, an AllParty Parliamentary Group. Indonesia has always had one, which once defended it over East Timor. Spain has always had one, which has defended it over Gibraltar, but where were the MPs to defend Portugal over the case of Madeleine McCann, the little girl who went missing while on holiday in the Algarve? Perhaps Portugal can get away with resting on its laurels, but East Timor should not. As George Bernard Shaw said: ‘It is better for a parent to be a horrible warning than a good example’. People also need to stop taking personal offence at criticism of their organisations or their countries. I might use an Englishspeaking country as an example of how Portugal or Brazil might lift their game, but often I do not. If I suggest that they could learn from Singapore, Luxembourg, Denmark or Paraguay, does it mean that people there are anglo-saxônicos? No, it means that they are getting things right while Portugal and Brazil are getting them wrong.
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However, I also get tired of the ‘glass half empty’ approach to things by other people regarding East Timor. ‘What about the people who are illiterate?’ – what about the people who aren’t? ‘What about the people who don’t have electricity?’ – what about the people who do? Yet while I don’t like mediocrity, there are times when I accept that some things are as good as they are going to get, and could have been a lot worse. Take, for example, the feature film Balibo, which at the time of writing has yet to be released commercially outside Australia. (I saw a preview of it.) The idea of doing a feature film on East Timor is not new, but because of sensitivity of the subject matter, it is questionable whether one could have been made in Australia during Indonesian rule. If it were, it would probably have provoked a reaction similar to that of Saudi Arabia to the British film Death of a Princess. Based on the story of a Saudi princess and her lover, executed for adultery, it so outraged the Saudi royal family that it led to the expulsion of the British ambassador, cancelled trade deals, travel bans and condemnations by government ministers, not only in the UK, but in Australia, where it was also shown. Yes, I have issues with the Balibo film, it’s not how I would have done a film on East Timor. (For a start, I wouldn’t have focused on what happened in Balibo.) However, Robert Connolly is a professional film maker, while I am not. And while the film has been attacked from left and right, for different reasons, it did not dumb down and sex up and pander to people’s base instincts. One East Timorese I met wanted to make a feature film about East Timor. He wanted to cast Hugh Jackman in the role of Greg Shackleton, on the grounds that he looked just like him. I pointed out to him that there were other actors who look like Greg Shackleton, but they wouldn’t expect six or seven-figure salaries.
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After a trip to East Timor, I emailed a link with some photographs, which summed up what I thought of the place: charming and tragic in equal measure. One reply I got back was: ‘A depressing place, it seems’. I resented that. There are many sad sights, not least the burnt-out buildings, some of which were torched after independence, but I didn’t feel depressed by them. What did depress me was how people some looked at me as some kind of great sage, not just locals, but expatriates. When somebody introduced me as ‘the boffin’, I was taken aback. ‘It’s a compliment’, he added. ‘I know’, I said, ‘but I’m just a jack-of-alltrades’. ‘And a craftsman of all!’ my friend added. Sadly I’m not. I’m entirely self-taught. I would see my role in East Timor as being a dogsbody, or to use the Latin term, factotum or ‘do all’, like faz-tudo in Portuguese, which translates, more charitably, as ‘handyman’. But I would still expect to be paid. While people in the government have told me that ‘we’re keen to have you here – but you’ve got to find the funding!’ – the UNDP would have taken one look at my CV, thought ‘weirdo’, and given the ‘fun-ding’ to someone else. When Australian soldiers left East Timor in 1944, they dropped leaflets with the mangled Portuguese message ‘Os vossos amigos noa [sic] vos esquecem’ or ‘Your friends do not forget you’. This gave rise to a chant in Tetum, which went ‘Hodi uluk amigu, ida mos ami, hodi ikus amigu, soe ona ami’.15 Roughly translated, it means: ‘When you needed friends, we were your friends, now you have new friends, you throw us away’. Sadly, it is East Timor’s own leaders who are doing the throwing away. Or perhaps it’s just pride. ‘I have the matter in hand locally’ means ‘I know that you can do this for us, free of charge, but it’s beneath my dignity to take you up on your offer’. Nobody is suggesting that East Timor’s leaders should not forge close ties with people who once would have given them the
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brush-off, had them deported, or in the case of Indonesia, would have had them jailed or killed. And I would not begrudge them if they had chosen to use the services of Hill and Knowlton or Burson Marsteller to do their public relations, as Suharto’s Indonesia once did. In the interim, however, they should remember that friends in foul weather are friends in all weather, and that they are still useful. Forgiveness has its limits. If official apologies from politicians are meaningless and false, then so is forgiveness for one’s enemies. Horta may call it ‘cold pragmatism’, but in reality it is just laziness. What does East Timor get out of it? On the other hand, the problem with those who say that East Timor cannot have the rule of law until it has justice, is not that they are being unrealistic; it is that they are doing their country a disservice. Did their loved ones die for a country governed by mob rule, impunity, or the law of the jungle? Irrespective of whether Indonesia agrees to hand over officers to an international tribunal now or decades into the future, the greatest tribute that the people of East Timor can pay to those who fought and died for independence is to build a state governed by the rule of law. Yet I still resent being patronised and given the brush-off by people who were not so long ago being patronised and given the brush-off themselves. Granted Horta is now President of East Timor, but what does that matter to people who have never heard of his country and couldn’t have cared less if they had? Sometimes it’s better to be a nobody in a large wealthy country than a somebody in a small poor one. The American writer P J O’Rourke once said ‘I’d rather be a junkie in a New York jail than king, queen and jack of all you Europeans’.16 (Note to Australians, New Zealanders and other ‘ex-colonials’: British people are Europeans and always have been.) I can see his point.
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People may dislike what I write, but no one, to the best of my knowledge, dislikes me enough to want to kill me. I once thought of an independent East Timor as being a Catholic Brunei, oil-rich, but with an abundance of pork and alcohol, in which I could get a well-paid sinecure with generous perks. East Timor does not have the money for sinecures, and its leaders should be reminded of that fact at every opportunity, and even if it were to offer me that well-paid sinecure, I would be using the money from it to do something worthwhile. But I am not completely without hope for East Timor or its people. Granted I have met many East Timorese who, while charming, are irresponsible, and get away with doing as little as possible, but I have also met ones who are decent, intelligent, and highly competent people in whom I have confidence. They should remember what the president of Fretilin, Xavier do Amaral, said in a radio broadcast, in 1975:
What are we, our brother Timorese? Are we crops, buffaloes or goats to be sold? What are we, brother Timorese? Are we slaves who can be sold? What are we, brother Timorese? We are men like other men. We are men and we are able to run our country like the Portuguese, Australians, Africans and the Indonesians. We are a people with our own cultural values. We have the strength and brains of 615,000 people. Our country is fertile. We have our own culture. We can run our country. There are so many smaller and poorer countries in the world.17
Despite the intervening years and changing circumstances, that message still has resonance today.
EPILOGUE SIGNS OF CHANGE?
EAST TIMOR had received some media attention in 1996 when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo, but it was no nearer self-determination than Tibet was after the Dalai Lama had got the award seven years earlier. An Indonesian government spokesman scoffed at the Nobel Committee’s decision, and remarked: ‘What next? An Oscar?’ As it happened, Horta thought that a feature film on the Indonesian invasion of East Timor might help to bring the plight of his country to the attention of the world. When he was in New York, he had been in discussions with an American director, Dean Stoecker, but they had foundered. For a start, the fact that the East Timorese were Catholics made them decidedly unfashionable in Hollywood, compared to Jews, Buddhists, or even Scientologists. Where was East Timor’s champion, its Steven Spielberg, its Richard Gere, its Tom Cruise? The story of the five newsmen who were killed in the town of Balibo would make a good thriller, Dean conceded, but the fact that they were from Australia limited the story’s appeal to a US audience. Couldn’t they be Americans instead? And the story needed romance and sex in order to sell; none of the men had daughters, but surely that could be changed. ‘We could have the daughter of that reporter, Greg Schmockwitz…’ Dean suggested. ‘His name was Shackleton!’ Horta interjected. ‘Whatever,’ Dean continued, ‘and she has an affair in Dili with an Indonesian officer…’ ‘What was wrong with just telling what really happened?’ Horta thought. Did David Puttnam feel the need to dumb down
SIGNS OF CHANGE?
and sex up the story of Dith Pran in The Killing Fields? Did Richard Attenborough take such liberties with the story of Steve Biko, when he made Cry Freedom? Although Suharto’s defenders argued that Indonesians were more concerned with full stomachs than with free elections, there were growing signs of discontent with his rule, and claims of human rights abuses were becoming harder to cover up or refute. The Wikileaks website, to which anyone could upload confidential documents, was full such gems as Indonesian torture manuals. It may have become harder to refute these claims, but that didn’t mean that Indonesia’s allies weren’t trying harder. While surfing through the satellite TV channels in his hotel room, Horta came across Sky News, which was reporting a debate in the British House of Lords, on, as luck would have it, arms sales to Indonesia. Responding for the Government, the Foreign Office Minister, Baroness Kennedy, said ‘there is no evidence that weapons sold to Indonesia are being used for internal repression…’ Knowing that he would lose it if he kept listening to ‘that woman’, as he called her, Horta switched over to RTPi, and news of the plummeting value of the Portuguese escudo. It was now valued at 685,324,762 to the euro, and the Assembly of the Republic was holding an emergency debate on pegging the escudo to the Angolan kwanza. Following his successful state visit to Indonesia, President Woolcott had arrived back in Whitlam, DC (District of Canberra), as the national capital was now called. As Gough Whitlam had not lived to see the establishment of a republic, many had thought it a fitting tribute that the capital should renamed in his honour. There had even been proposals to erect a giant bronze statue of the former Prime Minister on top of Parliament House, but after
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE
much debate, it was decided to have the statue overlooking Lake Gough Whitlam instead. In 2005, it was finally completed, with Whitlam standing with his arms outstretched, and the words ‘It’s Time’ on the base. The visit to Indonesia had been deeply symbolic for Woolcott, for a republican of long standing, a crowning achievement both professionally and personally. Not only was the Commonwealth of Australia now a republic, but it was with him as President, and the country could now be accepted by its Asian neighbours as one of them. Or could it? To the Turnbull government’s dismay, Indonesia had vetoed Australia’s accession to the Asia Pacific Economic Community. What ever did Australia have to do next to get into the club? It had signed the controversial Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, under which Australia had granted Indonesia numerous privileges and concessions, none of which were reciprocal. Under the Treaty, Indonesia had extraterritorial jurisdiction in Australia, meaning that its citizens could only be tried in Indonesian consular courts, not in Australian ones. More disturbingly, people could be extradited to face trial in Indonesia without any admissible evidence being required. As a result, most East Timorese in Australia, even those who had become citizens long ago, had emigrated to Brazil or Angola. In retaliation, Whitlam broke off diplomatic relations with Brasilia, and demolished its former embassy, which was to be used as the site of the impressive new Indonesian Consular Court building. As his motorcade drove through the leafy avenues of Keating en route to Yarralumla Palace, something did not seem right to the President. Granted it was not the liveliest of places, but the mood seemed sombre. Suddenly, the President’s mobile phone started ringing. It was the Ambassador to Jakarta, Peter Woolcott. ‘Dad,’ he said, ‘what’s
SIGNS OF CHANGE?
the latest in Australia?’ The President seemed puzzled. ‘Well, nothing strange or startling to report, but...’ he asked. ‘No, Dad, it’s Suharto,’ Peter interjected, ‘he’s just collapsed and died.’
INTRODUCTION 1. Funu: The Unfinished Saga of East Timor, José Ramos Horta, Red Sea Press, 1987, page 191 2. See ‘But Who Are These Western Crusaders to Be Lecturing Asians?’ Philip Bowring, International Herald Tribune 15 September 1999 3. ‘The tragedy that is Timor’, Tom Hyland, The Age 11 June, 2006 4. See http://www0.un.org/peace/etimor/DB/db200502.htm 5. The Australian, 6 December, 1991 6. ‘Blinded by propaganda’, John Roughan, The New Zealand Herald, 3 June 2006 7. East Timor’s new President: Jose Ramos Horta, Sunday Profile, ABC Radio National, 20 May 2007
CHAPTER ONE 1. ‘The Low-Profile Laureate’, New York Magazine 25 Nov 1996 2. Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Commonwealth Government Cablegram 689 LONDON, 13 October 1941 3. ‘East Timor - the new Thailand?’ Max Anderson, The Sunday Times 23 October 2005 4. ‘Downhill all the way since Habibie let go’, The Australian, Greg Sheridan, 26 September 2006 5. Richard Shears, Daily Mail, 12 February 2008. See also http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-513557/President-East-Timorshot-failed-coup-country-Gurkhas-peace.html 6. Quoted by Gerard Henderson in ‘Fledgling nation simply wasn’t ready’ Sydney Morning Herald, 6 June, 2006
7. ‘Bring our troops home in 2006’, Correlli Barnett, The Spectator, 31 December 2005 8. The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It, Paul Collier, Oxford University Press, 2007, page 126 9. ‘Antidote to parochialism’, Inside Indonesia November 2001 10. ‘The nation builder’, Paul Keating, Sydney Morning Herald, 1 February, 2008 11. ‘Normality far off for East Timor’, George Quinn, The Canberra Times, 26 September 2006 12. ‘The legacy of Australian decisions is meltdown in Timor’, George Quinn, Sydney Morning Herald, 2 June 2006 13. ‘Indonesia Essential for the Future of East Timor’, George Quinn, The Canberra Times, 26 June 2001 14. Sheridan, supra. 15. A A Gill, The Sunday Times, 21 August 2005 16. ‘Talking Portuguese: China and East Timor’, Michael Leach, Arena Magazine, December 2007 17. A traveller’s dictionary in Tetun-English and English-Tetun from the land of the sleeping crocodile, East Timor, Cliff Morris Baba Dook Books, 1992 18. ‘School boxes help East Timorese to rebuild a shattered education system’, Paul Vallely, The Independent, 2 January 2006 19. Anderson, supra. 20. The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Power to the East, Kishore Mahbubani, PublicAffairs, page 15
CHAPTER TWO 1. United Nations General Assembly Official Records, 12th Session, First Committee, 912th Meeting, 26 November 1957 2. Commonwealth of Australia, Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee Report, Official Committee Hansard, 6 December 1999, page 984 3. ibid. 4. Telling – East Timor: Personal Testimonies 1942-1992, Michele Turner, UNSW Press, 1992, page 72 180
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE 5. John G Taylor, Indonesia’s Forgotten War: The Hidden History of East Timor, Pluto Press, 1991, page 21 6. Timor: A Nation Reborn, Bill Nicol, Equinox Publishing, 2002, page 90 7. Chapter 3: The History of the Conflict, Chega! Commission for Truth, Reception and Reconciliation, Timor-Leste, page 27 8. ‘Hindsight has not cleared the vision of an atrocity’, Gerard Henderson, Sydney Morning Herald, 18 August, 2009 9. ‘Timor: The Final Solution’, Four Corners, ABC Television, 15 June 1998 10. Chapter 3: The History of the Conflict, Chega! Commission for Truth, Reception and Reconciliation, Timor-Leste, page 26 11. ‘Pro-Jakarta party in Timor snubs Lisbon talks’, The Age, 5 March 1975 12. ‘Portugal told Menzies that Jakarta would take E Timor’, Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 27 July 1999 13. Chapter 3: The History of the Conflict, Chega! Commission for Truth, Reception and Reconciliation, Timor-Leste, page 26 14. ibid, page 29 15. Documents in Australian Foreign Policy: Australia and the Indonesian Incorporation of Portuguese Timor 1974-1976 ed. Wendy Way, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Melbourne University Press, 2000, Document 54, page 24 16. Chapter 7.4: Arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment, Chega! page 18 17. Chapter 3, Chega! page 96 18. ‘Intelligence Wars: Behind the Lance Collins Affair’, Background Briefing, ABC Radio National, 30 May 2004 19. The Hot Seat: Reflections on Diplomacy from Stalin’s Death to the Bali Bombings, Richard Woolcott, HarperCollins Publishers, Sydney, 2003, page 149 20. British Embassy in Jakarta, Confidential Internal Memorandum, Subject: Timor, January 2, 1976 21. Chapter 7.1: Self Determination, Chega! Commission for Truth, Reception and Reconciliation, Timor-Leste, page 41 22. Taylor, supra, page 128
NOTES 23. ‘East Timor Relief Operation, Concerning: Situation in Timor, Report of the activities of the delegation from 1-15 September. Darwin’, International Committee of the Red Cross, 16 September 1975 24. Relatório do Governo de Timor, Presidência do Concelho dos Ministros, Portugal, page 306 25. Funu: The Unfinished Saga of East Timor, José Ramos Horta, Red Sea Press, 1987, page 59 26. Taylor, supra, page 128 27. Commonwealth of Australia, Official Committee Hansard supra, page 983 28. Record Group 59, Department of State Records, Executive Secretariat Briefing Books, 1958-1976, Box 227, President Ford’s Visit to the Far East - Indonesia Nov-Dec. 1975 29. Ramos Horta, supra, page 187 30. ibid, page 58 31. ibid, page 97 32. Chapter 3: The History of the Conflict, Chega! Commission for Truth, Reception and Reconciliation, Timor-Leste, page 55 33. ‘No escaping the burden of good intentions, Cavan Hogue, The Australian, 12 March, 2007 34. Taylor, supra, page 21 35. Ramos Horta, supra, page 6 36. ibid. 37. Chrystello, J Chrys, East Timor: The Secret Files, Contemporânea, 2001, page 28 38. Last Flight Out of Dili, David Scott, Pluto Press Australia, 2005, page 66 39. Turner, supra, page 175 40. ibid, page 182 41. ‘Indonesian immigrants to East Timor face uphill battle’, Andreas Harsono, American Reporter, 29 July 1998 42. ‘Arndt shared insights of rare social benefit’ P P McGuinness, The Australian, 9 May 2007 43. Children to starve as funding for food runs out, Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, 8 July, 2009 44. Nicol, supra, page 254 182
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE 45. Taylor, supra, page 128 46. ‘To struggle for freedom: Indonesia yesterday, East Timor today’, Peter Carey, Inside Indonesia, January-March 1997 47. ‘East Timor and Human Rights in Indonesia: A Fresh Look,’ Telegram 02365 from US Embassy Jakarta to State Department, 5 March, 1993 48. Nicol, supra, page 255 49. ‘Timor-Leste readies for modest 10th anniversary’, Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post 30 August 2009 50. ‘Why Australia should reopen its consulate in East Timor’, Peter Hastings, Sydney Morning Herald, 12 June, 1975 51. Gough Whitlam, ‘Indonesia and Australia, Political Aspects: the Indonesian Connection’, seminar at the Australian National University, 30 November 1979 52. Ramos Horta, supra, page 130 53. ‘Refugees: it’s a massacre’, Michael Smith, The Age, 27 August 1975 54. ‘Bleating Hearts’, Eric Ellis, The Bulletin, 28 May, 2003 55. ‘Dig in to save Timor’, Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 26 May 2006 56. ‘Communal Conflict in Viqueque and the “Charged” History of ‘59’, Janet Gunter, The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, Vol. 8, No. 1, March 2007, page 29 57. ‘The Defence of East Timor: A Recipe For Disaster?’ Desmond Ball, Pacifica Review, Volume 14, Number 3, October 2002 58. ‘Timor-Leste: Security Sector Reform’, International Crisis Group Asia Report N°143, 17 January 2008, page 5 59. Relatório do Governo de Timor, supra, page 31 60. McGuinness, supra. 61. Per Memoriam ad Spem, Indonesia-Timor-Leste Commission for Truth and Friendship, 2008, page 45 62. ibid, page 115 63. ibid, page 46 64. ibid, page 115 65. ‘Fledgling nation simply wasn’t ready’, Gerard Henderson, Sydney Morning Herald, 6 June, 2006
NOTES CHAPTER THREE 1. Dutch Culture Overseas: Colonial Practice in the Netherlands Indies 19001942, Frances Gouda, Equinox Publishing, 2008, page 61 2. ‘East Timor - Debunking the Myths around a Process of Decolonization’, Remarks before the National Press Club, Washington DC, 20 February, 1992, published in Voice for a just peace: a collection of speeches Ali Alatas, Gramedia Pustaka Utama, 2001, page 509 3. ‘Direct ballot: Show Horta East Timorese again choose integration’, Antara, 27 March 1999 4. ‘Communal Conflict in Viqueque and the “Charged” History of ‘59’, Janet Gunter, The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, Vol. 8, No. 1, March 2007, page 29 5. ibid, page 30 6. ‘Pejuang 1959 akan reuni dan menulis buku sejarah’, Antara, 15 January 1996 7. ‘Malik to visit Timor over “unrest” report’ The Age, 4 April 1972 8. ‘Indonesia “would aid rising”‘ The Age, 5 April 1972 9. Indonesia, Bruce Grant, 1967, Penguin Books, page 30 10. ‘Peaceful and quickly over’, Satyindra Singh, Indian Express, 24 December, 1998 11. Goa, James Maude Richards, C. Hurst, 1981, page 75 12. ‘Goa: But Not Gone’, Time Magazine Friday, 27 January, 1967 13. The Portuguese in Goa, Teotónio R de Souza, Goa Publications Pvt. Ltd, 2008 14. ‘Unwrapping Goan Identity’, Semana de Cultura Goa, Teotónio R de Souza, 2008, page 18 15. ‘The Making of Tim-Tim’, Robert Kroon, Time, 14 June, 1976 16. ‘Get out, Fretilin told’, Michael Richardson, The Age, 4 December 1975 17. Colonization, Decolonization and Integration: Language Policies in East Timor, Indonesia Nancy Melissa Lutz, American Anthropological Association Chicago, 20 November, 1991 18. Advance Report of the National Commission of Inquiry into 12 November 1991 incident in Dili, 26 December 1991, in East Timor and
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE the International Community: Basic Documents Heike Krieger and Dietrich Rauschning, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 257 19. ‘East Timor and Human Rights in Indonesia: A Fresh Look,’ Telegram 02365 from US Embassy Jakarta to State Department, 5 March, 1993 20. Merle Calvin Ricklefs, A history of modern Indonesia since c. 1200, Stanford University Press, 2001, page 204 21. ibid. 22. John G Taylor, Indonesia’s Forgotten War: The Hidden History of East Timor, Pluto Press, 1991, page 13 23. Memorandum of Conversation between Presidents Ford and Suharto, 5 July 1975, Gerald R. Ford Library, National Security Adviser Memoranda of Conversations, Box 13, July 5, 1965 24. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen and Macau – A Photographic Commemoration on the Occasion of the 140th Anniversary of his Birth Exhibition, Chan Shu Wing, Macau Government Tourist Office 25. ‘The 12-3 Incident’ Macau Encyclopedia, Macau Foundation, 2008 26. The Hong Kong Reader: Passage to Chinese Sovereignty Ming K. Chan, Gerard A. Postiglione, East Gate Books, 1996, page 45 27. ‘The 14th Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” ridiculous’ Yue Li, Tibet Magazine, September 2007 28. Ali Alatas, The Pebble in the Shoe: The Diplomatic Struggle for East Timor, Aksara Karunia, 2006, page 101 29. ‘The nation builder’, Paul Keating, Sydney Morning Herald, 1 February, 2008 30. ‘There are two kinds of dictator: ours and theirs. Ours are better’, Niall Ferguson, The Sunday Telegraph, 17 December 2006 31. ‘Suharto as I knew him’, Richard Woolcott, The Australian, 28 January, 2008 32. ‘The nation builder’, Paul Keating, Sydney Morning Herald, 1 February, 2008 33. ‘First Steps – Timor Independence: Birth of a Nation’, Don Greenlees, Robert Garran, The Australian, 20 May 2002 34. ‘Downhill all the way since Habibie let go’, The Australian, Greg Sheridan, 26 September 2006 35. ‘Indonesia revises Timor autonomy plan’, David Watts, 185
NOTES The Times, 20 April 1999 36. ‘Critical notes on Jakarta’s proposal for a Special Autonomous Region of East Timor’, Adérito de Jesus Soares and Nuno Rodrigues, Sa’he Study Club, 18 May 1999 37. ‘The nation builder’, Paul Keating, Sydney Morning Herald, 1 February, 2008 38. Documents in Australian Foreign Policy: Australia and the Indonesian Incorporation of Portuguese Timor 1974-1976 ed. Wendy Way, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Melbourne University Press, 2000, page 129 39. Funu: The Unfinished Saga of East Timor, José Ramos Horta, Red Sea Press, 1987, page 66 40. Telegram 6284 from US Embassy Jakarta to State Department, ‘Situation in East Timor,’ May 13, 1976 41. Clementino Amaral, testimony to the CAVR National Public Hearing on The Internal Political Conflict, 1974-76, 15-18 December 2003. 42. ‘East Timor Conference in Manila Tests Southeast Asia’s “Good Neighbor” Policy’, Michael Richardson, The New York Times, 9 December, 1993 43. Negligent Neighbour: New Zealand’s Complicity in the Invasion and Occupation of Timor Leste, Maire Leadbeater, Craig Potton Publishing, 2007, pages 182-185 44. Timor: A Nation Reborn Bill Nicol, Equinox Publishing, 2002, page 228 45. ‘Goa and East Timor: Contrasting Histories’, Heinz Arndt, Quadrant July-August 2001 46. Timor: A Nation Reborn Bill Nicol, Equinox Publishing, 2002, page 71 47. Funu: The Unfinished Saga of East Timor, José Ramos Horta, Red Sea Press, 1987, page 32 48. Chrystello, J Chrys, East Timor: The Secret Files, Contemporânea, 2001, page 36 49. ‘Getting an education’, Angie Bexley, Inside Indonesia, April-June 2009 50. ‘An island that holds promise for Malaysia’, Balan Moses, New Straits Times, 7 January 2005 51. The Indonesian National Revolution- 1945-1950, Anthony Reid, 186
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE Longman Pty Ltd, 1974, page 3 52. ‘Russia denies it illegally annexed the Baltic republics in 1940’, Associated Press, 5 May 2005 53. ‘Habibie Truly Admired the “Little Red Dot”‘, Today, 20 September 2006 54. ‘Remembering Suharto: Five Ambassadors Reflect’ USINDO Report, United States Indonesia Society, 7 March, 2008
CHAPTER FOUR 1. ‘Dictatorships and Double Standards’, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Commentary, November 1979 2. ‘The Nation Reviewed’, Don Watson, The Monthly, June 2006 3. ‘East Timor: Remembering the past to secure the future’, Heinz Arndt, Australian Financial Review, 23 April 1999 4. ‘Indonesia at the ANU – why so late?’ Anthony Reid, Asian Studies Association of Australia – 17th Biennial Conference, 1-3 July 2008 5. ‘The trouble with the Jakarta lobby “conspiracy”‘, Peter Rodgers, The Age, 9 August 2004 6. ‘What Australia lost in Timor’, Richard Woolcott, Sydney Morning Herald, 8 March, 2003 7. Arndt, supra. 8. Interview, Centre for Independent Studies, Winter 2000 9. Indonesia Update, Quarterly Bulletin, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, September 2002 10. ‘Whitlam defends role in East Timor’ PM, ABC Radio National, 26 June 2002 11. Documents in Australian Foreign Policy: Australia and the Indonesian Incorporation of Portuguese Timor 1974-1976 ed. Wendy Way, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Melbourne University Press, 2000, Document 37, 24 September 1974 12. ‘Why Australia should reopen its consulate in East Timor’, Peter Hastings, Sydney Morning Herald, 12 June, 1975 13. Documents, Document 59, 24 November 1974 14. ibid, Document 64, 10 December 1974 187
NOTES 15. ‘Pro-Jakarta party in Timor snubs Lisbon talks’, The Age, 5 March 1975 16. Hastings, supra. 17. Funu: The Unfinished Saga of East Timor, José Ramos Horta, Red Sea Press, 1987, page 158 18. Fighting Spirit of East Timor: The Life of Martinho da Costa Lopes Rowena Lennox, Pluto Press Australia, 2000, pages 184-185 19. Ramos Horta, supra. 20. ‘Our model dictator’, John Pilger, The Guardian, 28 January 2008 21. ‘Latham should dump his anti-Americanism’, Gregory Hywood, The Age, 29 April, 2004 22. ‘Malaysia Premier Demands Apology’, Philip Shenon, The New York Times, 9 December, 1993 23. Keating spurns Timor refugees’, The Guardian, 11 October 1995 24. Last Flight Out of Dili, David Scott, Pluto Press Australia, 2005, page 287 25. ‘The Jakarta Lobby: Mea Culpa?’ Scott Burchill, The Age 4 March 1999 26. ‘Keating and Howard slug it out over East Timor’, AM, ABC Radio National, 5 October, 1999 27. Sydney Morning Herald, 1 January, 2006 28. ABC Radio National, supra. 29. ‘Howard didn’t want Timor free’, Michael Costello, The Australian, 8 April 2005 30. ‘The Road to INTERFET: Bringing the Politics Back In’, Clinton Fernandes, Security Challenges, vol. 4, no. 3 (Spring 2008), page 84 31. ibid, page 90. 32. ‘Labor policy ups ante for autonomy in East Timor’, Don Greenlees, The Australian, 18 October 1997 33. ‘Downer hails Timor troop withdrawal’, I Stewart, The Australian, 28 July 1998 34. Fernandes, supra, page 86 35. ‘Freedom Hopes Mount’, G. Green, The Age, 13 January 1999 36. Costello, supra. 37. ibid. 188
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE 38. ‘Truth, Death & Diplomacy in East Timor’ Mark Aarons, The Monthly, April 2006 39. ‘Fledgling nation simply wasn’t ready’, Gerard Henderson, Sydney Morning Herald, 6 June, 2006 40. Scott, supra, page 194 41. Hansard: Senate, 18th May, 1976 42. ‘The Royal Family of Australian Communism’, Fred Wells, The Bulletin, 9 February 1963 43. ‘The Price of Freedom - 2003’, Paul Monk, Quadrant, November 2003 44. Graham Freudenberg, A Certain Grandeur, Sun Books, Melbourne, 1977, page 18 45. Secret cable, 5 February 1963, released by Australian Government in 2002 46. ‘E.G. Whitlam launches Bill Nichol [sic], “Timor - A Nation Reborn”‘, It’s Time, Whitlam Institute, June 2002 47. ‘No escaping the burden of good intentions, Cavan Hogue, The Australian, 12 March, 2007 48. James Dunn, Timor: A People Betrayed Jacaranda Press, 1983, page 81 49. Hogue, supra. 50. ‘You got him in, so help kick him out’, Hal G.P. Colebatch, The Australian, 16 April, 2008 51. ‘The nation builder’, Paul Keating, Sydney Morning Herald, 1 February, 2008 52. Documents, Document 54, page 314 53. Shakedown: Australia’s Grab for Timor Oil, Paul Cleary, Allen & Unwin Academic, 2007, page 79 54. ‘Australia rapped over E Timor oil’, BBC News, 19 May, 2004 55. Scott, supra, 53 56. ‘Interpreting where neighbours stand’, James Dunn and Peter Hastings, Sydney Morning Herald, 2 November, 1979 57. ‘Timor wins famine war’, Henry Kamm, The Age, 29 January 1980 58. ‘Touch of Timor horse-trading’, The Age, 24 October, 1974 59. ‘Understanding Indonesia’, The Age, 5 July, 1984 60. Distant Voices, John Pilger, Vintage, 1994, page 262 61. ibid. 189
NOTES 62. Scott, supra, 59 63. ‘A weightier role in Dili’, Paul Kelly, The Australian, 2 June 2006 64. The Far East: A History of the Impact of the West on Eastern Asia, Paul Hibbert Clyde, Prentice-Hall, 1948, page 288 65. ‘The amazing man behind Pauline Hanson: Bill Birnbauer, David Elias and Duncan Graham profile John Pasquarelli’, The Age, 30 March 1997 66. Melbourne Observer, 7 June 2006 67. ‘Pires charges show justice a casualty of Ramos Horta attack’, Paul Toohey, The Australian, 7 March, 2009
CHAPTER FIVE 1. ‘The colour that dares not speak its name: schooling and “the myth of Portuguese anti-racism”‘, Marta Araújo, Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal, International Conference Equality and Social Inclusion in the 21st Century: Developing Alternatives, Belfast, 2006 2. ‘The controversy over Charles Boxer’s Race Relations in the Portuguese Colonial Empire 1415-1825’, J S Cummins, L De Sousa Rebelo, Portuguese Studies, Annual, 2001 3. Araújo, supra. 4. Funu: The Unfinished Saga of East Timor, José Ramos Horta, Red Sea Press, 1987, page 57 5. Mário Lemos Pires, testimony given to the CAVR National Public Hearing on the Internal Political Conflict 1974-76, 15-18 December 2003, Chapter 7.1: Self-Determination, Chega! page 12 6. ibid. 7. Ramos Horta, supra, pages 59 8. ibid, pages 59-60 9. From the Place of the Dead: Bishop Belo and the Struggle for East Timor, Arnold S Kohen, Lion Publishing, 1999, page 107 10. ‘Portugal and Goa in the 21st Century: Towards an Alliance of the Small’, Constantino H. Xavier, Goanet Reader, 16 November 2008 11. East Timor: Nationalism and Colonialism, Jill Jolliffe, University of Queensland Press, 1978, page 10 190
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE 12. ‘Current Language Issues in East Timor’, Dr Geoffrey Hull, public lecture given at the University of Adelaide, 29 March, 2000 13. ibid. 14. ‘Language Born of Colonialism Thrives Again in Amazon’, Larry Rohter, New York Times, 28 August 2005 15. ‘Cravinho quer pôr portugueses a falar tétum’, Diário de Notícias, 4 September 2007 16. ‘East Timor: Identity, Language and Educational Policy’, Geoffrey Hull, address to the CNRT National Congress, 25 August, 2000 17. ‘Ensinar Português em Timor’, João Paulo Esperança, Timor 2006, 29 June 2007 18. ‘Após uma década de apoio à reintrodução da língua portuguesa em Timor, João Paulo Esperança, Hanoin Oin-Oin, 16 July 2009 19. ‘Writing on human skin’, University of Oxford History Faculty Alumni Newsletter, No. 3, 2005 20. Esperança, 2007, supra. 21. ‘Acordo Ortográfico é “acto colonial” do Brasil’, Miguel Sousa Tavares, Expresso, 20 September 2009 22. Language Choice in a Nation under Transition: English Language Spread in Cambodia, Thomas Clayton, Springer, 2006, page 172 23. ‘Rwanda to switch from French to English in schools’, Chris McGreal, The Guardian, 14 October 2008 24. ‘The Samba and the Fado’, John Fitzpatrick, Brazzil, 2 March 2003 25. ‘An Enclave of Brazilians Is Testing Insular Japan’, Norimitsu Onishi, New York Times, 1 November 2008 26. ‘GM Holden Celebrates 10th Year of Exports to Brazil’, Holden press release, 28 August 2007 27. ‘China Sees Advantages in Macao’s Portuguese Past’, James Brooke, New York Times, 21 October 2004 28. ‘TDM Launches Satellite Channel on AsiaSat 5’, AsiaSat press release, 8 October 2009 29. Dutch Culture Overseas: Colonial Practice in the Netherlands Indies 19001942, Frances Gouda, Equinox Publishing, 2008, page 49
NOTES CHAPTER SIX 1. ‘Timor’s model can serve Iraq’, Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian, 29 October 2003 2. ‘UN acts at last on sex crimes in Timor’, Lindsay Murdoch, Sydney Morning Herald, 30 August 2006 3. ‘New Hebrides: Whither Pandemonium?’ Time, 9 December 1974 4. ‘Peacing East Timor back together’, Peter Alford, The Australian, 27 June 2000 5. ‘Dispelling the Myths of Timor’, Helen Hill, Arena Magazine, February-March 2003 6. ‘Struggling East Timor, a country of little hope’, Jane Perlez, International Herald Tribune, 12 July 2006 7. ‘Message from America: we’re independent’ Mark Steyn, Daily Telegraph, 7 July 2002 8. Papua: Geopolitics and the Quest for Nationhood, Bilveer Singh, Transaction Publishers, 2008, page 62 9. Guide to East Timor, Tony Wheeler, Lonely Planet 2004, page 137 10. ‘Our role in East Timor is long term’, Greg Sheridan, The Australian, February 14, 2008 11. ‘Two New Zealanders pay tribute to Sergio Vieira de Mello’, Phil Goff and Andrew Ladley, New Zealand Herald, 21 August 2003 12. ‘The Defence of East Timor: A Recipe For Disaster?’ Desmond Ball, Pacifica Review, Volume 14, Number 3, October 2002 13. ‘Bleating Hearts’, Eric Ellis, The Bulletin, 28 May, 2003 14. ‘Hushed rape of Timor’, Mark Dodd, The Weekend Australian, 26 March 2005 15. ‘Making a Tardy Issue of East Timor’, Richard Woolcott, International Herald Tribune, 6 March, 1995 16. ‘The legacy of Australian decisions is meltdown in Timor’, George Quinn, Sydney Morning Herald, 2 June 2006 17. ‘Belo will not participate in AIETD’, Lusa, 18 October 1998 18. Commonwealth of Australia, Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee Report, ‘East Timor’, Chapter 6, ‘Australian Policy: Indonesia’s Incorporation of East Timor’, page 117
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE 19. Case Concerning East Timor (Portugal v. Australia), International Court of Justice, Judgment of 30 June 1995 in East Timor and the International Community: Basic Documents, Heike Krieger and Dietrich Rauschning, Cambridge University Press, 1997, 465 20. Australian declaration under paragraph 2 of Article 36 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice 1945, lodged at New York on 22 March 2002. 21. Eritrea: Report of the UN Commission for Eritrea, Report of the Interim Committee of the General Assembly on the Report of the UN Commission for Eritrea, UN General Assembly Resolution 390 (V), 2 December 1950 22. Eritrea: Birth of a Nation, Government of Eritrea, Department of External Affairs, 1993 23. UN General Assembly Resolution 3292 (XXIX), 13 December 1974 24. Summary of the Summary of the Advisory Opinion of 16 October 1975, International Court of Justice 25. United Nations Visiting Mission to Spanish Sahara, General Assembly Official Records, 1975, General Assembly, 30th Session, Supplement 23, UN Document A/10023/Rev. 26. The Western Saharans. Background to Conflict, Virginia Thompson and Richard Adloff, Barnes & Noble, 1980, page 175 27. Funu: The Unfinished Saga of East Timor, José Ramos Horta, Red Sea Press, 1987, page 154 28. ibid, 142 29. ibid, page 139 30. ‘CPLP: Indonésia pretende estatuto de observador - embaixador Lopes da Cruz’, Lusa, 19 November 2008 31. ‘Abuja is a bunfight for kleptomaniacs’, Kevin Myers, Sunday Telegraph, 7 December 2003 ‘SBY, Council Offer Right Perspectives on Gaza’, Taufik Darusman, Jakarta Globe, January 12, 2009 33. ‘Mandela met jailed Timor rebel leader’, Reuters, 23 July 1997 34. Alford, supra. 35. ‘UNTAET Bottled Water Facts’, The La’o Hamutuk Bulletin, La’o Hamutuk, April 2001 36. ‘East Timorese go begging as foreign advisers rake it in’, Paul Toohey, The Australian, 25 April 2009 193
NOTES 37. ‘A nation built on ashes’, Peter Alford, The Australian, 26 June 2000 38. ‘Antidote to parochialism’, Inside Indonesia November 2001 39. ‘Speaking in Foreign Tongues’, Dili Insider, 20 August 2009
CHAPTER SEVEN 1. ‘East Timor’s Tower of Babel’, Dennis Schulz, Fernando de Freitas, Sydney Morning Herald, 16 August 2002 2. ‘Bahasa Indonesia: As pure as the driven word’, Duncan Graham, Jakarta Post, 11 August 2006 3. ‘CPLP: Indonésia pretende estatuto de observador - embaixador Lopes da Cruz’, Lusa, 19 November 2008 4. ‘National Language and Nation-Building’, Lucy R Montolalu and Leo Suryadinata, in Language, nation and development in Southeast Asia, ed. Hock Guan Lee, Leo Suryadinata, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2007 5. ‘East Timor: Education and human resources development’, Gavin W Jones, in Out of the Ashes: The Destruction and Reconstruction of East Timor James J Fox and Dionisio Babo Soares, Crawford House Publishing Pty Ltd, page 48 6. Schulz, de Freitas, supra. 7. ‘Ensinar Português em Timor’, João Paulo Esperança, Timor 2006, 29 June 2007 8. ‘East Timor drowns in language soup’ Ahmad Pathoni, Reuters, 23 April, 2007 9. ‘In East Timor, language creates a headache’, Sebastien Blanc, Agence France Presse, 11 July, 2007 10. ‘Letting go of Indonesian’, Marie Quinn, Inside Indonesia, April-June 2009 11. ‘Poverty-stricken, a divided nation struggles to cope’, Antony Funnell, Canberra Times, 9 December 2002 12. ‘Official Romansh still has some way to go’, Swissinfo, 21 September, 2006 13. ‘How standard?’ Catharina van Klinken, Inside Indonesia, January 2000 14. Timor: A Nation Reborn Bill Nicol, Equinox Publishing, 2002, page 327 194
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE 15. ‘Current Language Issues in East Timor’, Dr Geoffrey Hull, public lecture given at the University of Adelaide, 29 March, 2000 16. Wars of Words: The Politics of Language in Ireland 1537-2004, Tony Crowley, Oxford University Press, page 141 17. ‘Choosing a native tongue’, Michael Kessler, The Guardian, 18 April 2002 18. ‘Fighting to pray in peace’, Duncan Graham, The Jakarta Post, 22 November 2006 19. ‘From Opposition to Proposition: The National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) in Transition’, Pat Walsh, Australian Council for Overseas Aid, 1999 20. Quoted by Geoffrey Hull, Studies in Languages and Cultures of East Timor, University of Western Sydney, Volume 2, 1999, pages 2-3 21. ‘The Dili dynasty’, Eric Ellis, Financial Times, 31 May, 2002 22. ‘Divided by an uncommon language’, Peter Kammerer, South China Morning Post, 19 May 2002 23. ‘Rwanda to switch from French to English in schools’, Chris McGreal, The Guardian, 14 October 2008 24. ‘Kagame: Quiet soldier who runs Rwanda’, BBC News, 14 November, 2000 25. ‘Ravalomanana renforce ses pouvoirs et adopte l’anglais’, Radio France International, 5 April 2007 26. ‘Obiang convierte al portugués en tercer idioma oficial para entrar en la Comunidad lusófona de Naciones’, MISNA, 13 July 2007 27. Summary results of the 1996 Population By-census Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department, 1996 28. ‘Europeans and their Languages’, Eurobarometer, European Commission, February 2006 29. ‘Italian becomes official language... of Italy’, Reuters, 30 March, 2007 30. ‘In search of an Asian lingua franca’, Philip Bowring, International Herald Tribune 28 May, 2005 31. ‘Challenges for the Future’, Dionisio Babo Soares, in Out of the Ashes: The Destruction and Reconstruction of East Timor James J Fox and Dionisio Babo Soares, Crawford House Publishing Pty Ltd, page 271 32. ‘Timor-Leste: A complex crisis’, Tapol Bulletin, July 2006, Tapol
CHAPTER EIGHT 1. The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About it, Paul Collier, Oxford University Press, 2007, page 60 2. ‘Timor tells Telstra good riddance’, Geoff Elliott, The Australian, February 19, 2002 3. ‘Portuguese likely to be East Timor’s telco’, Jill Jolliffe, The Age, 30 May 2002 4. ‘UK and Spanish officials to discuss Gib’s phone crisis’, Panorama, 16 February 2001 5. ‘The Government finds the Opposition’s attitude to the telephone problems incomprehensible’, Government of Gibraltar Press Office, 21 May 2001 6. ‘Digicel announces full interconnection across Papua New Guinea’, Digicel press release, 19 June 2008 7. ‘PT’s strong bet and commitment in East Timor’, Portugal Telecom press release, 22 September, 2009 8. ‘Wimax brings remote Vietnamese villagers new voice’, Telecom Asia, February 2008 9. Extending Open Access to National Fibre Backbones in Developing Countries, Tracy Cohen and Russell Southwood, 8th ITU Global Symposium for Regulators 10. ‘Rammell welcomes new Postcode for the Falkland Islands’, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 19 May 2003 11. ‘Councils may take over threatened post offices’, Lewis Carter, Daily Telegraph, 10 March 2008 12. Chega! Chapter 3: The History of the Conflict, Commission for Truth, Reception and Reconciliation, Timor-Leste page 44 13. World Airline Directory, Flight International, 21 May 1974 14. ‘Kakoak Airlines and Indonesia’s Merpati Nusantara Airlines to serve Kupang-Dili route’, Antara, 8 March 2005 15. ‘SkyAirWorld’s last jet is repossessed’, Steve Creedy, The Australian, 18 March, 2009 16. ‘East Timor Air rolls towards takeoff, eyes 717s’, David Fullbrook, Air Transport Intelligence, 23 April, 2002 196
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE 17. ‘euroAtlantic at Dili Airport transporting GNR military staff to Timor’, euroAtlantic Airways press release, 29 January 2008
CHAPTER NINE 1. East and West: The Last Governor of Hong Kong on Power, Freedom and the Future, Chris Patten, McClelland & Stewart, 1998, page 94 2. ‘Canberra, Lisbon, head for row’, Hugh Armfield, The Age, 26 March 1974 3. Timor: A Nation Reborn, Bill Nicol, Equinox Publishing, 2002, page 326 4. ‘First Steps – Timor Independence: Birth of a Nation’, Don Greenlees, Robert Garran, The Australian, 20 May 2002 5. ‘Indonesia crisis: Chinese suffer for their success as mobs target the “Jews of the East”‘, Stephen Vines, The Independent, 16 May 1998 6. ‘Somalia: The land of opportunity’, BBC News, 15 November, 2001 7. ‘Blair reinvented the Middle Ages and called it liberal intervention’, Simon Jenkins, Sunday Times 3 June 2007 8. ‘Immigrants are good for us. Let them stay - and pay their taxes’, Simon Jenkins, Evening Standard 10 March 2009 9. The Safety Valve, Fr Lawrence E. Attard, Publishers Enterprises Group (PEG) Ltd, 1997 10. ‘East Timor Identity, Language and Educational Policy, Geoffrey Hull, address to CNRT National Congress, 25 August, 2000 11. ‘Timor’s Future’, Mark Aarons, The Monthly, August 2007 12. ‘Trouble brewing in oil-rich Norway’, Ivar Ekman, New York Times, 18 November, 2005 13. ‘Angolan Government Accused of Embezzling Oil Money’, This Day, 16 November 2004 14. Ekman, supra. 15. ‘Britain urged to help pay off “cheated” islanders’, Robert Milliken, The Independent, 17 August 1993 16. ‘Taiwan switch keeps Air Nauru flying’, Robert Keith-Reid, Islands Business, 19 January, 2006 17. ‘Nauru: Paradise well and truly lost’, The Economist, 197
NOTES 20 December 2001 18. ‘Aid, Shocks and Trade’, Paul Collier, East Timor: Development Challenges for the World’s Newest Nation, Hal Hill, João Mariano de Sousa Saldanha, Asia Pacific Press, 2001 page 348 19. ‘East Timor drowns in language soup’ Ahmad Pathoni, Reuters, 23 April, 2007 20. ‘Pret a Manger’s “fresh” chicken sandwich with frozen meat from Brazil’, Robert Mendick and Andrew Downie, Daily Telegraph, 31 October 2009 21. ‘Javanese in Suriname strive to preserve origins’ Santo Koesoebjono, The Jakarta Post, 14 March 1999 22. ‘Fiscal issues for a small war-torn Timor Loro Sa’e’, João Mariano Saldanha in Out of the Ashes: The Destruction and Reconstruction of East Timor James J Fox and Dionisio Babo Soares, Crawford House Publishing Pty Ltd, page 250 23. ‘Irish Eyes Smile on Dot-TP’, Stewart Taggart, Wired, 3 March 2002 24. Satellite VoIP for Dili Air Services, VoIP News, 22 January 2007 25. ‘3 private operators win int’l gateway licences for VoIP’, The Financial Express 20 February, 2008 26. ‘Hands Off Our Oil!’ Tom Dusevic, Time 24 May, 2004 27. ‘Black Marx’, Edward Theberton, The Spectator, 6 July 1986
CHAPTER TEN 1. Telling – East Timor: Personal Testimonies 1942-1992, Michele Turner, UNSW Press, 1992, page xv-xvi 2. ‘East Timor’, Ryan ver Berkmoes’, Southeast Asia on a Shoestring China Williams, Lonely Planet, 2008, page 128 3. ‘As population ages, more retirees use decades of business experience to help people overseas’, Rita Takenaka, Asahi Shimbun, 7 October 2006 4. Bad Samaritans: The Guilty Secrets of Rich Nations and the Threat to Global Prosperity, Ha-Joon Chang, Random House Books, 2008, page 5. Press Release from Connect Ireland Communications Ltd, 19 August 1999 6. ‘Telkom wins $1.3 million tender in Timor-Leste’, 198
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE Antara, 14 April 2007 7. Documents in Australian Foreign Policy: Australia and the Indonesian Incorporation of Portuguese Timor 1974-1976 ed. Wendy Way, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Melbourne University Press, 2000, page 255 8. ‘Siaran Timor-Leste Bisa Dinikmati di Indonesia’, Situs Tony, 1 May, 2008 9. ‘A hybrid popular culture’, Annie Sloman, Inside Indonesia, April-June 2009 10. The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture, Andrew Keen, Currency, 2007, page 65 11. ‘East Timor: Identity, Language and Educational Policy’, Geoffrey Hull, address to the CNRT National Congress, 25 August, 2000 12. ‘Timor Leste – A Ilha Insustentável’, Pedro Rosa Mendes, Público, 25 November 2008 13. ‘Malaysia, Timor-Leste Sign MOU On Education’, Bernama, 22 October 2009 14. ‘Teacher training in East Timor - a different perspective that is grounded in the reality on the ground’, email from Br Fons van Rooij fms, 23 Oct 2009 15. Turner, supra, ix 16. Holidays in Hell, P J O’Rourke, Vintage Books, 1989 page 203 17. Timor: A Nation Reborn Bill Nicol, Equinox Publishing, 2002, page 169
Alatas, Ali, Voice for a just peace: a collection of speeches Gramedia Pustaka Utama, 2001 - The Pebble in the Shoe: The Diplomatic Struggle for East Timor, Aksara Karunia, 2006 Babo Soares, Dionisio, ‘Challenges for the Future’, in Out of the Ashes: The Destruction and Reconstruction of East Timor James J Fox and Dionisio Babo Soares, Crawford House Publishing Pty Ltd Cairncross, Frances The Death of Distance: How The Communications Revolution Will Change Our Lives Harvard Business Press, 1997 Chan, Ming K, Postiglione, Gerard A, The Hong Kong Reader: Passage to Chinese Sovereignty, East Gate Books, 1996 Chang, Ha-Joon, Bad Samaritans: The Guilty Secrets of Rich Nations and the Threat to Global Prosperity, Random House Books, 2008 Chrystello, J Chrys, East Timor: The Secret Files, Contemporânea, 2001 Clayton, Thomas, Language Choice in a Nation under Transition: English Language Spread in Cambodia, Springer, 2006 Collier, Paul, The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About it, Oxford University Press, 2007 Cleary, Paul Shakedown: Australia’s Grab for Timor Oil, Allen & Unwin Academic, 2007 Clyde, Paul Hibbert The Far East: A History of the Impact of the West on Eastern Asia Prentice-Hall, 1948 Commission for Truth, Reception and Reconciliation, Timor-Leste, Chega! 2006 Indonesia-Timor-Leste Commission for Truth and Friendship, Per Memoriam ad Spem, 2008 Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Documents in Australian Foreign Policy: Australia and the
Indonesian Incorporation of Portuguese Timor 1974-1976 ed. Wendy Way, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Melbourne University Press, 2000 Commonwealth of Australia, Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee Report Costa, Luís, Dicionário de Tétum-Português, Edições Colibri, 2000 Crowley, Tony, Wars of Words: The Politics of Language in Ireland 1537-2004, Oxford University Press Dunn, James, Timor: A People Betrayed, Jacaranda Press, 1983 Fernandes, Clinton, ‘The Road to INTERFET: Bringing the Politics Back In’, Security Challenges, vol. 4, no. 3 (Spring 2008) Jones, Gavin W, ‘East Timor: Education and human resources development’, in Out of the Ashes: The Destruction and Reconstruction of East Timor James J Fox and Dionisio Babo Soares, Crawford House Publishing Pty Ltd Freudenberg, Graham, A Certain Grandeur Sun Books, Melbourne, 1977 Gouda, Frances, Dutch Culture Overseas: Colonial Practice in the Netherlands Indies 1900-1942, Equinox Publishing, 2008 Government of Eritrea, Department of External Affairs, Eritrea: Birth of a Nation, 1993 Grant, Bruce Indonesia, Penguin Books, 1967 Lutz, Nancy Melissa, Colonization, Decolonization and Integration: Language Policies in East Timor, Indonesia American Anthropological Association Chicago, 20 November, 1991 Hill, Hal, Saldanha, João Mariano de Sousa, East Timor: Development Challenges for the World’s Newest Nation, Asia Pacific Press, 2001 Hull, Geoffrey, Studies in Languages and Cultures of East Timor, University of Western Sydney, Volume 2, 1999, pages 1-7 - Standard Tetum-English Dictionary, Allen and Unwin, 2000
A PRETTY UNFAIR PLACE
- ‘Current Language Issues in East Timor’, public lecture given at the University of Adelaide, 29 March, 2000 - ‘East Timor: Identity, Language and Educational Policy’, address to the CNRT National Congress, 25 August, 2000 International Crisis Group, ‘Timor-Leste: Security Sector Reform’, Asia Report N°143, 17 January 2008 Jolliffe, Jill, East Timor: Nationalism and Colonialism, University of Queensland Press, 1978 Kohen, Arnold S From the Place of the Dead: Bishop Belo and the Struggle for East Timor, Lion Publishing, 1999 Krieger, Heike and Rauschning, Dietrich, East Timor and the International Community: Basic Documents Cambridge University Press, 1997 Leadbeater, Maire Negligent Neighbour: New Zealand’s Complicity in the Invasion and Occupation of Timor Leste, Craig Potton Publishing, 2007 Lennox, Rowena, Fighting Spirit of East Timor: The Life of Martinho da Costa Lopes Pluto Press Australia, 2000 Montolalu, Lucy R and Suryadinata, Leo ‘National Language and Nation-Building’, in Language, nation and development in Southeast Asia, ed. Hock Guan Lee, Leo Suryadinata, Nicol, Bill Timor: A Nation Reborn, Equinox Publishing, 2002 Pilger, John, Distant Voices, Vintage, 1994 Ramos Horta, José Funu: The Unfinished Saga of East Timor, Red Sea Press, 1987 Reid, Anthony, The Indonesian National Revolution- 1945-1950, Longman Pty Ltd, 1974 Richards, James Maude Goa, C. Hurst, 1981 Ricklefs, Merle Calvin A history of modern Indonesia since c. 1200, Stanford University Press, 2001 Saldanha, João Mariano, ‘Fiscal issues for a small war-torn Timor Loro Sa’e’, in Out of the Ashes: The Destruction and Reconstruction of
East Timor James J Fox and Dionisio Babo Soares, Crawford House Publishing Pty Ltd Singh, Bilveer, Papua: Geopolitics and the Quest for Nationhood, Transaction Publishers, 2008 Scott, David, Last Flight Out of Dili, Pluto Press Australia, 2005 Souza, Teotónio R de, The Portuguese in Goa, Goa Publications Pvt. Ltd, 2008 Taylor, John G, Indonesia’s Forgotten War: The Hidden History of East Timor, Pluto Press, 1991 Presidência do Concelho dos Ministros, Portugal, Relatório do Governo de Timor, 1981 Turner, Michele, Telling – East Timor: Personal Testimonies 19421992, UNSW Press, 1992 United Nations, Eritrea: Report of the UN Commission for Eritrea, Report of the Interim Committee of the General Assembly on the Report of the UN Commission for Eritrea, UN General Assembly Resolution 390 (V), 2 December 1950 Walsh, Pat, ‘From Opposition to Proposition: The National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) in Transition.’ Australian Council for Overseas Aid, 1999
Aarons, Laurie 62 Aarons, Mark 61, 62, 63 Aceh 45, 48, 88, 95, 96 ‘Act of Free Choice’ 96 ‘Act of Integration’ 48 ‘Afro-Asian solidarity’ 101 African National Congress (ANC) 49, 66 Age newspaper 31, 54, 67 Associação Democrática para a Integração de Timor-Leste com a Austrália (Aditla) 19 Airnorth 85, 140 Air Nauru 152 All-Inclusive East Timorese Dialogue (AIETD) 96 air travel 26, 137-142 Alatas, Ali xxii, 37, 45, 46 Alkatiri, Djafar 33 Alkatiri, Maharus 33 Alkatiri, Mari xxii, 19, 31, 33, 49, as Prime Minister 50, 67, 158 Alitalia 138 Alor 88 Amaral, Clementino 48 Ambon 75, 88 Amin, Idi 45 anarcho-capitalism 146 Andorra 136 Angola 25, 27, 38, 74, 84, 86, 151 Anguilla 5 Annan, Kofi 8 Answered by Fire 5, 8, 102 apartheid xix, xx, 49 Aruba 46 Asiaweek magazine 3 Associação Popular Democrática Timorense (Apodeti) 19, 22, 33, 38, 40, 43 Arabic language 36, 99, 117 Argentina 3 army xxiv, 33, 94 Arafat, Yasser 55 Arndt, Heinz xxv, xxvi, 49, 55 Arriens, Jan 20 ‘Asian values’ 51 Asiaweek 3 Associação Social Democrática Timorense (ASDT) 17 assimilation 36, 42, 71, 75 Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) 48, 92, 99 Ataúro 22, 109 Austasia 140 Australia and G20 84, 104 condominium 20 foreign policy 59, 60, 66 media 11, 32, 67, 68, 70, 118, military involvement xxvi, 4, 5 oil interests 66, 67, 96, 97 Parliament 59 relations with Indonesia xxiii, 54, 5760 relations with East Timor 125 Second World War 25 support for integration 56, 57 support for ANC 66 support for ZANU 66 Australian Broadcasting Corporation (formerly Commission) (ABC) 68. 121, 127 Australia Television International 68 Radio Australia 68 Australian newspaper 25, 27, 65, 67, 68, 69, 70, 05 Australian National University (ANU) 54, 55 Austronesian languages 112 Austronesian peoples 113, 123 autonomy 43, 46, 47
television 85 Brunei 4, 15, 38, 101, 150, 174 oil wealth 150, 174 Bunak language 32 Buried Alive: The Story of East Timor 2 cable, fibre optic 133 Cairncross, Frances 7 calques (translated loanwords) 111 Cambodia xvii, xviii, xxii, French language 10, 83 Canada 126, 130, 140, 166 Cantonese 124 capitalism 10, 62 Cape Verde 2, 149 Carnation Revolution 26, 44 Carrascalão, João Carrascalão, Manuel Carrascalão, Mário Catholicism xxi, xxii, 49, 51, 122, 144 Catholic Church 28, 58 coffee 144 Comissão de Acolhimento, Verdade e Reconciliação (CAVR) 20, 73 Conselho Nacional de Resistência Timorense (CNRT) 77, 118 Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF) 45 Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) 32 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) 35 Channel Nine 68 Chile 57, 65, 156, 165 China 14, 20, 21, 22, 36, 37, 43, 44, 45, 75, 86, 104 and Angola 86 and Brazil 86 and CPLP 100 and East Timor 21, 86 and Fretilin 20, 22 and G20 104 and Hong Kong 44 and Indonesia 21 and Macau 36-37, 43, 75 and Tibet 21, 44, 45
Bahrain 139 Baikenu language 109 Badan Koordinasi Intelijen Negara (BAKIN) 18, 20 Badan Urusan Logistik (Bulog) 153 Badan Penjeledik Kemerdekaan Indonesia (BPKI) 38 Bali 137, 140, 150 Balibo (feature film) 8 ‘Balibo Five’ 8, 67, 171 Baltic States xx, 50 Bangladesh 157 Barnett, Correlli 6 Barry, Robert Baucau 37, 48, 126, 137, 140, 141 airport 140, 141 Bava, Zeinal 134 Begin, Menachem 55 Belgium 82, 145, Beyond Rangoon 8 bilingualism 116, 120, 121 Bidau 76 blogs 165, 166 Bono xxv Boxer, C R 72 Brazil 71, 72, 76, 84, 85, 104 and East Timor 84, 121 and G20 14, 84, 104 aircraft industry 85 indigenous languages 76 Lusotropicalism 71, 72, 76 relations with East Timor 84 migrant workers in Japan 84 military leaders 99 Portuguese language 84, 104 television 85 ‘brain drain’ 147 Brereton, Laurie 60 Britain 4, 12, 63, 100, 119, 122, 162 Portuguese Timor 4 military involvement 599 4 British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) xxiii, 12, 85 radio xxiii, 12
Chinese language 36, 27, 85, 120 Chinese people 43, 145, 146, 150 Chomsky, Noam xxv ‘civil war’ 22-23 cognates 106 Collier, Paul 6, 126 Comunidade de Países de Língua Portuguesa (CPLP) 83, 86, 99, 100 common currency 52 Commonwealth 4, 99-101, communism 18, 20, 23, 66, 67 Connect Ireland 155, 156, 164 Connolly, Robert 171 consultants 103 consulates 57-58, 163, 169-170 Australia 57-58 East Timor 163, 169-170 Cook, Robin 6 Cooksey, Robert 128 Cosgrove, General Peter 5 Costa, Luís 111 Costa Lopes, Martinho 58 country codes (telephone) 126-130 Cranborne, Lord 4 Cravinho, João Gomes 77 Croatia 122 Cuba 6, 21, 50, Cunha, Tristão de Bragança 39 Cunningham, Gary 8 customs union 52 Cyprus 47 Dadra and Nagar Haveli 49 Darusman, Taufik Darwin 23, 26, 67, 68, 85, 127, 136, 137, 139 Dawan language 109 Death of a Nation 8 Death of a Princess 171 decolonisation 18, 24, 58, 74, 74 democracy 41, 46, 50, 143, 144 Denmark 82, 87, 119, 170 Denpasar 137, 139, 141 Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Australia 56, 59, 68 Desousa, Jeremias 139 development 27-29, 140, 143, 144, 163 dialects 115 dictators 53-54 ‘Dictators and Double Standards’ 53-54 dictionaries 12, 78, 79 Digicel 132-133 Dili xxv, xxvii, 2, 17, 22, 24, 25, 27, 75, 78, 85, 88, 90, 102, 104, 109, 120, 125, 126, 135, 136, 137, 139, 152, 154, 160 Dili Airport 2, 90, 139, 140, 167, 168 Dinoy, Jose 29-30 domains (internet) 156 Downer, Alexander 61, 67 dubbing 85, 122 Duarte, José Manuel 17 Dunn, James 24, 63 Dutch East Indies 35, 36, 39, 41 Dutch language 36, 107-108 in Indonesia 36 loanwords in Indonesian 107-108 e-commerce 7 East Timor air links 26, 137-142 autonomy within Indonesia 43, 46, 47 consulates 163, 169-170 decolonisation 18, 24, 58, 74, 74 economy 29, 81, 86, 118, 140, 143 education 26, 28, 29, 50, 80, 115, 116, 118, 121 embassies 142, 163, 169, 170 government xxv, 24, 33, 62, 70 independence, 2002 xxiv, xxvii, 92, integration with Indonesia 17, 19, 22, 33, 38, 40, 47, 48, 56, 57, 68, 75, 96 invasion 8, 21, 22, 24, 25, 32, 40, 58, 62 language policy 77, 105, 118, 123 militias xxiv, 33, 34 relations with Australia 66, 67, 125 relations with China 20-22, 86 relations with Indonesia 37, 50, 52, 125
relations with Portugal 71, 73-76 relations with West Timor 17, 23 resistance xxv, 34, 68, 163 self-determination 6-8, 5, 15, 37, 56, 60, 61, 63, 74, 75, 96, 145 telecommunications 125-127, 128, 130, 132, 133, 134, 146, 138, 147, 156 tourism 150 unilateral declaration of independence 21, 24, 66 east-west divisions 32, 33, 94 economics 5, 29, 44, 45, 86, 143-158 ecotourism 151 education 26, 28, 29, 39, 41, 78, 79, 80, 81, 89, 93, 108, 112, 115, 116, 120, 121, 123, 147, 150, 152, 168 Indonesian 29, 50, 79, 80, 81, 108, 112, 115, 116 Portuguese 75, 78, 80, 108 post-independence 78, 114, 116, 118 university 50, 78 electricity 30 emigration 149 enclaves 17, 37, 49, 52, 109 Ende 88 English language as official language 93, 100, 118, 119, 121 as working language 117 in Hong Kong 119 in India 39 in Malaysia 35, 100 in Philippines 119 in Rwanda 118-119 in Singapore 120, 121 entrepreneurship 146 Equatorial Guinea 119 Eritrea 97 Esperança, João Paulo Estonia 50, 144 mobile phones 144 Ethiopia xviii, 97 euroAtlantic Airways 142 European Union (EU) 91, 104, 148, 169 exile 25, 26, 31, 32, 118 exports 152, 153 Export Processing Zone (EPZ) 152 Externato de São José 40, 80 Fairfax press 67 Falkland Islands 3, 136 famine 28, 58, 67, Fataluku language 109, 114, 124 fax 132 Feakes, Graham 57 federalism 41, 42, 43 in India 41 in Indonesia 41, 42, 43 Feith, Herb 6, 103 Falintil Força Defesa de Timor-Leste (F-FDTL) 33 Figueiredo, João 99 fiscal conservatism 70 Fiji 91, 140 Filipino language 112 Finlandisation 48 fixed line telephones 127, 131, 132, 134, 135 Flores 75, 76, 88, 99 Força 820 162 Forças Armadas de Libertação Nacional de Timor-Leste (Falintil) Ford Gerald 43 Forrester, Geoff 56 France 82, 83 Fraser, Malcolm 56, 66 support for Robert Mugabe 66 Frelimo 18, 49, 82, 83, 103 French language 78, 83, 82, 119 in Cambodia 83 in Indonesia 82 in Rwanda 83, 119 Freudenberg, Graham 63 Frente Revolucionária de Timor-Leste Independente (Fretilin) 18-24 accusations of communism 18, 20, 23, 66 in government 62, 70, 152 Freyre, Gilberto 72
Hill, Helen 90 Hindi language 35, 40, 122 Hogue, Cavan 25, 26, 65 Hong Kong 44, 45, 100, 119, 136, 143, 144 China 44 economic freedom 143 English language 119 ‘one country, two systems’ 44, 45, Hotel Rwanda 8 Howard, John 46, 60, 61 East Timor 46, 60, 61 letter to Habibie 46, 61 relations with Indonesia Huang Hua 44 Iceland 98, 110, 136 immigration 10, 47, 65, 69, 100, 144, 147 imports 152, 165 import substitution 152 India xviii, 1, 14, 35, 36, 39, 40, 41, 49, 65, 74, 75, 98, 100, 104, 131, 144 democracy 41 economic growth 144 English language federalism 41 Goa 36, 39, 40 regional languages 40 support for Indonesia 98 Indomie 153 Indonesia and G20 14, 84, 104 Aceh 45, 48, 88, 95, 96 development 27, 28 economy 45, 66, 143, 153, 154 education 29, 50, 79, 80, 81, 108, 112, 115, 116 financial crisis xxii, 96 infrastructure integration of East Timor 17, 19, 22, 37, 38, 40, 48, 56, 68, 75, 96, invasion 8, 21, 22, 24, 25, 32, 40, 58, 62 Java 27, 42, 75
Gaza Strip 47 Geisel, Ernesto 99 Geldof, Bob xxv Germany 82, 130, German Democratic Republic 148 German language 82 Ghana xxiv, 143 Gibraltar 2, 130, 170 globalisation 153 Goa xviii, 25, 36, 37, 39, 40, 41, 65 English language 40 freedom movement 39 Indian takeover, 5, 49 39, 65, 74, 84 legal system 41 merger with Maharashtra 39 Portuguese language 40 referendum, 555 39 statehood 39 Gomes, Francisco da Costa 74 Gomes, José Google 13 blogs 165, 166 Google In Your Language 13 YouTube 13, 164, 165 Greece 98, 103, 138 Greek language 80, 107, 110 vocabulary 107, 110 G20 14, 84, 103, 104 Guaraní language 76 Guinea-Bissau 65 Gurkhas 4 Gusmão, Xanana xxiv, 20, 48, 55, 102, 118, 161 Guevara, Che xxiv, 55 Habibie, B J xxii, xxiii, 46, 51, 61, 145 offers autonomy 46 offers referendum 47, 61 letter from Howard 46, 61 Harradine, Brian 62 Hastings, Peter 58, 67 Hata, Hiroyuki 161 Hawke, Bob 56, 59 Henderson, Gerard 18, 19, 34, 61, 62
Maluku 48 militias in East Timor xxiv, 33, 34 Papua 92, 96 under Habibie xxii, xxiii, 46, 51, 61, 145 under Suharto 37, 43, 45, 47-49, 5356, 58-60, 62, 66, 95, 99 under Sukarno 37, 53, 62, 65 regional languages 39 relations with Australia xxiii, 54, 58-60 relations with East Timor 37, 50, 52, 125 transmigrants 27 universities 50, 80 West New Guinea 16, 37, 39, 62, 63, 65, 68, 74, 96 West Timor 17, 28, 29 Indonesian language 35, 36, 49, 76, 82, 92, 93, 104, 105, 106, 117 as working language 117 differences from Malay 36 Dutch loanwords 107-108 English loanwords 106, 107 Portuguese loanwords 79, 106, 115 in East Timor 49, 76, 92, 93, 109 numbers 111 spelling 82 industry 29, 150 infrastructure 27, 29, 33, 125, 126, 134, 140, 152, 157 Instituto Camões 79, 80, 82, 83 Instituto Cervantes 83 integration with Indonesia 17, 19, 22, 33, 38, 40, 47, 48, 56, 57, 68, 75, 96 International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) 58 International Court of Justice (ICJ) 97, 98 jurisdiction 97, 98 Timor Gap Treaty 97, 98 Western Sahara Advisory Opinion 98 International Force East Timor (InterFET) xxiii, 4, 5 International Monetary Fund (IMF) 104 International Telecommunication Union (ITU) 125-127, 129 internationalism 6 internet 5, 6, 60, 133-135, 147, 164, 165, 166 blogs 165, 166 domains 156 broadband 133-135 Google 13 satellite 133 streaming 5, 164, 165 websites 13, 164, 165 YouTube 13, 164, 165 interventionism 5, 6, 60, 147 invasion 8, 21, 22, 24, 25, 32, 40, 58, 62 Iran 53 Iraq xxii, 89, 150 Ireland 130, 132, 137, 138, 145, 148, 157 Irish language 117 Islam xxi, 49, 51, 95, 98, 117, 146, 167 isolationism 3 Israel 47 Italy 52, 103, 119, 138, 144 Italian language 78, 119 in Italy 119 in Malta 119 Jakarta 20, 47, 50, 58, 68, 80, 88, 137, 138, 141, 170 ‘Jakarta lobby’ 55, 56 Japan 50, 161, 162 in Indonesia 38 in Portuguese Timor 4, 26 migrants from Brazil 84 used car exports 154 Java 27, 42, 75 Javanese people 27, 35, 154 Javanese language 35, 117 Jenkins, Simon 147 Jesuits 75, 76 Jordan 95 Jornal Nacional Diário 120 Kakoak Air 140 Kazakhstan 5, 126
Keating, Paul 9, 45, 46, 47, 54, 56, 59, 60, 66 attacks Howard 60 East Timor 59 foreign policy 45-47, 59-60, 66 relations with Indonesia 45-47, 59-60 Keen, Andrew 165 Kelly, Paul 68 Kirkpatrick, Jeane 53 Kissinger, Henry 24 Klibur Oan Timor Asuain (KOTA) Konkani language 39 Kosovo 4, 90, 91 autonomy within Serbia 91 military intervention 1999 16 UN administration 92 Kupang 29, 109, 125, 138, 139 Kuwait xxii, 149 La Francophonie 83, 100 language issues 105-123 media coverage 11, 105, 114 language policy 77, 105, 118, 123 Larantuka 76 Latin 11, 12, 36, 80 vocabulary 108 Latvia 50 Lemos Pires, Mário 22, 74 Lesotho 52 Liberia 156 liberation theology 145 libertarianism 147, 159 Liechtenstein 127, 130 Liem Bian-Kie 47 Lifau 17 Língua Geral (Brazil) 76 Lion Air 138 Liquiçá 34 Lithuania 50 literacy 171 loanwords 106, 107 Lobato, Nicolau 2 Lopes da Cruz, Francisco 107 lorosa’e 32 loromonu 32 Lusa (news agency) 120 Lusotropicalism 71, 72, 76 Luxembourg 2, 121, 157 education 121 languages 121 Macmillan, Harold 63 Macau 23, 36, 43, 44, 75, 84, 85, 86, 100, 124, 141 and CPLP 100 de facto Chinese sovereignty 44, 75 Portuguese language 86 Portuguese rule 43, 44, 75 ‘one country, two systems’ 44 ‘12-3’ protests 1966 43 return to China 44 Mackie, Jamie 55 Madagascar 112, 120 Maharashtra 39 Mahathir Mohamed 59 Mahbubani, Kishore mail 27, 136 Majapahit Empire 15 Makassae language 32 Malacca 75 Malagasy language 111, 119 Malay language 2, 12, 35, 36, 82, 84, 120, 122 differences from Indonesian in Malaysia 35, 100 in Singapore 122 spelling 82 Malaysia xxii, 35, 51, 91, 100, 131, 148 Maldives 142 Maliana 17, 138 Malik, Adam 38 malnutrition 28 Malta 119, 149 emigration 149 Italian language 119 Maltese language 119 Maluku 48 Mambai language 112 Mandela, Nelson xx, 32, 55, 102 Maori 161
Maori language 12, 111 Marathi language 39 Marconi 129 Marshall Plan 103 Matan Ruak, Taur 124 Matignon Accords 46 Mauritania 98 Mauritius 94, 149, 152 emigration 149 Export Processing Zone (EPZ) 152 paramilitary police force 94 tourism 150, 153 McGuinness, Paddy 27, 28, 33, media 8, 11 mestiços 30, 76 Mendes Pinto, Fernão 88 Menzies, Robert 26, 63, 96 Merpati 137, 138 140 migrant workers 120, 148, 149 militias xxiv, 33, 34 Millard, Ian 4, 5 miscegenation 71, 75 mixed race 71, 75 mobile telephones 127-129, 131-135, 137, 146, 155 roaming 129, 155 SMS 129 Mobutu Sese Seko 45, 53 Monaco 155 Monk, Paul 62 Morocco 73, 97, 129 and Western Sahara 73, 97 Movimento Anticomunista (MAC) 23 Mozambique 18, 26, 27, 31, 38, 49, 74, 100, 101, 158 support for East Timor 31 relations with South Africa 49 Mugabe, Robert xxi, 66 support from Australia 66 multilingualism 120, 121, 124 Murdani, Benny 6 Murdoch, Rupert 67 music 167 Myers, Kevin 101 Nadi Airport (Fiji) 140 National Civic Council (NCC) 68 National Commission for Decolonisation (Portugal) 74 National Development Plan 163 Naueti language 32 Nauru 151, 152 Netherlands 4, 17, 35, 39, 41, 42, 46, 50, 62, 82, 87, 119, 145, 149, 170 commercial interests 145 East Indies 35, 39, 87, 92, 145 West New Guinea 39, 41, 62, 63, 65 West Timor 17 New Caledonia 46 New Hebrides (see also Vanuatu) 88, 133 New Zealand 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 81, 91, 101, 111, 134 News Limited 67 Nheengatú language 76 Nicol, Bill 18, 28, 29, 56, 145 Nigeria 45 Nkrumah, Kwame 143 Nobel Peace Prize 55 Non-Aligned Movement xix, 101, 102 North Korea 163 Northern Ireland 119, 132, 153, 169 Northern Marianas 127, Norway 131, 150, 151 Oecussi 17, 52, 95, 109, 139, official languages 76, 77, 93, 100, 112, 115, 116, 118, 119, 121, 123 Australia 119 Britain 119 East Timor 77, 93, 112, 115, 118, 123 Equatorial Guinea 119 Hong Kong 119 India 35 Indonesia 35 Italy 119 Madagascar 120 Malaysia 35, 100 Paraguay 76 Philippines 119
Rwanda 118 Singapore 121 United States 119 O Jornal Lia Foun 120 Olympia (floating hotel) 102 ‘one country, two systems’ policy 44, 45 Operasi Komodo 22 Opus Dei 142 Palestinian territories 47 Pancasila 51 Papia Kristang 76 Papua 92, 96 Papua New Guinea 68, 69, 70, 132 Papuan languages 32, Paraguay 76, 170 paramilitary police force 94 Park Chung-hee 53 parochialism 3, 6, 5, 8 Partido Trabalhista 19 Pasquarelli, John 69 ‘People’s Assembly’ 40, 96 petroleum (see also oil) 3, 66, 67, 85, 97, 138, 144, 150, 151, 152, 174 Petroleum Fund 150, 151 Peters, Brian 8 Philippines 10, 31, 48, 69, 79, 111, 119, 144, 149 phosphates 98, 151, 152 PIDE (Portuguese secret police) 25, 26 Pilger, John 7 Pinochet, Augusto 45, 46, 53 Polícia Nacional de Timor-Leste (PNTL) political parties 19, 20, 23, 24, 30, 33, 74 politics 143 popular culture 80, 120 Portugal 18, 24, 58, 74, 74, 87-88 Carnation Revolution 26, 44 commercial interests 144, 145 decolonisation of East Timor 18, 24, 58, 74, 74 Lusotropicalism 71, 72, 76 neutrality in Second World War 4 relations with Asia 71, 87-88 relations with East Timor 71, 73-76 relations with Indonesia 37, 65 support for integration 75 under Salazar 19, 25, 37, 65, 72, 74, 96 Portugal Telecom 128, 133, 137 Portuguese colonialism 19, 36, 42, 43, 44, 71, 74, 75 assimilation 36, 42, 71, 75 in Brazil 72, 76 in East Timor 4, 17, 20, 26, 37, 38, 64-65, 74, 126, 156 in Goa 25, 36, 37, 39, 40, 65, 74 in Macau 43, 44, 75 miscegenation 71, 76 Portuguese language as official language 39, 76-77, 116-118, 119, 123, dictionaries 78, 79 grammar 112 in Brazil 76, 104 in East Timor 75, 76, 84, 121 in Goa 25, 36, 37, 39 in Macau 86 loanwords in Tetum 106, 115 loanwords in Indonesian 79, 106, 115 numbers 111 promotion 9, 81-84, 86 spelling 82 teaching 121 Portuguese creoles 75, 76 in Indonesia 75 in Malacca 76 Portuguese Timor 4, 17, 20, 26, 37, 38, 64-65, 74, 126, 156 neutrality in Second World War 4 postal services 125, 135-37 postal union 52 priorities 162 public relations 174 public telephones 126 purism, linguistic 110 Quadrant magazine xxvi Quebec 166
Quinn, George 95 radio xxiii, xxvii, 12, 20, 21, 40, 68, 90, 155, 164, 165, 174 Radio Australia 68 Rádio e Televisão de Portugal (RTP) 85 Rádio e Televisão de Timor-Leste (RTTL) 164, 165, 166 Rádio de Timor-Leste (RTL) 164 Radio Netherlands 33 Ramos-Horta, Arsenio 33 Ramos-Horta, José xvii, xix, xx, xxiv, xxvii, 13, 18, 24-26, 30, 31, 32, 45, 47, 49, 55, 57, 74, 94, 98, 118, 127, 150, 159, 163-165, 174 at UN 31 exiled by Portuguese 26 in government 159, 163-165 Nobel Peace Prize 55 referendum, 5877, 5 regional divisions 32, 33, 94 Reid, Anthony 50 Reis, Vicente 20 religion xxi, xxii, 49, 51, 122, 117, 144 remittances 147 Rennie, Malcolm 8 Romansch 115 Rome talks, 563 74 Rote 88 Royal Brunei 140 Rudd, Kevin 60 Russia 14, 50, 126 Rwanda 119 Sahe see Vicente Reis Salazar, António 19, 25, 37, 65, 72, 74, 96 Saldanha, João 155 sandalwood 144 San Marino 52 Santa Cruz killings xxii, xxv, 40 Santamaria, B A 54, 68 satellite state 18, 47, 68 satellite television 68, 85, 86, 116, 120, 134, 164, 165 Australian 68 Brazilian 85 Chinese 86 East Timorese 120, 164, 165 Macau 86 Indonesian 120, 165 Portuguese 85 Saudi Arabia 104, 171 Scott, David 62, 67 Scrine, Gil 3 Second World War 4, 25. 42, 103 self-determination East Timor 6-8, 5, 15, 37, 56, 60, 61, 63, 74, 75, 96, 145 Eritrea 98 Indonesia 41 West New Guinea 63, 97 Western Sahara 97, 98, 99 Serbia 92, 156 sexual violence 34 Seychelles 151 Shah of Iran 53 Shackleton, Greg 8, 171 Sheridan, Greg 93 Sikkim 49 SilkAir 140, 141 Singapore 51, 121, 122, 132, 138, 139, 141, 142, 149, 151, 155, 168 ‘Asian values’ 51 education 121 English language 121 Malay language 122 used car exports 155 Singapore Airlines 141 Sinhala 35 Soares, Dionisio Babo 123 Soetardjo petition 41 Solomon Islands 5, 84 Solor 88 Somalia 16, 146 anarcho-capitalism 146 ‘failed state’ 16 South Korea 50, 53 South Africa xix, xxii, xxv, 32, 49, 52, 66, 104, 154,
apartheid xix, xx, 49 support for East Timor 102 ‘south-south cooperation’ 14 Soviet Union 20, 21, 32, 38, 50, 125 and Baltic States 50 and East Timor 20, 21, 38 and Indonesia 21 Soweto riots xxv Spain 36, 98, 100, 130, 136, 144, 170 dispute over Gibraltar 130 Western Sahara 98 Spanish language 10, 11, 76, 78, 80, 81, 83, 119 in the Philippines 119 Special Autonomous Region of East Timor (SARET) (proposed) 46, 47 Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) 68 special territory (Indonesia) 45 Sri Lanka 35 Stahl, Max 7 Stewart, Tony 8 Sting xxv subtitling 85, 122, 165-167 Suara Timor Lorosae 121 Subandrio 93 Suharto 37, 43, 45, 47-49, 53-56, 58-60, 62, 66, 95, 99 and Australia xxiii, 54, 58-60 and East Timor and Portugal 37, 65 and US 24, 29, 45, 52, 53, 59 Sukarno 37, 53, 62, 65 and West New Guinea 62 Sun Yat-sen 43 Suriname 154 Sweden 131, 135, 152 Switzerland 82, 116, 127 Sydney Morning Herald 18, 58, 67, 95 Taft, William Howard 69 Tagalog language 111, 112 Taiwan 43, 44, 45, 130, 146, 152 Tamil language 40, 120 telecommunications 125-127, 134, 146 Teledifusão de Macau (TdM) 86 Telekomunikasaun Timor Lorosae 128 telephones 128-131, 132, 133, 134, 138, 147, 156 call costs 128-131 fixed line 127, 131, 132, 134, 135 mobile phones 128, 130, 132, 133, 134, 138, 147, 156 public 126 satellite 127 television 68, 76, 85, 116, 120, 133, 165, 166 via satellite 68, 85, 86, 116, 120, 133, 165, 166 Televisão de Timor-Leste (TVTL) 164-166 Telikom PNG 132-133 Telkom 1 satellite 164 Telkom Indonesia 121, 126, 131 Telstra 127, 128, 134, 155 Ternate 75, 88 Tetum 2, 12, 13, 17, 70, 75, 76, 57, 78, 83, 85, 87. 89, 93, 105-124, 146, 165 as lingua franca 70, 109, 110 as official language 112, 116, 123 development 114 grammar 113, 114 numbers 111 Portuguese influence 108 Portuguese loanwords 106, 115 spelling 12, 108, 115 ‘Tetum’ vs ‘Tetun’ 12 Tetun-Dili 110, 113 Tetun-Terik 110, 113-114 vocabulary 106, 110, 111, 115 Thailand 2, 15, 31, 145, 150 Theberton, Edward 95 Tibet xix, 44, 45 time management 159-162 Timor (island) 2, 3, 16 Timor Air 139, 142 Timor Gap Treaty 66, 97 Timor Sea 66, 150 Timor Post 120 Timor Telecom 128-130, 133, 134, 145 Timor-Leste 13, 3, 112
timortoday.com 164, 166 Tjan, Harry 20, 47, Tok Pisin 70 Toohey, Paul 70 Tomodok, Elias 49 Topasses 75 Tose, Philip 144 TAP (Portuguese airline) 141 Transportes Aereos de Timor (TAT) 138, 139 tourism 81, 82, 131, 146, 150, 153 Bali 150 Maldives 144 Mauritius 150, 153 Portugal 82 Seychelles 151 Thailand 150 Toyota 154 trade 14, 44, 59, 80, 82, 87, 88, 104, 145, 170 translation 79, 92, 93 Tupi language 76 Turkey 47 Turner, Michele 17, 27, 160 Uganda 45, 118, 119 União Democrática Timorense (UDT) 19, 20, 22, 31, 33 unilateral declaration of independence 21, 24, 66 United Nations (UN) xix, xxiii, xxv, xxvii, 5, 16, 21, 23, 31, 34, 44, 53, 58, 60, 65, 72, 74, 89-105, 127, 156, 163 UN Development Programme xxv, 172 UN General Assembly resolutions 95, 98 UN Special Committee on Decolonisation 58, 74 UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) 93 UN Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET) xxiv, 89, 90, 94, 135 United States 14, 24, 29, 39, 41, 43, 48, 52, 53, 59, 63, 69, 83, 84, 89, 101, 103, in the Philippines 69 relations with Indonesia 24, 29, 45, 52, 53, 59, 63 world power 14 Universal Postal Union (UPU) 136 universities 50, 54, 78 Van Klinken, Catharina 115, 116 Vanuatu 89, 133 VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) 133 Vieira de Melo, Sérgio 93 Vietnam xvii, xviii, 79, 83, 133 Viqueque uprising 25, 32, 37, 38, 65 Indonesian involvement 25, 37 suppression by Portuguese 37, 38 vernacular languages 114 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) 5, 156, 157 water, bottled 102 Watson, Don 54, 65 West Bank 47 West New Guinea 16, 37, 39, 62, 63, 65, 68, 74, 96 West Timor 17, 28, 29 Western Sahara 13, 74, 97, 98 cession by Spain 98 claimed by Mauritania 98 claimed by Morocco 74, 97, 98 proposed referendum 97 UN mission 97 Whitlam, Gough 16, 17, 23, 30, 32, 43, 56, 57, 58, 60, 63, 65 East Timor 16, 17, 23, 30, 56, 57, 58, 60, 63, 65 foreign policy 60, 65 relations with Indonesia 43, 58, 63 support for integration 17, 56-58 visits East Timor 58 visits UN 58 Willessee, Don 57 WiMAX (wireless broadband) 133 Wolfowitz, Paul 52
Woolcott, Richard 21, 45, 55, 56, 57, 66, 95 work ethic 161-162 working languages 117 World Bank 103, 104 Xavier do Amaral, Francisco 25, 34, 174 Ximenes Belo, Carlos 118 Yemen 116 Yogyakarta 45, 82 YouTube 13, 164, 165 Yugoslavia, 5, 90, 91, 125, 126 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) 45, 53 Zimbabwe 66, 95, 101, 163 Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) 66
Throughout its history, East Timor has been a lesson in what not to do: how not to run a colony, how not to run a province, how not to prepare a territory for independence, and how not to treat a smaller neighbour. While many foreign commentators have been prompt to write East Timor off as a ‘failed state’, they conveniently ignore the fact that other states are also to blame for its failings, particularly Portugal, Indonesia and Australia, as well as the United Nations. East Timor’s first ten years since self-determination have been marked by denial, naïveté, ignorance, prejudice, incompetence, maladministration, and an unwillingness of people from different countries to work with each other instead of against each other. Yet despite all this, East Timor remains a place with hope.
Photo by Ken Westmoreland