Monthly Archives: June 2007

TETS comments on government achivements

What is said in the briefing is pretty accurate, but would like to make some comments.

Despite aid money being tied up by donors demands many improvements have been made since my visit in 2002 around Dili, i.e infrastructure, and water piped to more areas in Dili, attacks and destruction in part of Tassie Toli did not stop the people in that area getting piped water, I think in July 2006. Water at the moment is free to the population unlike in Britain and other western countries. I was told that electricity was free if your household had no workers.

Free health care has been implemented, Dili hospital has excellent facilities, in the eight months I was in Timor Leste hospital staff coped exceptionally well in extremely difficult conditions. There is a well run hospital in Baucau and clinics in all districts. There is a need for more doctors and nurses throughout Timor Leste but the Fretilin government has this well in hand. Cuban doctors are in Timor Leste training Timorese people to run their health service, not only in Dili but throughout the country. A large number of Timorese students, both male and female, are in Cuba training in health and education services, because of scholarship programmes set up by the Fretilin government, these programmes naturally enhance the lives of the students but also ensure the future of health and education in Timor Leste.

Fretilin has implemented free secular education for the young, despite huge opposition by the Catholic church, previously all education services were run by the Catholic church, parents had to pay to send their children to school, thus meaning the poorest could not afford schooling leading to discrimination. At the present time parents can chose to send their children to a state or church school, if they can afford the fees.

The Fretilin government under Alkatiri had also earmarked money for improvements in the districts, for example money had been set aside to improve the road between Los Palos town and Titular (in some places the road is impassable necessitating driving over moorland and fields). Money was earmarked to repair electricity wires in Mehara, indeed in all the Tuttala district, tropical storms caused severe damage to the overhead lines. When I visited in 2002 this area had electricity part of the day, ( there is an electricity supply from Dili to Los Palos at least part of the day, believe the same applies to most districts to the West of Dili, certainly Aileu district had electricity). Plans to build a pen housing buffaloes to enable vaccination against disease were also in hand.

During the time Ramos-Horta was caretaker Prime Minister the sucos were told that there was not enough funds for all the projects, they were asked to select two projects. (I was present at the meeting in Merhara when this was discussed by the suco, district administrator and local people) press release ‘Fretilin Signs Community Contracts for Local Development,’ giving more details of plans community projects is on TETS news blog.

The problem of aid money being tied to suit donors requirements has indeed caused problems and slowed up development. For example when travelling to Aileu road works to improve travelling between Dili and Aileu were in progress, good, only problem the Japanese donors insisted one of their companies ran the project, the friend I was travelling with said the majority of the work force were Japanese. Wile the project is essential it does little to improve the huge unemployment problem in Timor -Leste – to say that Timorese workers do not have skills the skills needed to carry out this type of work is frankly untrue, much skilled work is carried out throught Timor-Leste by people in their own communities, i.e. house building, temporary repairs of roads, water project in Mehara.

Whilst I was in Timor-Leste our own Hilary Ben talked of the need to stop aid money being tied to donors demand, saying it was essential third world countries were developed to suit the needs of their own citizens.

Despite the problems of aid money being tied to needs of the donor country Timor-Leste is debt free, Fretilin has pledged to keep the country debt free, however other parties have made it plain they are happy to borrow money from the world bank, telling people this will lead to speedy development and wealth for all. Unfortunately, this is not a true analysis of what happens to countries steeped in ‘Third World debt,’ wealth disparancy is hugely divisionary. Whilst there are problems of poverty in Timor -Leste, at the moment it is solvable, borrowing would simply exasperate the problem.

Development should be looked at in real terms. Destruction of homes and the infrastructure did not only happen after the referendum, villages were destroyed more than once by the military throughout the 25 year occupation by Indonesia. Progress has been made to repair the destruction in many areas. Whilst it is fine to talk of everyone having water, electricity etc. instantly, this has to be looked at realistically.

How quickly after the second world war was Britain developed? Many country areas did not have piped water or electricity till at least ten years after the ending of the war. Indeed some towns relied on gas lighting for 15 years after the war. Outside toilets were the norm in many areas until 30 years ago, and the tin bath was a well know commodity in many households throughout the country until about the same period. Instant development is impossible without debt, after the war there was a slow and perhaps more equal development in Britain, borrowing and capitalist policies have not led to a more equal society, indeed many rights fought for are now being eroded, for example university education became free to all, now it has to be paid for meaning that only the rich can afford to attend university easily. The poorer in British society have to make hard choices, borrow and work to be able to attend University or take jobs that do not require a degree, in other words ensuring a two tier society. National health services are being eroded, and many parents have to have fund raisers to provide books for schools in poorer area. In retrospect a slow development seems much more desirable. (the same erosion is taking place in varying degrees in all western societies)

As the briefing states it is impossible for IDP’s to return to their homes (if they haven’t been destroyed) until security improves. A question mark hangs over whether International forces are able to provide security, I witnessed the destruction of many homes when living in Dili after International forces had been deployed to stop fighting. Indeed Fretilin supporters were stoned in Fatahada, Dili, and in the Manatuta district last week. Homes of Fretilin supporters were burnt recently in Ermine. (See news blog for further details) Reinado and Railos are still roaming the country causing problems despite the UN calling for their arrest. UN forces are still in charge of security.

Although the briefing makes no reference to the role of women in government and civil institutions I would like to make a comment on the representation of women in Timor-Leste. Whilst there I saw genuine participation by women in all walks of life, women in government were able to criticise and change government policy. Western society talks strongly of equality for women, in reality often only lip service is paid to equal rights, women have little control over government policies or their lives, many being forced into paid work when they would prefer to bring up their families.

Contrary to what is said, the majority of women in the districts also participate in decision making and are free to choose how they participate in family and community life.

(press releases referring to women’s role in Timor-Leste are on TETS web or news blog)

Lidia Catherine Tindle.
Tyneside East Timor Solidarity

FRETILIN Government outlines its main achievements in health

The rehabilitation and reconstruction of health infrastructure, increased access to basic health services and the bilateral health program with Cuba are some of the main achievements of the FRETILIN government said the Minister of Health and current Deputy Prime Minister Dr Rui de Araujo.

Dr Rui de Araujo said, “Our achievements in the last five years have set a very good platform for the future and I believe the FRETILIN government’s health policy will make Timor-Leste’s heath system a model for the whole region. It has resulted in East Timorese having much greater to access to health than they ever did during the Indonesian occupation.”

Dr de Araujo is an independent and was appointed as Minister for Health by former PM Mari Alkatiri to become part of FRETILIN’s government of inclusion, since the Second Transitional Government of UNTAET. FRETILIN’s government of inclusion allows independent people with the appropriate technical skills to be appointed to ministerial positions provided they implement FRETILIN policy. As Minister for Health, Dr de Araujo is responsible for one of the most important policies of the FRETILIN government as set out in the National Development Plan.

“The FRETILIN government believes all citizens have a right to good health, and to free health care,” said de Araujo. “We are well on the way to achieving our goal. Every citizen now has free access to hospitals and basic primary health care and 85% of the rural population has access to health services.”

Dr de Araujo outlined some of the achievements of the FRETILIN government in respect to health. He said the Ministry has spent $30 million dollars rehabilitating and reconstructing infrastructure such as hospitals, health posts and community health clinics.

“The government is rehabilitating and expanding the national hospital in Dili at a cost of USD$9 million. Five referral hospitals are being built in the districts of Oecussi (west of Dili), Bobonaro (west of Dili), Maubisse (south of Dili), Baucau (east of Dili) and Suai (west of Dili) at a cost of USD$16 million. The government is also overseeing the building of a national laboratory, 47 health centres and 104 health clinics stations across the country.”

Dr de Araujo said, “The Ministry has established a faculty of medicine at the National University of Timor-Leste which it jointly runs with the Ministry of Education. We are now looking at establishing a faculty of nursing.

“The Ministry has also established the Institute of Health Science. The Institute provides certificated and non-certificated short courses in areas such as nursing, training for midwives, management, safe motherhood, integrated management of childhood illnesses, mental health, oral health and radiography.

“We are now trying to set up research facilities with the assistance of AusAid and the University of New South Wales. The international community is also helping the East Timorese to complete studies on diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

Dr de Araujo thanked the Cuban government for its generous assistance in helping Timor-Leste build its health workforce. He paid tribute to FRETILIN Secretary General Mari Alkatiri, who during his time as PM negotiated the bilateral health program with Cuba.

“Under this agreement, the Cuban government agreed to train up to 1,000 East Timorese doctors at its universities at no cost to the government of Timor-Leste. Cuba has also sent 228 doctors, 23 nurses, 40 health technicians and 11 Spanish-language teachers to Timor-Leste.

“105 East Timorese are studying locally under the guidance of Cuban health experts. More importantly, there are now 698 East Timorese studying medicine in Cuba and the government will send more students in the next few years. Once all the students return from Cuba, Timor-Leste will have at least one doctor for each of its 442 sucos (administrative levels which cover a group of villages). This is far more than at any time prior to the restoration of independence in 2002.

“In addition to the students studying in Cuba or in Timor-Leste under the guidance of the Cuban doctors, we have students studying in Fiji, Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia and in other countries.” Dr de Araujo said that under the FRETILIN government, the Ministry has increased its health inputs.

For example, approximately 61% of children under 1 have received measles immunisation and approximately 63% have received DPT3 immunisation. This is far greater than at any time during the Indonesian occupation.

He said, “We have also passed legislation in relation to pharmaceutical activities, health practice and private health facilities.”

Dr de Araujo said, “As an independent minister, I have the full support of the FRETILIN government in implementing its health policy which is aimed at making widespread and real improvements in the health and well being of the East Timorese.”

For more information, please contact:
Dr Rui de Araujo (+670) 723 0020

FRETILIN vows to defend constitution and separation of powers

24 June 2007

FRETILIN today vowed to strongly defend the constitution of Timor Leste (East Timor) against opposition parties’ proposals to erode the separation of powers between the parliament, the president, the government and the judiciary.

FRETILIN President Francisco Guterres Lu Olo said separation of powers was essential to prevent one group or person achieving dominance with the ability to thwart the will of the electorate.

Lu Olo was responding to opposition parties’ statements that they would move to amend the constitution to give the president of the republic more and wider executive powers.

“FRETILIN will oppose giving any more constitutional power to any one group or constitutional body,” Lu Olo said. “We want the balance and distribution of power to stay as it is in the constitution. It protects us all against the excesses of any one individual. I argued strongly in favour of this when I was the presidential candidate and continue to do so.”

He said the separation of powers as currently defined provides essential checks and balances necessary for a young democracy. “They are the sort of checks and balances many countries would like to have,” Lu Olo said.

He said that the constitution had withstood its greatest test by being able to provide guidelines to help Timor-Leste move from the political and constitutional crisis which began in May 2006, to the point where it has been able to hold two rounds of free and democratic presidential elections and now the election to renew the mandates of parliament and the government.

“Throughout the crisis, FRETILIN became the target of unconstitutional attacks on its government and parliament by the former president. However, we continued to defend the constitution and insisted that the parliament and government could only be changed democratically and constitutionally. We are proud of our stand in that we managed to avoid our nation spiraling into the abyss of unconstitutional coups where the constitution would have been trampled beyond recognition,” added Lu Olo.

“The separation of powers entrenched in our constitution resulted in each organ of the constitution seeking a compromise to move beyond the crisis. This was more desirable, consensus-based and democratic than having a sole powerful president or prime minister or even parliament determining the outcome.

“We need to protect this proven mechanism. FRETILIN will strongly resist any attempts by any party to erode these checks and balances,” said Lu Olo.

Lu Olo said the independence of the judiciary also needs to be protected.

“The independence of judicial officers recently came under attack but FRETILIN and civil society were able to spark public debate that successfully repelled the attacks. The independence of the judiciary has recently been strengthened by the reappointment of the Chief Justice who has been widely applauded for his professionalism and independence in the midst of the crisis.

“Our constitution was developed over a lengthy period of wide public debate and discussion. All members of the Constituent Assembly signed it into existence. The voters have a right to know if the parties they are voting for will defend our constitution.

“I urge Timorese to vote for FRETILIN to protect our constitution. I ask the other parties to let the voters know where they stand on this issue. Do they stand for a system which distributes power and includes participation in decision making, or do they want to concentrate power in the hands of one person who can dictate their will?” said Lu Olo.

For more information, please contact:

Jose Teixeira (+670) 728 7080,

Fretilin signs community contracts for local development

22 June 2007

FRETILIN has become the only political party in Timor-Leste to enter into written agreements with local communities providing government funding of up to US$100,000 per year for local development priorities.

FRETILIN president, Francisco Guterres Lu Olo on Wednesday (20 June) signed agreements with Suco councils in the sub-district of Venilale, Baucau District, in the eastern part of the country. Sucos are an administrative area based on a number of villages, and are run by councils directly elected by the whole population of the area.

The agreements guarantee a FRETILIN government will give priority to development goals stipulated by the communities themselves. The Venilale agreements are being followed by signature of agreements with Suco councils throughout the country.

Lu Olo said today that to achieve balanced and equitable development that benefits all citizens, grassroots initiatives must get priority.

“This is an important pre-condition for eradicating poverty in our view. This is why our election campaigning has focused on local community dialogues at the village and suco level,” he said.

“Our dialogues have been followed by written surveys where the communities themselves stipulate their needs and priorities. FRETILIN will use this feedback as the basis for its development programs, plans and projects for the upcoming term of government.

“After surveys have been completed at the suco level, FRETILIN’s Central Committee will state in writing that, if it gains the trust of the people at the 30 June 2007 elections and is able to form a government, we will insert in the five year national development plan, funding for each suco’s stated development priorities for annual amounts of between USD$25,000 to USD$100,000,” Lu Olo said.

He said FRETILIN would undertake to channel funding through the Community Development Fund and other community funds established during the FRETILIN government’s first term.

“These agreements are an important step towards transparent and accountable decentralization of development funding which delivers direct benefits to communities,” Lu Olo said. “The communities themselves will manage and build the projects.”

“These agreements demonstrate that only FRETILIN has been listening to the people and will respond to the people’s aspirations.

“We have already done so by making education and health the priority goals for the government over the last five years, because it was the people who overwhelmingly chose these priorities during the National Development Plan public consultation process.”

For more information, please contact:

Jose Teixeira (+670) 728 7080 or send an email to,

FRETILIN unveils policy platform for people orientated economic development

22 June 2007

Accelerated infrastructure development, rural development and measures to tackle youth unemployment were some of the major initiatives announced today by FRETILIN, the majority party in Timor-Leste (East Timor) at the launching of its policy platform in Dili for the 30 June 2007 parliamentary elections.

Estanislau Da Silva, a parliamentary candidate and current Prime Minister, said that the policy platform would deliver economic growth of at least 7% in real terms over the next 5 years and build on and improve on the policies of the FRETILIN government during the first five years of government.

“The FRETILIN government over the last five years has put in place programs and policies which have laid the platform for strong sustainable economic growth,” he said.

“This policy platform is a detailed program for economic development and will bring real benefits to the people of Timor-Leste.”

Da Silva said the key features of FRETILIN’s program were:

§ Accelerated infrastructure development in the areas of electricity, water, roads and other public works

§ Continued promotion of gender equality and women participation at all levels of society

§ Restructure of the East Timorese Police Force (PNTL) and the Ministry of Interior to address the existing problems in PNTL. A FRETILIN government will also legislate improvements in the legal framework regulating the activities of the PNTL

§ Increased budgetary support for the justice system and the PNTL

§ Improvements in the working conditions of the F-FDTL and the legal framework regulating the activities of the Defence Force (F-FDTL). The government will also give greater support to the management of the F-FFDTL

§ Provision of skilled training, job orientated vocational training and scholarships to tackle youth unemployment

§ Provision of rural credit and increased funding under the Community Development Fund to facilitate rural development

§ Incentives to attract foreign investors to Timor-Leste

§ A housing policy for the poor and vulnerable and the building of houses for people living in internal refugee camps

§ Establishment of police postings and community policing to restore security and re-establish law and order

§ Further investment in education, including tertiary education, to improve infrastructure, equipment and training of teachers

§ Further investment in health infrastructure and expansion of services in rural areas. A FRETILIN government will also improve working facilities at the National Hospital in Dili and improve the working conditions of health professionals

§ Establishment of a social welfare net for the poor and continued assistance to the most vulnerable

§ Promotion of agricultural based industries

§ Provisions of pensions to veterans through properly established institutions

Da Silva said, “In 1975, FRETILIN told the people that one day Timor-Leste would be independent and no one believed us. We also told the people it would not be easy and that it would take time. Many people told us that it would not be possible and that we were only dreaming about independence. We proved them wrong.

“FRETILIN again promises today that we will eradicate poverty and that we will bring benefits to our people, but that we will do it sustainably, and in a way that does not compromise our economic and political independence. FRETILIN has the program to eradicate poverty and it has begun implementing that program and will continue to do so if it is elected again.”

For more information, please contact:

Jose Teixeira (+670) 728 7080 or send an email to,

FRETILIN advances women’s participation in politics

The FRETILIN government has overcome enormous barriers to help women in Timor-Leste (East Timor) achieve greater participation in political life.

“Representation of women in the Timor-Leste parliament is among the highest in the world, despite very low education levels,” said Ana Pessoa Minister for State Administration and a FRETILIN parliamentary candidate.

“It was FRETILIN who argued strongly for the inclusion of a specific clause in the Constitution to guarantee equality,” she said.

Ms Pessoa said, “FRETILIN has worked to build a legislative framework to fulfil the constitutional commitment to equality since taking government in 2002.”

Ms Pessoa is a former provincial judge in Mozambique and an experienced civil law jurist. She has wide experience in legal issues concerning women’s and children’s rights and had extensive input into the drafting of Timor-Leste’s Constitution.

“It was FRETILIN that ensured women were well represented in the Constitutional Assembly and the first parliament by having 27% female representation it is first parliamentary list. This has resulted in the representation of women in the East Timorese parliament being amongst the highest in the world, including the first world. In the forthcoming election 22 of our candidates are women when the minimum requirement is 16.

“The electoral laws developed by my Ministry require all parties to ensure one in four candidates for parliamentary elections are women. If given another term in office FRETILIN will work towards improving on this ratio. My Ministry was also responsible for the local suco (administrative level) council legislation which included a requirement that two women representatives and a representative of young women be present in each suco council.”

Ms Pessoa said FRETILIN has also promoted women to senior positions in government.

“Currently women hold senior positions in the Council of Ministers, including the Minister and Vice Minister of Planning and Finance, the Minister and one of the Vice Ministers of Education and Culture, the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the Minister of Public Works and myself, as Minister for State Administration.

“We also appointed women to senior positions in the civil service. The Permanent Secretary of Agriculture for example, is a woman. We established an Office for the Promotion of Equality inside the Prime Minister’s Office and each Ministry has a focal point for gender issues. These are some of the practical expressions of the FRETILIN government’s commitment to developing a modern society in which women are treated as equals and with respect.

“I believe FRETILIN has been able to sustain women’s rights as a priority issue in our party because almost 50% of our members on the National Political Commission and almost 30% of members on the Central Committee are women. The National Political Commission and the Central Committee are the highest decision -making organs within FRETILIN.

“These legal and administrative measures are just part of the process to improve the overall status of women. In a country with very low education levels, and where 52% of women are illiterate, there are huge barriers to women’s equal participation in the economic, social and political life of the nation.” said Ms Pessoa.

For more information, please contact:

Ana Pessoa (+670) 728 7080 or send an email to

FRETILIN pledges to keep Timor-Leste debt free

FRETILIN will not shift from its goal of keeping Timor-Leste free of debt, party president Francisco Guterres Lu Olo reaffirmed today.

“We will not burden this or future generations with the vicious cycle of debt that has befallen so many postcolonial developing countries,” said Lu Olo who heads the FRETILIN ticket for the June 30 parliamentary elections.

“There is no need for Timor-Leste to go into debt by borrowing from others. Our Petroleum Fund will provide us with enough money to improve our people’s living standards and develop the economy for many years.”

Lu Olo said he was concerned by talk from some politicians, especially Mr. Gusmão and his CNRT party that they were ‘brave enough to make Timor-Leste indebted’.

“I am very worried about this type of thinking,” Lu Olo said. “I don’t believe Timorese want us to incur debts we will not be able to repay, which as history shows is what happens everywhere.”

Lu Olo said taking the nation into debt would hurt future economic growth. “Our industry and agriculture do not have sufficient capacity to earn the receipts to pay any debts incurred and the debt would keep mounting year by year. Money for education, health care, agriculture development, food security, social welfare and other services would have to be reduced to repay foreign lenders. I do not want that and I am certain Timorese do not want that either,” said Lu Olo.

He said indebtedness would compromise Timor-Leste’s economic and political sovereignty. “There are some countries near us where every child is born with a million-dollar debt hanging over them. People you borrow money from will exert influence over you and your policies both at home and abroad. I lost too many friends in the struggle for our independence to squander it so easily.

“The FRETILIN government resisted international multilateral and bilateral pressure to take up loans and today Timor-Leste is debt free, and has a petroleum fund capable of financing sustainable social and economic development.

“The government has been widely praised for its prudent economic and fiscal management of the petroleum revenues and its budget.”

Lu Olo said economic growth for this fiscal year was forecast at 7% but only reached 5.5% due to the crisis that almost paralyzed the economy for nearly four months.

“The economy is now showing signs of a strong and sustained recovery and we are on track to meet forecast economic growth for the next fiscal year of at least 7%.”

Lu Olo said some politicians had an irrational dislike of FRETILIN’s no-debt policy despite not having put forward a detailed analysis of what they propose and the impact it will have on the economic development of the nation.

“They are screaming for change without thinking of the ramifications. They are opposing and criticizing for the sake of it.

“All parties have to declare where they stand on this issue. The people of Timor-Leste know where

FRETILIN stands. They must know where the others stand to judge who can best govern in their and the nation’s best interests,” said Lu Olo.

For more information, please contact:

Jose Teixeira (+670) 728 7080 or send an email to FRETILIN Media (+670) 733 5060,