Lack of Timor aid a shame and more

Various letters to the editor in various publications – JMM

Letters to the Editor

The Canberra Times

July 27, 2008

Lack of Timor aid a shame

IT IS a crying shame that wealthy Australia has reserved in
Australian medical schools a mere eight placements for
poverty-stricken Timorese students while far-flung Cuba has offered
the Timorese 700 such places.

All this despite the fact that East Timor is Australia’s next-door
neighbour and the poorest Asian nation on earth.

As a Portuguese-Australian, I believe it’s high time that Australia
does something concrete in return for the military help the noble
Timorese gave to our diggers and other servicemen and women during
World War II.

Failure to render assistance to the tiny nation of Timor will result
in her seeking help from other more generous nations like Cuba,
China, Japan, Korea, Portugal, etc. This in turn will lead to Timor’s
quitting our sphere of interest.

Martinho de Souza, Giralang

The Australian Magazine

July 26, 2008 Saturday


* Paul Toohey’s profile of Angelita Pires (“Lover or Fighter”, July
12-13) paints a fascinating portrait of a troubled and pathetic
woman, but it also needs to be looked at from another perspective.
Some in East Timor may have seen her lover, Alfredo Reinado, as a
folk hero but in reality he was just another one of those jumped-up
junior officers, who have brought their countries to rack and ruin
whenever they have come to power or influence. Reinado was given
ample opportunities to face genuine justice (under the aegis of a
substantial United Nations peace-keeping force) but chose to stay in
the bush, even after a new parliament was freely elected. The fear
and instability his lowgrade insurgency created, and the divisions it
fuelled, kept thousands of families in camps for the internally
displaced for years. They included many poor and innocent women who
have never come close to having even the modest opportunities enjoyed
by Ms Pires. While she has the same right to expect due process as
anyone else, adults also need to realise that if you choose to play
with fire, you are likely to get burned.

Michael Maley

Queanbeyan, NSW

New Statesman

July 28, 2008

The situation in Indonesia following the downfall of General Suharto
is more complex than you suggest. In West Papua, the army’s presence
is pervasive and intimidating. Two men are serving sentences of ten
and 15 years for subversion for flying the Papuan flag. In Maluku,
one man has been sentenced to life for a similar offence, while 19
others were given sentences of between ten and 20 years.

Looking on the brighter side, it is untrue to describe the 2004
elections as having been marred by rigging. This overlooks the
peaceful nature of the elections and the participation of a large
number of parties that had emerged from the wreckage of the Suharto
era. But the brightest side of all is Aceh, where a peace accord was
signed between the government and GAM, the armed resistance movement,
in 2005, after nearly 30 years of conflict. Here, the elected
governor and his deputy are both independents who spent years in
prison under Suharto.

The dark cloud is the candidature of the retired general Wiranto for
president in next year’s elections. He was indicted in 2003 by an
international panel for crimes against humanity in Timor Leste during
1999. The estimated death toll was 1,400. The Indonesian government
has so far ignored requests for Wiranto’s extradition to face trial
in Timor Leste.

Carmel Budiardjo

Tapol (Indonesian human rights campaign)

Thornton Heath, Surrey


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