Fretilin criticises Dili arms deal with Jakarta
Lindsay Murdoch, Darwin
August 4, 2009
A JAKARTA company has been secretly awarded a multimillion-dollar
contract to supply police and army equipment to East Timor.
The deal to supply equipment including bulletproof vests, tear gas
grenades, rubber bullet rifles and pepper spray is the latest of a
number of contracts awarded by the Dili Government this year to
business people and companies in Jakarta linked to the Indonesian
Fretilin, East Timor’s main opposition party, will demand to know in
parliament why the contract was awarded to PT Sahabat Triguna
Kesatria without an open international tendering process. ”We are
concerned. We are fully investigating this matter,” said Fretilin
spokesman Jose Teixeira.
The criticism comes as East Timor prepares to mark the 10th
anniversary of the independence vote on August 30 that sparked a
reign of terror sponsored by the Indonesian military. The violence
left 1500 dead and destroyed most of the country’s infrastructure.
One of the main events will be the Tour de Timor bike race, with
$A89,000 in prize money.
Documents obtained by The Age show that the Government approved a
July 7 request by PT Sahabat Triguna Kesatria for advance payment of
half of its $US2,895,390 ($A3.5 million) equipment contract. Some of
the equipment was purchased from third countries, including the
United States. The company has close ties with Indonesian security
In May, Fretilin criticised the lack of transparency in giving
approval for controversial Jakarta business tycoon Tomy Winata to
build a $US150 million shopping centre and hotel on prime land in
central Dili. Mr Winata amassed a fortune through businesses linked
to the Indonesian military.
East Timor’s largest political party has also questioned the awarding
of a contract for notorious Jakarta gangster Hercules Rozario Marcal
to develop a supermarket on Dili’s waterfront. He has been linked to
Mr Winata in the past.
East Timor’s Deputy Prime Minister, Mario Carrascalao, has been
reviewing the way the Government awards contracts, including by Prime
Minister Xanana Gusmao, who has been criticised for authorising a
rice importation contract to a company connected with his daughter.
Sebastiao Ximenes, East Timor’s Human Rights and Justice Ombudsman,
has called for Mr Gusmao to take action against Justice Minister
Lucia Lobato and Finance Minister Emilia Pires over alleged abuses of
power relating to the awarding of contracts. The ministers deny any
In an unpublished report dated July 2, which has been obtained by The
Age, the ombudsman recommends further investigation of the cases by
the Prosecutor-General’s Office. Government spokesman Agio Pereira
last night described the report as a politically motivated attack.
”There was no merit or facts to support the conclusions,” he said.
Mr Pereira said the conclusions appeared to have been reached without
supporting documentation or due diligence. ”We welcome any further
fair and impartial investigations,” he said.
Mr Pereira said the Government had moved to set up an anti-corruption
commission to ensure there was an ”independent institution to handle
corruption cases free from political bias or interference”.