Monthly Archives: March 2011

CNRT and Fretilin condemn threats to journalists

*Diario Nacional, March 21, 2011 language source: Tetun

The National Congress for the Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT) and
Fretilin MPs have strongly condemned a close security protection
officer (CSP) who recently threatened a reporter from the Timorese
Public TV when they were covering stories in the Parliament. MP
Aderito Hugo da Costa from the CNRT Party said the CSP officers are
here to provide security and they should not treat people
differently. “The act of threatening the journalists is not tolerable
and I condemn such an attitude,” Da Costa said. MP Aniceto Guterres
from Fretilin said the CSP officers should not discriminate against
people and should not threaten the journalists who are here to cover
stories. According to him, the media and their journalists are
carrying out their work based on the international standard of human
rights and democracy; therefore people should not threaten them.

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SBY Urged To Explain As More Leaks Surface

The Jakarta Post
Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wahyoe Boediwardhana, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta/Surabaya

Another WikiLeaks document on Indonesia appeared
in The Age on Saturday, revealing the reasons for
the US Embassy in Indonesia’s decision to turn
down deputy defense minister Lt. Gen. Sjafrie
Sjamsoeddin’s application for a visa to the US.

In 2009, Sjafrie, a senior adviser to President
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the time, was
scheduled to accompany Yudhoyono to Pittsburgh to
attend a G20 meeting. The US Embassy in Jakarta
denied him the entry recommendation.

According to leaked embassy cables, the Jakarta
embassy was about to issue a visa to Sjafrie but
“advice” from the US Embassy in Dili, Timor Leste, led to the rejection.

The cables allege that Sjafrie, while serving as
an Indonesian special forces commander in then
East Timor, was responsible for directing the
Santa Cruz cemetery massacre in 1991.

Sjafrie was also accused of being responsible for
widespread violence committed by Indonesian
troops in Dili after East Timor’s vote for independence in 1999.

In its communiqué, the US embassy in Dili said
Sjafrie was responsible for acts of violence in 1991 and 1999.

Indonesian Defense Ministry officials could not be reached for comment.

On Friday, Australian newspapers The Age and the
Sydney Morning Herald published WikiLeaks
documents hinting that Yudhoyono abused his power
upon taking office in 2004. It also claimed First
Lady Kristiani Herawati used her husband’s
influence by setting up several companies after Yudhoyono took office.

On Saturday, The Age also ran Yudhoyono’s denial
in a piece titled “President rejects corruption claim”.

It also contained statement issued Friday by US
Ambassador to Indonesia Scot Marciel, who said
embassy reports to Washington were often “incomplete and unsubstantiated”.

Yudhoyono said it was regrettable the newspapers
published the allegations without seeking his
side of the story first. The Indonesian
government and Yudhoyono aides were quick to
publicly dismiss the reports as untrue.

Some critics, however, remain unconvinced.

Din Syamsudin the chairman of Muhammadiyah,
Indonesia’s second-largest Muslim organization,
said Saturday that Yudhoyono had to clarify the
allegations in the articles in reference to abuse of power.

“The President must speak up. It’s not enough [to
address the issue] through his spokespeople or
aides because we know the President has spoken
out on even small problems,” he said.

Din dismissed speculation the reports were an act
of foreign intervention to topple the Indonesian government.

Foreign institutions have the freedom to publish
data and facts, which the Indonesian government
must counter through facts too, he added.

“If the President remains quiet by not providing
clarification or filing a lawsuit, this incident
will repeat itself, and it will send the message
that the reports are true,” he said.

—————-

The Jakarta Post [website] Sunday, March 13, 2011

Presidential Staffer Regrets “Sloppy” Australian Reports

The Australian media’s recent Wikileaks-sourced
stories alleging that President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono abused his power are regrettable,
according to a senior presidential official.

A report entitled “Yudhoyono ‘abused power’”
published in The Age on Friday and echoed by The
Sydney Morning Herald were “sloppy” and that the
right of reply offered by the dailies to
Yudhoyono was inadequate, presidential spokesman
on political issues Daniel Sparingga, said.

“Sloppiness does not represent press from a
nation that respects another nation,” he said on
Saturday as quoted by tempointeraktif.com.

According to a US State Department cable released
by Wikileaks, Yudhoyono personally intervened to
halt prosecution of Taufik Kiemas, husband of
former president Megawati Soekarnoputri, in a
graft case centered on infrastructure projects, the reports said.

Daniel said that he regretted the way the US
Embassy in Indonesia treated classified
information and that an apology from the embassy
was inadequate. American diplomats should change
their views of the US and of other countries in
the wake of the Wikileaks scandal, he said.

—————–

The Jakarta Globe Sunday, March 13, 2011

US Embassy Plays Down Significance of Documents

Ismira Lutfia

The United States Embassy in Jakarta has refused
to comment on the explosive revelations made by
embassy sources about President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono and published in Australian daily The Age.

Ambassador Scot Marciel said in a statement on
Friday, issued after his meeting in the morning
with Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, that the
US Department of State did not comment on
specific material, including classified documents, that had been leaked.

He also characterized the embassy’s field
reporting to Washington as “candid and often raw
information. It is preliminary, often incomplete and unsubstantiated.”

Marciel went on to say that the information
provided “is not an expression of policy, nor
does it always shape final policy decisions.
These documents should not be seen as having
standing on their own or as representing US policy.”

“This type of publication is extremely
irresponsible and we express our deepest regrets
to President Yudhoyono and the Indonesian people,” he said.

In a similar statement issued later on Friday,
the US Embassy said the United States “deeply
regrets the disclosure of any information that
was intended to be confidential, including
private discussions between counterparts or our
diplomats’ personal assessments and observations.”

“Our official foreign policy is not set through
these messages, but in Washington. Our policy is
a matter of public record, as reflected in our
statements and our actions around the world,” it
said. “Any unauthorized disclosure of classified
information by Wikileaks has harmful implications
for the lives of identified individuals that are
jeopardized, but also for global engagement among and between nations.”

The statement also said Washington was fortunate
to have a very strong partner in Yudhoyono.

Marty told reporters later on Friday that the
contents of the US Embassy cables were based on
talks held over dinner tables and at receptions.

“They gathered information, views, hearsay and
they reported what they heard to Washington,” he
said, adding that the Indonesian government would
continue to monitor future WikiLeaks reports.

“If this was something substantial, for example
they mentioned the state’s view [on something] as
A while it is actually B, we would have to …
respond to it because it was not true.”

Gusmao MPs trying to shut down criminal trial of Deputy PM and Minister

FRETILIN

MEDIA RELEASE

Dili, 13 March 2011

Timor-Leste politicians allied to the Gusmao government are trying to shut down criminal prosecution of two ministers accused of official misconduct and corruption, FRETILIN’s parliamentary spokesperson and MP Jose Teixeira said today.

Mr Teixeira said two district courts have separately summoned Deputy Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres and Minister for State Administration Arcanjo Leite to answer criminal charges brought by the Prosecutor General’s office.

“The trials cannot proceed unless parliament lifts the ministers’ constitutional immunity from prosecution, as the courts have requested,” Mr Teixeira said.

“However Parliament’s committee on ethics, controlled by MPs belonging to Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao’s AMP coalition, recommended that parliament not suspend them,” he said.

“Government MPs then succeeded in deferring a parliamentary vote on whether to suspend the pair until 5 April 2011.

“Voting will be by secret ballot and there is little doubt the majority will refuse to lift immunity. This will be another nail in the coffin for the rule of law in Timor-Leste.”

He said the accused ministers would automatically lose their immunity if Prime Minister Gusmao removed them from their posts, “but this self-proclaimed corruption fighter appears unwilling to risk further infighting within his coalition by doing so”.

The Dili District Court has summoned Deputy Prime Minister Guterres to be tried on charges of corruptly using his official position to financially advantage his wife.

Baucau District Court has summoned Minister for State Administration Arcanjo Leite to face trial on charges of willful damaging maladministration.

Mr Teixeira said government MPs were promoting a culture of impunity for high officials and their connections and weakening the justice system by slandering the Prosecutor General’s office, which includes local and foreign jurists, with unfounded accusations of political bias.

For further information contact Jose Teixeira MP on +670 728 7080

Economist thinks free market wonderful – supprise

The Economist

Timor-Leste on its own

Young and growing

Mar 9th 2011, 11:29 by J.C. | DILI

THE taxi drivers at Timor-Lestes international
airport are a many-tongued chorus. Every one of
them has at least four different languages with
which to try talking you into paying double the
normal fare. A useful reminder of the colonial
history of one of the worlds youngest nations as
well as testament to the universal opportunism of
young men looking to make a quick buck in a free-market economy.

Of course, Timor-Leste (formerly known as East
Timor), will soon be bumped a peg down the league
table of the worlds youngest nations by
South
Sudan, falling just behind Montenegro and
Kosovo.
It hardly matters. Timor-Leste is perfectly ready
to pass the torch to an even-younger brother. The
buzz of deals being done in Dili, the capital,
and an ambience of strong animal spirits are at
their highest since the country became an
independent state, in 2002. The whispers had been
about whether East Timor would be capable of
surviving on its own. Till 1975 a Portuguese
colony, Timor-Leste is little more than half an
island not one of the Indonesian archipelagos
largest isolated and broken by decades of brutal
conflict and neglectful rule by Jakarta. In 2006,
factional fighting between the army and police
killed dozens of people in Dili and left around
150,000 homeless. Their feuding was inflamed by
civilians who had been armed and goaded to fight
by rival political parties. The government
collapsed and a political crisis followed,
forcing UN peacekeepers come back in and restore
order. The talk turned to whether Timor-Leste had become a failed state.

But the new country had a card up its sleeve:
offshore oil and gas, mineral wealth just waiting
to be cashed in. Today the country is rolling in
filthy lucre. In 2002 Timor-Lestes national
budget was less than $20m; for 2011 it is more
than $1 billion. The government of Jos Xanana
Gusmo, an independence hero turned prime
minister, is spending like mad. It has busied
itself dishing out $450m for a national grid and
power plant; other contracts for roads, bridges,
farming equipment; improved pensions for the
elderly and veterans; and spending on sundry
other priorities that Mr Gusmo judges to be
essential to growth and development. The spending
spree is made possible by the East Timor
Petroleum Fund, which held $7.2 billion as of
March 1st and allows the government to draw a
small percentage of it each year to fund its
otherwise insignificant budget. Dili is a boom
town, dotted with shops, internet cafs,
restaurants, building-supply store snot to
mention the calming presence of UN vehicles and
international police officers. An
Australian-Timorese businessman is building a
giant shopping mall on 15 hectares of land near the airport.

But not everyone is pleased. Opposition
politicians, aid organisations and even the
president, Jos Ramos-Horta, have all expressed
alarm at the level of government spending and at
the absence of oversight for contract-bidding and
performance. They note too that 85% of the
population lives in rural districts, and that the
poverty rate tops 40%. Timor-Leste has the
worlds third-highest rate of child malnutrition.

It also has one of the highest rates of
population growth anywhere; only in sub-Saharan
Africa and Afghanistan is its rate of fertility
to be matched. For better or for worse, this will
be a young population, for a long time. Yet 85%
of its schoolteachers fail a test of basic
competency. Critics of the government complain
that spending should concentrate on the country’s
human capital, by improving education and health
care, and on improving agricultural irrigation,
taking into consideration that the vast majority
of Timor-Lestes 1m people are subsistence farmers.

The debate on spending priorities is playing out
on the floor of parliament, in the press, and
even at village meetings. On a return to Dili
after years away, it doesnt seem to matter so
much which side has it right. What matters more
is that the levers of a functioning
democracy governance, political opposition, a
free press, civil society, trade, infrastructure
development and the like are clearly moving in
Timor-Leste. For all the creaking and grinding,
this is working. The talk of ten or even five
years ago of a country that might just be
impossibly hot wide of the mark, mercifully.
Parliamentary and presidential elections are
scheduled for 2012 and the withdrawal of the UNs
international police force is to follow. Mark it
on the calendar as another opportunity for the
Timorese to prove they’ve made the grade.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/asiaview/2011/03/timor-leste_its_own

Not A Single Interest In East Timor Refugee Centre

The Australian

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Not A Single Interest In East Timor Centre

Lanai Vasek, Paul Maley

IMMIGRATION officials have admitted that not a single country has
signed up to Julia Gillard’s proposal for an East Timor processing
centre, despite more than six months of furious diplomatic lobbying.

Immigration Department head Andrew Metcalfe indicated any future
negotiations would focus on countries that had traditionally
resettled migrants, such as the US, Canada and Nordic countries, and
not Southeast Asian countries.

Speaking at a Senate Estimates hearing, Mr Metcalfe gave evidence
suggesting the plan had received little traction in the region and
said the issues of a regional protection framework and processing
centre would be dealt with separately.

“I have made it clear that the regional protection framework is
progressed through the Bali Process and the Regional Processing
Centre is a bi-lateral agreement with East Timor,” he said.

“We have informed other countries, but we have not approached other
countries about establishing a processing centre . . . we are
briefing and keeping them informed about the proposal.”

Mr Metcalfe said a full ministerial meeting of the Bali Process would
meet “soon”.

The Bali Process involves 50 countries and is co-chaired by Australia
and Indonesia.

But following sustained questioning from opposition senators, Mr
Metcalfe conceded not a single country proposed to send refugees to
Timor nor take refugees that may be processed at the centre.

“Time will tell if these countries agree if it is in their interests
and if they avail themselves to specific measures,” Mr Metcalfe said.

“While Australia has a national interest it is of course open to
other countries if they want to take part.”

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said Mr Metcalfe’s
evidence, tendered to a senate committee in Canberra yesterday,
suggested the government’s plans for a Timor centre had gone backwards.

“This proposal is to provide guaranteed resettlement in a western
developed country,” Mr Morrison told The Australian last night.

“By their own admission the only country that’s signed to it is
Australia . . . the only way people are going to end up in east Timor
is if they get on a boat and come to Australia.”

Mr Metcalfe said yesterday mass people movements would be a “21st
century problem”.