Row in East Timor over leaked UN report: how times have changed

There is an eerie silence out there regarding the attacks contained in the UN report against the PM Gusmao from the many foreign academics, commentators and media who in 2006/07 vehemently condemned the FRETILIN Alkatiri first constitutional government for what they termed its anti-democratic authoritarian centralist even Marxist practices and policies. Why is this so? Perhaps now that their preferred Timorese PM who is not a member of FRETILIN is in power they do not want to help draw attention to perceived or otherwise weaknesses. After all, I have heard some argue it is not always easy to be the inexperienced government of a new nation emerging from the quagmire of a brutal history of violence and abuse, grappling with the demands of foreign powers greedily eyeing off resources while at the same time trying to meet the most basic needs of an impoverished population. Others simply contend international expectations are too high.
Could it be that a lesson has been learned and they do not want to repeat their mistakes by contributing again to the demise of a democratically elected government?
Will we see a damming story about the AMP government just before 2012 elections by Liz Jackson on 4 Corners, Australia’s flagship current affairs TV program? Let’s hope this row instead prompts a more informed constructive debate on constitutionalism in a fledgling democracy.

No wonder Mari Alkatiri is smiling quietly.

Deborah Durnan

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