Saturday, 29 December 2007

Perspectives

I have received quite a few SMS messages from people commiserating with us for our Christmas Eve burglary and as you may have noticed a few comments on the post also saying basically the same thing.
I do appreciate the sympathy but we have to get things into perspective. I read a report from a town near Seattle about a family of 6 gunned down in their beds. Two toddlers, their parents and grand-parents.
On Christmas day apparently a grandfather playing cricket with his family on a beach in Western Australia was clubbed to death in front of them over a row over some beer.
And of course there is Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur etc etc. The list goes on and on, just fill in your own locations.
Now for a comi-tragic story of Christmas.
My friend Henry, an irascible old sod at the best of times, got a ‘phone call from a friend of his, Lisa, to say that her dad, who has been in Dili General hospital for a couple of weeks, was fading fast and could Henry do anything to help. Henry arranged with Dr. Dan (another local hero) for a bed at Dan’s clinic and set off for the hospital with Lisa to pick up the old boy and take him somewhere more comfortable. Upon arriving at the hospital they were told that the old boy had died and could they please arrange to take the body away! ‘Of course’ said Henry, ‘give us the forms to fill in and an ambulance to take him way, no worries’. Well, longish story short, no forms to fill in, no ambulance to transport the old codger. So, Henry and Lisa washed the body, picked up the old guy and carried him out to Henry’s pick-up. They placed him sitting upright in the back seat and set off for Lisa’s home. So, there’s H, driving along with a dead ‘un in the back, looking in his rear-view mirror and being met with the icy stare of the newly departed. As Henry said, what would he say to any spotty faced 18 year-old ISF soldier if they were stopped at one of our frequent checkpoints. You’ve gotta laugh. The funeral was on Christmas Day.
Now for the ‘perspective’ angle.
All we had stolen on Christmas Eve was stuff. That was it, we can always replace stuff. Of course there is the feeling of violation and intrusion but worse than that is the hate I felt for the people that carried out the robbery. Now I’ve calmed down, and turned Chateau Sod into a stalag, much like the Aussie embassy compound, the hate has gone and believe it or not I actually feel sorry for the boys that robbed us. We know who they are but can prove nothing; they are between 16 and 22 years old. Try and imagine what they saw in late ’99. Militia and TNI rampaging through the streets, the UN abandoning them, relatives killed in front of them, their houses burnt, in some cases their sisters and mothers taken away. Imagine the contempt they must have for their current leaders and the Law when they see people like Rogerio Lobato, freed from prison in August for 30 days to have medical treatment in Malaysia, still there and apparently now a well man. People like ‘Major’ Alfredo Reinado, a prison escapee, who shot at unarmed police officers, who turned to an SBS camera and said ‘got him’ with relish after firing at the same unarmed police officers, still in the hills, heavily armed, dictating terms to the ‘Government’.
No wonder these boys think they can get away with anything. And why shouldn’t they when their ‘leaders’ set such an example.
Rant over and that’s off my chest.


Your comments are invited…….

ps - they also got our iron, so if you see Mr. and Mrs. Sod around town looking a bit dishevelled, you know the reason why.


Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Ho Ho Bloody Ho

Well, I hope you all had a very merry and peaceful Christmas. Except the little gits who burgled our house on Christmas Eve. I hope they get blinding hangovers from the booze they stole from us.
On Monday night, the 24th, I left the house at about 7pm to go and get more Xmas supplies. Returning around 8.30pm I noticed that two cases of golden nectar (Tiger) were no longer in the place I had left them. I assumed someone had put them away in a tidy place. Wrong assumption. Waking up on Christmas morn I tried to locate said Tigers with no luck. I also noticed the back door was unlocked and standing partly open. Upon investigation we found that as well as the Tiger’s, a bottle of Gordon’s gin, a nice expensive pair of binoculars and all of our spare keys were missing. Being very quick off the mark we realized we had been burgled. Nice work Sherlock. Determined not to let this event ruin the day I quickly sped off to Dili Cold Storage and repurchased the booze.
Around midday, M, who uses the spare bedroom, came round with goodies and Christmas cheer. The Christmas cheer didn’t last long though. We told M that we had been burgled and upon checking the room she discovered that around USD 450.00 was missing from her purse along with a couple of credit cards. Bugger. The plod were called, they arrived promptly and statements and a list of stolen goods were taken.
We then did a little investigation and assumption of our own. It appears the scrotes had climbed over our VERY high wall, cut through the mosquito net on an open window and entered the house that way. They were obviously very very good at this because Mrs. Sod happened to be in the house alone at the time and she didn’t have any inkling that we had uninvited guests creeping around.
The theft of the money and goods I am not too worried about. They are just ‘things’ and can easily be replaced. What worries me most and makes my blood boil is the fact that at least two villains were in my house with my wife who was alone. It is also obvious that the scrotes had at least one knife for cutting through the mozzy net. I hate to think of what might have happened had Mrs. Sod encountered them. This also means that if during the night we should have intruders I will assume they are armed and things could go very very wrong.
The result of this event is that we now have to do something we have been trying to avoid. I will have to make the place look like a prison camp, razor wire all round, broken glass on top of the walls and a sturdy hitting implement by the bed.
Another interesting thing about this incident is that our dogs, 3 of them, didn’t start barking up a fuss. They are normally very good about letting us know when we have uninvited guests in the place. We can only assume that the perps either knew the dogs or they drugged them in some way. We suspect the later because the dogs were very off their food that night and were quite docile. At the time we put it down to the Christmas spirit but now we think they had been ‘got at’.
So, if anyone out there in Dili happens to see some drunken guys with possibly a half bottle of gin and a pair of binoculars with ‘FF’ inscribed on them, please give me a call and I will arrive promptly with some big mates and a bad attitude.

Seasons greetings to all and good will to most………

Thursday, 20 December 2007

'Plane Speaking

Announcement by pilot of the 'plane which brought SG Moon from Bali to Dili


"Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome aboard this UN flight from Denpassar to Dili. As I am sure you are aware, we have a Very Important Person on board today, the Secretary General of the United States...." Doh!


Embarrassed silence ensued.



Ban Ki-Moon


George W. Bush



UN Pilot







Overheard on my verandah recently:

"There are some things a man just can't walk around" (I think that was actually Gary Cooper)


"I can make cheesecakes on auto-pilot"

"You can't put the shit back into the horse"


..........





Friday, 30 November 2007

Some Things Are Just Meant To Be


Please supply your own captions, but I do believe I can see a small pink tongue obsequiously licking
the English hand. (What do you think Knackers?)

....

Safe In Our Beds

Taken from Australia’s ‘Herald Sun’ November 29 2007
"AN EAST Timorese court has convicted four military officers of the murder of eight unarmed police in May last year.
A group of soldiers fired on the police as United Nations officers tried to broker a peace deal between the two sides near the mission's office in the capital Dili.
The court sentenced the four soldiers to between 10 and 12 years' imprisonment and acquitted seven other soldiers and one policemen."


Taken from UNMIT Media monitoring, Thursday 29 November 2007
"Heavy weapons for the F-FDTL to arrive next month.
The State Secretary of Defence, Julio Thomas Pinto, said that special weapons, to be used by the F-FDTL for night operations, will arrive in December.“The purchase was part of the program of 20:20, along side the establishment of a munitions store and a military court that the government runs, to develop the nation’s defence forces,” said Mr. Pinto on Wednesday (28/11) in the Government Palace, Dili.The State Secretary also said that the program of 20:20 was planned by the previous government, but the current government has a commitment to make it happen. (TP)"

Comments invited.............

Friday, 16 November 2007

Flights Of Fancy?

The Following is taken from ABC Radio Australia

Baggage handlers and check-in staff at East Timor's international airport are considering interrupting commercial flights between Australia and Dili as part of an employment dispute.The staff employed by Total Aviation Services are demanding extra pay for servicing charter flights operated by the Patricks Corporation.A spokesman for the baggage handlers, Alex Pereira, says if something isn't done about their employer within a week they are considering interrupting flights, including flights operated by Air North from Darwin

You have to feel sorry for the poor sods. I mean, two flights a day from Darwin, with at least 30 passengers on each will wear anybody out.

....

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Power To The People

Well, here it is folks, the piece of machinery we all love to hate. Below is the reason for those tired red eyes, unshaven faces and quick tempers. Apparently we are getting a bunch of new ones from Indonesia, along with about 25 technicians to keep the things going. Personally I’d say send in blokes with names like ‘Rocket’, ‘Cookie’ and ‘Mr. Generator’ and get the job done for just three slabs of VB.



Too easy, no worries, she’ll be right!!
....

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Shell Shock


So, come on, who’s buying this stuff? I can’t believe any Timorese is going to pay $20.00 for a turtle shell. The only people that are going to buy this are Malae. There is a maximum $50,000 and/or up to 5 years in jail (with time off for medical treatment in Malaysia) for buying or selling corals or turtle shell or turtle shell products. Before we had our bit of trouble last year the PNTL and MAFF were very good at explaining to Timorese the consequences of buying and selling this stuff. Obviously priorities have changed a bit since then, so it’s up to the Malae NOT to buy it. We all watch Discovery channel, Animal Planet and all the rest. We know we shouldn’t buy it. So, if anyone reading this is buying it; BLOODY WELL STOP IT NOW and if you know of anyone buying it, tell them to STOP! By the way, the stall pictured above is the one just before the Hera turnoff on the beach road.

You know it makes sense.

……….

Friday, 2 November 2007

The Wages Of Sun

Overheard on my verandah one evening this week:

"Do you know, I've got to stop working for people and not charging them the hours"

"Mate, it's a good job you don't do overtime then, otherwise you'd go broke!"

........

A Viking Funeral

Well, wasn’t Wednesday a treat. Sitting here bored, not much work, just a bit of routine maintainence and loafing around when who should call, but that well known local character, Rocket. “Mate, get yer arse down to the harbour, there’s a boat alite and she’s goin’ like a good ‘un”.
Well, who could resist. Myself and Ben got a couple of Tigers and drove down to the harbour to watch the spectacle. And it was truly something. We parked up at the lighthouse (Farol) and watched the boat (see pic below, with thanks to ‘Timor Online’, and I’m not gonna pay any royalties, so sue me) drifting backwards and forwards, side to side etc in the prevailing wind. Now, we watched this for about 4 hours in total. Hundreds of people gathered on the shore, a lovely afternoon out. The new government should lay on this type of entertainment more often.
Now, all of this got me to thinking. I do sometimes. While we were watching it was obvious that the PNTL, UNPol’s and the ISF had neither a clue nor any orders on what to do. There was obviously no plan in place for this sort of maritime eventuality. Most of the ‘officials’ there were just basically doing the same as the rest of us. Taking happy snaps.
So, my proposal. Couldn’t some enterprising UN person, I know there are some, coordinate some sort of maritime emergency scheme. Nearly all of the boats in the harbour on Wednesday were privately owned and operated. It was the owner/operators and local ET guys who actually got the commercial boats out of the way of the burning ship. Also, being a port city, we frequently have small(ish) maritime emergencies. Nearly every February and March someone with a boat (a dive company or fishing charter) will get a call saying there is a boat foundering between Atuaro and the mainland and can you go and rescue the people in the dugout?
Is there a person who coordinates disaster/mishap relief.?You know, earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, that type of thing. Maybe this person should get the ‘phone numbers of the boat owner/operators, keep them handy and when we do have a bit of a calamity on they can organize the boats collectively rather than the ‘every man for himself’ situation that we have at the moment.


Anyway, its just a thought.





…………..

By the way, I happened to spot a few Norwegians down there, tears in their eyes, saying things to each other like "when I go, will you make sure I go like that please Thor?"

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

About Time

Well, I suppose a post is well overdue. The past few weeks have been very very busy (at least comparatively so) in the tourism business here. We have had an influx of backpackers and genuine dive tourists. One lady saw an article in a dive magazine and was so captivated she flew from Prague to Dili to sample the diving. Upon the completion of her holiday she declared that ‘East Timor has the best diving I have ever seen!’ Not a bad plug. It’s now whale season and we have been spying an increasing number of cetaceans recently. A few lucky people have also been diving and snorkeling with a dugong down at K41.
I was going to write about the Timor Telcom fiasco of last week but I don’t really have much to say on it. Once again TT showed just how pathetically incompetent they really are with absolutely no regard whatsoever for the customer.
The streets seem to have returned to ‘normal’ at the moment, with very few incidents of rock throwing, fighting etc. Most incidents that I’ve seen or heard of seem to be more juvenile criminal activity rather than anything more sinister or political (is that tautology?). There was a bit of a kafuffle on Saturday night at Tiger fuels but that was more of a little gang related thing than anything else.
A few old friends have returned to ET and it’s really good to see them, especially the Gozontopede and the big blond German. Oh, and welcome back Squatter. I’m glad to see the budgie smuggler problem has been resolved. Still, I understand it was a fairly small problem in the first place.
That’s about it really. I’ll try to update my posting with a bit more Dili-gence in the future…….

………

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Great New ET Tourism Directory

Please check out the following site for excellent information about getting around and enjoying East Timor:

http://www.timortourismdirectory.com/index.html





...........

Monday, 17 September 2007

Makes You Think

At the pub the other night:
Bill (mine host): "You drank 22 beers last Saturday!"
Ben (patron): "Fuck, I must have had a nap."

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Johnny The Tooth

Its story time.


About 2-1/2 years ago a man appeared outside our house. He had a little wooden push-cart with a wobbly wheel and was selling coldish drinks (Fanta) and Garams (kretek ciggies). At the time our street was actually very nice. There were fish-on-stick sellers, chicken-on-stick sellers, people walking up and down selling live mud crabs and lobsters, little stalls selling sweets, water etc etc. These people were from all over the country, East, West and Dili and seemed to get on very well.
Our chap, who we did and still do call Johnny The Tooth (the reason will become apparent later) comes from Baucau and is very very dark. Our local scrotes, who actually were not scrotes then, just cheeky chappies, gave him a very hard time about his colour, his poverty, his looks and just about everything else they could. Johnny was stoic, took it and gave it back when it all got a bit out of hand. We got to admire Johnny very much and would buy Fanta and Garams from him whilst telling him to get some beer and Marlboros in stock as well. I cannot stand Fanta or Garams. Johnny took our advice, started selling beer, of a sort; it was 4X Gold after all, a bit like drinking a bottle of perfume. His profits started increasing; he improved his stock, fixed his wheel, gave the cart a good paintjob and basically turned into an entrepreneur. We get a lot of visitors in our house and most of them like a beer or ten. So, we started teaching Johnny some English and our visitors started to learn some basic Tetum. It was just numbers and ‘Please’ ‘Thank you’ etc in both languages.
Then April May and June happened.
Johnny’s cart used to be parked under a tree which was also the site of a fruit and veg. vendor. The two businesses’s nicely complemented each other. Unfortunately for the fruit and veg. family they also were from the East. Cut a long story short. The fruit and veggie family were burnt out and Johnny was terrorised away. We missed him and were very very worried about him.
About the middle of June I was driving through what was then the new old Comoro market at Pertamina corner when I spotted Johnny sleeping under a sack. He looked bloody awful. He stank, his cloths were rags and he no longer had his cart. He had two packets of Garams for sale, which I bought. While I was talking to him everybody else was gathering around and watching very closely, so to buy the ciggies (1 dollar, 2 packs) I wrapped a fifty dollar bill up in a one dollar bill and gave it to him. The next time I saw him was at a press conference at Fretelin HQ. He looked a lot better and his stock had improved, which of course I bought up there and then. About 10 days ago we encountered Johnny again. He had a new cart, looked smart and was doing good business. The new cart was bought with the money from the Garams.
I’m not sure if there is really a point to this post but I just wanted to point out another, of many many Timorese, who DO NOT WANT THE SHIT THAT IS GOING ON RIGHT NOW. They just want to get on with their lives, in peace, not have to be scared at night, all night, every night and bring up their families as best they can with maybe some help from the State.
Johnny wants to come back to his old pitch but he cannot. He is too terrified.

Johnny The Tooth - What a Guy!





See the postNothing To Report’ for the story of another local hero.





Friday, 31 August 2007

Bathtime Blues

Last night I was sitting peacefully in the bath, minding my own business when my wife, Mrs. Sod, came in and sank all my boats.

I thought that was very immature.

……

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Shattered Dreams

Well, I suppose it finally had to happen. After more than a year of driving around Dili and most of the rest of East Timor, often seeking out the trouble spots and deliberately driving into the middle of them I have joined the club. Last night, returning from a favourite thinking spot with two, yes two tourists my windscreen was hit by what has been described in some Security Tree announcements as a ‘High Velocity Projectile’; otherwise known as a rock.
Now I have been rocked before, about six times I think, but those times the HVP either hit the doors or didn’t smash a window. Last night the buggers finally got me. It was about 10.30ish and I was driving along the Comoro road heading east. Just as I got to a certain political party headquarters, between the new Comoro market and the Aussie embassy there was a loud bang and suddenly my windscreen looked a bit like a spider’s web.
Thankfully no-one was hurt, that would have been ironic eh? Just as tourists are starting to trickle back here, putting real dollars into real Timorese hands and not some glorified consultants back pocket a bloody tourist gets clobbered. I can hear the announcements on Strine TV news now: “In a holiday tragedy in strife torn East Timor……etc. etc.
Still, as I say, no-one was hurt, it could have been a lot worse. And at least Dili has an ample stockpile of Hi-Lux windows at the moment. And why should my car look any different than anyone else’s? I reckon people were starting to think I was a bit stuck-up because I didn’t have any sheets of clear plastic taped somewhere on the car. Now I can blend in.

…….
Oh, and check out the new posts on ETJ.

Monday, 27 August 2007

The Whole Tooth and Nothing But

This is a true story, only the names have been changed to protect the incorrigible.
On Friday morning of last week two of my chums, we’ll call ‘em Bill and Ben, kindly took me to the f-FDTL barracks at Metinaro for some dental work. After receiving my treatment one of the chums took me over to see the salt-water crocs the army have in an enclosure. As we approached in our distinctive coloured shirts the big male (see picture) slithered out of his pond, rushed over to the flimsy wire fence, growled, opened his absolutely bloody huge mouth and rested his lower jaw on the fence. Bill, who had his car key in his hand, reached through the wire and extracted a loose tooth (see picture) that was half hanging out. The croc gave a satisfied sigh, closed his mouth and slithered back into his pond. I think Bill must have been having a bit of a Zen moment, because he looked down at the tooth and said “bloody hell, did I just do what I think I just did?”
He truly bloody did. I saw him.



Croc tooth (left) and dog tooth

One of the chums (Bill, left) and croc.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Spot The Difference



A tasty chart pie made by Mrs. Sod and a tasteful pie chart made by ETJ



See, it’s not just pie in the sky, you can have your cake and eat it.

…..

Monday, 20 August 2007

Glock Watching

This is a broadcast of the UN Police in Timor-Leste to provide you with information about the security situation around the country.
The security situation in Timor-Leste is still tense.
United Nations police officers (UNPol) in conjunction with the national police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) and the International Stabilisation Force (ISF) remain fully deployed to respond to any disturbances that may occur.
Early this morning in Dili, a security guard was shot in the leg whilst on duty in Delta-2. The facts are still being established, but it is believed that the house he was guarding was being attacked by unknown assailants at around 0150hrs and that, to scare off the assailants, the resident of the house fired a warning shot which ricocheted off the ground and struck the security guard. UNPol have taken the victim to Dili hospital. Police are investigating.
_____________________________________________________

It’s not fair. I thought we were not allowed to have guns. If he’s got a gun I want a gun. A big one. The biggest. It says the gunperson is a resident. I got my residents visa last month, am I entitled to a gun? Anyone know where I can get one? A big one?

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Time Is Relative

Overheard on my verrandah this week (twice!)

Q: "What time is it?"

A: "What, now?"

....

A Weekend Break

I’ve just spent a couple of days (Saturday and Sunday) in Bacau working for SBS television news, the thinking Australian’s channel of choice (so very small viewing figures there).
I think the accepted clichĂ© for Bacau would have been “quiet but tense’. After an uneventful 2 hour and 14 minute trip (no traffic) we entered a very subdued town. There were Fretilin flags everywhere and the market had only about half the normal number of vendors.
We went upto the UN offices where an NGO were ‘re-locating’ to safer premises at the airport. We also had a bit of a trawl around town, filming the burnt out CRS compound, a destroyed kindergarten and quite a few other destroyed buildings. We were told by UN security that it was too dangerous to travel onto Vicqueque so we went back to the hotel, edited the piece and sent it via satellite from there. We had to order our dinner before 7pm as the staff was all going home as they were too afraid to stay overnight. I was given the keys to the hotel and so we settled down for the night. We didn’t feel at all apprehensive as we had 12 Bangladeshi police, with APC, guarding the hotel overnight.
Up early Sunday morning and off to film Mass at the local church. The main thing I noticed about the church ceremony was that the congregation consisted almost entirely of women, I would say around 97pct.
A few of the flags had been taken down and the atmosphere was a lot more ‘normal’ than the previous day. We went around town, filming here and there and then set off back to Dili. As we drove through the Metinaro IDP camp we were a bit more alert than usual as there had been reports of cars being stoned here. As it happened, most of the people in the camp waved at us, “hello Mr.’ red” us and saw us on our way. We shouldn’t have been so complacent though, as about 5km’s outside of the camp we got rocked! No injuries, slight damage to the car, although if you knew my car you would be hard put to spot the rock marks amidst all the other dents and scratch’s.
Once back in Dili, we edited the piece, sent it off and parked off for the rest of the day.
On Monday we got an interview with Dr. Mari Alkatiri who told us, among other things, that Fretilin would not be boycotting parliament and that they (the Party) strongly condemned any and all violence occurring in their name. Immediately after we had an interview with H.E. JRH who basically said the same thing. This was straight after a meeting between JRH, MA and the SRSG.
There was a few reports on Monday of rock throwing and fighting at the airport, so I was backwards and forwards between there and the town a few times, but it was all very low key compared to the past.
Right now things are very quiet in Dili. Its Assumption day today (whatever that is) so a lot of people will have the day off and I would imagine the day will carry on in this quiet way.
Let’s hope so.

…..

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Burning Issues

Well, for a while there it looked like ‘Here we go again’ but so far, touch wood, today has been relatively quiet. Monday Tuesday and Wednesday were quite interesting but it still had the feel of ‘same old, same old’. The boys were out and about in town, burning tyres, throwing stones and firing arrows. By now most of us know which areas to avoid and when to keep our heads down. They did manage to burn down the customs building but I have yet to meet anyone who actually thinks that was a bad thing. Tax office and Timor Telecom next?
The UNPol’s and the ISF, in my humble opinion, have been doing a sterling job containing any trouble in Dili but things have been a bit hotter in Bacau and Viqueque with reports of burnings, injuries and mass arrests. Not unexpected as those areas are Fretilin strongholds, and, as we all know, the chaps are quite miffed at not being able to form a government despite the fact they did get more votes than any other party but did not win enough seats to actually form a viable government.
Our revered former Interior Minister, Rogerio Lobato, as I write, is still on a ‘plane on the runway at Dili airport and is refusing to get off. He is supposed to be going to Malaysia because of a heart condition that needs treatment. We were betting on prostate trouble, but what the heck, the heart comes a good second. (Shades of Mobuto and Pinochet there?) Our President, H.E. JRH, has seen the medical reports and agrees that he should leave the country for treatment but Lobato’s cousin, Lucia, the new Minister of Justice, has decided that justice must be seen to be done. For those of you with short memories Mr. Rogerio Lobato was sentenced to 7-1/2 years in jail for his part in last years ‘crisis’.
There may be a bit more mayhem on the streets today as I understand the UN are going to condemn Fretilin for not doing enough to quell the events of recent days. So, a few disgruntled scrotes might decide to show their unhappiness. I will try and keep you posted on events as I know I have been a bit lax recently, but, to be honest, not much happened out of the ordinary (what the hell is ordinary here?) over the past couple of months, apart from the elections of course, but I felt East Timor Journal’ and ‘Dili-gence’ portrayed those events far better than I ever could.
______________________________________________________
As I write, a small jet has just taken off from the airport. Don't know who, if anyone, is on board.

....

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

SMS News

Sec Tree 1725 – Fighting going on in Tasi Tolu ivo bus port.
Sec Tree 1743 – Stone throwing on Comoro rd ivo Comoro Markets.
Sec Tree 1930 – UN/BC There is a disturbance opposite “Alola” foundation in Mercado Lama area and close to soccer field in Kemea area.
Sec tree 1934 – UN/BC Disturbance near Mercado Lama (ivo Dili stadium roundabout) avoid area
Sec Tree 1958 – Cars being stoned on Comoro Rd between Aust Emb and Lanmark Plaza.
Sec Tree 2000 – UN/BC Disturbance opposite Australian Embassy in Fatuhada area (ROAD-3) and close to UNMIT Transport Compound. Balide area (ROAD-11). Avoid the areas
Sec tree 2110 – Disturbance on Banana Road ivo Hong Kong restaurant (ivo Bario Pite intersection)
Sec Tree 2205 – Disturbance in Balide. Reports of gunshots being heard in the area.


SMS News

Sec Tree 0750 – Fighting and stone throwing at Airport roundabout. Disturbance in Bebonuk ivo Primary school.
Sec Tree 0755 – UN/BC there are disturbances in Bebonuk, Airport, Comoro Rd and Pantai Kelapa. All staff are advised to avoid these areas.
Sec Tree 0945 – Illegal roadblock reported in Audian ivo pharmacy.
1000. From NZ embassy. Disturbances in Dili and districts may continue over next days. Maintain a high level of personal security and avoid unnecessary travel in and outside Dili.
Sec Tree 1035 – Cars are continuing to be stoned on Pantai Kelapa Rd between Pertamina fuel and Comoro Rd. Avoid this route.
Sec Tree 1125 – Groups gathering on Beach Rd in Bisau Lecidere ivo IDP camp (near World Bank). Unpol on scene. Avoid area.
Sec Tree 1148 – Cars being stoned ivo ANZ bank.
Sec Tree 1153 – UN/BC Stone throwing on Comoro Rd ivo Landmark Plaza and Comoro market.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Manners Maketh the Man

The following was posted on the self-important blog “Living Timorously” which I am sure some of you read on a regular basis.
My reply will appear after you have read the post.


Bitch Ambassador
My dealings with East Timor have brought me into contact with many different people all over the world, and normally, they're quite approachable. However, it seems that some of my fellow British citizens lag way behind other nationalities in the manners and friendliness stakes.Recently, I met the last British Ambassador to Dili. As I mentioned before, the British Embassy has been axed, thereby saving the Exchequer around £300,000. That will buy you a one-bedroom flat in central London, if you're lucky. I was interested to talk to her, and had actually been to her house, where an East Timorese friend was living while she was doing her Master's degree here.I met her at an event on Monday, and mentioned that we had a few mutual friends and acquaintances, as well as the fact that I was hoping to go out to Dili to work in the Foreign Ministry. However, when I phoned her a couple of days later, I had doubts as to whether I was speaking to the same person. Now, I regret that I called at an inconvenient time, but in such circumstances, it's common courtesy just to say "it's not a good time, some other time, perhaps?" Polite without being euphemistic - I hate it when people say "can I call you back?" But no, I got "Get on with it, what do you want? Why do you want my email address?" and, forsooth, "you're stealing my evening!" Sure, I have a short fuse, and I think that I will let rip when I deal with some of the people working in the government in East Timor - before you accuse me of being the bullying expatriate, the people I would most have a bone to pick with would also be foreigners. However, I do hope that Her Britannic Majesty's Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of 'Timor Leste' wouldn't have been as surly or as truculent with East Timorese as she was with me.But that's the British Foreign Office for you - full of people who love foreigners and despise their own people. Canberra might have the 'Jakarta Lobby', but Whitehall has the 'Any National Capital but London Lobby'.I wish I had an Australian passport - not only would I have consular facilities in Dili, but in my experience, Australians tend to be much friendlier, even former diplomats. (I'm referring to James Dunn - I have no desire to meet Richard Woolcott, however affable he may be.) No wonder they think Poms are stuck up. Even if our former Ambassador in Dili becomes Ambassador or High Commissioner to somewhere more important, and gets a damehood (DCMG - Do Call Me God) she should remember that good manners cost nothing.


I take great exception to this post. Tina is and was a friend and one of the nicest people I have ever met. During the ‘crisis’ last year she was the personification of ‘grace under fire’.
I know you will find that Tina was never as “surly or as truculent” with East Timorese as she was with you because I doubt if any East Timorese were as arrogant, self-centered and patronizing as you probably were with her.
Oh, and if, God forbid, you do get the job at the Foreign Ministry, once in a while stop and think of the Timorese who could have had jobs building the place instead of those same jobs going to imported Chinese labour.
And as for wishing you were Australian with consular facilities here, maybe if and when you get here you should talk to some of the Australians living and working here and ask their opinions of their embassy.
Calling any Ambassador, or any woman come to that, a ‘bitch’ seems to me to be the very nadir of manners. Bad manners cost nothing also it seems.

......

Monday, 16 July 2007

Bloody Weather



What’s with this weather eh? Personally I blame the new non-government. Once they get their act together and form some sort of acceptable coalition perhaps they can turn their minds to something important like bringing the weather back to normal. Bloody politicians!

........

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Dili Airport - Revisited

I recently posted an item about Dili airport which some of you agreed with but which one person in particular, ‘Disappointed’, obviously did not. I have copied their comment below. I don’t normally reply to the comments, I just let people say what they want, but leaving aside the inherent racism in remarks like ‘Whinging Pom’ and ‘pasty faced tourists and Malais’ I have decided that I cannot leave this comment without replying.

Anonymous said...
Got that off your chest eh? This wouldn't be a case of the whinging Pom would
it?
Here we are in a nation that’s struggling to achieve the fundamental aspects
of social welfare ie. Access to healthcare, food, basic govt utilities, a
recognisable justice system, security etc. not to mention the estimated 1
fifth of the Timorese population malnourished and without food security and
here you are, bitching about trolleys and air conditioning at the airport!?
Maybe the IDP's in the camps, like Metinaro, that need to walk long distances
daily to collect and carry firewood and water should have a trolley or two as
well! Wouldn’t that be nice.
Did you consider offering to help the poor old bastard who was unloading all
that luggage by himself!?
As for the water, here’s an idea, the next time you’re lucky enough to be
FLYING somewhere, why don't you buy some water from one of the 3000 struggling
little kiosks around town and TAKE it to the airport.
No, maybe I’m being silly. Keeping pasty faced tourists and malais happy is so
much more of a priority right now!
Step back and have a look at what you're saying.
As for scrapping the VISA fee, please...
Disappointed
26 June 2007 13:05

Dear Disappointed
I go to Metinaro at least 6 times a week, and the IDP’s there have all got trolleys, for collecting their wood and whatever else they want to do. Maybe they could start a little business building them and renting them out to the passengers at the airport?
Yes, I did consider helping the ‘poor old bastard’ who was unloading all the luggage himself. But, as you are no doubt aware, as a passenger and not a recognized official I am not allowed airside once I’ve come through immigration. I thought everyone knew that. Silly me.
As to be lucky enough to be FLYING, it’s a long way to walk to Beijing to promote East Timor’s undoubted tourist attractions.
As for the water, I said it was not possible to buy a bottle. What about arriving passengers who have not yet had the delight of buying from the friendly wayside vendors?
Just for your information, we buy EVERYTHING we can from Timorese people, including beer, fags, fruit, veggies and yes, even water.
And yes keeping ‘pasty faced tourists and Malais’ happy is important to me. I am not an NGO. I work in the tourist industry. My business keeps more than 50 Timorese above the poverty line. If we can get tourists here then more real money will flow into the Timorese economy that will actually go to the Timorese and not into some UN/NGO consultant’s pocket as a fat fee.
And the visa fee is keeping people away. Believe me I know, I have asked many ‘pasty faced tourists’ about this.
Now you step back and take a look at what you are saying. As I said, I am not an NGO. I run a business here and have done for the past seven years. I pay all my taxes here, legally. I buy Timorese produce when it’s available, I have taught Timorese to SCUBA dive for no money. I believe that after the oil and gas our coral reef is our most valuable asset, both financially and ecologically. The more ‘pasty faced tourists’ I can get here to witness this for themselves then the more money is going to go to Timorese.
And the only person in this World allowed to be disappointed with me is my Mum, and I’m pretty sure you’re not her. That’s a pretty high sanctimonious horse you are sitting on. Be careful you don’t fall off.

FOS.......

Friday, 22 June 2007

ET in China

There is an International Tourism trade fare happening in Beijing at the moment at which East Timor is strongly represented by Government and private sector types. For details of this event please check out this address.

........

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Dili Airport



In the past week I have had to use the airport twice. I have to say it’s a bloody disgrace. I was on a flight to Bali last Wednesday and arrived at the airport with about one-and-a-half hours to spare. There is now nowhere to sit outside, the little cafĂ© is closed down and the toilets are like an open sewer. Upon checking in and going through to the departure lounge, after being told that if I was a diplomat I wouldn’t have to go through any security checks, I found that I couldn’t even buy a small bottle of water. Duty free booze is on sale but you are not allowed to open it in the airport.
Upon returning from Bali the arrivals procedure is just as bad. In ‘baggage reclaim’ I counted 16 trolleys for more than 100 passengers. There are no fans or air conditioning and one small old guy was unloading 4 trailers of luggage.
This airport is the first/last sight most visitors have of East Timor. It used to be quaint and a bit of a ‘people watching’ place around lunchtime each day. Good espresso, people arriving/departing, somewhere to sit. The airport manager (if there is one) should be given a kick up the jacksie and then sacked.
There, that got that off my chest.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

You Had To Be There

Overheard in the pub tonight during an Aussie rules football game on the TV. One of the patrons was getting quite upset:

Patron: Oh no, he manhandled him, come on referee, f**king hell!

Barman: What do you mean he 'manhandled' him? It's a f**king man's game. Did you want him to touch his rectum?

Patron: I hear Melbourne do that....

It made me laugh.

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Mad Swiss - Part 2

Below is a picture of the Swiss couple, Emil and Liliana Schmid, who are travelling the world. On Wednesday 31st May they met with Sr. Miguel Lobato (pictured on the right), Government Director of Tourism. Also pictured is their car, which you have probably seen driving very slowly around town recently.
They have just returned from the east of the country and have now headed for the middle and the south.
You can also get more information on their odyssey
and


Emil and Liliana Schmid with Sr. Miguel Lobato, Director of Tourism (r)


The vehicle, a Toyota LandcruiserFJ60, built in 1982
.....

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Job Going

The following is an edited version of a job advertisement which appeared in today’s Timor Post:

AUSTRALIAN EMBASSY DILI
The Australian Embassy in Dili is seeking applications from Timorese nationals for the position of Training Officer and interpreter working within the Office of the Australian Defence Cooperation Programme. This is a long-term, full-time position.

The main duties of the position are:
- Conduct research on issued related to Timor – Australia Defence cooperation, including
provision of media monitoring.
- Conduct liaison between the Australian Defence Cooperation Program and F-FDTL including
the ability to work directly with both agencies.
- Liaise with the Timorese Ministry of Defence and other Government organisations on bilateral
Defence matters.

Essential requirements for the position:
- Fluency in spoken and written English and Tetum languages
- Knowledge of Timor’s and Australia’s defence systems.
- Initiative, astuteness and strong analytical skills.
- Ability to work well in a team and to be flexible and adaptable.
- Relevant experience in similar positions or fields.

Highly desirable attributes:
- Well-developed and proven organisational skills.
- Knowledge of Australia and Australia’s involvement in East Timor.

THE AUSTRALIAN EMBASSY IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER.

Now, I don’t know about you, but the most qualified person I can think of is pictured below:





.......

Monday, 28 May 2007

Random Stuff

Aussie sayings I really like:
He’s got a face like a dropped pie”.
Well, that went down like a wrought iron hang-glider.”

Things said on my verandah in the past week
I feel like making a ricey mixture thing”.......
That’s called a risotto in every other language”. err, only in Italian I think.

I must have lots of eggs in case I have to make an emergency quiche

Dili Directions:
You go past ‘Rubbish Ridge’
Cross over ‘Pig Bridge’
Where ‘Hello Mr.’ used to be.
Where the ‘dead cow’ used to be
The old New Resende
Where the market used to be (could be anywhere)
Where the old Dili club used to be
Where the new Dili club is
Past Ramos Horta’s house
The old Poy Chalor
Kiwi lines on the right, the old Makota on the left
Past the Jardine/Airport/Arte Moris (insert name here) IDP camp

Musings:
This country has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world.
Why do we have so many holidays? And from what?

Do white Pajero’s with tinted windows and no licence plates make you as nervous as they do me?

Why is it that when you are in this country you want to grab it by the shoulder and give it a good hard shake and yet when you are out of it you want to get back as quickly as possible?

Nice People To Meet

There are a couple of people in East Timor at the moment who, if you get the chance, you should try and meet and maybe buy them a couple of beers.
Their names are Emil and Liliana Schmid and they are doing a pretty amazing thing. They have been travelling the world in a Toyota Landcruiser since October 1984 and have so far have visited 156 countries with ET being the 156th. They have been in the past 10 issues of the Guinness Book of World Records. They are a couple ‘of a certain age’ who are financing their quest on their Swiss pensions (you couldn’t do it on a UK pension, but if you were an East Timorese MP you might be OK). Originally their journey was meant to be for 1 year only but obviously things got out of hand.
The other day they gave me a big list of facts and figures about their journey and some of them are quite incredible. For instance; they have had 161 flat tyres, used 132 spark plugs, the lowest average speed in any country was 10.0km/h in The Vatican. They have spent over USD 6000.00 on visas alone. Oh, and their 1 millionth driving minute was in Kupang, West Timor. (Yah boo sucks to Kupang, it should have been us).
The car is very unmissable. It is sky blue, has about 100 jerry cans strapped to the roof and comes equipped with Zurich licence plates.
As soon as I get a picture of the car I’ll post it here.
Talking of visitors to ET, Mr. Lonely Planet (South east Asia) is also in town. His name is Ryan Ver Berkmoes and he is also a very nice bloke. He is currently staying at the Hotel Dili but will be moving around a bit. Again, if you meet him, buy him a beer and tell him all about our beautiful country. He is a big amiable American chap and may even buy you a beer back…….

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Situation Vacant


Click to enlarge.....

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Deja Vu

SMS News
Sec Tree – 1120 – fighting in Bairo Pite at bridge near primary school number 4, use caution or avoid the area.
Sec Tree – 1220 – Bairo Pite now clear.
Sec Tree – 1400 – Report of large disturbance at Lorema in Liquica, all staff advised to avoid or leave the area until further notice.
Sec Tree – 1420 – Alert, all staff members are advised to avoid Dili courthouse this afternoon danger of public disturbances when Lobarto judgement is announced.
Sec Tree – 1730 – Rock throwing in Kampung Alor ivo Australian embassy, avoid the area.
Sec Tree – 1940 – Area around Jardine camp and Colmera remains tense following large groups fighting. UNPol on scene and now calm. Use caution in the area.
Sec Tree – 1950 – Groups fighting in Kampung Alor ivo Australian embassy, avoid the area.

I wonder if this could have anything to do with the election results?
Lots of police cars racing about town with intent....

Restaurant review

Name: Little Pattaya
What: Thai restaurant
Where: On Beach road towards Christo Rei just past the new roadwork’s
Phone: 7332398, Chatree is the manager and a very nice bloke.

A wonderful little restaurant with possibly the best ocean views in Dili, from the Christ statue in the East to Alor in the West. Four of us had lunch but I would imagine the sunset view would be absolutely stunning with the sun setting behind Alor.
The beers were icy cold and the food was cooked and not re-heated. The service was efficient and unobtrusive. There is a small canoe on supports that sits parallel with the ocean where one can sit on bar-stools and look at the view.
The WC is clean, bright and well appointed.
For appetizers we had Spring rolls, Papaya salad, Seafood salad and fried chicken wings. Everything was very good but the papaya salad could have been a bit more spicy. The wait between ordering our drinks and the first course arriving was just half a beer.
Our main courses consisted of Padh Thai, green chicken curry, a three sauce fish curry and chicken with cashew nuts all accompanied by steamed rice. We also had 3 large Bintangs and a Tiger. The portions were all quite large. For a total cost of $51.50 plus tip I would say this was one of the better priced and nicer beach-front restaurants in town.
The only minus point, and a minor one at that, was the Hawksbill turtle shell hanging on one of the walls. After explaining to the owner that he faced a possible $50,000 fine for just possessing it he agreed to take it down.
I will definitely be going back to this place a lot, especially for sun-downers and a few snacks.

Marks out of 10: 8

Monday, 7 May 2007

Doh!

From The Age, May 7th 2007

Fretilin secretary-general Mari Alkatiri accused security forces of landing a helicopter and "inserting" soldiers into a Fretilin rally in the central mountain town of Ainaro last week, which he said "disrupted the proceedings".

Brigadier Rerden, under pressure over the hunt for fugitive rebel leader Aldredo Reinado, denied that his soldiers entered the rally area.
"I have personally investigated the issues you raise and I can confirm that the nearest ISF presence to the rally was around 50 metres," Brigadier Rerden said. Age photographer Glenn Campbell took photographs of soldiers mingling in the crowd.


ISF troops around 50 metres away from the rally in Ainaro.
Glenn Campbell, The Age

Full story here

Even more interesting reading here

Friday, 4 May 2007

Over the Top

The following is a verbatim transcript:


Office of the Special Representative of the Sectary General
United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste
Postal Address: obrigado Barracks, Caicoli, UNMIT Headquarters, Dili,
Timor-Leste

REMARKS BY SRSG ATUL KHARE AT THE TOWN HALL MEETING
ON 30 APRIL 2007-05-04

FIRST UN GLOBAL ROAD SAFETY WEEK

Good afternoon,
I would like to take this opportunity to remind all UN staff members of our responsibilities as peacekeepers in Timor-Leste.

We are GUESTS in this country and we are present here to help the people recover from the trauma of conflict, and not to perpetuate it. Each and every one of us owes a fundamental duty of care to the people of Timor-Leste. We must always be on our best behaviour and work towards maintaining the respect and trust of the Timorese people and the United Nations.
Let us not forget that all our actions reflect the image of the United Nations and I call on all UN staff members to practice courtesy and respect at all times, including when driving.
Never underestimate the impact we can have on our good relations with the Timorese community, simply be being friendly and courteous while driving. For many Timorese, the only interaction they have with the UN is when a big white car passes them on the street. Don’t waste that opportunity to make a positive impression and help us as a mission have good relations with the community. Little gestures, like a smile and a wave, can make a huge difference.
Many of you may say that the driving conditions here can be challenging, but let us remember that the basic driving rules and concepts of road safety are similar in all countries. Therefore, I call on everyone to respect and practice these rules here in Timor-Leste as we would in our countries of origin or nationality.
Not drinking and driving, not speeding, not cutting-off vehicles, but obeying traffic signals and allowing pedestrians to cross the streets, are just some examples of road safety rules that if followed could make a difference, not only in the perception given when big UN cars drive by, but in ensuring that our lives and the lives of others are not compromised.
Since 1 March 2007, there have been over 80 traffic accidents where UNMIT vehicles were the only vehicles involved. The frequency of accidents has been increasing significantly.
More recently – yesterday – UN Security conducted a Joint Operation from 0100 to 0400, where checkpoints were established in the vicinity of ‘Pig Bridge and Dili 2001.’ During this three-hour time frame:
26 UN vehicles were stopped
Four UN staff members tested positive to a breath test. One refused to take the test.
Three vehicles and two weapons were impounded.
Seven non-UN staff members were being carried in UN vehicles in violation of regulations.

Yesterday’s operation was set-up following an incident that took place at 1.35 a.m. on Saturday morning when a UN staff member was stopped because of erratic driving. This staff member, who was pronounced drunk, also assaulted the police.
Yesterday at 3.30 in the morning, another accident took place near Hatuberiku, where six Portuguese teachers and 1 Timorese national were injured. The fact that this was a vehicle travelling on its own greatly contributed to the delay in reaching the injured persons. Yesterday’s accident reinforces the need to conform with the rule for two vehicles to travel together on roads that have not been approved for single vehicle use.
I am shocked and distressed by these developments.
These numbers reveal the high volume of accidents involving UN staff. Let us work together to reduce these numbers and to set an example of proper road safety behaviour.
Thank you.

All great sentiments.
Now, when is the SRSG going to deal with the issue of armed UN personnel drinking alcohol in the various ‘de-stressing’ establishments here? I personally have nothing against alcohol, in fact I am known as a bit of a connoisseur of the distilled liquid. But I do object to being in a bar with someone who has a gun on their hip and a beer in their hand. (see UNPOLs post, 12 February 2007)
There, that’s got that off my chest…….

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Missing

I received the following photo and message via my Dive blog. If you know this guy or have seen him about get him to 'phone home. His parents are worried.


Sirs !
For two years my son has been lost somewhere in the world and as parents we are quite concerned
Does he need help or some kind of assistance.. is he still alive for our peace of mind we want to know his fate
Suddenly there was a rumour that he was in East Timor and since he is a diving man I take the liberty to ask if you have seen this young swede?
Max Castor 188 cm tall slender buildt and last known picture is included
There is a reward for information about his fate and if you see/meet him ask him to kontakt home all resonable costs will be refunded ...
Rolf Castor with family concerned parents
Backvindeln 77 SE 129 42 Hagersten Sweden castor@telia.com +46-8-885136 +46-(0)70 22 99 388







Monday, 30 April 2007

SMS News

The best security message yet:

Sec tree 1840 – All staff members are advised to avoid beach road after the parliament house due to a peacefull religious activities

I suppose I’d better take the Banana road route then!

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Tilmanballs

With apologies to Private Eye


“I really want to encourage the sole woman, Timorese journalist that I see every time to ask the first question no matter what question you want to ask, first question no matter what” SRSG Atul Khare, March 15th 2007

“I do not know where I am now, people brought me here”. Leandro Isaac, Tuesday March 5th 2007 (TP)

“Tell the Australian troops to stick surrender up their arse” Major Alfredo Reinado, March 1st 2007 (SMH)

“Do not be scared to act against the people creating violence and destabilizing the country for fear of human rights abuse accusations, if anyone criticizes them of human rights abuse they should speak directly to him”. JRH, January 27th 2007

“Please do collaborate by informing any suspect act or any situation which will prevent a crime, also any misbehave” UNPol Daily Security briefing, January 8th 2007

“Kill them all” – Minister of Interior Rogerio Lobato, April 28th 2006, Government palace – COI report.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Update

Not really much to report from Dili at the moment.
Better writers than I have covered the elections thoroughly and you can find their reports here, here and here although I think most of us (and the World) could have, and did, predict the ‘finalists’ before April 9th. Although maybe not the percentages.
We’ve had about 6 SMS messages in the past five days or so telling us to avoid the usual areas: Bario Pite, Banana road IVO Myfield restaurant (now known as The Hongkong Hotel), Comoro road at Timor Lodge, Motael IVO Beach road, Fatuhada/Landmark etc. At the moment this looks like rival gangs having it out again but this has often escalated into wide scale violence mainly caused by fear and ignorance (isn’t it all?).
We even had one SMS after heavy rain warning us of flooding!
I was out and about running some errands today and all seems very subdued. But then again, I didn’t go to any of the above named areas. No need.
The districts seem a different proposition though. UNPol are reporting some fairly serious disturbances in Ermera (tear gas had to be used) and Bobonaro.
My personal thoughts are that we haven’t seen the end of it yet. I cannot put any specific reasons to this feeling, just a general ‘vibe’ I get from our local bad guys. They have been congregating earlier and earlier recently and in bigger numbers each day. They have also had a certain attitude with passing vehicles and the high-pitched girly laughter is much more strained and so obviously false. Maybe I should take a psychology degree with deep, insightful reasoning like this.
I’ll try and post a bit more frequently than I have, but I do have the excuse of having been sick. It looked like malaria, it felt like malaria and it certainly smelt like malaria but after a blood test it turned out it wasn’t. Seems to have been a viral thing that pretends its malaria. Sneaky little bug…..

New Site

A new blog site has been set up, East Timor Tourism News.
Please feel free to visit the site and add any constructive/positive comments, views, advice and tips.

Monday, 23 April 2007

UN Tanks In Dili Shock!

In a major show of strength yesterday United Nations (UN) forces paraded a new tank battalion through the narrow streets of Dili. The tanks have a 12litre capacity and can be used for upto 2 hours by skilled operators. Dutch Major Hugh Per-Diem, head of the battalion said “We feel the UN has needlessly spent vast amounts of cash on these items so we are obviously delighted. And I get to wear the famous ‘blue beret’”. When asked about the cost of the tanks, Turkish UN chief procurement officer Izit Tacksfree whispered “the cost is not the point my friend, the fact is we got them cheap, I have a brother in the business. Enough said. And we can leave the tanks for the Timorese army when we go, at a good price”.
F-FDTL General Tua Longlunch was unavailable for comment as there was a holiday in East Timor this week.
Private Ian Come of the 3rd Highland Queen’s Own Stiffupperlip regiment, in command of one of the tanks, commented “Oh gosh, this is fun, my own tank, lots of exotic totty and I get to wear the famous ‘blue beret’”.
Australia also has 2 personnel in the battalion. Digger Private Specialist Gunner Albie Wright of the Great Australian Bight 2nd light/heavy armoured witchity grub regiment added “Mate, this has gotta be the go. Sun, sand, sea and tanks. I’m as happy as a two-dicked dingo. And I get to wear the famous ‘blue beret’. No bloody grog though”.



Delighted Dilinesians showered the
UN tanks (pictured at a secret location)
with sacred rocks and arrows when
they arrived in East Timor recently.
Photo: Fido/FU

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Dodgy Characters


Now, some of you may have noticed sad old people walking around Dili with shonky ID tags around their necks. My understanding is that these people have made their own ID’s just to fit in with the crowd. What with the UN, NGO’s, diplomats, media and everyone and their dog having ID it is my contention that a few weirdo’s who have made East Timor their home have decided to hit back. They have formed the LCC (Local Character Club). Sources say that the members can have no affiliation with any official body, have been in East Timor on their own dime since before May 20th 2002 and that they undertake to help each other out no matter what the circumstances. Now, I don’t know about you, but I consider these individuals rather sad. They shuffle around Dili, often in rags, complaining about the international’s being ‘over paid, over sexed and over here’.
I have found the only humane way to deal with these people is to buy them a beer, leave them alone and then buy them more beers.
I have attached an ID of a notorious founder member. You have been warned……

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Beam Me Up


E Timor poll count increasingly 'illogical'
The confusion surrounding the first round of voting in East Timor's presidential election has mounted after the Election Commission said a district with 100,000 eligible voters had produced three times as many votes.
Martinho Gusmao, spokesman for the National Election Commission, could not explain the discrepancy, which emerged amid growing questions about East Timor's first presidential poll since independence in 2002.
"It registered a little more than 100,000 but the result is more than 300,000," he said of Bacau, East Timor's second town.
"The commissioners will discuss it together in order to find out how this illogical situation happened in Bacau."
The surplus 200,000 would represent a huge proportion of the total vote because East Timor has just 520,000 eligible voters.

Mr. Spock was unavailable for comment…..

Thursday, 12 April 2007

The Coup de Grace

Well, I suppose it had to happen. About twenty minutes after I had typed the previous post the chap with the aforementioned credit card came round to pay me for services rendered over the past twelve days. Of course he used the same credit card. Of course I ran it through my little machine. Of course it was rejected. My outrage is complete……

Damn Cheek

As I am sure has happened to many of you recently, I was stopped at an ISF checkpoint manned by Aussie soldiers the other evening in Aria Branca.
Upon being requested to show some ID, I handed over my British passport (don’t leave home without one). The digger checked it out, looked me over and then said “you got anything better than this mate?” Bloody cheek! It’s red, official looking with the words ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’ printed in gold and an imposing emblem of two lions rampant and the royal coat of bloody arms. And it wasn’t bloody good enough ID for this digger.
Then, to make it worse, the bloke sitting next to me showed his AUSTRALIAN TV news credit card and the digger glanced at it, said “that’ll do nicely, drive on” and walked away.
Well, it’s the thin end of the wedge when a passport issued by Her Britannic Majesty’s Government is not as valid as a bit of plastic issued by some geezer in an office in Sydney. I think the cobbers should remember which country so kindly and generously gave their ancestors free passage to the ‘lucky country’ all those years ago. Bloody ingrates.
I’d complain to my MP, if I knew who he was. Or my Ambassador, if I had one. Or the President, if I knew who he was.



Tuesday, 10 April 2007

My Election Day

Didn’t that go well? What a great day.
It’s been much better described than I ever could have here, here and here.
But I’m going to add my bit anyway.
Up yesterday at 0500 to be on the roof of the Hotel Timor at 0600 for live 2-way with the studio in Sydney. That was done and dusted by 0615. Then off to Aria Branca to get the pictures of JRH voting. I think at one stage there were more press there than voters. It was a very nice typically friendly East Timorese atmosphere. People had dressed up to come and vote, the officials were still trying to open the ink bottles at 0715 and JRH turned up a bit late. Didn’t matter though, because the polling station didn’t open on time anyway. JRH was very democratic and got in the queue with the rest of the plebs. During which time he was interviewed by every press person there and few interested observers too. Once there were no more press to be interviewed by, the PM was ushered to the front where he duly voted. He didn’t let on who he was voting for though. But he did say that he had a slightly upset stomach from something he had eaten the night before. I’ll try and find out where that was and make a note to avoid the place.
So, Ramos done, inky finger videoed, photographed, described in detail and licked we headed off to Farol to get ‘Lu’olo’ done. Much bigger crowds here, which was to be expected. Very nice pictures too, lots of long shadow’s, kretek smoke rising in the slanted morning light, lots of old people with interesting faces (great TV) and the man himself arriving to vote. And we got a photo-op bonus. As well as the man we got his wife (future first lady?) and Dr. Mari Alkatiri. A quick photo-op at the gate and the great men were taken immediately to the front. No queueing for them. Bit of a press scrum at the door to the polling room, lots of pushing, shoving and swearing but the job got done, more inky finger pics and off we went. The time was now around 0845 and I still hadn’t had one coffee having woke up with only two ciggies and had to bludge LA’s all morning.
So, Hotel Timor it was then, for 4 cups of one of the best Espressos in Dili, real cigarettes and pretend sausage rolls. After being victualled we went to the polling station on Comoro road opposite the Timor Lodge. Some nice pictures but very samey as the previous ones, and to be honest, we thought that if there was going to be any trouble in Dili it may have been between the people staying at the airport IDP camp, walking to the polls, and the scrotes that have been stoning them for the past 10 months. God, and who ever said TV news is cynical?
Then it was a drive to Metinaro. There were two reasons we went there. One was that it would be good to have a location other than Dili to report on (and Los Palos being a bit logistically not an option if you only have 2 hours) and also because I had received an SMS that there may have been some trouble out there. A third reason for me was the absolutely fantastic music CD I had made the previous night. A reason not shared by the other occupants of the car. I think they were too old to appreciate my music. Nothing wrong with a bit of Leonard Cohen and Eric Burdon on a nice drive.
Metinaro was great. Very peaceful, loads of “Bon Dia’s” and “Hello Misters” and everyone smiling and dressed up. After that it was back to Dili, pick up a tape on the way and transmist all the stuff we had filmed back to Sydney via the roof of the Hotel Timor. A chance for more Espressos, fags and general gossiping.
The afternoon was basically spent mooning around a bit, waiting till 1600 for the polls to close and trying to second guess the election result. Back down to the Comoro road polling at 1600 to film the close. I loved it. So Timor Leste. People still voted at 1615, a couple of election monitors looking on, then all the signatures of the election officials were taken to say they witnessed the opening and closing of the day and then the seals on the boxes cut, ballots strewn over 4 tables and the counting started. Just the final pictures we were looking for. A quick drive to Hotel Timor, the cameraman editing in the final pics on the back seat, reminded me of old times in other places. Quite a buzz. Pictures sent, day over.
Now I just want to say, hopefully without sounding too patronizing, that I was SO proud of my adopted country yesterday. From what I witnessed, and I know it was only a small proportion, the election day went off in a spirit that on the whole I think truly reflects the Timorese. Most people here don’t want the gang fights we have had in the recent past, they don’t want the stand-over crap when they own a small food stall, they don’t want their army and their police force fighting each other. The just want to have a decent life.
OK, liberal, hairy-armed, tree-hugging pinko crap over with.
Anyway, that was my election day. I hope yours was as peaceful, fun and good-natured as mine………

Thursday, 5 April 2007

The Poor Dears.

Sec Tree UN BROADCAST
From 6.00pm Thursday 5 April until 6.00am Tuesday 10 April no recreational movement by UN staff outside of Dili further than an arc connecting Tibar, Laulara and hera.


Long Hot Days

It’s been a very busy past few days and it’s still only Thursday! My journalist colleagues arrived on Monday 2nd from Darwin and we have been moving about a lot since then.
On Tuesday we went to Bacau to cover the Ramos Horta rally there. We decided to get there before JRH instead of travelling in his convoy and check out the place first. When we arrived there was a Fretilin rally happening in a basketball court right next to the place where the JRH rally was going to be held. “oh oh” we thought, “possible conflict here”. There were quite a large number of PNTL and Pakistani police around, decked out in riot gear, tear gas guns, shields and the full monty. The Fretilin party seemed very good humoured and the people of Bacau were carrying on as normal all around it. Late in the afternoon, around 3pm, the JRH convoy arrived. There was absolutely NO violence at all, nothing except a few good-natured insults and rival chanting. The police were excellent, keeping the rival supporters apart but with no heavy-handedness.
JRH received a hero’s welcome, with people forming a seat with their arms to carry him into the rally arena. After that it was a normal election rally. Speech’s, music and a very hot sun. We got home from Bacau pretty late and just crashed.
Next day, Wednesday 4th (and Mrs. Sod’s birthday) was a bit different. Most of the candidates were holding their closing rallies in Dili so it was a very busy day. We had been informed by the Fretilin media office that ‘Lu’olo’ would be holding his rally at the main stadium at 10am. When we arrived there were CNRT and JRH posters all over the place so we had a re-think. It turned out Lu’olo was holding his rally at the motorbike track in Comoro so headed over there. On the way, just where the Banana Road and the UN water point road (my god, these landmarks are surreal) meet were some ‘La Sama’ supporters. Not many, about 50 young boys, very calm and friendly and obviously not looking for trouble. There were many many many Fretilin trucks going past, full up with young boys, most painted in the party colours and having a good ole time. Well, some of the Fretilin boys decided they didn’t much like the look of the ‘La Sama’ boys so they jumped out of a couple of the trucks and started slinging rocks at the other chaps. The other chaps sensibly decided to run away. The Fretilin boys vented their frustration on a couple of goats who were in the wrong place at the wrong time by rocking them instead. They also threw some rocks at a few abandoned houses and one burnt-out car. All very low-key. The GNR quickly arrived on the scene and order was restored. No heads being cracked this time.
The Fretilin rally itself was pretty good. A great band, good atmosphere and lots of singing and dancing. After a couple of hours the man himself ‘Lu’olo’ arrived with one of his children, and Dr. Mari Alkatiri. The crowd went wild! Once everyone had calmed down a bit the Fretilin party song was sung by EVERYBODY! It was very moving, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. This thing went as these things go, lots of speeches, promises etc etc. and then we left.
So, we went into town for the JRH rally and the ‘La’Sama’ rally. Again, both very jolly affairs, lots of singing, dancing and boys with painted faces. But I still think Fretilin had the best band. A very small amount of violence marred these events, some of which you may have seen in the Australian media. Thank God I am working with a correspondent who doesn’t talk these things up and make them into something they weren’t. The only two incidents I personally witnessed was a total of about 20 rocks thrown between guys on some Fretilin trucks and some guys on ‘La’Sama’ trucks. 20 rocks! At least 8,000 people. It wasn’t much in the general scheme of things. I’ve seen worse just driving to Tiger fuels to buy a Mrs. Mac’s pie.
The second incident was outside the WB building which ‘Squatter’ describes in his blog. This basically was a 1 minute incident which was very small. Some Fretilin trucks were driving by the university, unfortunately I was with them, when a group of boys came out of the university and pelted the Fretilin guys with rocks. My car and my correspondent both got hit. No major damage to either, and the car isn’t insured.
A Portugues officer fired a couple of tear gas rounds and that was it. Incident over.
So, we hung around for a few more hours, driving around, checking things out. Overall I would say the day went very well. I’ve read of around 30 minor injuries on the day, with the emphasis on minor. I would have said more people were hurt in traffic accidents yesterday than in any violence. We saw four accidents.
This morning, Wednesday, up early for a one-on-one breakfast interview with PM Jose Ramos Horta. He was his usual urbane self, greeting us nicely, putting us at our ease and generally being a nice chap. You can see/read his interview on the Australian CH7 web-site. Off the record, he had to be reminded that his last foreign trip was NOT to see the Pope, but to see Jennifer Lopez. How could he have forgotten that?
Today is very quiet in Dili, I’ve been driving around most of the day and I can honestly say it’s deader than a wet weekend in Wigan. Which is a GOOD thing.
Now we’ve got the long Easter weekend coming up with polling on Monday. I really hope that people are going to be sensible and not mar the past two weeks with any mindless violence, but to be honest, I think if ‘Lu’olo’ is beaten on Monday we will have quite a few incidents. Ramos Horta himself thinks it will be a run-off between him and ‘Lu’olo’ with a further tie-break election in May. Actually, I agree with him. I also think that if there is a tie-break, JRH will win it. We shall see.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

What Tangled World-Wide-Webs We Weave

Some of you may have noticed a counter on the right side of this blog. I put it there recently out of pure vanity and as I am sure you all know it counts the number of ‘hits’ I get. What some of you may not know is that I can log in to my counter service and track the hits. They give me the ISP, the routing, the pages entered, where ‘hitter’ lives, including names and addresses of children, loved ones and full bank details and any stuff of a personal nature etc etc and a lot of things I cannot begin to understand. It also gives me a little graph that shows me how many ‘hits’ I get on individual days. As Mrs. Sod pointed out to me, I get the least amount on weekends! Now, is this because I post even more boring stuff on those days or is it because some of you, (and this I doubt because you are all obviously such upstanding and moral people) use your work computers and internet time to surf? Or has spider solitaire become hold hat now?
I only posted this blog because I liked the title.
From now on, no more self indulgence. Only East Timor relevant stuff will be posted. Promise.

Friday, 30 March 2007

Election News

Sydney Morning Herald, March 30th 2007

At least 20 injured in E Timor clashes
At least 20 people were injured, two of them police officers, as gangs from rival political parties scuffled and threw rocks in East Timor, authorities said on Friday.
The violence broke on Thursday night in Viqueque district, about 220 kilometres from Dili, and is believed to be the first directly related to next month's East Timorese presidential elections.
At least 20 people were injured, two of them police officers, said Geraldo da Silva, of the emergency unit in Viqueque hospital.
The unrest broke out following a campaign rally by presidential candidate Jose Ramos Horta, said local police chief Gaspa da Costa.
His supporters brawled with youths aligned with Fretilin, the left-leaning political party of ousted Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, he said, though it was not clear what triggered the dispute.
East Timor, which became Asia's newest nation in 2002, descended into chaos one year ago after Alkatiri dismissed 600 soldiers, a move that split the armed forces into factions and later spilled over into gang warfare.
At least 37 people were killed and 150,000 others fled their homes.
The deployment of thousands of international troops helped curb the worst of the violence, and while there have been isolated incidents since then, Thursday's was the first since campaigning for April 9 presidential elections started last week.
The UN police force in the country said in a statement that Ramos Horta supporters were attacked, but did not say by whom. Fretilin spokesman Filomeno Aleixo said the party did not instigate the violence, and denied involvement.
"Whoever was involved in this incident should be brought to justice," he told The Associated Press.
East Timor voted to break free from 24 years of Indonesian rule in 1999.
The country was administered by the United Nations, and until last year's crisis, which led to the overthrow of the government, had been considered a major success in nation-building.

......

Leassons Learned? Or Not?

First, go here: UN cheated in Timor vote, inquiry told.

Then read the following:

UNMIT Welcomes the Signing of the Code of Conduct for the 2007 Presidential ElectionsDili, March 16, 2007 - At a ceremony in Dili this afternoon, the head of the UN Integrated Mission in Timor Leste (UNMIT) said the signing of a Code of Conduct for the April 9 election will help to ensure that the elections are free, fair, transparent and peaceful.The Code of Conduct has been drafted by the national body responsible for running the elections, the Technical Secretariat for the Administration of Elections (STAE) and approved by the National Electoral Commission (CNE).The Code was signed by all eight presidential candidates in Dili.Special Representative to the Secretary General for Timor Leste Atul Khare signed the Code as a witness, along with the representatives of Organs of Sovereignty, the church and civil society.Mr Khare noted the importance of the Code of Conduct as a whole, as a clear commitment of all candidates to free and fair elections. He highlighted in particular the commitment by all candidates, their representatives and supporters to accept the results, or to challenge them only in competent courts; and to campaign positively through programmes of action not personal criticism of other candidates. He also drew attention to those clauses which encourage respect for the rights of other candidates and request candidates to refrain from exercising any illegitimate influence on voters. “Today’s signing signifies a formal acknowledgement of the guiding principles and rules that will help to ensure that the 2007 Presidential elections are free, fair, transparent and peaceful,” Mr Khare said.UNMIT is mandated through Security Council Resolution 1704 to “support Timor-Leste in all aspects of the 2007 presidential and parliamentary electoral process, including through technical and logistical support, electoral policy advice and verification or other means.”
For further information please contact UNMIT spokesperson Allison Cooper on +670 7230453

Then go here: Electoral Certification Team Report.

Then make up your own mind..............