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


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


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.

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.