Saturday, 23 February 2008

Friday, 22 February 2008

Bits 'N Pieces

I am not going to name any names in this post. Instead, in the grand tradition of the Chief Prosecutor, I am going to use initials only.

I want to say how very happy I am that JRH is recovering and has managed to say a few words to his family. I have shed some tears for him and I wish him well.

It was reported in some newspapers last weekend that JRH was awake and that his first words were “don’t shoot, don’t shoot”. It was also reported that AP, the former Mrs. JRH, was at his bedside at the time. (I do not believe these reports).

A nice little Dili joke that I found over at Rai Ketak:
The signs up at the Dili Zoo
Before 1975: Please do not feed the animals
Between 1975-1999: Please do not take the animals’ food
Between 1999-2002: Please bring the animals food and UNTAET will give you three dollars and some expensive food
Between 2002-2007: Please do not take the animals’ food and please do not eat the animals.

It has come to my attention that during the past 10 days or so a certain person has been passing himself off as a ‘journalist’ and using fake ID. This fake ID has been used to get into Obrigado barracks, the Airport Tarmac on the morning KR arrived, the Heliport when KR was there and most alarmingly a 'real journalist' with the initials PT who works for ‘The Australian’ used the fake ID to get into the government building when KR and XG were there. I’m not really bothered about the security aspect here. What concerns me is that a journalist from a major Australian newspaper walks around the world with no ID whatsoever.

Mnemonic – Now there’s a funny word. Pity I can never remember it.

Some News To Cheer Us All – A chap I know, we’ll call him D, told me a story in FB’s the other evening. D was driving home from work recently after a very bad day and had just passed the Comoro bridge when he got rocked. D was in his own car so he was a bit pissed off. D jumped out of the car, picked up a nice big rock and hoyed it back. The rock hit the scrote in the back of the head (they were running away) and his two mates had to carry him off. As he said to me “If I told anyone, the wouldn’t believe me”. Well, I believe him. And it gladdened my heart.

TMR – The words ‘eating your’ ‘it cake’ and ‘having’ spring to mind.

The Curfew – I understand that from tomorrow, 23/2/08, the ‘State of Emergency’ will be extended by 30 days. Also the curfew time will change from 2000-0600 to 2200-0600 (that’s 10pm to 6am for normal people).
The curfew hours havn’t really bothered me. In fact I’ve quite liked them. No sound at night except breaking waves; no fear of getting burgled, no rocks on the roof. Curfew! Bring it on! But I’ve always been a selfish bastard.
The curfew is affecting some of my mates in different ways. One guy runs a 24hour place and so is obviously losing money. Another guy runs a car-hire company and the curfew actually helps him because there is less wear-and-tear on the car and less chance of having an accident. There are also all the restaurants and bars which close at 8pm (2000 to the anal) but the staff still have to get home. It’s a lot easier at the check-points if you are a Malae than if you are Timorese.

Has anyone talked to Mossad?

A Nightmare Scenario:
It’s 8.45am. It’s the Comoro road at the traffic lights next to the Heliport and Tiger. There is an f-FDTL convoy of 5 vehicles heading east very quickly on the Comoro road. The vehicles have heavily armed and adrenalin charged f-FDTL troops inside them. Coming quickly from the other direction is a convoy of 6 PNTL vehicles with heavily armed and adrenalin charged PNTL on board. The two lead vehicles of each convoy collide at the traffic lights. One or two f-FDTL or PNTL are killed in the accident. There is an ISF convoy waiting at the lights from the Heliport. Now write your own script.

It’s just a thought to send us all to bed.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Meeja News

First, the good news. I have it from the highest source, (UN press officer) that journalists are exempt from the curfew. Apparently we are ‘essential’ personnel and our movements should not be restricted. So big ‘hoorays’ from the bar owners of Dili.

Now the bad news. Australian journalists have to be the worst dressed news-gatherers I have ever encountered so I’ve decided to help them out with a few ‘conflict zone’ fashion tips. Recent events have understandably changed the life-styles of many people in Dili but this is no reason to stop dressing in an appropriate and tasteful manner.

Camera-operators: Whilst baggy ‘Hot Tuna’ shorts and t-shirts are comfortable and appropriate for running around in the heat and mud chasing APC’s and rebels you may well be called on in the next minute to shoot an interview with a Prime Minister or visiting dignitary. Shorts and t-shirts are too informal for this sort of job. Also the floppy hat only looks good on the GNR.

Correspondents: First of all, synthetics are a big no-no. This is a hot and humid place and unsightly stains on a piece-to-camera are liable to put viewers off their tea. Also denim. Jeans only look good on teenagers. Ditch those faded blue numbers and go for a nice pair of chinos instead. Oh and ladies, jeans + heat + ‘ride-up’ = A very unsavory sight.
I would say the best option for most on-camera correspondents would be to try and use Adrian Brown of Channel 7 as a role model.

Photographers: We all saw the pool snapper who came over with the Rudd entourage yesterday. This is NOT a good look. It’s the ‘I really wish these cameras were guns’ look. A utility belt Batman would have envied, camera jacket festooned with bits and pieces hanging off, wraparound sunnies, cargo pants with pockets bulging and of course everything, absolutely everything, was black. Every time he looked at me I didn’t know whether to smile and say ‘cheese’ or put my hands up and surrender. So, snappers. The ‘Rambo’ look is not on. Not only can it be dangerous, it makes you look like a total dork.

The perfect ensemble from the feet up: Doc Marten shoes, black. Very comfortable, hard wearing and acceptable in formal situations. Dark trousers made of good strong cotton. Plain t-shirt tucked into trousers. Good cotton/linen/silk dress shirt worn unbuttoned and outside the trousers. There are practical reasons for this look. The t-shirt soaks up the sweat when ‘in the field’ and the shirt can be buttoned up and tucked in for those for formal interviews and PTC’s. Accessories: I find the Gerber multi-tool the best of the bunch. The Gerber wins over the Leatherman because of the handy corkscrew. Essential.

So, lets all take a closer look at ourselves and smarten up a bit. God knows you can all afford it. Remember, there is a world outside of Tar-get and army surplus stores.


A nice piece at this link.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

A funny old day. I’ve been working for the press for the past 3 days so most of what I may have to say here would be old news anyway so I think I’ll just tell you a couple of personal stories.
The TV company I am working for at the moment is not exactly the most viewed network in Australia but their news is certainly the best. There are 3 of us. The correspondent, the cameraman and me. Today, the award winning correspondent I am working with told me that at 4.15pm we "have to be at the airport to pick up the flak jackets and helmets’. “No worries” I said, ‘how many are there?” – “Two of each” replied my colleague. You do the math. Moral: Get a binding contract or some good insurance if you live in East Timor.
Went to Alfredo’s step-fathers house in Dili this afternoon. Alfredo’s body is there at the moment and tomorrow, at 10am, he will be buried. He is going to be buried in the grounds of the house and not in Maubisse as previously thought apparently because the security risk would be too great if the funeral cortege had to pass Xanana’s house, which it would. When we got there about 400 people were already present to pay their last respects. The biggest percentage of these 400 were young boys. The whole affair was very low key, sombre and dignified. The boys accounted for themselves impeccably.
I would also like to say that from a personal point of view the f-FDTL and the PNTL have reacted to recent events with the greatest of professionalism and restraint. If you had asked me on Sunday what their reaction to events of the following morning might have been my answer would have been very very negative. Sometimes it is an absolute pleasure to be proved wrong.
Is it really Wednesday? It actually feels like Monday night.
I love the curfew. I am getting a good nights sleep. The dogs are not barking at drunks walking past at all hours, the boys are not across the road imitating guitar players with crap singing voices and I can sleep sound in the knowledge that I won’t get burgled. All we need now is for the curfew to be applied to barking dogs with a shoot on sight clause and I might be able to forgo my afternoon nap. Heaven forbid.
Right, going to bed now. Big day tomorrow. We’ve got the funeral, something I can’t tell you about, a beef stew delivery, a hotel change, preps for Rudd’s visit on Friday, various pressers, a trip to the airport to pick up the flak jackets that customs wouldn’t give us today (even though neither of them is my size), the weekly shop to do (life must go on) and lots of well oiled stories to tell each other.
What I would leave you with though, for the avid Timor watchers, is to make sure you read the Sydney Morning Herald tomorrow for a very interesting story about the events of Monday morning.


Monday, 11 February 2008


Go to THIS LINK for an excellent and breath-taking account of events this morning at Robert F. Kennedy Boulevard.



A bit of an update. So far we have heard that JRH has been shot twice, with at least one round entering his abdomen. Apparently he underwent surgery here in Dili at the ISF hospital at the heliport. He will be/is being flown to Darwin for more treatment.
Re the attack on his house. As speculated earlier, it seems that the attack was carried out during JRH's normal morning walk/run. A friend who lives about 300 metres away reported a fire-fight occuring at about 0650 this morning. From various wires/radio sources it appears that two vehicles drove by and then opened fire. Radio Timor Leste is reporting that Alfredo Reinado was indeed killed in the shootout but rather than being an attacker he was in fact a guest at JRH's house and had been there for upto a week and ran out of the house during the attack to try and stop it and was killed in the crossfire. A contact at Dili hospital confirms two dead were brought to the hospital, neither of whom whas Alfredo. The Deputy PM is saying that three people were killed in the attack so maybe Alfredo was among them and not taken to Dili hospital. We are also hearing about an attack on a convoy containing Prime Minister Gusmao roughly 30 minutes after the attack on JRH.
I have had a bit of a trawl around Dili in the past few hours and here are some observations:
Conspicuous by their absence: UN police cars outside Castaways and Dili Beach Hotel.
Conspicuous by their absence: Extra security at the TV and radio station (if this was a coup attempt these places should both have extra guards).
Conspicuous by their absence: Malae in Dili centre, apart from security forces.
Conspicuous by the non-absence: Many Timorese on the streets, expecially in central Dili but not many people on the street in my area. Maybe the news hasn't filtered down yet.

I think the next 24 hours could be very interesting. We have done the usual and bought in essential supplies: beer/fags/water etc. and the press are on the way....... Once again, not a hotel room to be had in Dili....


Oh My!

Well, here we go again. It appears that Jose Ramos Horta, President of TL has been wounded in an attack on his home this morning. There are also stories going around that Alfredo Reinado, the rebel soldier wanted for, amongst other things attempted murder, was killed in the attack. This rumour is un-confirmed.
The ‘phones are ringing like billyo and SMS messages are ruling the airwaves right now. We heard about the attack at around 7.45am’ish, still then unconfirmed. As staff arrived we sent them home. Now we are getting ready for possible repercussions. If indeed Alfredo has been killed then we wonder how the boys in Dili, some of whom worship Alfredo as a freedom fighter, will react. It looked to us as though word was getting around at about 8.30’ish. Everything went quiet and the streets pretty much cleared.
This is purely speculation but with the timing of the attack and some reports saying that two vehicles drove by the house and opened fire, and it is an open secret in Dili that JRH would go for his morning run/walk around this time, maybe the would-be assassins chose their moment carefully.
Anyway it’s been a while since I last posted anything, but, it looks as if we may be in for some more ‘interesting times’. I really hope not.