Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Oh What Tangled Webs etc. etc...

The things they say

Timor Post, Dili, Wednesday 16 January 2006.
Dili – Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão threatened that his side would arrest members of the press (media) if when instability emerged in the nation.Because of this he asked the media to undertake its work with more responsibility for the situation.“You have to exercise more responsibility towards the environment of stability or instability. We close our eyes when in the case of small and big things you go and interview Alfredo. Perhaps because of these things instability may emerge in the country, because of you, we will arrest you,” he said to journalists on Tuesday (15/1) at the Ministry for Social Solidarity, Kaikoli, Dili.

TMR appeals to people to report abuses:
F-FDTL Commander Brigadier-General Taur Matan Ruak is encouraging members of the public to report any cases of abuse committed by the Joint Operation.“We are ready to receive any reports from any of the victims if they have been tortured by the soldiers, so that the cases can be investigated and not just publicized through the media,” said TMR on Wednesday (19/3) at Palacio da Cinzas, Dili.

Timor Post journalist beaten.

Julio Pinto has accused foreigners of meddling in national politics: The State Secretary for Defence, Julio Pinto, has said that government has a list of people who have meddled in the country’s internal politics. Mr Pinto said that he is currently trying to find more information on these foreigners. “We already have a list. Now we are trying to find more information on these foreigners who are involved in the political situation in Timor Leste so that they can be submitted for an investigation,” said Mr Pinto. (TP)

UN responsible for February 11: The MP from Kota, Manuel Tilman, has asked the UN to take responsibility for the events of February 11.“The security of the state and the Prime Minister falls under the responsibility of the UN. The UN should be responsible for establishing an International Independent Commission of Inquiry (IICI),” said Mr. Tilman on Tuesday (26/2) in the National Parliament, Dili.

Lasama: Attempts against State greatest crime: In a dialogue with the population of Lete-Foho, Ermera, Acting President Fernando Lasama de Araujo said that the attempts against the State made by the rebel groups of Alfredo Reinado and Gastão Salsinha can be considered as the greatest crime and should be resolved through the court system. Related to the rumours that Alfredo’s death was the result of a foreign-led conspiracy, PR Lasama said that the only people responsible were Timorese. Never falsify and blame others. All the mistakes are ours and it’s time to solve these problems,” said PR. Lasama. (TP)


Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Read All About It!

This report appears in other publications but in various edited versions. This is the full pool report:

Here is Lindsay Murdoch's pool report of East Timor president Jose Ramos Horta's return to Royal Darwin Hospital on 19 March 2008 to thank the doctors and nurses who helped him recover from serious gun shot wounds in the attacks in Dili on February 11 2008.
President walks gingerly into the hospital foyer at 9.15am, 15 minutes earlier than scheduled (He had been driven there from the nearby Darwin Private Hospital).
President is wearing a loose fitting brown cotton shirt and brown trousers. His face is unshaven. He looks thin.
President smiles when he shakes hands with two pool journalists.
President indicates he doesn't require a wheel chair and walks to a lift which takes him to the Intensive Care Unit on the first level, where he arrived in a critical condition on the evening of February 11 and was discharged on March 3. Twenty five doctors and nurses gather around him in the unit's tea room.
President presents the hospital's manager Len Notaras with a photograph of the President meeting The Pope at the Vatican in January, as a gesture of his gratitude to the hospital. "When I was shot the Pope himself prayed for me," the President said. Mr Notaras thanked the President, noting that His Holiness' Office was on the phone calling about the President's condition in his early days at the unit. The President then presented some Timor coffee to the doctors and nurses. "It's the best coffee in the world," the President told them. *"I have to also tell you that Timor coffee already has been found to have strong viagra content so it is very healthy,"* the President joked. Mr Notaras told the President it is wonderful to see that he has done so well. "You are a man who has made a difference and you will continue to make a difference," Mr Notaras said. "You have made a difference to our lives with your courage and capacity to move on," Mr Notaras said.
The President: "I would like to thank you all for your care and patience." The President thanked everybody at the hospital, even the cleaners, mentioning one cleaner, a "humble man" who he thought was from Sudan.
The President joked with a doctor about his long hair, thinking at first he was a rock musician. President: "I thank you all for your kindness. Of course I don't forget the Australian doctors in Dili at the Aspen Medical Centre who looked after me in the critical minutes when I was taken to the centre. If that centre had not been there I don't know what would have happened. I would have gone to the Dili National Hospital where there are doctors of different nationalities...they would have taken care of me but I don't know they have the equipment the Aspen Medical Centre has. I remember every detail from the moment I was shot. I remember everything...the ambulance...a very old battered ambulance. No paramedic. A Portuguese special police unit, GNR...luckily it had a paramedic who jumped in the ambulance and gave me the first assistance. On the way to the heliport (Aspen) I fell off the chair a few times because there were no belts. I remember even though I was bleeding I was holding on tight. And I was telling the driver - go slow. But maybe he was wise because it was only a matter of minutes for me to arrive there (Aspen). And then I arrived here in your hands. I thank all of you." At this point the President fought back tears and put his hands to his face. He appeared unable to speak for 20 seconds. A nurse: "You have done very well." President: "Thank-you."
The President handed out several more gifts before walking unassisted from the hospital. The President spoke to journalists at the door of the hospital. President: "I am very much indebted to Australia and the Timorese people. I have been treated very well...professionally." Asked if he was looking forward to returning home, the President said: "I will be here for a few more weeks because I need additional therapy for a quick recovery." A journalist asked if the President had a message for Timor. President: "My message to my people is please forgo violence and hatred with weapons, machetes, with arson - we only destroy each other and the country. I thank the people here. There are so many thousands of people in Timor - the bishops, the priests, the nuns, the common people who have prayed for me. I thank all of my people. I will be back soon."
The President then spoke to a journalist from TVTL, the Timorese national television, in Tetun. The journalist said later the President appealed to the rebel leader Gastao Salsinha to surrender. It would be in his best interest to do so (this is paraphrasing. I have no direct quotes of what the President said in Tetun). The President walked to a waiting car and was driven away.

*I always knew he was a standup guy


Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Small Earthquake In Chile. Not Many Hurt.

Well, what a week it’s been for us media junkies.
On the same day and at the same time I managed to get copies of both THE Dili Weekly’ and ‘Guide Post Magazine’. The next 17 minutes were pure bliss as I inhaled the contents of both publications.
Headline of the year, anywhere, goes to ‘THE Dili Weekly’ for:
“Liquica OK aside from murders, rapes, witchcraft accusations”.
The article then goes on to describe a normal(ish) month in an East Timorese town. I’ll retype the article here if there is any demand.
Once again there are some (in my view) excellent (and not so excellent) editorials in the ‘paper. For my reader who lives in Dili I cannot recommend the ‘paper highly enough. Anyone out there want to give them a charitable hand on a website? OK, there are some typos and other mistakes but we have to give them a break. They are saying stuff that some of us here would like to say but daren’t. More power to them. Rant over. For the time being.
In the ‘Guide Post Magazine’ feature story I see there were
Ambivalent views over (Mahatma) Gandhi killer”.
I didn’t even know he was dead. That’s what I like about ‘Guide Post’; News when it happens. Also, and this is very low of me, check the competition in the editorial and then make sure you take a close look at the picture of the ‘Top Cop’.

Have you been reading about ‘Hercules’, the notorious one eyed, one armed Timorese gangster from Jakarta? Why ‘Hercules’? Surely he should be called ‘Nelson’?

Talking of complete and utter bullshit, did anyone see the ABC ‘Foreign Correspondent’ piece the other night about ‘gangland’ Dili? Another ABC insight into East Timor, written on the ‘plane over here and filmed to fit the pre-conceived script. Total bollocks. I can assure anyone who saw the film that the Timorese guy most heavily featured in it is sorry that he had anything to do with it. I personally witnessed him metaphorically whipping himself in contrition last night.


Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Raining Cats and Dogs. I Just Stepped in a Poodle.

A friend recently contacted me to let me know that he thought it unfair that I only show a picture of one of my dogs on this blog. So, as a one off, here are some pictures of my other dogs.

The patchwork brown and white dog is Bandit. He is a very morose dog. We think this is due to severe trauma whilst in the womb (you know who you are Gazontapede). He also has a bad front right leg due to him trying to eat it off.
The red dog cooling his balls on the white tiles is Sickboy. He was born with parvo, got over that, then got run over by a Pajero (mine) and broke his hip and then he had distemper. A very sweet dog with a tendency to give you an all-over wash. Doris you know. A 'barky' little dog with a lovely temprement. Unless you are in uniform and/or carrying a gun.

Doris, Sickboy and Bandit

Bandit and Sickboy, brothers.

Bandit with a bad leg, Sicky cooling his 'aggots and Doris looking on.


Food and Drinking

My favourite foods in Dili at the moment:

Carpaccio at Cafe Brazil. Fantastic raw beef.

The fusion rolls at Gion. California comes to Dili.

Any of the salads with rocket (no, not him, I mean arugala) at Motion.

Mrs. Macs pies at Tiger fuels.


Oh, and Motion have the best Gin and Tonics I have tried outside of my house.

The Hunt Is On

Have a look at the post on this blog.

I had a very interesting couple of days last week. On Wednesday a friend from Darwin called me and told me to be on ‘standby’ for a job coming up over the next few days. I was to go up near Gleno on short notice and photograph, hopefully, the surrender of Gastao Salsinha and the rest of his men. At about 8.30pm on Thursday night a couple of PNTL cars pulled up outside my house and I got in one of the cars for quite a hair-raising drive through the night up into the hills. After a few heavily manned and heavily armed check-points we got to a house in Gleno at about midnight. Around the house were about 40 or so PNTL, a whole bunch of 4-wheel drive vehicles and a lot of weapons. Inside the house were the Prosecutor, an experienced negotiator and a bottle of Johnny Walker Black. Oh yeah, and a recently surrendered ‘rebel’. We had a chat, drank the Scotch and all went to bed around 1am’ish.
At 4am it was up and at ‘em. Our large convoy set off into the hills and arrived at our destination around 6am. I’m not allowed to say where it was but it was absolutely stunning. The buildings were traditional Timorese, the views were breath-taking and the people in the tiny village were lovely. Remember, around 40 or so heavily armed men had just roared into their village early in the morning. The people there made coffee for all of us with freshly baked rolls.
Written messages were sent from the Prosecutor up to Salsinha and back again by runner, it was a very slow process. Around about 3pm we were told that the man would not surrender today. The Prosecutor got on his satellite ‘phone, called acting President ‘Lasama’ and told him that Parliament should not wait up as the main guest would not be arriving that day.
I traveled back to Dili with the Swiss negotiator and I must say he was very saddened by the day’s results or lack thereof. I agree with him. I feel now that the f-FDTL will be unleashed to hunt down Salsinha and the rest of his men. I have heard that there are up to 350 f-FDTL in the area and they were all issued with up to 300 rounds each two weeks ago in a ceremony in the stadium. I also noticed today our Timorese navy boat heading west past Dili. I remember in June 2006 this same boat opened fire on Alfredo Reinado and his men at Tibar. For those of you that remember this was the same vessel that Alfredo originally commanded! Oh the irony.

And I didn't get the picture.......

Our intrepid Navy heads west


Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Controversial? Moi? I Wish I Could Be

Is this guy for real?
"The President of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Mario Viegas Carrascalão, believes the attacks against PR Ramos-Horta and PM Xanana Gusmão to have been caused by an international political conspiracy.“Maybe the groups doing the attack were backed by some people. There were rumours that there was USD20000 found in Alfredo’s pocket when he died. Some people may have given him this money before he died, or put the money in his pocket after he died. His body may have been dumped in Metiaut after being shot in another place,” said Mr. Carrascalão. Carrascalão also reiterated his desire for Timor-Leste to establish an International Independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate the events shrouded in so much mystery. "
So what do you want exactly Mario? An International Commission of Inquiry to investigate what you believe is an International conspiracy? Or are you, as usual, saying the first thing that comes into your head just to make sure you get some publicity and also manage to spread a little shit in the hope that it sticks?

Curfew and All That.
I have to say I love it. I know that is completely selfish but I just can’t help it. As I’ve said before, I get a good night’s sleep and all the rest of the benefits but I would also be interested to see the burglary and robbery figures for the past few weeks compared to the 3 weeks prior to February 11th. Now I know a curfew is a bit harsh to get the crime figures down but I bet it works. You know what they say: “Spare the rod and spoil the child”. Maybe a benevolent dictator is what’s needed for a few years. Then again, maybe the burglary/robbery figures will be evened out by the number of Timorese (and some Malae) who have been punched in the face for being 'too close to curfew' by our ever vigilant security forces.

Dear National Security Forces.
Instead of sticking M16’s in the faces of terrified taxi drivers whilst screaming and pulling off their tinted car window screens, why don’t you lead by example and take the tints off your own vehicles? And put some fucking number plates on your cars while you’re at it. Just a friendly suggestion in the sacred name of public relations.

A Man Apart
It’s good to see that JRH is up and walking around. Not bad for a man of his age and a couple of high velocity rounds. Maybe it’s about time another former Minister got out of his hospital bed, walked around and considered coming home to his country. I’m sure he would get a very warm welcome.

Words that should be banned in Timor Leste, in ANY language:
Consultation (if it means appeasment)
Reconciliation (see above)
Dialogue (see above above)
Workshop (unless used in the context of light engineering)
Justice (unless you really really mean it).

A Breath Of Fresh Air
For my Dili based reader I can do no more than recommend that you go out each Thursday morning and try to hunt down a copy of a new newspaper, the Dili Weekly. I wish I could put a link to this publication but unfortunately they do not have a web site yet. If there is anyone out there who could offer their services FREE as a website designer/host etc I bet they would jump at the opportunity.
The Dili Weekly is a 24 page newspaper, published in English and Tetum, 12 pages each language. The Tetum version is a translation of some of the English and vice-versa. I suspect that the editorials and the major political stories are written in English and translated into Tetum and the more ‘community based’ and local court pieces are Tetum/English. For myself I can say that it is an absolute pleasure to read some ‘real’ news, some excellent editorials and know that the East Timorese now have access to some real journalism. Below is a scanned version of a recent editorial. I suspect it says what a lot of us living here are thinking but for various reasons cannot say. I also respect the integrity and courage of the publishers and journalists working on the paper. It’s about time. I have scanned in below the most recent editorial (with the writters permission).
Again, for my Dili based reader if you want to know where to get a copy, or better still advertise in the paper, you can call 7365432 for details of distribution or 7313854 for advertising. And no, I am not getting anything for this plug. I just think it’s a worthy cause.
Well,,,,,, I tried to upload it in a fairly big format but the system just wouldn't let me. So, for my overseas reader (that's you, 'worried momma') I'll type the whole thing out for you. Now that's dedication:
Optimism Turns Sour As Salsinha Walks Free. Jesse Wright, Editor.
"Since Alfredo Alves died two weeks ago there has been a steady stream of speculation as to who would be the next in line. As though this country would be lost without some sort of forest rebel leader.
Of course the follow up to this question was, would Gastao Salsinha be able to live up to his predecessor? Would he be able to continue the fight?
Unusually for me I allowed myself a bit of careless optimism and I hypothesized that one one would replace Alves. I suggested Timor would have learned its lesson and would actually hunt Salsinha down and catch him without delay. I assumed Timor would do everything it could to avoid a repeat of the Alves incident.
I stand corrected.
It weeks later and any every journalist who gives enough of a damn to go to Ermera has been able to locate Salsinha and splash his rebel face on TV screens (and newspapers and radios) around the world. Meanwhile those tasked with his capture stand by.
I understand and applaud SRSG Atul Khare's position that dialog (sic) and peaceful surrender is better than a firefight. Who could argue with that? It's the sort of position position (sic) befitting the United Nations.
What I do not understand is the government's ready acquiescence to such advice despite its own promises to the contrary. Both Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao as well as interim President Araujo have said the time for talk is over. At the inauguration of the joint command last week Gusmao made a particularly impassioned speech in which he said he would not tolerate the rebels and that their time is over.
But is it? The weekend came and went with no outward sign of change. Salsinha, meanwhile, was available by phone and in person should one need a sound byte.
This whole situation smacks of history repeating itself. The last time we tried to negotiate with egotistical rebel leaders, President Jose Ramos-Horta ended up hospitalized. Salsinha himself is allegedly responsible for at least three bullet holes in the PM's car. Remember? What must the man do before the country makes a serious effort to stop him?
The way the situation new stands, Salsinha has nothing to win by turning himself in and has everything to win by "hiding" in Ermera. His leverage comes at the price of security; because he is a security risk the government is willing to negotiate with him. Should he walk into a police station and turn over his gun, he'd be just another guy in jail and any negotiation after that would likely be in court. If he looks at his own situation logically then he will realize there is no benefit to surrender at present. He might surrender in a year or two - following some protracted dialog (sic) process - in exchange for a wildly underserved pardon or. But in any case, who really believes dialog (sic) with egotistical rebel leaders results in a safer country? Is it too much to suggest that dialog (sic) should be given only to peaceful petitioners who do not pose a security risk for the state? Apparently it is."
Three cheers for the Dili Weekly....

Conspiracy theory #3200174
Has anyone questioned Timor Telecom yet?