Subject: GLW: CNRT leaders form new social democratic party

Green Left Weekly, Issue #422 September 27, 2000

CNRT leaders form new social democratic party BY VANJA TANAJA

DILI — The newest addition to East Timor's political landscape was declared formally at the National Council of Timorese Resistance headquarters on September 20: the Social Democratic Party (PSD).

The founders and key leaders of the PSD are leaders of CNRT: Mario Carrascalao, Agio Pereira, Leandro Isaac and Zacarias da Costa.

Carrascalao, founder of the Timorese Democratic Union (UDT) and formerly governor of East Timor under Indonesia, is chairperson of the PSD.

Both Isaac and da Costa were also associated with UDT. Da Costa spent many years in Portugal as a UDT representative. Isaac is well known as one of the few CNRT leaders based in East Timor before and during the ballot in August 1999.

Agio Pereira was coordinator of the East Timor Relief Association in Sydney and most recently was the head of the CNRT's National Emergency Commission.

The policies of the PSD include multiparty democracy, transparency and clean government that guarantees the “civil rights” of the population.

It does not “accept the existence of large economic groups, which may monopolise initiatives”; instead it “defends ... an economic life which is focused on the protection of small players, small merchants, traders and peasants”. The PSD also states that its purpose is to build the middle class as the basis of social democracy.

It believes in “government intervention” in property ownership and wealth distribution, whilst free education should exist only at the primary level and free health care only for those who cannot afford to pay. The PSD rejects the death penalty, “as human life is beyond the realm of decision-making by a country”, and rejects abortion for the same reason.

Echoing Jose Ramos Horta (who was rumoured to be a leader of the PSD prior to its formal inception), the PSD also places great importance on membership of ASEAN. It also argues for the inclusion of East Timor in the Association of Portuguese Speaking Nations “as a logical formulation of the deep cultural-historical ties which unite us all”. It defends Portuguese as the official language, but indicates that Tetum may become the official language when “it can no longer be resisted”.

The pro-Portuguese sentiments of this layer of the CNRT leaders, who have now become leaders of the PSD, have alienated a layer of the politically conscious youth, who have indicated their preference for English, Indonesian and other languages in the interim period. Portuguese cuts out the generation of youth educated under Indonesia, many of whom who have returned to Indonesia to resume their studies.

The PSD plans a youth wing (Social Democratic Youth) and a workers' wing (Social Democratic Workers).

The Timor Post reported that the secretary general of the Socialist Party of Timor (PST), Avelino da Silva, attended the PSD founding ceremony, welcoming the PSD because the formation of many parties was an indication of democracy in East Timor. He said the PST was distinct from the PSD, using “Marxism as a tool of analysis” and seeking “the liberation of people as a whole, especially the poor and the weak” through socialism.

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