Subject: PD: Strengthening Democracy

PRESS CONFERENCE

STRENGTHENING DEMOCRACY

TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT THE REACTION OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND THE PRESIDENT OF PARLIAMENT AGAINST PD’S POLITICAL STATEMENT OF 24 MARCH 2003

Introduction:

In the past 24 years, East Timorese including Falintil, Indonesian civil servants, students, elderly, youths, men and women, priests and nuns, in rural and urban areas, all had suffered and resisted Indonesian military occupation, to complement and support the armed struggle and diplomatic efforts against the Indonesian government. They have resisted and suffering with the conviction that independence will bring prosperity and freedom to all.

East Timorese had the courage to suffer and resist the occupation, in the hope that once independence has been achieved no one would oppress us, exploit us, limit our contact with the outside world, and limit our chance to get a project or a job.

Because of the resistance, some 250.000 brothers and sisters, a third of the population of East Timor, have perished, killed and die of hunger as the direct consequence of the Indonesian occupation.

Unfortunately, after the independence has been achieved, many things have gone worse and more difficult than during the occupation itself. The majority of the people become poorer facing more problems and only a handful of people are living a life of plenty because they have family members or friends holding high positions or working in the Government.

Obviously, the government cannot make miracles for the majority, but there is miracle for a minority because their Big Brother is the Head of the government and other state institutions.

PD will discuss four points at this Press Conference and you will have the chance to questions or to make comments afterwards:

1. Reaction of the Prime Minister, Mr. Mari Alkatiri and the President of Parliament, Mr. Francisco Lu-Olo:

In his reaction of March 24, 2003 against the Political Statement made by PD in the Parliament, Prime Minister Alkatiri, said that Opposition parties are so hungry for power that they can no longer wait for 100 years before they can rule!

Additionally, Prime Minister, Mr. Mari Alkatiri, and the President of the Parliament, Mr. Francisco Lu-Olo said that it was the Opposition parties that did not want an Open Governance, as it took place in Viqueque and Bobonaro, to proceed!

You may have read or heard in PD’s statement. PD did not raise the question about the method the government used to undertake its Open Governance, but rather asked the government to explain the concept of Open Governance as the government conceives it. PD did not say that the Opposition did not accept an Open Governance.

a. Open Governance: PD understands an Open Governance means the government should be forthcoming with the public. This means, the government undertakes its duties and responsibilities with transparency, participation, accountability, equity, effectiveness, and rule of law.

For instance, the negotiations surrounding Timor Gap should be subjected to public scrutiny, so that East Timorese in the wider society are informed about the progress of negotiations, the royalties involved, the Ministry that is handling Timor Gap issue, who is spending it, and why, how and what for. This is what PD calls Open Governance.

Another example of Open Governance means, when the government appoints heads of sub-districts, east Timorese should be informed through their respective parliamentarians that the appointment was political or professional and the appointment is based on which law or regulation. If it was a professional appointment, what are the criteria used for the selection of the candidates. This is what PD calls Open Governance.

The Open Governance that took place in Viqueque and Bobonaro, for the Opposition, it is not an Open Governance. That is why the Opposition calls it as an Inefficient Governance, meaning the government spends money for nothing, because the government’s answer to the communities, as the Prime Minister has put it “just listening... well let’s see... unfortunately the government cannot make miracles...”.

b. Inefficiency: Open Governance, does not and should not mean that the Prime Minister and all his entourage of the Council of Ministers happily take off for a picnic in the districts just to listen to the communities that they want a road here, a health post there, an irrigation here, a canal there and a bridge here. This is the job and the responsibility of the District Administrator to inform the Central Government.

Why should the government spend so much resources, energy and money traveling to the districts, if the government is only interested in listening to the people and offer no alternatives to solve the difficulties facing by the people? The traditional response of the government is : Well let’s see… the Government cannot make miracles...” PD calls it Inefficiency, not Open Governance. In other words, the government cannot administer, it is wasting its time, money and energy for nothing. Because, the need assessment of road, bridges, schools, health posts has been made together with different communities nationwide and it can be found and read in Plano de Desenvolvimento Nacional, a book that is prefaced by Mr. Mari Alkatiri himself.

If the Government goes to the districts to collect new data to write a new book, then that is not Open Governance.

PD understands the reaction of Prime Minister, Mr. Mari Alkatiri. Because he is quite desperate to hold on to power and is still hungry for the position of Prime Minister and for the position of Secretary General of the ruling party, all together.

However, PD finds it hard to understand why the President of Parliament, Mr. Francisco Lu-Olo, also reacted harshly against the Political Declaration, when it was and is a good declaration in terms of parliamentary democracy, a declaration that aims to strengthening the position of parliament and its deputies, a parliament that Mr. Lu-Olo himself leads.

The nature of their reaction has made us aware that both men have reacted not only as Prime Minister and President of Parliament, but also as the Minister for Economy and Development, Party’s Secretary General, and Spokesperson for the government. The reaction also shows how weak is the East Timorese leadership because leaders just cannot accept criticisms or different of opinion.

2. Difference between Government and the Party:

To avoid future misunderstanding and confusion in the minds of communities regarding political positions of heads of Government, it is important to separate clearly the interest of the State and Government from individual and Party’s interests.

Nowadays, in most countries, even where the Communists, Military Dictators and Fascists used to rule, in those very places, the people and their representatives are now aware that when their Big Brother representing party A or party B becomes President, Prime Minister or President of Parliament and heads of other key state institutions, the Big Brother automatically hands down his/her party position.

This way, they will be able to work only in the interest of the state and the people with transparency, participation, efficiency, equity, and professionalism and the rule of law.

Thus, an Open Governance can only exist when our Big Brothers are conscious of this evolution.

3. Professionalism: For the State bureaucracy to function properly with efficiency, effectiveness, and quality, all bureaucrats at all levels must show a degree of professionalism, if not the highest, in their daily performance of their duties. The professional aspect is lacking in almost all levels of the Ministries. Therefore PD questions: * What are the criteria for the recruitment of civil servants, particularly for the recruitment of high and medium levels bureaucrats?

* If criteria used for the selection of a candidate for civil servant is based on party politics, then isn’t it true that the importance of education, experience, knowledge and professionalism have been underestimated?

* If it has been a political appointment then isn’t it the intentions of the Government to control and centralize further every power-related activity?

4. Immigration Law and Asylum:

Regarding the Immigration and Asylum law proposed by the government, in particular Article 11, if you have read it then you are aware of the fact that:

‘Every measure taken by the Indonesian government to make our life difficult during the occupation such as restriction of our movements, to lengthen our struggle, violate our basic rights, prevent foreigners to help us in our struggle, only family of the members of the government are allowed to form associations and clubs, and handling government projects and so on …”.

... Those very measures are about to be revived here in East Timor, should the parliamentarians approve the Immigration law proposed by the Government .

The reason for the Government to have such a law is to strengthen security and prevent terrorism in East Timor.

It is baseless argument! Because, Immigration Law to be effective, does not necessarily mean that such law has to be synonymous of ‘prohibition’ of everything. There are other ways for an Immigration Law to be more effective. For instance, a well-thought-out program of training and formation of the Police, particularly, upgrading and maintaining the professionalism of the Immigration Police and Immigration Officers.

A tight prohibition law will not solve security problems. We have seen it elsewhere, in Indonesia under Suharto’s government rule and in the Philippines under Marcos’s government.

The two former governments based their Immigration laws on tight prohibition. Tighter prohibition law can only benefit the rich members of the Government and their respective families. The tighter it is the richer they will become. Under the Immigration Law of the two former Governments, black-markets flourished, corruption became endemic, favoritism grew out of proportion, money laundry enriched both public and private officers, opposition parties became illegal, human right violations became the order of the day, people could not speak against the government, police and army were government’s private body guards, government members were above the law, people were subjugated to the law and to the gun of the police and army, the poor became poorer and the rich became richer, only government family members had security, and only government members and their families had government projects, etc…

The final result, as we all know, both governments fell in disgrace because there were no transparency and participation, nor accountability and equity. They ruled as they thought it in their best interest only with laws identical to Article 11.

Moreover, with a law such as it is in the Article 11, it is for the first time, the Prime Minister and his entourage are about to set religious discrimination in East Timor, when they forbid foreign Priests and Nuns from providing religious assistance to the East Timorese army and police.

During the resistance against Indonesian military occupation, Religious Institutions, foreign or local, were in the forefront to provide assistance to East Timorese including Falintil. Today, as we have achieved our independence, the very service that foreign Religious Institutions had provided to East Timorese and Falintil during the occupation, has suddenly become an illegal act.

Thank you.

Dili, 28 March 2003

Partido Democratico, PD 
Fernando Lasama 
President

see also Partido Democratico: Political Statement 24 March 2003

 


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