Subject: UNMISET Daily Media Review 17 February 2005

[Poster's note: Long repeats of international articles already sent out to the east-timor list have been removed.]

UNMISET Daily Press Review

Compiled by the Public Information Office from national and international sources

Daily Media Review Thursday, 17 February 2005

Oil spills and spy platform concern Dili ahead of talks

Ahead of the resumption of boundary negotiations between Australia and Timor-Leste, Dili is concerned over recent oil spills and Canberra’s plan to build a surveillance platform in the two countries’ disputed maritime zone.

Yesterday, Australia’s Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock told Parliament that his department had been briefed on a plan to lease the Buffalo Platform in the Timor Sea, but denied reports that an unmanned oil platform would be converted into a “spy platform”. The Federal Government considered the AUS$2.2-million project but found it to be too costly. The planned “spy platform” would have been fitted with radar and electro-optical systems as part of security measures to protect oil and gas rigs in the area from terrorist attacks.

Meanwhile, the two-day negotiations in Canberra, due to take place next month, are aimed at settling ownership of Timor Sea oil and gas reserves worth over USD 30-billion. (Lusa, AAP)

SRSG Hasegawa concerned about hunger

The UN’s Special Representative in Timor-Leste, Dr Sukehiro Hasegawa, yesterday conveyed his concerns about the reported current hunger situation in the country to the President of the National Parliament, Francisco Guterres. Guterres told journalists he informed Hasegawa that while he doesn’t dispute that sections of the population are having to cope with a degree of hunger, they are not starving. He said that there is always food that can be gathered and is edible, such as wild potatoes. Even though this is not quality food, it means that there is never a situation where people have nothing to eat at all.

Meanwhile, the Administrator for Liquica District, Aurora Ximenes, said that some of the population in her district are suffering from hunger, similar to the plight of some other areas in Timor-Leste. (STL)

Absence of anti-corruption law fuels corruption secrecy

It is difficult for corruption allegations to be properly uncovered in Timor-Leste, claims the Executive Director of the East Timor Development Institute, Joao Mariano Saldanha. Mr Saldanha said the reason for this is because there no anti-corruption law, nor mechanisms to protect those people that divulge information related to corruption allegations and therefore they become reluctant to uncover corruption involving government officials. He said that the Prosecutor General’s office is one of the institutions that would be able to play a role in uncovering corruption. However, the office of the Inspector General reports to the Prime Minister and not directly to the Prosecutor General as should be the case.

Meanwhile, the government, parliament, President’s office and the courts have yet to take any concrete measures to eradicate corruption in this country. Saldanha said that the government should be able to take action regarding persons believed to be involved with corruption. However, of the 47 cases which have been reported so far, not one has been acted upon. (STL)

Dengue Fever claims more lives

Seven more people died due to dengue fever in the first half of February, indicating that efforts by the Department of Health to eradicate the current epidemic have not yet been successful. The Director of the National Hospital, Antonio Calares Junior, told journalists that all those who died were children between the ages of only nine days old and seven years. He said that their lives could not be saved because they were taken to the hospital when they were already very sick, and it was too late to save them. (STL)

PNTL mentality like that of Indonesian Police

A Member of Parliament claims the actions of Timor-Leste’s police in dealing with problems that arise in the community do not reflect their role as protectors of the people, but instead are considered to be rough and brutal. Antonio Cardoso Machado, Head of Commission E in the National Parliament, said that this shows that they are still carrying the mentality of the Indonesian police. For every problem that arises, they are likely to engage in ill treatment of the person concerned, rather than first finding out whether that person is at fault. He said that if the situation continues like this, then the police will not be considered to be protectors of the people, but rather their enemy. (STL)

Xanana and Ramos-Horta consult political parties on Truth and Friendship Commission

President Xanana Gusmăo and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation José Ramos-Horta held a meeting in Dili yesterday with political party leaders in order to consult them on the creation of Truth and Friendship Commission. The party leaders present at the meeting reportedly expressed agreement on the initiative taken by the Government to establish such a body. Even though they agreed on the initiative, they also hoped that justice for the victims could be achieved.

Speaking to the press after the meeting, the President of Social Democratic Party (PSD), Mario Carrascalăo, said that the initiative taken by the governments of Timor-Leste and Indonesia was a good one, adding that the terms of reference of the Commission should be clear and credible so it is a trustworthy body. ”With this people will not think that there will be cover-up on 1999 incidents because at the heart of the matter are those who committed the crimes in 1999. The principle question is that there should be justice,” Carrascalăo added.

Meanwhile, President of the KOTA party, Manuel Tilman, stated that his party appreciated the initiative, but since it has something to do with the lives of many, KOTA urged the Government to also consult the people on the matter.

The President of ASDT, Xavier do Amaral, argued that the most important thing of all is that a better condition should be created so that the new generation will live in peace. (Timor Post)

Manuel Tilman : General election in the hands of President

The President of the KOTA party, Manuel Tilman, stated yesterday that the power to decide on the date of the next elections for the National Parliament and President is in the hands of the President of the Republic. Moreover, he said that his party will accept if the elections for National Parliament will be held on 30 August 2006 and in April 2007 for the Presidential election. (Timor Post)

Bishop Belo: “Don’t Lose Hope”

Prior to his departure to Mozambique yesterday, former Bishop of Dili Diocese, Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, urged the Timorese not to lose hope even though there are still many challenges ahead. Bishop Belo said during his two-week visit to Timor-Leste, he noticed that not much has changed. Therefore, he said, there is a need to have the courage to change things in order to move the process forward. “Everything remains the same since I was last in the country. We need to work even harder. We recognize the effort made by the Government and some agencies, but we need time to achieve concrete results,” Bishop Belo said. (Timor Post)

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