|Subject: ABC: Fretilin MP raises corruption
allegation; Vice PM denies wrongdoing
also Vice Prime Minister denies wrongdoing
<http://www.abc.net.au/ra> ABC Radio Australia
Radio Australia - Connect Asia - ETIMOR: Fretilin MP raises corruption allegation [This is the print version of story <http://www.abc.net.au/ra/connectasia/stories/s2155678.htm>
ETIMOR: Fretilin MP raises corruption allegation - 06/02/2008
In East Timor the Fretilin opposition have launched what they believe will be a series of revelations against current government members of prior corrupt activities. Yesterday, the opposition is called for Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao to sack the Vice Prime Minister over allegations he misused public funds during his time as Foreign Minister in a previous government. Stephanie March
Estanislau De Silva, Fretilin M-P and former Prime Minister.
<http://www.abc.net.au/ra/connectasia/stories/m1537539.asx> listen windows media > MARCH: Fretilin MP Francisco Baranco issued a statement to parliament alleging that current Vice Prime Minister Jose Luis Gutteres misused public funds while minister for foreign affairs, under the second constitutional government... when he appointed his wife as counsel to the UN ambassador in New York. Fretilin claims Mr Gutteres had appointed his wife without consulting the government, and authorised a transfer of money that increased her salary from that of a local staff, to the equivalent of a diplomat.
Estanislau De Silva is a current member of the Fretilin party and a member of parliament. DE SILVA: I have to say at the time I was the fifth Vice Prime Minster, and I didn't know anything, the council of ministers wasn't briefed, this is why we see the transfer was an abuse of power, and it is seen as a nepotism, a conflict of interest, and misuse of public funds for personal interest. MARCH: Mr De Silva says what Mr Gutteres did was illegal, and has urged Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao to sack his deputy pending an investigation into the allegations. DE SILVA: If he is coherent with his statement before, he should ask Mr Gutteres to resign immediately and then investigation to follow up because he did the same while he was the president - (to) ask Mr Alkitri to resign then ask for investigation follow, so he need to be in accordance with what he did in the past and do it now straight away. MARCH: Last year as President, Xanana Gusmao called for the resignation of the then Prime Minister Mari Alkitiri, following allegations he was involved in instigating violence during the crisis in early 2006. Mr Gusmao's office yesterday, said he was refusing to comment on Fretilin's call to sack Mr Gutteres. Mr Guterres was out of the country yesterday, on his way to attend a conference on good governance in Australia. He claims he asked then-Prime Minister Jose Ramos Horta if he could appoint his wife to the position, and Mr Ramos-Horta approved it. He says he left his position as an ambassador in New York, during the crisis, to return to East Timor to serve his country, during its time in need. He says he's not a rich man and if he didn't find a job for his wife that paid the same salary he was earning, she and his children would be left homeless on the streets of New York. He also begs the question, why had Fretilin chosen to wait until now, to raise an issue which occurred under a previous government.
Fretilin MP Estanislau De Silva says the party is making the allegations now because the government has failed to do so.
DESILVA: Because when this government swore in in August, Mr Xanana Gusmao promised to do all the international inquiry, investigations and audits, and we are waiting and nothing is happening, and we believe it's time now that we cannot continue the situation of what happened in the past and then to allow more misuse of public funds. MARCH: And he says, this is just the beginning.
DESILVA: We raise it now because we want to show that this government is full of people who have a background that is not in conformity of the ethics, that is not in conformity of good governance. Mr Jose Luis Gutteres this week, next week we will present another case in the parliament, and the following week we will present another case. MARCH: Mr De Silva also says that he hopes the current President Jose Ramos Horta supports Fretilin's position.
DESILVA: We hope that he understand our position and the situation cannot continue. We live in a peaceful country - the situation is very peaceful now it is not because of the government, it is because Fretilin tolerate, Fretilin have decided not to call for any action that could endanger the security and stability of this country.
© 2008 Australian Broadcasting Corporation --
Connect Asia (Radio Australia)
ETIMOR: Vice Prime Minister denies wrongdoing - 06/02/2008
Vice prime minister Jose Luis Gutteres is enroute to Australia to attend a conference on good governance. He denies any wrongdoing and questions Freitlan's motives for raising the allegations.
Presenter - Sen Lam Speaker - Jose Luis Gutteres, Vice Prime Minister East Timor.
Yes I did and the then Prime Minister Dr Ramos Horta agreed to it. And not only that, I consiulted the highest authority in the public service, in the foreign office at that time, Mr (sounds like?) Jean Comora.
So in your mind you think your wife was qualified to be counsel (sic)?
Gutteres: Well you know it was a temporary solution it was not a solution that I wanted to. But at that time in the situation of crisis in East Timor, and I had to come back to East Timor to serve the country, therefore the available solution at that time.
Sen Lam: And indeed as you told our reporter because you had to return to Timor Leste you can't support er afford that return without the usual salary coming from New York. Do you think it is the responsibility of the taxpayer then to support your family who chose to stay in New York rather than return to TL with you?
Gutteres: Well you know the salary that my wife received it's much less than I was receiving at that time. What she got is the equivalent to the same position as - how do you say - someone in the diplomatic staff in the foreign office will earn in a country like New York.
Sen Lam: What do you say to people who accuse you of nepotism, of appointing your family members to well paying positions?
Gutteres: Well you know they should have done it at that time. At that time I remember that I was part of the second constitutional government and the people that I spoke to, I explained the situation and they understood the problem. Right now they are raising the issue, it is politically motivated. A few weeks ago they did it to - they called to dismiss (indistinct) the Prime Minister, and right now it is my turn for them to do something, and I am happy that they couldn't find something in the current administration and they had to go to second constitutional government - that is almost two years ago.
Sen Lam: And Fretilin of course the opposition, claims that many current members of the East Timorese government are tarnished by unresolved corruption allegations. Do you agree then that those allegations have to be tackled head on?
Gutteres: I am in favour and the government continues to be strongly in favour to combat corruption and nepotism. But many times the opposition party they don't have the right data and many of them are allegations. They cannot prove it and they are not willing to prove it in a court. That has a question of principle. The opposition also said that this government is anti-constitutional but they have never been able to use the current institutions to prove they are right or wrong. For example why not go to the constitutional tribunal to prove if they are right or wrong? This is how we do in democracy. And specifically on my case I am ready to face any commission of enquiry that is established by whoever to prove if I abused the power in that time almost two years ago.
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