Subject: News from East Timor Press 9 Feb 2001

Bahasa Indonesia Headlines ­ Friday, 9 Feb 2001

  1. Year 2006 ­ English To Be Used In University
  2. Timor Diaspora To Flood East Timor 
  3. Xanana Still Refuses To Be Timor Lorosae President

1. Year 2006 ­ English To Be Used In UNATIL (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page side-bar)

It is estimated that in five years time English will be the language of instruction in UNATIL (National University of Timor Lorosae). UNATIL Rector Dr Armindo Maia said this yesterday during a meeting with a delegation of Indonesian journalists at the university’s Jalan Benfica campus.

At this moment, said Dr Armindo, the university’s language of instruction was Bahasa Indonesia. This, he said, was for practical reasons because the students and lecturers, themselves, had been educated in Bahasa Indonesia. Also, he added, all reference books in the university are in Bahasa.

Meanwhile the rector said earlier UNATIL will adhere to high intellectual standards where students would be encourage to think critically. The university students, said Dr Armindo, were free to follow political activities because that was their individual right.

2. Timor Diaspora To Flood East Timor (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page top box)

The Timorese diaspora from all corners of the world, including those who are refugees in West Timor, are expected to flood East Timor from March onwards in the lead-up to the civil registration process to build a new nation.

This was said yesterday by the Transitional Administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello when he met a delegation of 18 Indonesian journalists.

According to Sergio, the first census would start in March and this was important, he said, for the following reasons:

* The census in the civil registration process will determine who is a citizen of Timor Lorosae and who is not; * The census will also determine who will be eligible to vote in the elections expected on 30 August 2001.

“The regulation for the civil registration process will be passed by the National Council,” said Sergio. He said, a similar civil registration process had been carried out by the UN in Cambodia in 1992.

If Sergio’s comments would have implications for the refugees in Indonesia, the majority of whom are in West Timor. If the refugees, for whatever reason, do not return to East Timor by March that would mean they would automatically lose their status as Timor Lorosae citizens.

3. Xanana Still Refuses To Be Timor Lorosae President (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page headline)

Excerpts of Xanana’s interview with a delegation of 18 Indonesian journalists at the CNRT press room.

Journalists: You had previously said Timor Lorosae needs fresh, new blood. Does it mean you are declining to be the presidential candidate in the forthcoming election?

Xanana: Yes. Because I have always stressed that you have to separate the previous struggle from the future struggle. This might be difficult for many people to accept, but it has to be this way. We have to separate the time in our struggle when everyone had his or own responsibilities. Let that not be an excuse of them now to say: “Oh, because previously I had such and such a position, now I must be in such and such a place”.

When we were fighting for our freedom, everyone had responsibilities ­ even the most ordinary person had to suffer and die in the struggle.

Journalists: If you are not ready to be President, won’t there be a possibility that the country could face the same fatalities as in 1974-75 because of a power struggle?

Xanana: I don’t think it has to be that way. We in East Timor are currently in a difficult transition period, like in Indonesia. We have to duly consider all processes ­ social, political, cultural ,mental. When we say because of this, that will happen, then we have to think: if we want to live in harmony what have we got to do?

We have to ask ourselves what we can do so that it [1974-75 fatalities] does not happen. That must form the basis of our thinking principles. Because of that we have to talk to all the political parties, discuss with society and the ordinary people, so that the incidents of 1974-75 will not be repeated in Timor Lorosae.

We have to have political wisdom and tolerance if we do not want to experience the same bitterness as previously. We have to have mutual trust and accept differences between one another. This is one aspect of democracy.

Because of this, I urge the political parties not to use differences to make enemies. It best at this early stage, that we educate the people to believe in democracy as a system, and not pin their hopes on individuals. They have to believe in justice, in democracy, in human rights so that we can walk on the difficult path [to independence].

If we do not do this, it means we have failed to educate the people to trust the [democratic] system. Then it means people will continue to cling on to symbols for unity and only to one person for uniting them.

Journalists: What happens in a situation where you reject being the President but the people hold demonstrations to make it make it known that they want you as their first President?

Xanana: The issue of demonstrations is not new. It happens everywhere ­ we see the demonstrations on SCTV and RCTI, when it happens in Jakarta, Surabaya or other places in Indonesia. But in East Timor, if there are demonstrations it’s usually small. People are still hungry, they don’t have jobs, they don’t have houses. I think you don’t realize the problems we are facing. There are still a lot of problems.

Journalists: But Xanana, even if the East Timorese people are hungry they will still demonstrate for something that they firmly believe in.

Xanana: I think it won’t happen if people realize from the start that we have to think objectively. We have to believe in the [democratic] system. People must not put their hopes on only one man. They must trust the system …

Journalists: If the people want you as their President, it’s the same as receiving orders from God ­ vox populi; vox Dei

Xanana: (Laughing) Now I’m being judged by Indonesian journalists. We must see whether the people are voicing their opinions from a list of presidential candidates put up by the political parties. If I do not offer myself as a presidential candidate, how can my name be on the list? How can they people choose me?

Journalists: Mr Mario Carrascalao’s party, the PSD, has made it known that they are going to nominate you as the country’s first president.

Xanana: (laughing again) They can, but I also have the right to reject. That is my democratic right.

Journalists: Then do you consider yourself as Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore?

Xanana: I am an ordinary person. There are many ways to contribute to Timor Lorosae to ensure the democratic process functions well.

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