Subject: XG: Speech at official 28 Nov. Ceremonies
O PRESIDENTE DA REPÚBLICA
SPEECH BY H.E. PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC KAY RALA XANANA GUSMÃO AT THE OFFICIAL CEREMONIES COMMEMORATING 28TH NOVEMBER Dili, 28 November 2002
Your Excellency Interim President of the National Parliament, Your Excellency Prime Minister, Distinguished Members of Parliament, Distinguished Members of Government, Distinguished Representatives of the Diplomatic Missions, Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is another date to commemorate the independence of Timor-Leste.
Independence should not be celebrated; independence should be experienced through its gains. And this is our biggest problem, after more than two decades of struggle and after the more recent reference point, the 20th of May 2002.
What should independence mean? It should not be a concept of “all or nothing”, but we are sure that it has to mean something.
If it “has to mean something”, we can proud of having a flag, a national anthem and a Constitution. We can also state that we have a President of the Republic, that we have a Parliament of 88 members, many of whom are constantly absent, and a government with many ministers and vice-ministers because, some say, there is so much to do.
In the sense of “all or nothing”, we can say that independence nowadays manes having a country with many problems that are not solved with due care.
November 28th is a FRETILIN date! May 20th is also a FRETILIN date! The Parliamentary majority is FRETILIN. The Government is mostly a Government of FRETILIN! Independence served to care for the cadres of FRETILIN! Independence also serves to care for the Former Combatants of FRETILIN!
November 28th 2002 is celebrated, with a feeling of grief because of the problems in Uatu-Lari, the problems in Dili, the problems in Ualili and Baucau, the problems in Same and Ainaro, the problems in Ermera and Liquica and the problems in Suai and Maliana.
Unfortunately, it seems that by creating problems, one can rise to become a Minister, and these same people, after becoming Ministers, only know how to increase existing problems. Some weeks ago, I swore in another Vice-Minister of Internal Administration, and I urged that Ministry to start rigorously solving, the problems that affect the stability and security of our country. The fact is that these problems have been accumulating.
If independence belongs only to FRETILIN, I have no comments to make. If independence belongs to all of us, to all the Timorese, I seize this opportunity to demand of the Government to dismiss the Minister for Internal Administration, Mr. Rogério Lobato, on the grounds of incompetence and neglect.
In accordance with the Constitution, Timor-Leste became independent on the 28th of November 1975! It has been independent for 27 years now imagine that! I hereby pay tribute to FRETILIN!
For the International Community, however, we became independent on the 20th of May 2002! I myself found it difficult to draft a speech for the 28th of November, when the Government is facing so many problems and, on top of this, having to deal with two different dates!
One can not go on forever trying to justify everything on the basis that we recovered our sovereignty only six months ago. The notion that the obligation or the legitimacy to govern Timor-Leste only belongs to some, not only reveals arrogance but also a lack of political maturity and a complete lack of understanding of the difficulties our country is facing.
Often, what is visible is that people are led to believe that only the cadres of the Political Party can be chosen to occupy this or that post! The notion of “national interest” has been lost. The notion of “the superior interests of the people and nation” has been lost. The notion of a new conjuncture of the process, one that requires capacity to meet the demands and dedication to serve, has been lost.
People became dazzled with “power”; whilst cadres of the Political Party, people became obsessed with being or having to be the ones to reign. People only know how to demand that cadres of the Political Party, regardless of their technical capacity, regardless of whether they contributed at all towards the struggle or not, but by virtue of being a cadre of the Political Party, they ought to be the “chosen ones”.
Erroneously, people begin to measure the number of posts with the number of cadres of the party, in an attempt to satisfy all, and because the party is big, many people become dissatisfied because not all can be appointed or promoted.
This is the disease that dragged many political parties and many recently independent countries into disarray, inefficiency, corruption and political instability, where the members of the Government are well off but their people live in misery.
Today, the People have to face the day-to-day difficulties, but the Party has to face the problem of not being able to satisfy all of its cadres, with the danger that we might even have to cope with incompetent people administering the districts and sub-districts.
From all of these, one can see that many people actually take advantage of the political parties and do not serve their party, and if they do serve their party, they do not serve the nation. Today, in marking the 28th of November, I invite everyone to reflect on the duties that each of us has as citizens and invite some to reflect on their duties as members of the government.
Many have yet to realise how vulnerable we have been since independence. The Political Parties enjoy the illusion of independence, when more than ever before, we are very much dependent! Dependent on the helping hand from others, dependent on the kindness and capacity of others, dependent on our own weaknesses…for being a poor country, small and inexperienced.
Many people are still unaware that we already carry a stigma, almost as if it were an original sin: guilty for being poor, for which we must “give praise” to those who know better, those who can do more, those who can decide…on our behalf, simply because the rules of the game have already been established and, in that sense, the 28th of November meant absolutely nothing.
Here, inside Timor-Leste, we took the first steps in politics, making ourselves even more vulnerable, as a nation, as a people. And those who can, keep on trying to help us to create a sensation of survival, because the tendency which exists today, amongst us the Timorese, is that of satisfaction for the rewards, regardless of whether these are justifiable or not. We lost the sense of being a Nation because we became attached to the interests of the political parties.
I repeat: many have yet to realize how vulnerable we have been since the 20th of May. And if we do not change our attitudes, if we do not set our responsibilities correctly, we will become even more vulnerable as the years go by.
Many do not realize that we are dependent on charity. Others do not understand that we cannot keep on living off charity. Some lecture us on the notion of realism, which I would say of collusion because the rules of the game are not and cannot be our own, they belong to those who can or, shall I say, to the powers that be.
We, the Timorese, entertain ourselves with our petty politics of who is supposed to be more powerful or how many should be in power, ignoring our role as an independent nation and our obligations, because obligations are all we have, being a poor and underdeveloped country.
It is beautiful to celebrate independence twice a year. It is sad, however, that our people have so many concerns for each difficulty that is left unresolved.
I urge the Government, the Political Parties above all, and the Parliament to seriously think on the increasing problems that threaten the stability of our Nation.
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