|Subject: AGE: Dili Case Exposes Jitters
Among Foreign Investors
The Age (Melbourne)
May 28, 2003 Wednesday
Dili Case Exposes Jitters Among Foreign Investors
BYLINE: Jill Jolliffe
BODY: Dili -- A court case in which a bodyguard of East Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri is said to have kicked a Chinese-Malaysian businessman, calling him a monkey, is being closely watched by foreign investors.
Wong Kee Jin testified in a Dili court on Monday that the incident occurred in the presence of Mr Alkatiri, who then had him arrested without a warrant.
The Government denies the allegations, but the case has gripped the nation. Mr Wong is claiming wrongful arrest and opposition parties have raised the case in Parliament. A verdict will be handed down tomorrow.
Mr Wong's Singapore-based WGS Metal Enterprise company was granted a UN franchise in 2001 to collect its metal and plastic waste until September 2003.
He alleged that two men came to his scrapyard on April 19 in a car without a number plate. They refused to show identification, but one said he was a Government minister. An argument followed, during which the same man, Deputy Commerce Minister Arlindo Rangel, phoned Mr Alkatiri, who arrived with his bodyguards and allegedly said: "Don't you know who I am? I'm the Prime Minister and can have you expelled".
Australian hotelier Danny Lee witnessed the scene and told the court that a bodyguard kicked Mr Wong, shouting "stand up straight, monkey, and show respect for my boss, monkey".
Mr Alkatiri then called police to arrest Mr Wong, who said he was roughly handled and handcuffed. A UN police officer intervened at Dili police station, freeing him for lack of evidence. The Government has since closed his business.
In an interview with The Age, Mr Rangel contested Mr Wong's testimony. "It was the other way round," he said. "He was very aggressive."
The incident came as foreign investors are experiencing increased difficulties with the Government. Mr Lee said he was thinking of closing his hotel. "We feel very insecure", he said.
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