Subject: XG: On 2nd Anniversary of Restoration of Independence
Message to the Nation by H.E. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão
President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
On the occasion of the 2rd Anniversary of the Restoration of Independence
Dili, 20th May, 2004
Today, is one more year, the second since independence or as you like to say, the restoration of independence. The celebrations of this 2nd year coincide also with the end of the first mandate of UNMISET, under the responsibility of our Friend, Ambassador Kamalesh Sharma.
The mandate of UNMISET was to support the Timorese State Institutions in areas, above all in defense and security and in professional capacity development in the various sectors of the administration. As you all must know, the Security Council adopted on 14th May, 2004, Resolution no. 1543, prolonging the mission, with a more reduced force for six months, with a possibility to extend for another six.
This only demonstrates, on the one hand, that the essential of the mandate was accomplished and on the other, that the Timorese also made efforts to create a conducive environment. However, the extension of the mission also means that the International Community continues to offer us its gesture of solidarity through its understanding of our difficulties.
The Timorese people have the obligation to express profound gratitude to Ambassador Kamalesh Sharma, for his dedication and ponderation, which always guided his actions, for his professionalism and understanding, which always directed his contacts with the Timorese leadership. Through him, we also extend our appreciation to all those participants of UNMISET, who passed through Timor-Leste contributing to the reinforcement of security and stability in the country, tolerance and harmony in society and efficiency and consolidation of the administration.
Yesterday afternoon, were handed over to the Sovereign Bodies of the Timorese State, the constitutional capacities of security, with this now being the competence of PNTL, and defense being the responsibility of F-FDTL.
It now falls on PNTL to respond with professionalism to its obligations to maintain law and order. It also falls on F-FDTL to carry in their conscious that, always when necessary for the security and stability of the country, the two forces will have to act in support and strict cooperation.
I wish to congratulate the choice of the new SRSG, Mr. Sukehiro Hasegawa and his Deputy, Mr. Atul Khare. As they already possess sound knowledge of the process, we are confident that they will provide support along the same line as we had with Ambassador Sharma.
The important factor to emphasize at the closing of this second year is that of stability and security. It is necessary that we recognize this; it is necessary that we recognize that the whole of society undertook to create an environment of stability in our country. And this occurred despite having continued concerns in relation to groups who still do not accept to integrate into the process, a process which, indubitably, needs the support and participation of all.
We should not need to waste money and energy to create new police units, if all civic groups were guided by a profound commitment to participate in the process, through a tolerant and democratic way and not through the use of violence, threats and extortion of the population.
By obligation, the State has to defend the interest of all the people, above all to anything that concerns the security of their lives and goods.
I know that many people complain that things are not moving and that the economy is not progressing because it is stagnant. I believe, however, that everyone admits that something was made, although we still have much to do.
Let us examine a little this second year. I must remember that our process was an extremely difficult one. No-one has forgotten the nearly total destruction of September 1999; no-one has forgotten of the void in the administration; no-one has forgotten that we had to adopt Indonesian laws, because we had none, to begin to regulate our acts. We all know well that we started from zero to build a Nation.
And we are only two years old. For all that we want; we cannot say that we already have an adult State. We should say that something was done; that it is not true that nothing was done, although we acknowledge that there is still more to be done.
This is the problem of starting. In relation to the State institutions, there are needs to be satisfied in the next year. There is a need to consolidate those already in existence but there is a need to create those that are still lacking.
There is a need to improve the Justice sector, both in regards to the working conditions and to improving the professionalism of people.
There is a need to improve the technical capacity of Parliament, so that it assumes the role of the Legislative Body of the Nation, thereby avoiding it from merely waiting to debate and approve the draft laws, which come from the Government.
There is a need to improve the capacity and competencies of the Office of the Inspector-General of the State, so that the investigated cases can proceed administratively or judicially.
There is a need to improve the discipline and efficiency of the public administration. There is a need to adopt preventative and punitive measures so as to achieve the desired level of good governance.
The Public Service Law will be able to respond to questions on discipline, ventilated so many times by everyone. It is demanded of the Government after the promulgation of the Law, that the measures have the character of revigorating a professional and efficient administration. The Law will also be able to define the juridical framework of the statute of the Public Servant, so that it opens perspectives for the future, in terms of career, competence and promotions.
We will shortly have a Ombudsperson for Justice and Human Rights. In the second workshop on transparency and accountability, the Prime Minister stated: “The users of the public institutions must have the courage to denounce public servants who practice acts which are considered criminal or who behave dishonestly. They should have courage to denounce those who work in the Administration and who make a point of serving their own interests instead of those of the public”.
Many speak of corruption, whether in collusion in tenders, in bribes, in gifts, in diversion of funds (as occurred recently in Manatuto, Aileu and Liquiça) and we believe that a good Ombudsperson, trustworthy, competent and idoneous, can become, as defined by the Constitution, the propelling agent to combat not only these practices but also all the acts of abuse of power.
The Presidency continues to need technical support so that it can fulfill its constitutional obligations. There is a need to implement the Organic Law of the Presidency of the Republic, which was recently approved by the National Parliament.
There is a need to create the two Organs of Consultation of the President of the Republic: the Council of State and the Supreme Council of Defense and Security.
The two Bodies of Consultation are extremely necessary, as they represent the constitutional mechanisms for debate of issues of great national importance. Nowadays, in the political field of decisions, the State is still not able to clearly define national policies, on issues of Justice and Reconciliation, Timor Sea Treaty, International Relations, Defense Policy and many more.
We have been making separate statements, not always institutional but with certain individual characters and we have to cease this system of representing the State.
After this small coverage on State building, I hope that everyone understands that we have to centralize efforts in the strengthening of State Institutions, so that the primacy of law does not become rhetorical, oriented towards those weaker, but a guarantee of the Democratic State, that contemplates on each and every citizen without exception.
Side by side with this joint and overall effort, is the need for the Government to render services to all the people in the field of socio-economic development.
The economic sector has to continue to warrant still more attention on the part of the Government. Agriculture and the small to medium enterprises should receive greater incentive, so that the population can feel that there are expectations of personal or community revenue to improve living conditions.
I have always spoken on the need for a system of production, purchase, processing and distribution of national products that motivates farmers to produce more and better. It will no doubt be a long process, but if we do not begin now, it will take us longer to achieve the desired result.
Some laws have been passed for the development of the economic sector but others will still need to be considered, in conjunction with firm measures so that the country can attract investment and create employment.
The Government was able to improve the administration of taxes, imposing a control mechanism in customs, allowing for domestic revenue to experience a very positive increase this year. In addition to this, the Government assumed responsibility for control of public expenditure, although we need to call attention to the mechanism being excessively centralized and bureaucratic, causing delays, that at times impact on service delivery.
And I also believe that unfortunately, we all acknowledge that we are still very much dependent on the generosity of friendly countries, which are the donors. What the Timorese should also concern be concerned with is the fact that in other parts of the world, millions and millions of people also need the gesture of friendship and solidarity from the international community, and of the friendly understanding and solidarity from us, the Timorese.
There still exists the problem of widows and orphans, problems of families who cannot watch over their children.
There exist also the elderly and war invalids, who ask the attention of all. I say of all, because this obligation should not just fall on the Government or the State, it should also be an obligation of organizations of human rights, solidarity, organizations that retain proven capacity to undertake projects and receive donations.
Some organizations exceed themselves on the rhetoric of defending the more vulnerable, but we still have not been able to see concrete projects of support to these segments of society.
As we all know, the two Commissions for Former Combatants and for FALINTIL Veterans completed their work, compiling a registry of 36,959 elements, of which 3,078 were merely Veterans. The fact that we have 33,881 Former Combatants registered, demonstrates that there was trust in this initiative. It is in this context that I appeal here to these same Former Combatants to abandon once and for all, Organizations of pseudo former combatants, because what is important now is for us to be oriented in the process that belongs to us all.
On 8th May, there was a big meeting with the Former Combatants and FALINTIL Veterans and widows, of more than one thousand people. They presented their legitimate aspirations, which will later be considered by the National Parliament and by Government. Understanding that we are all in the beginning of State building, facing difficulties and challenges, I appealed that we place priority on these aspirations, always having the clear notion, on what can be done now and what should be done in the years to come. And what is important is that we recognize that the State should, firstly, pay homage to all those who contributed in a heroic way in the Liberation of the Homeland.
The two Commissions are writing the Final Report that will later be sent to the National Parliament and to the Government for a study on what the State can or should do.
But I want to remind everyone that in addition to these components of the Resistance, we still have the civil elements, men and women who gave their lives for the Homeland and, of course the elements of the Clandestine Resistance. It will not be just if we only acknowledge some and forget others, because the diverse components of the Resistance operated in a more strict relationship.
In the political field we have to approach the question of democracy and participation.
At times, there is a feeling that some people understand that because the Constitution proclaims democratic rights, immediately our intelligence and our acts are instantly imbued and directed by democratic thinking.
Normally, in processes of building democracy, people always tend to think that democracy is only on their side and never on the side of others, thereby a large part of people are also lead to think that democracy only gives rights and never prescribes obligations.
We congratulate the upcoming holding of elections for the ‘Chefes de Aldeias’ (Hamlet Heads), ‘Chefes de Sucos’ (Village Heads) and ‘Conselho de Suco’ (Village Council). It will be an important step in the democratic participation from the communities in the development of the nation. There will also be a need to take another step, not of less importance, which is of local government in relation to districts and sub-districts.
However, I call attention to the need for people in every hamlet and village to try to understand better the Election Laws and the Law on the Competencies, so as to know why they vote, why they can vote, who they vote and for what they vote.
I appeal again to all citizens to participate in the National Census that will take place next July. Participation is obligatory, thereby being a duty of each citizen. I also appeal for all to understand the need to provide data with honesty, that is, not to provide false information. I appeal also to everyone to participate in the electoral registry, so that no-one remains outside of this process and I am referring to all those who did not register for the two elections previously held.
In the political aspect, the second half of the year can be considered a calmer period, of less controversial policies. I hope that it has also been a gradual maturing of our politicians who may have opted to speak less to gain time to reflect, to think better because we all need to think more and think before we speak.
But we detect with sadness some events such as that of Viqueque, Suai and Bobonaro. The reaction on the part of the Government, in suspending public servants who took part or witnessed the PSD and PD rallies, demonstrated that there is superficiality of analysis and a tendency of abuse of power.
Society is left with the impression that there exists a political policing, which kills democracy, as was the practice during 24 years of occupation. Worse even when the reports of the administrators did not totally correspond with the truth of the facts. And the more serious occurred with the Administrator of the Bobonaro sub-district who invented accusations against PD. I say this because I saw the footage TVTL made of the event in Bobonaro.
Criticism against the Government or any other institution of the State is part of the democratic system that we are all trying to build.
And I understand that it should never be the Administrator informing on the activities of the parties. At most it should be the police, but only when a party authorizes or incites violence, racism and all other anti-constitutional practices. And in this situation, the police must act, on behalf of law and order, but never make reports on the activities of other political parties. Dear compatriots
I believe that it is important to cover the relations with our neighbours, Australia and Indonesia, because there have ultimately been issues which cause reactions from interested parties.
Relations with Australia should be viewed in the temporal and historical plan, dating from 1942 during World War II, where more than 90,000 Timorese lost their lives, in what was the trench line of defense for Australian soil. As with all relations between countries in the world, there are always highs and lows, sometimes more lows than highs, above all when, in concrete situations, relations of friendship are put aside.
But there is always the duty to also note the highs and we extend our appreciation for the intervention of Australian Forces, not for liberating Timor-Leste but for putting an end to the violence, which occurred after the Popular Consultation of 30th August, 1999. It was the resistance of 24 years, counting with our own forces, and it was the act of referendum, carried out under an unacceptable climate of threats and violence, that determined the liberation of Timor-Leste. It was therefore, an act of the people themselves.
And today, we note with great appreciation the financial support given by the Australian Government since 1999 to the process of stability and building of the young State.
However, we want to affirm here that we continue to firmly revindicate, only, what according to international law, we can admit or conclude to be ours. It is not our intention to claim more than one gram or one millimeter of what does not belong to us.
It is in this context that when we speak of the problems of the resources we have at the bottom of the sea, we are telling ourselves of our own potentials, which will allow us, in the more or less near future, not only to cease being so dependent on external assistance but to having the capacity to develop our country.
I take this opportunity to say to all Timorese, that the relations between friendly or even allied countries, throughout the world over, were always normal, even with some so-called frictions, when touching on the issue of economic interests, in other words, when they start to count the dollars.
There are those who say that our reactions can provoke, if they have not already, an attitude of reserve on the part of the Australian people in relation to Timor-Leste. I do not believe in this possibility because it is not the Australian people who are in question; it is not the Australian people who are responsible for this issue.
There are also those who foresee that a sentiment of animosity will be born on the part of the Timorese in relation to the Australian people. I must also affirm that the poverty in which we live, gives us sufficient dignity to recognize friends.
The justness of our revindication should always guide our steps, and only thus will it be clear that we are not asking for more than what is ours; and only thus will it be clear that international law or international conventions cannot be applied only to small and weak states, but also to big, rich and powerful countries. And we have had a long experience of perseverance when we revindicated our right to self-determination and independence, according to international law.
We will continue to forge better relations with Australia but we will not have to sacrifice our interests for this.
With our relations with Indonesia, dear compatriots, I must recall that even when Dili was smoldering and even with all the people constrained by the consequences of the liberation of the Homeland, we went to Jakarta in November 1999 to affirm to the Indonesian Government and People that for us Timorese, all that occurred belongs to the past and that we were there to guarantee that a future of peace and cooperation, of friendship and mutual respect will be the basis of our relations.
In these last four years, relations with Indonesia have followed this policy of good neighbourhood. There is a need to inform that there still exists pending issues, above all in relation to the demarcation of the land border, which demands greater effort, essentially from Indonesia, so that we quickly achieve definite results, that will benefit this climate of good neighbourhood that we are building.
The ongoing issue is that of Justice. I have always affirmed that the priority for the country is the capacity of the State, as a whole, to meet the needs of the people, so that independence has value, so that we honour the sacrifices we all consciously undertook during the struggle for the liberation of the Homeland. And I know that this opinion was and continues to be greatly contested.
In the public hearing, promoted by CAVR last December, the agents of the process of 1974 to 1976, who assumed responsibility and apologized to the people for mistakes committed, I know that some or many people were not satisfied because justice was not demanded for some of the actors of crime, amongst us, the Timorese.
In the context of the public hearings, there was also one held to hear the testimonies on the attitudes of many governments which, in one form or another, closed their eyes to the invasion which took place on 7th December 1975 and or supported the integration with Indonesia.
But it was these countries which also in 1999 gave all their support to the Security Council Resolution for the establishment of UNAMET, which came to Timor to help us implement the 5th May Accord. And it was even these countries, which in September intervened also to put an end to the violence and destruction. And it was these countries, since December 1999, in Tokyo, which came together to contribute to the diminishment of the suffering of our people and continue until now, to give us assistance in diverse areas and in diverse ways. The best justice afforded to Timor-Leste and its people, was that of the recognition of their right to self-determination and independence and that of coming to Timor to offer their support, which we greatly need to develop the country.
I know it is hard to forget the past. But let us not dwell permanently in the memory of suffering. We are still in the first two years of independence and we feel that we are still fragile at all levels. We have enormous challenges in the present but we are also possessed of great hopes in the qualitative change of our lives.
We should know how to arm ourselves with a humble spirit of our realistic conditions and we should know how to appreciate the positive that others have done in their home.
Whatever the considerations may be that each one can draw from its results, it cannot be denied that the fact that Indonesia accepted to create the Ad Hoc Tribunal and the fact of trying military personnel, who were or are generals, demonstrated courage and determination to change from the previous system. As yet, no country in Asia, not even in the highly praised reconciliation process of South Africa, was there such an attitude of political courage seen.
The democratic process in Indonesia should be applauded as a success. In the short period of 5 years, the revision of the Constitution should be emphasized as a more concrete and fundamental result to guarantee the reform process.
The recent elections were also a success, proving that the Indonesian people put aside emotions that normally slide into intolerance, and were guided by rationality, which allowed for the elections to become a big lesson in democracy.
I am certain that there are many perspectives open for cooperation with Indonesia, with whom we already have greater commercial transactions, which help us to alleviate the daily needs. It is in the interest of the State of Timor-Leste to continue to forge better relations with Indonesia, our closest neighbour.
In the next year, we all try to reinforce the environment of stability and security. We will also continue to give attention to the democratic process and functioning of justice in the country.
Our fighting spirit that guided us in the past should continue to illuminate our path ahead and strengthen our courage to face difficulties.
Thank you for your attention.
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