Subject: Bernama: Timor Leste Picking Up The Pieces
July 27, 2006 11:23 AM
Timor Leste Picking Up The Pieces
By Kristy Inus and Sharifah Nur Shahrizad
KUALA LUMPUR, July 27 (Bernama) -- While it is on the road to recovery, Timor Leste, which suffered sectoral clashes that ended up changing its political leadership, is still nursing the wounds from the conflict.
The clashes in April were triggered by the sacking of 600 soldiers who had complained of discrimination in the army, citing their originating from the western part of the country as the cause. The ensuing clashes resulted in Dr Jose Ramos-Horta replacing Mari Alkatiri as Prime Minister earlier this month.
Ramos-Horta, who is visiting Malaysia, said that those who had been displaced and had fled their homes, were now returning.
However, a number of them are still frightened and traumatised by the bloody clashes.
To cope with the situation, he said the government had initiated mediation dialogues and the distribution of brochures to regain the confidence of the people to return to their homes.
"We are also starting the process of strengthening security in the city and in the neighbourhoods, so that people feel more confident to return to their homes.
"These are our own efforts to heal the wounds of our people, although it will take a long time," he told Bernama in an interview.
Ramos-Horta who is here on a brief working visit, said that life in Dili was returning to normal with shops, schools and public services re-opened.
Some services were never closed during the crisis, he said, adding that hospitals, the airport, port, customs and immigration services had remained open throughout the period.
"Schools outside the capital also stayed open as the crisis was mainly in Dili.
"The current situation is very much stabilised and peaceful," he said, adding that there had been no incidents of violence the past several weeks.
He, however, noted that this would not have been possible without the swift intervention of friendly countries like Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Portugal, which sent their peacekeeping troops and humanitarian assistance.
"So, my primary reason to come here is to thank Malaysia and the other countries for their great support," Ramos-Horta said.
He said Malaysia had made significant contributions to United Nations efforts to stabilise Timor Leste, including in the latest unrest in May that led to the change in leadership.
"We are very proud with the response (during the crisis) where within days, Malaysia's armed forces landed in East Timor and had since contributed significantly to end the violence in the streets of Dili," he added.
Ramos-Horta expressed hope that Malaysia would continue to serve under the UN Security Council, which is planning to set up a new mission to Timor Leste soon.
On Timor Leste's application to join Asean, he said his country was determined to join the regional association as it would be in its best interest. Asean members had given their consensus to welcome the country into the grouping but with several conditions tied.
"We have already established an inter-ministerial task force in my country. We will expand it so that we begin serious preparations to join Asean a few years from now when we are ready."
He said prior to the application, Timor Leste had already taken steps to establish bilateral ties with all the 10 Asean member countries.
"We have embassies now in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur and soon we will have one in Bangkok and another in Manila. We will increase (the number) further."
At the same time, he said, the country would continue consultations on a wide range of issues regionally and internationally, to illustrate its firm commitment towards integration in the region.
July 27, 2006 14:31 PM
M'sia To Assist Timor Leste In Strategic Planning
By Nor Baizura Basri
KUALA LUMPUR, July 27 (Bernama) -- Malaysia will assist the new government of Timor Leste establish its Strategic Planning Group, which will help the country draft its medium and long-term plans.
Visiting Timor Leste Prime Minister Dr Jose Ramos-Horta said Thursday that Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had agreed to assist Timor Leste in formulating strategic plans for various aspects.
"Abdullah has responded quickly to my request for Malaysia to assist us in establishing what we call a 'strategic planning group' encompassing the economy, finance and others.
"Malaysia would advise the Timor Leste government on the medium and long-term development," he told a press conference here.
Ramos-Horta, who had earlier called on Abdullah, however did not elaborate when the Malaysian assistance would begin.
On its economic resources, he said the oil and gas sector was among the areas that could be developed as the country was known for its abundance of the two resources.
Timor Leste recently signed a new treaty with Australia involving the share of oil and gas resources from part of the Timor Sea, entitling Timor Leste to about US$2 to US$20 billion in revenue from the sector in future.
Touching on the country's request for more police force and peacekeeping troops, he said they were still awaiting response from the UN Security Council. It had requested for over 800 international police force and peacekeepers for the next two to five years.
Currently, there are about 2,000 police personnel and peacekeepers from Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Portugal being deployed there to help provide security and maintain law and order in Asia-Pacific's newest nation.
"Although, the situation has stabilised, we still need international forces to back up our police and equip them with the necessary skills," said Ramos-Horta.
Ramos-Horta who took over from Mari Alkatiri early this month following bloody clashes in the country, also commended Malaysia for deploying peacekeepers just within days upon request.
"I am very touched and grateful to Malaysia for being one of the fastest countries to deploy its troops, reflecting the high standard of professionalism of its defence forces," he said.