Alan Boyd, Sydney – Worried about the strategic vulnerability of its eastern flanks, Indonesia is discreetly lobbying for East Timor to be granted early observer status in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
June 1, 2002
Harald Bruning – Less than a fortnight after becoming the world's newest nation, East Timor is struggling to consolidate its hard-won democracy and solve myriad social problems left behind by Portuguese colonial neglect, brutal Indonesian occupation and rather transitory nation-building efforts by the United Nations.
East Timor has come a long way since the establishment of the United Nations Transitional Administration in the country, in 1999. The world's newest State has emerged, and in May of this year, a new labour code was signed into force.
Ian Timberlake, Motaain – Joao Pereira's East Timor home is just a few miles from here, but until recently it was a distance he had been reluctant to travel.
Marianne Kearney, Jakarta – The battle is on for the most lucrative governor's position in Indonesia.
The Jakarta Governor's seat is hotly sought after, offering enormous power and prestige in the country's most populous and richest of cities.
Robert Go, Jakarta – Legislators, bureaucrats and even retired army generals are opening legal consultancies to make a quick buck.
Formal qualifications are not what count; connections with the bureaucracy and plain bribery are being used to win cases.
Craig Skehan – At least four boatloads of Muslim migrants – including many members of the militant Laskar Jihad – had arrived during the past week in the restive Indonesian province of West Papua, independence activists said yesterday.
May 31, 2002
David Shanks, Dili – "The reconciliations are amazing. They sit in little huddles and cry and hug each other." A UN refugees' official was describing the work of Dili's La Quarantina transit centre for refugees returning to independent East Timor.
Joanna Jolly, Dili – The government on Friday urged Indonesia to abandon any hope of retrieving assets from its former territory of East Timor, saying Jakarta's brutality and economic exploitation during its occupation nullified any claims to what it left behind.
Joseph Nevins – East Timor became the world's first new country of the millennium on May 20 and, appropriately, the Bush administration poured salt on East Timor's deep wounds. Bush's salt took the form of Bill Clinton and Richard Holbrooke, Clinton's last United Nations ambassador. Bush tapped the pair to head the US delegation to East Timor's recent independence celebration.
Associated Press in Jakarta – A notorious militia leader told a human rights court yesterday that his group's activities in East Timor were funded by an Indonesian government official – but denied knowing about killings allegedly committed by his men.
Kupang – Col. Moeswarno Moesanip, chief of the Wirasakti Military District supervising security in East Nusa Tenggara, turned down East Timor's request for the province to allow overland public transportation from Dili to proceed its enclave Oecusi through Atambua for security reasons.
Eric Ellis – For most of the chic clientele at Dili's City Cafe, the awesome struggle facing the Democratic Republic of Timor Lorosa'e seems the least of their concerns.
Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, Jakarta – Two of the survivors in the April 1999 incident at Liquica Church in East Timor testified here on Thursday that what happened on the day was an attack on scared people by armed pro-integration militiamen.
May 30, 2002
Damar Harsanto, Jakarta – How can students study and their teachers concentrate on their work under a classroom ceiling that is threatening to fall on them at anytime? Yul Indira, the principal of state elementary school SD Pisangan Baru 13 in East Jakarta, may be able to answer the question.
Joe Leahy and Tom McCawley – When the veteran United Nations official Sergio Vieira de Mello went to Tokyo in late 1999 to lobby donors for funds to rebuild East Timor, he had no inkling of the task that lay before him.
Jill Jolliffe, Dili – A Portuguese company is poised to win a $US16 million contract to set up East Timor's new telecommunications network, further consolidating Portugal's commercial influence in the new nation.
Jakarta – Two East Timorese bearing scars from a 1999 massacre Thursday told Indonesia's human rights court of a day of terror when militiamen brandishing guns and machetes attacked a church and killed 22 people.
Jakarta – The government has backtracked on its earlier decision to review a law on regional autonomy and agreed to wait until an evaluation of the legislation is completed before making changes.
Lela E. Madjiah, Ambon – Indonesian military personnel serving in Maluku face a tough choice: Remain loyal to the republic or leave the military.
The option was offered by Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) Chief Lt. Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu during a one-day visit to Ambon on May 20.
Derwin Pereira, Jakarta – The Indonesian armed forces (TNI) has been accused of imposing "concealed martial law" on the trouble-torn Maluku islands after initial attempts to impose it through the proper channels met with widespread opposition.
Marianne Kearney, Jakarta – The international environmental group Greenpeace, which is renowned for its confrontational stance towards governments, has been invited by Indonesia to help fight illegal logging, in a sign that Jakarta is getting desperate to prevent the widespread destruction of its environment.
May 29, 2002
Newly independent East Timor urged former ruler Indonesia to drop its compensation demand for assets left behind after Jakarta ended its two-decade occupation of the country.
But Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta played down Jakarta's decision to postpone indefinitely a visit by Dili's new leaders to Indonesia which had been scheduled for Wednesday.
Pandaya, Dili – There is a tragicomedy taking place in the East Timor's elementary schools. It revolves around the teachers' low proficiency of the Portuguese language, which the government has decided to use as the official language of instruction for grades one to three.
[The following is a slightly abridged version of a speech given by Sarah Stephen, a member of the Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific brigade to East Timor, at a protest organised by a number of East Timorese groups in Dili on May 19.]
[In the 2.5 years of UN administration in East Timor, the UN has been criticised for failing to pursue those responsible for the atrocities of 1999. With new president Xanana Gusmao's commitment to reconciliation with Indonesia and its former militia, there are fears that justice will be equally elusive in an independent East Timor. Dateline's Mark Davis reports.]
As East Timor struggles with its new relationship with Canberra, a book is being published on Australia's role in that extraordinary journey to independence from 1998. Titled "Deliverance – The Inside Story of East Timor's Fight for Freedom", it's the work of two Australian journalists, Don Greenless in Jakarta and Robert Garran in Canberra.
Review by Jon Land – This is a two-part series looking at how two different individuals begin new lives in East Timor following the August 31, 1999 referendum on independence.
Sarah Stephen, Dili – May 19 marked the turning point of a historic period of transition for the East Timorese people. It was the last day of operation for the UN Transitional Administration of East Timor (UNTAET), bringing to a close more than 400 years of foreign rule.
Mark Drajem, Washington – The Bush administration is calling on Indonesia to rein in the military's financial empire, saying profit-making ventures have allowed the armed forces to become unaccountable to the central government.
Devi Asmarani, Jakarta – Indonesia's capital is still reeling from the effects of severe flooding three months ago with some areas submerged in water, major roads damaged by huge potholes and some residents without proper housing.
An Indonesian minister has warned regions not to go ahead with a threat to blockade oil and gasfields in their areas following dissatisfaction about the revenue split with the central government.
Banda Aceh – Tension in war-ridden Aceh, especially East Aceh regency, was rising following the release by the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) of female students allegedly abducted early this month.
Agus Maryono, Purwokerto – Drug abuse, student brawls and pornography have reached an alarming level among junior and senior high school students in Central Java's rural areas.
The three problems, which have long affected students and school-age children in urban areas, are befalling teenagers in rural and remote areas of Purbalingga, Cilacap and Banyumas regencies.
May 28, 2002
Geoffrey Barker – There are three forms of land title in East Timor, reflecting the country's long history of foreign occupation.
Some land, notably rural land, is held under customary communal title. During 450 years of Portuguese rule, 2,709 parcels of land were given to the colonial elites. During Indonesia's 24-year rule, some 44,000 land parcels were handed out.
Ahmad Junaidi, Jakarta – The City Council approved on Monday a regulation in the gubernatorial election that limits the public's participation in monitoring the election process, including the possibility of money politics.
Geoffrey Barker – Life is cheap and law is scarce in East Timor. How effective justice will be remains to be seen as the new nation's police and legal systems are being put in place.
[Australia's decision not to negotiate maritime boundaries with East Timor has surprised the new republic's Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.
Bogor – Hundreds of workers of bicycle tire maker PT Banteng Pratama, staged a rally on Monday at publicly listed tire maker PT Goodyear Indonesia's office to call for a continuation of the contract between the two companies.
The workers asked Goodyear's management not to break the contract with Banteng as it could result in the loss of jobs for over 1,500 workers.
May 27, 2002
[East Timor's adored first president says he welcomes the tough tasks ahead. Three years ago, Jose (Xanana) Gusmo was a political prisoner languishing in a Jakarta prison. Today he's president of the world's newest nation.
May 26, 2002
At least seven people, including a woman and three separatist guerrillas were killed in the past four days in Indonesia's Aceh province.
The chief of a village in West Aceh was shot dead by a gunman Saturday, Aceh military spokesman Major Zaenal Muttaqin told AFP.
A former chief of Indonesia's intelligence agency has dismissed US allegations of Islamic terrorist bases in Indonesia and said it was unsupported by evidence.
"The entire statement is based on an analysis, not based on evidence," retired general Maulani told journalists in Solo, Central Java, on Saturday according to the Detikcom online news service.
May 25, 2002
Don Greenlees, Jakarta – Foreign Minister Alexander Downer yesterday signalled Australia would dismiss any proposals from newly independent East Timor to radically change seabed boundaries because it would risk unravelling thousands of kilometres of boundaries that have already been settled with Indonesia.
May 24, 2002
Jakarta – Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Friday that "building trust and confidence" were the keys to restoring Indonesian-Australia military ties, according to a report.
Four Indonesian parliamentarians are hanging on to their positions despite their East Timorese electorate having broken away from the republic nearly three years ago.
Amid calls to give up their seats, the MPs insist they are representing the interests of the Timorese remaining in Indonesia.
Irwan Firdaus, Jakarta – Like most lawmakers in Indonesia's Parliament, Natercia Do Menino Jesus Osoria Soares insists she is the voice of her people. The only problem is that the people live in another country.
Jennifer Wells – On the news a few evenings back, CBC correspondent Patrick Brown contextualized the birth of the new nation of East Timor by emphasizing how small it is. With a population of just 800,000 souls, Brown made the point that the former Indonesian-occupied east end of an island is no bigger, people-wise, than Winnipeg.
HT Lee – When Howard claimed Australia is generous by giving East Timor a 90% share of the royalties – what he forgot to mention is that it is only for one of the three oil and gas fields off the Timor Sea – Bayu-Undan.
Michael Richardson, Uotolari – Paradoxically, the neat figure of the Reverend Damianus Wagur seated behind a school desk in his office epitomizes the complexity of East Timor's recent history. Wagur, a missionary teacher from Flores, a predominantly Christian island of Indonesia, directs the senior high school in this town about 250 kilometers southeast of Dili.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute says disaffected members of East Timor's guerilla group Falintil are forming into armed groups and pose a serious threat to security in the new nation.
At the Northern Territory University in Darwin, the Institute's Elsina Wainwright has released a study on security and defence issues relating to the new nation.