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Bill proposals should be translated into Tetum, say MPs

Lusa - June 27, 2002

Several members of East Timor's parliament called Thursday for proposed legislation to be translated into Tetum, as Portuguese is not understood by all of the 88-member assembly.

MPs from the majority Fretilin party, as well as PSD and PD opposition parties, made the appeal directly to Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, who was in the Dili assembly for the presentation of his government's program.

Fretilin MP Francisco Branco told Alkatiri that in future, proposed bills should be presented to the legislature "in languages that MPs can understand".

Another Fretilin MP, Jose Lobato, said that many MPs experienced "enormous difficulties" in evaluating new legislation in Portuguese.

"This marginalizes the younger generation and will create discontent among these people, who could in future advocate that Portuguese be withdrawn as an official language", warned Lobato.

Lobato said that more effort has to be made to support Tetum – Timor's most widely-spoken language – as an equal official language to Portuguese.

"I see great efforts to reintroduce Portuguese and not to develop Tetum", said Lobato. This was contrary to the demands of the Constitution, he added.