Subject: Rebuilding East Timor
Date: Sat, 06 Feb 1999 11:00:39 -0500
From: "Geoffrey C. Gunn" <>

"...concerted international support for East Timor's self-determination could only offer hope and inspiration to all Indonesians from Aceh to Irian seeking economic, social and political rights in the transition to democracy. In short, it is futile to talk about human rights in Indonesia without addressing the question of Indonesia's ongoing colonialisation and brutalisation of the East Timorerse people. Stated another way, the release of the East Timorerse people from Indonesian occupation would appear as central to the whole question of a democratic transition in Indonesia itself. Contrariwise, Indonesian fears that East Timorese independence will trigger separatist claims from within Indonesia have to be exposed as sophistry as East Timor was not Indonesia's in the first place."

So wrote Gunn with Lee in "A Critical View of Western Journalism and Scholarship on East Timor", (Journal of Contemporary Asia Press, PO Box 592, Manila, Philippines, 1994), pp.244-45.

Looking ahead to the end of the New Order dictatorship and the moment of reckoning, we continued:

"-an independent East Timor would still be a dependent economy for a long time, in part thanks to the negative legacy of Indonesian economic priorities, as much benign neglect on the part of Portugal, but an independent East Timor would of course look precisely to a development trajectory which would prioritise national East Timor needs.

- an independent East Timor would of course have the sole authority over the issue of licences for economic concessions. Dili would again become an international port and branch office for international capital investments in the new independent state. Indeed, as the capital of an independent East Timor, Dili will host, not only the foreign accredited embassies and UN agencies but also the headquarters of the international relief agencies otherwise forbidden to open their doors in East Timor. Needless to say, the multiplier effects of such a foreign presence will more than compensate for the Indonesian military subsidy.

- an independent East Timor would also have control over its economic zone of exploitation including hydrocarbon resources in the Timor Gap and otherwise attack and wrest back control over Army monopolies and economic fiefdoms, especially coffee.

- an independent East Timor would also look to the development of infrastructure that is oriented towards developing and servicing the new country's autonomous development. We are not arguing for economic autarky--while that has its atteactions in ecological terms--we are stating that to break Jakarta's political and economic stranglehold over East Timor, communication lines would have to be massively reoriented and extended to Hong Kong, [Macau, taking advantage of its new international airport and airline] Japan, Darwin, Singapore and to other regional centres. Special provision could be made for West Timor in this schema but not on Jakarta's terms.

- an independent East Timor would also become a recipient of economic aid but not under Indonesian conditions. Former contributors to the IGGI could make good their conscience by remitting, say, one twenty-seventh of the funds formally conmmitted to Indonesia, direct to an independent East Timor. The World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the IMF and others, including UN agencies, could easily follow suit. It goes without saying that Japan, Australia and the United States have a very special obligation to provide bilateral development assistance to an independent East Timor...

- an independent East Timor could commence the task of rebuilding its domestic economy with simple import substitution industries and a revived handicraft economy, meaning that East Timor would no longer become a dumping ground for shoddy goods from Indonesia.

- an independent East Timor would also have control over immigration and labour, spelling an end to unregulated immigration. It would also privilege East Timorese in positions of authority and responsibility in both the political and economic arenas. The concerned international agencies could assist in the large scale project of repatriation of both the army of occupation and the colonists who have survived, if not flourished, under their protection. No less, talented and trained Timorese from the diaspora, now numbering in the tens of thousands, would return to take their rightful places in Timorese society. Where the Indonesians have signally failed to attract overseas Timorese (including Chinese) to return to East Timor and invest their skills and capital, patriotic overseas Timorese would rally to an independent East Timor.

Geoffrey C. Gunn

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