Subject: ST:East Timor is nothing but rocks: Habibie
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 21:40:19 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo:

Straits Times Feb 25 1999

*East Timor is nothing but rocks: Habibie

Jakarta's decision to integrate the former Portuguese colony was a charity move aimed at relieving the sufferings of the people there

JAKARTA -- President B. J. Habibie has dismissed East Timor as "nothing but rocks", as he expressed resentment over the financial burden placed on Indonesia since the territory was integrated in 1976.

Speaking to a visiting delegation from North Sulawesi, he described Jakarta's decision to integrate the former Portuguese colony as an act of "charity" which was aimed to relieve people's suffering, because the territory only had rocks to offer.

"What did they give us? Natural resources? No. Human resources? No. Technology? No. Abundant gold? No.

"Rocks? Yes!"

In the meeting held at Merdeka Palace on Tuesday, he argued that the world community had failed to give even the smallest amount of assistance to the territory, reported The Jakarta Post yesterday.

He said the province receives an annual budget six times bigger than that accorded its neighbour, East Nusa Tenggara.

"This is difficult to understand, from a justice point of view."

Dr Habibie reiterated his recommendation that East Timor be granted independence by Jan 1 next year, if the government's special autonomy proposal is rejected.

Meanwhile, panicky residents rushed from their homes with weapons in the East Timor capital Dili yesterday after shots were fired.

Residents said two people were killed but the police could not confirm this.

The incident was the latest of a series of clashes between the group supporting independence for the territory and another backing continued Indonesian rule.

After shots were fired in the eastern area of Becora, youths rushed out of their houses carrying knives in anticipation of an attack, said Antara news agency.

They blocked the road and stopped police approaching the area, it said.

Residents said the shots were fired from the headquarters of a pro-Indonesian group as a rally of pro-independence supporters passed by.

Separately, Dili Bishop Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo said at a meeting with a Catholic community in New South Wales, Australia, that the two rival groups should disarm themselves to avoid a possible civil war.

He made an appeal on Tuesday to the Australian government and the public to support campaigns to disarm these people.

Armed Forces chief General Wiranto has also urged East Timorese to wait for the results of the UN-sponsored tripartite meeting.

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