Subject: UNTAET wants to restore land records


04/26/2000 Bernama The Malaysian National News Agency

PUTRAJAYA, April 26 (Bernama) -- There are ample business opportunities in East Timor but the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (Untaet) wants to first ensure that records of property and land ownership are restored.

Sergio Vieira de Mello, special representative of the UN Secretary General and head of Untaet, said the records were badly damaged during riots last year after the former Portuguese territory voted for independence from Indonesia.

"Land acquisition is one of our nightmares. There are no records of who owns what and where," he told reporters after calling on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad today.

De Mello said Untaet had sought the assistance of the Indonesian and Portuguese governments to re-establish the records, and that an Independent Land Property Commission would be set up to address the problem.

"Without this (problem), it's difficult to invite foreign investments. Once this is settled and the current security is maintained, we will invite businessmen from Malaysia and from the region to invest in East Timor ," he said.

De Mello, who arrived here yesterday, said there were other opportunities available now in the construction of basic infrastructure such as road, water, port, schools and hospitals.

He said the World Bank was expected to invest a lot of money to rebuild the infrastructure, and in the agriculture sector.

"The Prime Minister responded favourably when we asked for Malaysian companies to join in the re-building process. He assured us the Malaysian Government will continue to give assistance to us," he said.

De Mello, who met Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar and Economic Planning Unit officials yesterday, said Syed Hamid accepted an invitation to visit East Timor and promised to bring along Malaysian entrepreneurs.

Untaet has also requested Malaysia's help to set up a Public Service Academy there as it was impressed with the competence and reputation of the Malaysian Civil Service, said de Mello.

He added that Malaysia had agreed to send another 50 policemen to serve with Untaet and the UN headquarters in New York would expedite their departure as they were urgently required there.

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