Subject: Xanana in Brunei

Brunei: Brunei's help for E Timor Suriani Garip

05/30/2000 Borneo Bulletin

Visiting East Timorese leader Xanana Gusmao yesterday expressed his gratitude to Brunei Darussalam for its speedy role in helping his embattled land regain stability, especially for Brunei's participation in the Interfet mission.

Addressing newsmen on the second day of his goodwill visit to Brunei Mr Gusmao revealed that Brunei will soon be sending a special team of officials from the public and private sectors as well as academics to study ways and means of helping East Timor in its reconstruction.

Disclosing objectives of his visit to Brunei Darussalam, he said firstly, it is to thank the Brunei government for its immediate help by joining the Interfet mission, and secondly, as the territory prepares itself towards independence, it is important for East Timorese authorities to come to Brunei to start diplomatic, political and cooperation links.

He also told the media that he was impressed with Brunei Darussalam, a small country that gained independence in 1984.

During that period, East Timor was suffering a big military operation under Benni Moerdani.

"We were very happy knowing a small country in this region is getting its right to independence and this gave us utmost strength and determination and continue to fight that we won against Indonesia in August 1999, " he said.

Mr Gusmao also extended his gratitude to His Majesty the Sultan and the Brunei government for the hospitality and for the profound spirit of humanism and total disposition to help East Timor in their reconstruction process.

He said the proposed study team from Brunei will understand and evaluate problems of the needs and difficulties that prevail in E Timor .

"We could not always rely on aid from other countries to develop East Timor . However, the situation now is that the economy of the country is not moving at all. Our country faced 85% destruction during the war and most of the businesses collapsed. The private sector lost everything including 8 banks which were destroyed," he explained in his wide-ranging press briefing held at the Sheraton Utama hotel.

His economic advisor, Mr Prakash Ratilal said in developing the business sector of East Timor , they also need to change the mindset of the business community in terms of market. For over 25 years, East Timor businessmen had been focusing their market on Indonesia. Now they need to be more far-sighted by capturing the market internationally.

"Basically we need to focus on the private sector and assist them for the economy to take-off. In terms of human resources we also have plans to develop the University of Dili," said Mr Ratilal.

Referring to the proposed tripartite conference between East Timor , Indonesia and Australia, Mr Gusmao said that the meeting has now been postponed.

He also revealed in his meeting with the Australian Prime Minister John Howard two weeks ago, Canberra believes that that they need to conduct a bilateral meeting with the Indonesian government in East Timor .

Mr Gusmao said he was also grateful to the donor countries for the grant of $320million which will be given within a period of three years.

"This fund will be used fully to rebuild the country and we will present the budget to each donor country"

Referring to relations with Indonesia, Mr Gusmao commented that reconciliation process is underway and stressed that reconciliation means justice and they will establish rapport with the Indonesian provinces that are within East Timor proximity.

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