Subject: Calls to help rebuild East Timor

Australian Broadcasting Corporation - transcript PM - Thursday, July 20, 2000 6:42

Calls to help rebuild East Timor

COMPERE: The provisional East Timor government is calling on the world community to bring together international efforts to help it rebuild after the carnage of earlier this year.

Senior Timorese officials are in Brisbane today talking to Australian business, academic and government representatives emphasising a need for a better focus on the reconstruction effort.

The Timorese say an ad-hoc approach will jeopardise their people's cultural and environmental values, not to mention their economic future, as Kirsten Aiken reports.

KIRSTEN AIKEN: The people of East Timor, who've already had to deal with so much like drastic shortages in housing, water, food and medicines, now have their sights firmly set on the future.

Mari Alkatiri [phonetic] is a member of the provisional government.

MARI ALKATIRI: We are looking to develop our countries in a very rapid way because after 24 years suffering from this invasion and illegal occupation our people now have a very big expectation and they are looking to rapidly develop their own life and try to get a better life in a very short time.

KIRSTEN AIKEN: But unlike the international aid given to East Timor after the ballot for autonomy, Dr Alkatiri [phonetic] is warning any assistance to help the country rebuild must be co-ordinated.

MARI ALKATIRI: We would like to sit down, think and plan. We need a whole plan for development but the main objectives for immediate - the main immediate objective for this administration is to respond … to respond effectively to the basic needs of the people. The basic needs of the people are the basic needs for a job, basic needs for health care, basic needs for school for their children.

KIRSTEN AIKEN: Mari Alkatiri and other members of the provisional government are in Brisbane meeting business and government representatives about the need for a clear strategy to guide reconstruction. He's hoping the talks will lead to new Australian investment in East Timor, particularly in several key areas.

MARI ALKATIRI: Our priority now is in industry, small and medium industries that are linked to agriculture and fisheries. This is our priority. But we are looking also to try … starting to think and to listen, because tourists will be one of the biggest sources of our economy.

KIRSTEN AIKEN: While a booming tourist trade is probably some way off, Dr Alkatiri says there is a clear sign East Timor is moving forward, with some farmers now trying to sell their produce overseas.

MARI ALKATIRI: Now people are looking to sell their coffee, to sell their rice.

KIRSTEN AIKEN: Dr Alkatiri is hoping today's talks will help forge integral new partnerships which will set East Timor on a prosperous new path.

COMPERE: Kirsten Aiken reporting.

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