Subject: Laks.Net: The Unworthy Timorese General

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

Laksamana.Net June 4, 2002

The Unworthy Timorese General

The chief of the military command overseeing security in eastern Indonesia says he's not up for promotion because soldiers from West Timor should not aspire to any rank higher than corporal.

Major General Willem da Costa, who is from West Timor, on Monday (3/6/02) played down rumors that he would be promoted to chief of the Army's Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad).

Da Costa is currently head of the Udayana Regional Military Command, which oversees East Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tenggara and Bali.

Speaking to reporters in Kupang, the capital of West Timor (which is part of East Nusa Tenggara province), he said his two-star rank would be the peak of his military career.

"For we Timorese, the rank of corporal is all right. I don't have the cut to become chief of Kostrad. I am proud of my present two stars," he was quoted as saying by state news agency Antara.

Some circles have suggested that da Costa could replace three-star Kostrad chief Lieutenant General Ryamizard Ryacudu, who is to appointed Army chief on Thursday.

Da Costa said he was taught at the Military Academy that people from Timor should not aspire to top-level positions in the armed forces.

"According to the social anthropology textbook I read then, we Timorese would be satisfied with the rank of corporal. I never dreamed of becoming a two-star general," he said.

He also rejected speculation that he was a prime candidate to become East Nusa Tenggara governor for the 2003-08 term.

"I have no ambition to become a civilian office holder. When I retire, I shall go back to my home village of Airnona near Kupang and open a traditional cattle breeding ranch," he said.

Australia, East Timor Not Threats

Commenting on security issues, da Costa said neither Australia nor East Timor should be seen as threats to Indonesia.

He said it was therefore unnecessary to move the headquarters of the Udayana command from Denpasar in Bali to Kupang.

"Even if there is a threat, it might not be wise to put the main command on the front line. We would only develop a tactical command in Atambua near the border between East Nusa Tenggara and East Timor," he said.

Some military figures have suggested relocating the Udayana headquarters from Denpasar to Kupang following the May 20 declaration of East Timor's independence, citing possible security disturbances or infiltrations from the south, specifically from Australia and East Timor.

Da Costa said any plan to establish a tactical command near the border of West Timor and East Timor should not be construed as a threat to the former Indonesian province.

"It is not meant to be a military base to scare to East Timor. On the contrary, it would prevent infiltration or security disturbances from Indonesia to East Timor," he said.


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