Subject: XG: 28 November Message to the Nation



Dear Compatriots People of Timor Lorosae

Today, 28th November, is another day we celebrate as it is part of our historical process.

29 years ago, in 1975, on the 28th November, Fretilin unilaterally proclaimed RDTL. As it was unilateral, that is from one party only and declared immediately following the civil war between UDT and FRETILIN as well as in the midst of the decolonization process, neither the international community nor the United Nations recognized this proclamation as it did not abide by universal principles and therefore, this decision was considered undemocratic.

It was for this reason that the UN Security Council and the General Assembly passed a Resolution in December 1975, recognizing the Right to self-determination and independence for Timor-Leste. Furthermore, it gave the responsibility to Portugal to continue to defend this right as the administrative power of Timor-Leste, given the fact that with the invasion of 7th December, there was already an occupying power in the territory.

All this contributed to the long process, which abided by universal principles and international law, and which eventually gave way to the 5th May 1999 Accord an accord which opened the path to the Referendum or Popular Consultation held in August 1999.

We all know that the 5th May Accord prescribes that if the people of Timor Lorosae desired independence, the United Nations would, together with the Timorese, help to build the foundations of the new State. The Accord also stated that if the People chose Autonomy, the United Nations would come to oversee that the autonomy process was realised successfully. From this we can clearly see that UNTAET carried out its mandate until 20th May 2002, followed by UNMISET until 20th May 2004, and now with its new mandate which will end this month.

Just recently in New York, the UN Security Council adopted a Resolution extending UNMISET’s mandate until 20th May 2005, as it believes that given the already reduced number of its personnel, it would be better to prolong the mission for another six months until 19th May 2005, rather than reduce the number gradually.

I mention all this as I want to clear up any confusion that may exist in some people’s minds that the UN came to rule us; that Timor-Leste will be federated with the UN; that the UN is here to take away our sovereignty, because even though we are independent already, we still rely on donor countries.

Those who speak this way have not been following world developments. In many countries, which have been independent for a long time, when there is a major crisis in their country, the UN as the Organization that represents all the world’s nations, assumes the position to help resolve the crisis or to help put in place systems in accordance with universal principles and international law.

Last week, the Security Council met in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya in Africa. They did not meet in New York as they always do, as they needed to search for ways to resolve the major conflict in Sudan, which has already dragged on for 21 years, at the cost of more than 2 million lives.

As with Liberia and other places, such as the Ivory Coast, where after achieving independence and serving as a good example to other countries in Africa, the ongoing recent conflicts have worsened.

As the Organization of many countries of the world, small or big, poor or rich and Timor-Leste being its 191st member, the UN has the mission or enormous obligation, to try to secure stability and peace in the world; to try to correct systems which are dictatorial or repress people; to help nations and people in need, when there is war or suffering.

Hence, the idea that the UN in Timor Lorosae takes away our sovereignty is incorrect.

Dear compatriots Beloved people of Timor Lorosae

Some of our intellectuals say that we do not need to go begging to other countries. I agree with them and I admire their patriotism and nationalism, which are clear and as high as Ramelau and as wide and deep as the bottom of the sea.

However, I do not follow this pretty principle, as it may make us go backwards and force us to ground the whole corn and to dig wild potatoes and stew bitter beans and fruit.

These days, in global development terms, independence does not mean that a country no longer needs other countries and that a country which shouts independence can close its door to other countries.

In the past, some countries which thought this way, made their people live in suffering, hunger and disease as a result of their nationalistic pride or patriotism, in other words, ‘stupid’ pride. Much later, they realised that this thinking and attitude was wrong and they opened their country again to receive new ideas, good or bad experiences, in order to find the right path for the country and the people.

I mention all this because if we speak about independence, we are celebrating a proclamation of independence of 29 years ago. This means, that 29 years later, our thinking should improve in order to look at the world properly, so that Timor-Leste can find its role both in the region and in the world.

If we do not move forward in our thinking, our actions will continue to be pathetic.

Beloved people of Timor Lorosae

Today, we celebrate 28 November, looking back to 1975.

Some have raised the issue of the National Anthem, stating that the Anthem should be sung according to the complete version of 1975. I heard that the Parliament will debate this issue.

If we look over the history of human development, we see that in every people’s history, there are always changes in the political and economic systems, entailing a change in the people’s philosophy on life and on living. We see how a people or all peoples improved their lives, especially their thinking, their knowledge on the social, political and economic processes.

All this shows, that no society is stagnant and lives the way it did in the past. In order to improve living conditions, the people must firstly change their thinking, their minds so as to seek knowledge on what they do not know.

Societies and peoples transform themselves with new ideas, which can make them believe that they can do things to improve their lives. That is how many ideologies emerge in the world.

The term ‘Revolution’ did not emerge only in Timor in 74 or 75. The term ‘Revolution’ emerged a very long time ago in France, Europe, when our great-grandparents were not even born.

Revolution is a monumental change within society, in order to correct the existing wrongs. These days, the term revolution also applies to advancement in science and technology and a good example of this is what we all know how to use. The ‘mobile’, as a major revolution in the field of communications, has made us do away with what we referred to in our times ‘dialling a telephone’, and when there were strong winds, one could not hear the person on the other end of the line, only the whistling of the wind in our ear.

Today, even when we are walking, we put the mobile to our ears; even when we are in meetings with leaders, we stand up, turn our backs, and whisper quickly that we will call back later and even students who are in class, SMS each other. This is what we call a technological revolution.

In 1917, the world witnessed the great political Revolution in Russia, which influenced many Eastern European countries, later known as the socialist block, whose purpose, according to them, was to compete with the block known as the capitalist block. These blocks divided the world in two with each block attempting to increase its influence in other countries and in other regions.

Timor Lorosae was also influenced and when FRETILIN proclaimed RDTL on 28th November, 1975, we aspired to identifying ourselves with the socialist block, by shouting revolution and revolutionary greetings, by lifting a clenched fist against capitalism and imperialism, as the enemies of the people.

However, my fellow citizens, the world did not stop nor were societies stagnant. The world’s economic and political processes continued on in search of change and transformation. That is why in February 1986, Mikael Gorbachev, as President of the Soviet Union, launched Glastnost (opening), Perestroika (restructure) and Uskorenie (acceleration of economic development) as part of the Ideological Revolution to change the economic and political system in the Soviet Union, which had influenced the whole of Eastern Europe. Hence, the Soviet Union dismantled, allowing for new Republics to emerge and for other countries, formerly of the Socialist Block to recently join the European Union.

The People’s Republic of China also had a Revolution of its own, with the Communist Party putting forth the question to its citizens: What is socialism?

China adopted the world economic system, which has enabled it to advance in its economic development and potentially become an economic power in the very near future.

Only in Timor Lorosae, wrapped up in old tais (traditional Timorese cloth), do we demand to sing ‘down with imperialism’, as we do not understand the development in the world nor do we understand the democratic process taking place in our country.

Only in Timor Lorosae, do we think that we have lost our sovereignty and independence. We need to change or transform our thinking and improve our actions, and leave the past behind as it impedes the development of our country.

I ask for every citizen to obtain clearer ideas that will contribute to making our actions intelligent. Democracy is not only a right to speak freely; it demands the obligation to speak on what is right.

I also ask for courage, especially from the Parliamentarians when they make decisions that are not in the interest of the people, as the people not only deserve our respect but also the truth.

The Constituent Assembly displayed the right political vision, in debating and drafting the new Constitution for Timor-Leste. Regarding the National Anthem, I feel that we do not need to raise again the various doubts. The Constitution is more important than the Anthem, and if we have a new Constitution, then the Anthem has to abide by the principles and values of the Constitution.

With globalization, transparency in words and deeds is demanded, and because of this, all sovereign State Bodies must abide by the Constitution, which is democratic.

Dear compatriots Beloved people of Timor Lorosae

Having just spoken of the Parliament, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you all a concern I have as President of the Republic.

I followed the two elections in Parliament for the Provedor for Justice and Human Rights. The results of these elections have left the People feeling insecure and the society very concerned.

A majority of these Parliamentarians originated from the Constituent Assembly, that is, they were the Representatives elected by the people in August 2001, to draft the Constitution. Therefore, these Parliamentarians are aware of what the Provedor is and its role!

I believe that when we understand these two concepts, we can all agree that the Provedor has an important role to fulfil in our democratic process, as another large pillar to strengthen and instil confidence in the people that we are under the Rule of Law; that no-one is above the law and that the law governs in Timor-Leste.

We all heard that there were three candidates and two succeeded into the second round of elections. Both lost and no-one benefits!

We are a small society and we all know each other. Whenever we speak of another, we all know that person; where they live, whether they work only for the State or serve their own interests; whether they work for the government or for an NGO; whether they have principles or are people who only say ‘yes sir’ and ‘yes maam’; and whether in these two and a half years of independence, their attitude is in line with the spirit of justice or whether their behaviour and actions show that they are only taking advantage of the current situation.

We all know the three candidates on the list. When we ask the people, at least they more or less know the candidates and say that they can trust them. The Provedor has to be someone the people trust! This is contained in the law on the Provedor. When we speak of ‘competence’, this is a term which indicates that the ‘people can trust’.

However, all three lost. As we are a small society, we know each other very well, and therefore the concern of the people is: Who can be the Provedor?

The majority bench can decide this, as the majority votes are in their hands. The three candidates lost because the majority bench decided that they did not trust all three and in the second election, they demonstrated their lack of trust in the remaining two candidates.

Society is afraid that the majority bench has a hidden candidate whom the people may not know or trust. The majority bench has to cease this tendency of choosing their colleagues or cronies, as the Provedor is a position prescribed in the Constitution.

It is not the same as choosing someone for a contract with Procurement, a position that is easily acquired by passing over a blank envelope (bribe). The Provedor is not like this, as they have to oversee justice; identify the roots of corruption and dismantle them as well as oversee that the actions of the State do not violate human rights.

Demand from all the Parliamentarians to demonstrate the notion of State, since it is their responsibility to make the decision to choose a Provedor. A decision that is very important according to the Constitution and which will serve the process and the people.

Dear compatriots Beloved people of Timor Lorosae

As President of the Republic, I feel it is immensely difficult to carry on effectively with the work undertaken already by the Commission for Former Combatants and the Commission for Falintil Veterans.

The great difficulty lies in mobilizing members to finish the current work as well as to begin again with the Commission on the Clandestine Resistance.

Recently, I travelled to Oecusse, Maliana, Suai and Viqueque to speak about the local elections for Village Heads and Village Councils. The people asked whether the State would pay them a salary and I replied no because the State has no money.

The people accepted this because they understand the difficulties of the State. The Village Heads, Lia-nain (Keepers of the Word) and those who wish to present themselves as candidates for the people to elect, sat silently, thinking that this independence demands greater sacrifices from those without means. I saw them bow down and when they lifted their heads, they did not look at me but stared into the distance.

I know what they were thinking, in their hearts and feelings. That, independence is indeed difficult, and the courage to accept, can give real meaning to independence.

It demands a firm conscience to accept the obligation as a Timorese; a Timorese who suffered in the past and who is still suffering.

This is a great example for everyone to follow; especially for those who were freedom fighters in the bush or in the towns. It is a great example for the Veterans.

We all demand the State recognize the Veterans and fail to take into account whether the State has the ability to this now and for how long. Maybe the State lacks, as it does now, the ability to pay a salary for the Village Heads. The Heads who are working now and have been since the difficult times in 1999 ask: what about us? Maybe we should just pack up and return home to tend to our fields…as our contribution seems to be worthless.

In the four districts, I stated: Just wait a little while until our oil generates revenue for us. I believe the State will not forget you and will watch over your welfare.

Therefore, I take advantage of this day 28th November to inform you all that I have stopped with the work of the Commissions, as it is difficult to breathe when the means are not there.

It would be better for us to wait for the revenue from the Timor Sea. I state once again: It is better for us to wait, when we have the means to carry out the work ourselves and thereby give value to ourselves. I ask for the understanding of all the Veterans.

As President, I am not sad nor am I ashamed, when I say that we can’t or are yet unable to. As President, I have to say that I cannot and that my ability is limited to oversee the issue concerning recognition of the Veterans. This is an issue that, if we wait patiently and believe strongly in, we can resolve. It is the same as when I asked of you in the past, to fight with faith; faith in ourselves to resolve our problems; faith in ourselves that with the little we have, we can do something. It is because you believed in these words, that we are independent today.

I will ask the Parliament and Government, if possible, to allocate some of the funds from the oil, which is currently held in Trust, to this issue. However, if we all agree that these funds should be kept in trust for future generations, then there is only one right path: Wait two or three years, as we will then be able to have the means to undertake the work of the Commissions as well as produce our own medals to give to all the Veterans. And there will not be one who we will forget, whether they died in 1975 or in 1999.

During the war and in times of difficulties, we knew how to wait, how to have faith in each other. Today, I ask everyone, in the face of various difficulties, to have hope and faith that one day we will achieve what we want.

A big hug to you all.

Dili, 28th November, 2004

President of the Republic


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