Subject: XG: Message to Nation on 5th Anniversary

Message to the Nation by H.E. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão President of the Republic

On the 5th Anniversary of the Referendum

Dili, 30th August, 2004

Beloved people of Timor-Leste Dear fellow citizens

Today is the 30th August, a very important date in the history of our liberation.

We say it is historical, because it was on this day, five years ago, that we Timorese, were afforded the opportunity for the first time, to exercise our democratic right, our fundamental right to choose, that is, the right to choose our own destiny: self-determination and independence.

We all remember 30th August 1999 very well. In the early dawn, all the people gathered at the voting places, all knowing that the future of the country, Timor, was in their hands and that the future of the Nation rested in their minds and hearts.

Today, five years ago, if we look back on the journey we made, if we look at the steps we took, we can see that we have achieved many things but we have also passed through many difficulties which we all know about. Today, on this historical day, we can measure our capacity, measure our strengths to meet other problems that we will face, because the road ahead is still long.

30th August is the day when we speak of measuring our capacity; it is a day for reflection. Reflection on the creation of the State, reflection on the economic development, reflection on security and stability and reflection on the democratic process. We have only been independent for two years. I must remind you again that our process is a very difficult one. Building a nation implies working hard, making sacrifices, having the ability to distinguish what can be done now and what will take time. We also need to reflect on the spirit of freedom, which we achieved on 30th August, 1999.

30th August! This is the date that the door to establish a new Timor-Leste opened. Because on this day we exercised for the first time, our democratic right, and therefore we must lay democratic values as pillars for building a democratic State.

To build a Democratic State is not the work of only a small group of people, even though they may be very clever. It must be a collective effort from the whole nation, every citizen, young and old, wearing suits or “lipa” (traditional cloths), barefoot or shoes, has to participate in this enormous task of building Timor-Leste, which belongs to every Timorese and not just to a few.

When we measure our capacity, we broaden our minds and our conscience on the challenges and difficulties in various aspects; in human resources, in financial resources and in changing mentalities.

To overcome these difficulties and challenges, we need to have a new sense of nationalism. We need to have a spirit of working and the spirit of responsibility; we need to have a criticial spirit and a spirit of sacrifice.

Democracy demands capacity and competence in carrying out work, it demands taking on responsibility for whatever we do as citizens, either as a collective or as an organization. We can say that democracy is a very demanding regime. Democracy is not about who has or does not have power, who governs or does not govern, however, democracy demands responsibility of participation and demands capacity to take initiatives in providing solutions to the problems of the nation, that at times, are very hard to do. Therefore, participation and the capacity to take initiatives can only be a reality, if we broaden our minds on how we work, why we work and for whom.

We have to institutionalize democracy. Building a state of Democratic rule, every Timorese must take part in the whole process, such as the process of Hamlet Heads, Village Heads and Village Council elections as well as the National Census and Electoral Registry. All these constitute as participation from each citizen to contribute to building and implementing democracy (especially those who did not register in the previous two elections).

I am confident and strongly believe that my beloved fellow citizens understand this message. I believe that all Timorese, young and old, must have a new sense of nationalism in order to build our nation, in order to receive the task of building a free Timor; a Timor-Leste that can bring happiness to everybody.

My beloved citizens,

An important factor that we must recognize is that within two years, the whole of society involved itself in creating a stable environment in our country. This did indeed occur, however there are still concerns in relation to groups who have not accepted to be part of the process; a process, which without doubt, still requires support and participation from all, as required by democratic principles.

In regards to security and stability, I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate all Timorese, as we are all strongly aware of the importance of stability and security as indispensible conditions to implement economic development.

I appeal to all Timorese to have the ability to put the national interests above the interests of individuals or groups. The recent Dialogue between the State Institutions and the Veterans demonstrated that we have the capacity to resolve problems through dialogue, an important mechanism for democracy to flourish.

This Dialogue also showed that within a democracy, the State has to listen to the citizens and to the people. I heard rumours from some people that the dialogue is a form of popular justice, and therefore they did not agree with it. Sometimes, people who spread these rumours may not necessarily know what popular justice and democracy are.

Although the people of this nation still live under difficult conditions, once again, we have shown to the world our political maturity in providing solutions to problems. We have shown in particular, that dialogue and reconciliation are part of our culture, which we call “Badame”. Because of this, I congratulate all the participants in their efforts to find solutions for the problems of the people and the nation. Beloved fellow citizens,

Internal security and stability will help to project our good image to other nations, and show that our people are intelligent. Intelligent people are not those who carry guns or those who produce sophisticated weaponry and show their ability to kill many people or those who impose their will on other nations. Intelligent people are those who find solutions through dialogue and reconciliation, those who promote peace to all. Timor-Leste will become the eyes of peace and serve as an example to other nations in exporting Peace.

However, I would like to draw everybody’s attention, in particular the youths who practice martial arts and to those who teach them. There is great concern at a national level on the behaviour of the youths who are learning martial arts. They must all have in mind that provoking instability in this nation is the same as not respecting the sacrifices which were made by their mothers and fathers as well as by all others who helped to build this nation.

I ask each Timorese to give their all to create an environment of calm and peace. Everyone has to give their contribution to strengthen the security and stability of this nation; to strengthen democracy and reject the use of violence and to reinforce tolerance and harmony within society. Everyone must also contribute to the efficiency and consolidation of the public administration.

My beloved fellow citizens,

As I mentioned above, to serve this country with responsibility, we need to transform, starting from each one of us, including changing mentalities. We have to break away from the violent environment of the past and we can only do this if we participate strongly in building this nation. We will not build anything by creating disturbances with personal or group problems and avoiding responsibility to build stability and security, which is everybody’s duty.

Democracy is a difficult road; it means respecting ourselves as well as others, and therefore it has become a collective interest to the dignity of all. We will not build our nation, our future and aspirations within an environment of anger and fighting each other.

My beloved compatriots,

It has already been five years since we achieved freedom.

But sometimes, some people are a little frustrated with their daily lives, and might say: This freedom has not helped us move forward but instead it has made us go backwards.

This is not the right thinking. This is a long process. The whole State has to be strengthened and all citizens need to make a greater effort.

We all need to encourage each other often to take this process to independence where all the people are able to live well.

The freedom we achieved on 30th August, 1999, planted democracy within us. Each citizen needs to understand democracy better, in order to keep an eye on us leaders to govern well.

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