Subject: UNMISET Daily Media Review 11 May 2005

UNMISET Daily Press Review

Compiled by the Public Information Office from national and international sources

Daily Media Review Wednesday, 11 May 2005


Australia warns of a terrorist attack in Timor-Leste

Australia has warned of a possible attack or bombing of government buildings in Timor-Leste today, but gave no information on who was behind the threat. The Australian Government issues a new travel warning late yesterday advising travellers to avoid government buildings in Timor-Leste’s capital, Dili.

“We have received new information of a possible attack or bombing against East Timor government buildings in Dili on May 11,” it said in a travel advisory issued in Canberra. A spokesman from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said authorities in Australia are working closely with East Timorese authorities to respond to the threat.

Meanwhile, the Australian Federal Police’s (AFP) Commissioner, Mick Keelty, said specific information has prompted Australia to issue a warning of a possible attack on government buildings in Timor-Leste. Mr Keelty said the AFP had passed on its intelligence to DFAT and he agreed with the warning. “Obviously we share intelligence when we receive information of this kind and…it’s very specific,” he told ABC Radio. “But when we share the intelligence, it’s up to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to decide to do with it what they want. And on this occasion, they’ve issued a very specific travel warning, which I agree with,” Commissioner Keelty added.

The police commissioner would not reveal the source of the information but said Australia had passed on the intelligence to East Timorese authorities.

In addition, police in Timor-Leste have boosted security in Dili following the warning received from Australia. Police were checking cars for possible bombs at the parliament building, the Prime Minister’s office and other state buildings. Police inspector Ismail Babo said that everything is under control and that nothing suspicious was found. (Reuters, AAP, ABC, The Sydney Morning Herald, Associated Press)

TL says it’s willing to wait 20 years for justice against Indonesian rights abuses

Timor-Leste will wait patiently, even if it takes 20 years, for Indonesian military and militia members to be tried for human rights abuses committed during the country’s bloody break from Indonesia in 1999, said its Foreign Minister. Indonesia is in transition towards democracy, and opening old wounds or pushing it too hard for reforms could destabilize the government and push the country into the hands of Islamic radicals, Jose Ramos-Horta told reporters during a visit to Malaysia yesterday.

Ramos-Horta said that the United States and other Western powers should also be patient with Indonesia and restore military ties with it to improve its military’s human rights performance through training. “We have to sympathise and understand the difficulties of those inside the country who are trying to change Indonesia. If you push too hard and too fast, there can be nationalist and Islamic backlash that will destabilize the democratic government,” he added.

The Foreign Minister believes the Truth and Friendship Commission established by Timor-Leste and Indonesia will serve justice much better than a normal prosecutorial system, even if it takes longer. “As much as we want those who committed violence to face justice, we have to understand the complex and delicate transition to Indonesia. We have been waiting several hundred years to be free. Can’t we be patient and wait 10 to 20 years for democracy and stability to consolidate in Indonesia? Well, we can be very patient,” said Ramos-Horta. (Associated Press)

Indonesian army to form special battalion to guard border with TL

The Indonesian army is to form a special battalion to guard the country’s 240-kilometre land border with Timor-Leste in East Nusa Tenggara, a spokesman said. “The army’s Infantry Battalion 744 in East Nusa Tenggara will be upgraded to become a special battalion. We hope we will accomplish this in 2006,” said Major General Henry Tjahjana. “The upgrading would mean the battalion’s professionalism, equipment and personnel strength would be increased,” he said. A special battalion comprises five companies or 1,039 men. (ANTARA)

TL not a party to confrontation

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri says that Timor-Leste adheres to a non-confrontation policy with the Indonesian military regarding border issues. Speaking to journalists, Alkatiri said that Timor-Leste prefers to explore options for dialogue in order to resolve situations like the recent shooting incident of a TNI soldier in the border region. He said that other means of dealing with the situation could inflame the issue. According to Alkatiri, border areas between two countries anywhere in the world, experience problems and that information that the border between Timor-Leste and Indonesia has been closed by the TNI is not true, as relations between the two neighbours are still very good. (Timor Post, STL)

Positive response to Government remodeling

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri’s plan to remodel the government structure has been welcomed by members of the National Parliament. MP’s said the remodeling would provide an opportunity for the Prime Minister to replace ministers, vice-ministers and secretaries of state who are not performing well. Both majority party and opposition MP’s considered that such action is important if its objective is to fulfill the needs of the people. (Timor Post)

Fretilin not involved in formation of militia groups

Recent claims that Fretilin is transforming one of the Fretilin-affiliated martial arts groups into a militia group has been rejected by Fretilin MP Francisco Branco. Branco emphasized that Fretilin would never form such groups with the aim of threatening others as this contradicts democratic principles followed in Timor-Leste. Branco was responding to complaints from the Socialist Party of Timor’s (PST)representative Pedro da Costa that the PST leader had been threatened by members of the martial arts group in retaliation to his statement regarding the distribution of Fretilin pamphlets. (STL)

Border districts to be focus for development

It is time for the border districts to become an area of development concentration, as they have been neglected in the past, according to Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri. Speaking after attending a workshop on rural development yesterday, Alkatiri said that the border districts are vulnerable and that they have never been made a priority for development in the past. He said that in this context the government strongly supports the European Community Rural Development Program in Covalima and Bobonaro districts.

Also speaking after the workshop, Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Estanislau Aleixo da Silva, said that the European Community is donating six million euros to this project, which will be split equally between the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Public Works who will jointly implement the program. According to da Silva, if the program is successful the Prime Minister will lobby other donors for funds to implement the program in other districts also. (Timor Post, STL)

Parliament votes on members of Councils

The National Parliament yesterday succeeded in electing three MP’s to sit on the Superior Council for Security and Defense, and five MP’s for the State Council. The inaugural meeting of the Security and Defense Council will be held on Thursday. (Timor Post, STL)

Malaysia considers TL labour proposal

Malaysia will consider Timor-Leste’s proposal to provide workers for construction and agriculture work, in particular, oil palm farming, according to Malaysia’s Minister of Interior Azmi Khalid. Quoted in the Malaysian press, Azmi said that the ability of Timorese to speak Malay is one favourable consideration. In a press conference after meeting with Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta, Azmi said that the final decision whether to accept Timorese workers would be made by Cabinet. (Timor Post)

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