|Subject: AAP: ET public servants quizzed over
Date: Fri, 02 Apr 1999 07:57:48 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
ETimor public servants quizzed over loyalty By Karen Polglaze, South East Asia Correspondent
JAKARTA, March 29 AAP - A local government authority in East Timor has begun a compulsory survey of all public servants to find out if they support independence for the troubled province, observers said.
The regent of Bobonaro, Guilherme Dos Santos, issued the instruction on March 24 requiring all employees in the town of Maliana to fill in a form stating their views.
The move would be interpreted as intimidating by most public servants, according to observers.
"Now they're trying to make everyone support integration," said one refugee aid worker, who asked not to be identified.
The instruction, posted to heads of state institutions, sub-district chiefs and village heads, said it aimed to find out which of the options presented by the national government of President BJ Habibie was supported by public servants.
Indonesia has announced two options for the future of East Timor to be decided in a ballot probably to be held in July. The choice is between wide-ranging autonomy for the province within the republic, or full independence.
Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and annexed it as the country's 26th province in 1976.
Although the instruction says each civil servant can choose an option without pressure or force, the survey is not anonymous with each employee required to give their name and number and each statement to be signed by the employee's superior.
The instruction reminds public servants of all relevant laws, including those annexing East Timor, those related to the employment of public servants in the province and new laws recently passed by the national parliament requiring public servants who are members of political parties to resign their jobs.
"With the issuance of two options by the central government in an effort to solve the political problems of East Timor, it is necessary to make an inventory of civil servants in Bobonaro District to find out which of the two options they support," said a copy of the instruction obtained by AAP.
The document does not explain why the regent needs to know whether people support independence or integration.
In the past compulsory political alignment of Indonesian public servants with the ruling Golkar Party ensured government employees complied with the views of their superiors.
In United Nations supervised talks on the future of the half-island, the foreign ministers of Indonesia and former East Timor colonial ruler Portugal agreed to hold the ballot to decide the autonomy offer.
The vote, which will be run by the UN, is expected to be secret. The final round of tripartite talks on the East Timor problem are due to be held in New York between senior officials from April 13 and between foreign ministers from April 23.