Subject: AFR: Weight of evidence in Timor shows the divisions
Date: Sat, 15 May 1999 11:21:07 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Australian Financial Review Thursday, May 13, 1999

Weight of evidence in Timor shows the divisions

By Tim Dodd, Dili

Dr Kevin Baker has a simple rule of thumb for determining who is on which side in East Timor's civil strife.

If a man weighs less than 45 kilograms, then he is probably in favour of independence. If he weighs much more, he probably wants the province to stay with Indonesia.

Dr Baker, a volunteer from Sydney, works in the Catholic-run St Antonio Motael clinic, the only place in Dili that provides proper health care. He is one of only two doctors - the other is a volunteer from the US - who keep the clinic operational.

His weigh-in rule reflects the economic issues that underlie the conflict over independence.

The leaders of the pro-Indonesia political lobby are those who are doing very well from Indonesian rule, either through their businesses or from powerful political positions, and it shows in their physical well-being.

When Dr Baker recently went on a militia-protected trip to Liquisa, 30 kilometres from Dili, to see one of the pro-Indonesia rallies that the militia are organising throughout the province, he was struck by the many generously proportioned men, men quite unlike those of the 45kg average weight who come to his clinic.

The standard of health in the province is abysmally low. The most recent mortality statistics quoted by Dr Baker attributed 15 per cent of deaths to malaria, 15 per cent to tuberculosis and 12 per cent to gastroenteritis.

Yesterday morning at the Motael clinic, a crowd of people lined up for treatment. Dr Baker said that during the morning he saw "five or six full-blown new cases of tuberculosis" and described people with sunken eyes and hollow cheeks, like the consumptives not seen in Western countries since the last century.

In the afternoon, he planned to operate on a man wounded by the militia in a Dili suburb on Monday shot through the leg and the scrotum. Another man had a knife wound in the back, also a victim of one of the militia sweeps through Dili.

But Dr Baker is also treating a member of the pro-Indonesian militia a man with a bullet wound in the abdomen.

Motael is the clinic of choice for Dili's population. The patients there yesterday did not want to go to the government hospital, which has been affected by a shortage of doctors and a lack of basic resources.

"They have no medicine," said an old man coming through the gate.

A senior army officer told The Australian Financial Review that the military hospital in Dili also treated civilians but this was denied by people waiting at the clinic.

A major problem is that many Indonesian professionals, including doctors, have fled the province this year in anticipation of trouble.

Outside of Dili, where large sections of the province are no-go areas because of militia threats, medical treatment is probably almost non-existent, but Western observers are unable to check for themselves.

Dr Baker and his colleague, Dr Dan Murphy, hope that with the arrival in coming weeks of the UN group to run the August 8 independence ballot, more Western doctors will be able to come to the province.

Volunteers, including a number from the French group Medicin Sans Frontieres, are ready, but Indonesian regulations have made it difficult to obtain legal work visas.

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