Issues of rebuilding East Timor
Australian Broadcasting Corporation AM News Monday, November 15, 1999 8:14
Issues of rebuilding East Timor
COMPERE: With the violence over in East Timor a struggle for power and influence in the territory has begun. Frustrated East Timorese leaders are struggling to control the delivery of aid by what they're calling neo-colonial foreign non-government organisations.
Meanwhile, Australian property developers and construction unions are courting Falantil guerilla leaders, as Geoff Thompson reports from Timor.
GEOFF THOMPSON: The Xanana Gusmao show rolls into another devastated East Timorese town. This time it's the people of Manatutu who get to see and hear their idolised guerilla leader in the flesh. His message to the people of Manatutu is for them not to rely on international aid, but to take up the challenge of rebuilding their town themselves.
But Xanana Gusmao is also here for another reason: To meet with aid organisations and try and sort out a growing rift with them. Xanana's Falantil guerillas and their political representatives, the CNRT, want to be involved in the delivery of aid. Aid groups say they cannot politicise their work. And that's got CNRT leaders like David Jiminez calling then neo-colonialists.
DAVID JIMINEZ: I think that with their behaviour that they want to ignore the CNRT here and they don't want to rush back there. The presence of CNRT looks like a new colonisation, therefore they want to do here, because they want to ignore the presence of the people of East Timor and the leader, political, of East Timor, including Xanana.
GEOFF THOMPSON: CARE Australia's Steve Gwyn-Vaughn explains why aid groups can't deliver to the CNRT:
STEVE GWYN-VAUGHN: We cannot give aid directly to a political organisation, like we don't give aid directly to the church. We can work alongside them to help mobilise people and provide assistance that way.
GEOFF THOMPSON: CARE Australia has another power struggle on its hands: Construction workers from the CFMEU are claiming they were duped by CARE into building offices for CARE workers in Dili when they thought they were building a shelter for refugees. CARE says the CFMEU knew they were building offices all along. But the row has led to a bitter split between CARE and the CFMEU, who came to East Timor together.
But since it's been here the CFMEU has worked on other alliances. It's looking to set up an East Timorese workers' union and has strengthened ties with East Timor's independence leadership. It's had discussions with Xanana Gusmao about building a tourist resort in East Timor, and it's joined representatives from Australian property developers, Multiplex, in meetings with Falantil leaders.
CNRT sources claim Multiplex has already provided resources to Falantil.
The CFMEU's Martin Kingham applauds this sort of approach from companies interested in investing in East Timor.
MARTIN KINGHAM: They're doing what I believe is a very responsible thing for anyone who wants to come in here and invest and put up buildings, they're talking to the local people and saying, 'Well, what do you want?' This country could be a wealthy country. If it's done right it'll be a country that provides - that spreads wealth around its people and doesn't depend on international aid forever.
COMPERE: Unionist, Martin Kingham.
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