I have an unanswered question: where has the President been throughout
this whole sad sorry saga? He has been conspicuously absent ever since
the Fretilin Party Congress. Is he in ill health? Does anybody out
there know? There has been talk of Jose Ramos-Horta nominating for the
presidency if Xanana Gusmao doesn’t, however to me it seems he has
already assumed the president’s duties!




Meanwhile, the problem as I see it with the government of
Timor is that it has focused on external or macro issues to the
detriment of internal and micro issues. In my estimation, it has done
well and continues to do so at the macro level. However, the
glaring exception is its lack of willingness to seek justice from
Indonesia for the brutal 24-year occupation of Timor. This important
exception feeds into the internal and micro issues that the government
has neglected.

Neglected, I believe, because most of the
government are out of touch with ordinary Timorese concerns. Why?
Because most of them didn’t live in Timor during the 24-year occupation
and despite the fact that many worked tirelessly to obtain Timor’s
independence, it meant that their focus became international. This,
combined with their high levels of education, has set them apart from
the ordinary Timorese, most of whom are illiterate, poor and have
little idea about the world outside their village, yet alone this small
half-island’s boundaries. Their concerns are immediate: where to get
enough food and water today to feed their family, and access to health
and education. Many also want justice from Indonesia, good roads and to
see the fruits of their government’s work and words as actual impacts
in their everyday lives. If the ordinary people had these things, I
don’t think the ethnic divide we now are seeing would have gathered
much momentum.

The
second problem confronting the government is
the way the F-FDTL (East Timor’s defence forces, FALINTIL-Forcas de
Defesa de Timor-Leste) and the PNTL (Timorese police) were formed and
the continuing lack of
rules and procedures concerning them, particularly the former. The
higher-ranking officers of the F-FDTL are almost universally from the
east and the PNTL is full of people from the west. In a fledgling
society such as Timor, its military and police should not be so
ethnically divided. This leaves the two security forces open to
exploitation and genuine charges of discrimination within their ranks.
Political manipulation and exploitation is a particular worry.

When
this happens, those angry unemployed young men who belong to martial
arts groups are also likely to get in on the act. Thus, tensions rise,
different groups take action, and the situation deteriorates rapidly.