By: Ted McDonnell
Timor Leste is a country at the cross roads. It’s economy is struggling; corruption and nepotism continue unchecked; and its credibility as a potential member of ASEAN continues its downward spiral.
As it rightly fights for new maritime borders with Australia that fact is Timor Leste’s financial future is a plight beyond the exercise of gaining greater maritime Timor Leste currently gets 95% of all revenue from the oil and gas dragged out of the depths of the Timor Sea.
This fact is rarely remarked upon by Timor Leste politicians or some sectors of the media as its felt (a) it lessons their argument on Australia “stealing” its revenue and (b) it highlights the economic vandalism of governments led by Xanana Gusmao and Rui de Araújo.
Poverty remains rampant in Timor Leste thanks mainly to unchecked unemployment; failure of government and lack of proper social welfare.
Basically, unless you are part of the political elite or “on the take” you are basically one of the tens of thousands of forgotten Timorense people.
The main aim of Prime Minister Rui it would appear is to silence and shutdown the media prior to next year’s elections.
The PM (possibly under direction as is so much the case with this man) is suing Raimundos Oki and Lourenco Vicente Martins for criminal defamation or "slanderous denunciation''. It’s a law that has been wiped by most forward thinking countries. The resources that have gone into this case would feed thousands of Timorese.
But it would seem conviction of Oki and Martins are the top priority for PM Rui. Forget the poverty; forget the unemployment; forget the corruption by his close mates – lets shut the media up; and punish these journalists to set an example – “we have an election next year”.
In a deeply religious catholic country forgiveness is a mainstay when it comes to the atrocities of the Indonesians; murder of fellow political figures; and deeply corrupt enterprises.
It would seem according to PM Rui anything goes under the eyes of God…. Just don’t defame me or you will feel the full wrath of the law – or biblically interpreted: “Xanana and I are gods of this country our way rules”.
It’s understandable looking at the Oki Martins case why former PM Gusmao sacked the foreign judiciary a few years back. Timor Leste is a lawless state governed by despots and puppets of despots, who make their own rules up to fit the given circumstance.
PM Rui should be reminded of some classic scripture that he has surely forgotten.
John 8:7: When they persisted in questioning Him; He stood up and said to them, "The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her."
PM Rui is a deeply religious man. He, his wife and children are practicing Catholics. They practise Catholicism with vigour. They rarely miss Mass together.
However, it would appear PM Rui lacks the true compassion to forgive which is preached by his church. He’d rather run a hardline against freedom of speech; freedom of the media; true freedom of his people.
They say PM Rui is not a sinner. He says he is a faithful husband and faithful father.
There’s little doubt this theory will be tested in the coming months…
Notes; Ted McDonnell is an Australian based journalist; photojournalist & documentary maker.