'Failed State' and the Rise of the Timor-Leste Burgeois

by Rahung Nasution

This is a must read piece on the genesis of the present crisis in Timor-Leste. While it still is a challenge to accumulate background and weight up the various POV -- now that the Australian media (eg: Four Corners) is a major player in the conflict no one can afford to take anything they hear locally as gospel as there is massive obscurantism in play.

SOURCE: As a new nation, Timor-Leste was formed through the involvement of various countries and was left with a range of lingering issues which require swift resolutions. The political differences in the formation of various state institutions suffered "stagnation" and Timor-Leste was "forced" to accept different policies which later on resulted in problems. Meanwhile, the ongoing process of reconciliation was also not responding to the demands for justice, which various sections struggled for.

One of the UN legacies which are quite problematic is the establishment of the armed forces institution, the F-FDTL. The UN established the armed forces of Timor-Leste following a study prepared by the King's College (England) in May 2000 and through the United Nations' Transition Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) Regulation No. 1 year 2001 (UNTAET/REG/2001/1). The F-FDTL institution was established through an agreement from the National Council which at the time was headed by Xanana Gusmão.

The recruitment process and the process of determining the military posts resulted in disappointment from various sections who viewed this process as unfair ( Buletin La'o Hamutuk, Vol. 6 No. 1-2 April 2005). The transformation of Falintil, a national liberation army, into a regular army destroyed the relationship which evolved along the struggle. The relationship between the armed guerrilla fighter and the people along the history of resistance can be compared to that between the fish and the water. The fundamental relationship such as this was never considered as important in the process of establishing the F-FDTL institution.

The recruitment disadvantaged many guerrilla fighters who had for many years participated in the armed struggle, but could not pass the entry test for F-FDTL because of health and height prerequisites. Another problem was to do with military posts. There are those who had been commanders in the armed resistance but were made ordinary soldiers inside F-FDTL, whereas the younger recruit who had been helping them working as estafeta was elevated to the post of a captain. It's not clear if this has to do with the level of education or because of other reasons which are not connected to the previous Falintil struggle...

....In 1975 Fretilin integrated the struggle for national liberation with people's liberation through cooperative programs, eradication of illiteracy and development of a national culture. At that time Fretilin became a people's political force with a clear vision about the future of an independente Timor-Leste. Unfortunately, these popular ideas which flourished in the 1970s are considered by many sections within Fretilin as outdated ideas. There is but a small Fretilin elite who continue to defend
them, one of them is Mari Alkatiri....MORE>

Send Life of Riley an audio comment
Subscribe to the Life of Riley blog feed
Subscribe to the Ratbag Radio podcast feed
Ratbag Radio Odeo Channel audio archive
Email Life of Riley