Friday 08 Oct 2021 | 20:53 | SYDNEY
Friday 08 Oct 2021 | 20:53 | SYDNEY

Timor sends a message


Sam Roggeveen


20 August 2009 11:47

Timorese Defence Minister Julio Tomas Pinto has written a long article about the failings of the Timorese security sector. A friend who knows Timor-Leste very well emails to underline the importance of the piece:

Pinto's column is quite significant and while the translation is a little stiff it is an important and considered response to the problem of the UN presence, security sector reform and especially Australian-Timorese relations. The article goes beyond just the UN security sector review project to the nature of the relationship between a UN mission and its host government. It touches on the 'when do we know when it is time to go' question that plagues UN missions. The answer is not a technocratic benchmark, it is a political reality — you go when you are asked to leave.

The speed with which Pinto's piece was translated into English, posted on Tempo Semanal and the Timor Post, then reposted on the ANU studies list shows that it was clear that a message was being sent to the 'malae' who don't speak Tetum. It would not have been done without the consent and editorial hand of the prime minister.

A piece that appeared in yesterday's SMH, 'UN to wind back mission in Timor', quoting the UNMIT chief of staff, makes it sound like the UN is winding down of its own accord, whereas Pinto's piece shows how fed up they are. According to the SMH, the UN suggests Australia will wind down its troop presence, but curiously, Pinto's piece makes no mention of this and expresses a desire for an ongoing relationship with the ADF's bilateral program and Australia in general.