Today’s talks failed

Associated Press report that the talks setup today to agree on a government of national unity have failed.  From where I sit, they were bound to.  The opposing groups do not like each other.  JRH (Jose Ramos-Horta) has given it until Wednesday to come up with something but says a decision will be made by the end of the month no matter what.

As Charlie Brown would say, “Good grief”.  Personally, I feel another election coming on because any other option seems bound to severely cheese off one of the opposing political groupings.

Tonight, there were security warnings but very little action … so far.  So why would there suddenly be a big increase in security incidents ?  Wouldn’t be related to the attempts to form an agreement over a new government ?  Nothing like this level of activity for 3 or 4 months.

These days, the international security forces are pretty well drilled in how to handle the gang-related violence and more importantly, how to contain it so that life goes on for the vast majority.  Setup a roadblock with an armoured personnel carrier and a couple of UN police vehicles with lots of flashing lights and send a group of heavily armed, night-vision goggles wearing troops to assert a visible presence and “Bobs your uncle”, she’s contained and not worth writing about.

I am a little perplexed why the OZ ABC have gone extremely quiet in their reporting after being very active in past events.  Don’t you just love politics ?  There’s plenty of fodder here for the likes of the OZ political cartoonists.

Get to it lads … just have a look at the way the OZ cartoon boys tear strips off Little Johnny and TinTin.

The action returns

Driving home last night, it was clear that something was up. You notice the small groups of 3 or 4 young guys idling outside front gates to residences and at ends of alleyways, all at a heightened state of awareness. I was with a recent arriver who had no idea what I was talking about when I said “Something is up”.

There was large plume of smoke coming from the heliport area and a phone call soon after from a Timorese friend confirmed that there was a fair bit of action going on. It all seemed to occur at about the same time around 9pm – the port IDP camp, Kampung Alor, Bairo Pite, Balide and Caiculidun were mentioned. The plume at the heliport is said to be a Molotov cocktail lobbed over the fence near the north-east corner (nearest Tiger Fuel).

There has not been much follow-up info but it represents the most active rough stuff for 3 or 4 months. There seems to be a bit more chopper work tonight but it comes and goes anyway. I noticed the APCs (armoured patrol carriers) doing the rounds over the weekend but they have to turn over the engines sometime.


I did a big trip on the bicycle on the weekend (4 tyre punctures) on the seaside stretch to the east. Even the “green slime” tyre inserts did nothing to prevent the punctures.

But what disturbed me more was the increasing rubbish on the top of “Ramos-Horta hill”. If you go east towards Hera past Jose Ramos-Horta’s residence, you climb a steep hill and at the top, there has been a burnt-out bus for ages. Someone has finally pushed the bus over the edge and it is now looking exactly like a rubbish dump. People are using this spot (with wonderful views) to dispose of industrial rubbish. It is getting worse.

Further on, I passed a number of beaches where similar rubbish dumping is occuring. So you go to relatively remote beaches and find truckloads of rubbish dumped in the vegetation by the beach.

Guys, this is a trend that needs reversing. And pumping out septic tanks into drains and …

The new cock

It appears that the next-door neighbour has acquired a new rooster. If you usually live in a bigger city, you think that roosters do their crowing at dawn, thus saving on the necessity of having an alarm clock.

No-one told this rooster of the morning wake-up call requirement, nor has any Timorese rooster been through the same rooster school. They crow at any old time.

Add on the usual goats grazing in the streets (and the pigs who concentrate on the rubbish bin around the corner) and the only thing missing is milking the cows in the morning.

Restaurant News

There have not been too many changes in this area of late so this post covers a couple of months now.

The Pinoy Filipino restaurant near the Esplanada Hotel seems to have closed again.

Hotel California has opened and despite its 1st floor view to die for, it doesn’t seem to have attracted that many customers. It can seat about 35 but if you go there with a group of 10 beer drinkers, they may not be able to supply cold beer for long. The menu is pretty ordinary.

I finally got around to eating at the Happy Chinese restaurant on Comorro Road near the heliport. At night, this is perhaps not the greatest location from a security point of view but the food seemed OK to me. It is Cantonese food we are talking about here. Mark down the Sichuan chili chicken as a pretty good version of this Chongqing-style dish. Chili lovers take note.

Down in the Metiaut area on the way to Christo Rei, a new Vietnamese restaurant is taking shape next to Little Pattaya. It is called Saigon which suggests it is related to the Saigon restaurant near the Vila Verde cathedral. It looks very close to opening time.

My favourite juice bar Sol e Mar is now completely overwhelmed with Portuguese types wearing tight swimwear and rippling muscle. It is not the reason I go there now !!

One wonders just how long the Metiaut restaurants can last. One would think too many but competition may sort things out.

I am still hanging out for the new coffee season crop – not expected for another week or two.

I have updated my Dili Landmarks in Google Earth, so go here for the latest update.

Sunday sermon from the mouse

The expat’s lot can vary over a wide range range of experiences.  From disgustingly overpaid to woefully underpaid.  From quite acceptable accommodation standards through to some quite rugged stuff.  Some who are quite happy to move from workplace to restaurant to bar, some who will read books and watch DVDs and some who live for diving and lying on hot sandy beaches.

Most of the time, you are still operating in a world far distant from most Timorese.   Every now and then, you meet an expat who makes you feel like an elite swine for living the “high life” while many Timorese are starving.  I don’t have an answer for this one.  Should I flagellate myself to increase my own level of discomfort ?  Should I forgo that one beer and hand over the money saved to someone who could eat for 2 days ?

Then I watch the TV news and see the rest of the world proceeding onwards regardless.  Global warming, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, North Korea, food safety, iPods, 3G mobile phones, widescreen high definition TVs, streaming internet movies.

Should I feel more guilty because I am here ?  … sometimes

And the winner is …

What a strange week or so.  Tons of international election observer teams praising the election process (with a few minor gripes), then leaving town.  But we still don’t have a result.

And the UN pledging to support the new government – whatever it is.

And a parliamentary minority claiming victory against a majority coalition of opposing parties who (publically) say they will not vote with the aforementioned minority.

And for the last 2 nights, an increase in night-time security incidents involving rock throwing and tyre burning.  The boys are restless.

Constitutional lawyers … come on down.  Maybe there is a clause about settling election results by an arm wrestle.

An apology to Jeb

Dear Jeb,

A few weeks back, I praised the progress in the Timorese electoral process and cast excrement on your part in the Florida fiasco.  I would like to apologise unreservedly.

Clearly, I should have retained some excrement and I obviously threw way too early.

I am not sure if you sent out the rednecks at midnight to do some re-education through the knuckle, but you should take note of the possibilities for next time.  As the boss’s brother, you play a very important part in influencing public opinion.  Yeah, I know its hard when he’s the ugly one.

yours feyfully

A new government – could still take a few weeks

It looks like that a coalition of CNRT, ASDT/PSD and PD may have been successfully formed.  This coalition has more than 50% of the seats in parliament and therefore can pass legislation.

Fretilin have claimed that as the party with the most votes, they are entitled to receive the first invitation from the president to form a government.  They have said they have 60 days (or was it 90 ?) to act on this.  It is unclear if a signed agreement from the coalition takes precedence over the 60 days.

Jose Teixeira from Fretilin (via Radio OZ) has said that the constitution permits Fretilin to form a minority government.  He makes a clear distinction between a pre-election coalition and post-election coalition, basically asserting that a post-election coalition has no other additional rights apart from the ability to vote on a majority basis.  I am not sure just how a minority government can get any legislation passed.  I understand that if the budget is rejected twice, then the president has grounds to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections.

So on the one hand, it is possible that once the final elections results have been released within the next week, that a coalition could be invited to form a government.  On the other hand, it could take 2 months before Fretilin finally concede that they can not form a majority government.  They could go for the minority government option which may eventually lead to a fresh election.

Take your pick or anything in between.

Final election result … before disputes

The parliamentary vote counting finished just after lunch today. So that’s 4.3 x 15 hour counting days or 65 hours of counting. The result seemed known about Tuesday once trends had been set.

The key outcomes are :

  • Fretilin had the most votes with 29.0%, followed by CNRT with 24.1%
  • Both ASDT/PSD and PD seemed to lose votes when compared to the presidential elections
  • However, about 9% of the vote went to minor parties who failed to meet the 3% threshold and hence those votes basically are totally wasted
  • It is assumed that the above 9% of votes has all come from the non-Fretilin parties while Fretilin has pretty much held their supporter base

The seat allocation is expected to be :

Party No. of Seats
PD 8

Presumably a coalition needs to be formed with a minimum of 33 seats of the total 65 seats. It would be a huge surprise for a lot of people if Fretilin could obtain such a coalition arrangement. Most people assume a CNRT-ASDT/PSD-PD coalition.