Reference web site for Timor-Leste

If you didn’t already know, there is a new (to me) web site called the “East Timor Directory”.  I wish someone had done this about 2 years ago.

You never know.  You might find something you didn’t know about in one of the following categories :

  • Art & Culture
  • Blogs
  • Business & Economy
  • Education & Research
  • Friends of East Timor
  • General Information
  • Government
  • History
  • Humanitarian & Development
  • International Organisations
  • Language
  • Law & Justice
  • Military
  • Other
  • Politics

Go here :

If you think there is a worthy site to add, just ask them to add it.

So much for my end of dry season

Right through the wet season, the clouds roll in over the hilltops over Dare, sometimes rolling on for a downpour and other times, lingering then rolling back again later in the afternoon.

Then that seems to stop, the dust starts rising and you feel that the wet has ended.  I thought that 2 weeks ago.  Then today, Hughey dumps what seemed like the biggest dump of the year.  Down the street, several trees lost huge branches over the roads and the locals were chopping them up straight away.  A huge lightning burst followed by instantaneous thunder suggested a local lightning strike to me.

Outside the front gate and back door was its usual temporary lake.  The roof leaked as usual, water came in under the doors and one window leaked badly.

And as usual, the local kids were out playing the rain, lying in puddles and generally doing exactly the opposite of what I was told to do as a kid.  With me it was “now don’t you go down and play in the canal” – I did.

I suspect that it is the reverse here : “now go out and play in the rain”.  And they do.

It can not be great fun living in the IDP camps which still exist.  The camps tend to have fallen off most people’s radar now but if I had to guess, numbers have probably only dropped by 1/3 at the most.  They are just not set up to handle living in a few inches of water.

PNTL massacre memorial service today

A memorial service was held today to commemmorate one year since the massacre of the 9 PNTL (ie police) near their HQ in Dili outside the Ministry of Justice building.

A permament memorial has also been erected by the roadside opposite the Ministry as a reminder of just how dumb things got last year.

Football at the stadium

The last time I went to the stadium, it was the new President’s campaign rally about 6 weeks ago.  The grass was knee high and it looked more like a cow paddock.

Depending on who you work for and whether you care, yesterday was a public holiday.

I was told of a football (ie soccer) game on yesterday afternoon and thought I should go and see my 1st ever game at the stadium, thinking there had not been one for a long time.  I was later told there was a game a few months back when the army and police held a reconciliation game but I knew nothing of that one.

The first game was a slightly humourous affair between aged UN staff and a Timorese government team which included a few ministers.  It was a nil all draw but the Timorese government team won on points, saved only by a very competent performance from the UN goalkeeper.  There was a large contingent of ISF soldiers watching the game as they were part of the organising group with the Timorese football association (FFTL).

The 2nd game was between a F-FDTL team (I think) and a PNTL team.  The standard was significantly higher than the 1st game, with the result going to F-FDTL 1-nil on penalty.  They could have won by a bit more if some of the goal shooters were a little less goal hungry.

The conditions were hot and dry with a steady breeze from the north (ie sea) making comfort as good as you are going to get here.  The ground was hard and the bounce looked like they were playing on concrete at times.  The pitch was reasonably flat with patches of dead grass and the occasional bobble which upset things at times.

I imagine if it were well-watered and rolled, it would come up pretty well.

I brought my own water, but imagine sitting through 2 football games with no pies and beer.  No food or drink sales to be found, even with a crowd of 1500 (he guesses).  I was so hungry by the end, I could have gnawed the bum out of a rag doll.

Liberty Bell

You learn something all the time. John Phillip Souza composed the Liberty Bell march music made famous in the Monty Python’s Flying Circus theme music.

It is now continued on by the F-FDTL as their tune of choice for military parades. I missed the parade this morning but saw some of the day’s ceremonial activities on TVTL tonight. A few months back, I saw the F-FDTL/PNTL “get back together” parade and was mighty happy to here the Liberty Bell again.

And I was suitably chuffed to hear it again on TV today. Apparently Souza was American but of Portuguese descent.

Please read my comment in my last post re. a correction to an ABC report on fighting today.

A big weekend for ceremony

Over the weekend (Monday is a holiday), the new Prime Minister Estanislau de Silva and the new President Jose Ramos-Horta will be sworn in. It is also the anniversary of independence on 20 May. So lots of dignitaries will be moving around and congregating, which no doubt will lead to some pretty wary UN police and ISF.

This will dominate the radar screen but a little snippet that almost sneaked under the radar screen was a little electoral law change which mandates the shift of vote counting from each polling centre to each of the 13 district capitals. (This was reported in today’s Suara Timor Lorosae newspaper.)

On the one hand, this will mean that the vote count itself ought to be under the tightest watch with plenty of observers to go around. However, it does mean that ballot boxes leave a fairly tight environment at the polling centres (where international, national and party-based observers are usually in numbers) and travel back to the district capitals.

In the old system, everyone knew the vote tallies at each polling station so any differences that may be recorded later ought to raise a red flag. Under the new system, the critical phase is the movement of unopened ballot boxes from the polling centres to the district capital. Some of these polling centres are pretty remote and this will put enormous pressure on the people responsible for assuring safe transportation to the district capital.

What it does mean is that observers will most likely not be able to say that voting papers have been under constant observation from the act of voting right through to the count. Doesn’t sound too crash hot to me.

Later Addendum : I was a bit behind the 8-ball on this. Kate over at covered the electoral law change yesterday. (Note to brain : read Kate before commenting on electoral matters.)

Access to media in TL

In the western world, we are accustomed to regular surveys telling us (apparently) what we like to eat, drink, wear, watch, visit, etc. etc.  I guess some people are guided by the results although my reaction to endless surveys is to do something completely different.  Mainstream is so pedestrian.

The recent presidential elections became the ultimate survey on what people were thinking.  In the absence of competing pollsters, no-one was quite sure what the results would be.

A recent survey by Fondation Hirondelle suggests that even without pollsters, this information gap is not entirely filled by traditional media either.

Some of the survey conclusions (from a sample of over 1200) were :

  • 35% listen to radio on a weekly basis
  • 47% have a radio at home
  • 43% had good radio reception
  • 20% has a TV
  • 19% watch TV on a daily basis (79% in Dili)
  • 40% watch TV away from their own home
  • 10% have a mobile phone
  • 1% have a PC at home
  • 0.5% have a PC at home with internet access
  • 2% use internet on a weekly basis from internet cafes
  • 4% use internet on a weekly basis (so I presume the other 2% is from the workplace)

So you will not see targeted internet advertising aimed at the Timorese on this blog.

Latest security stuff

This is just a heads-up re. the international press reports of increasing violence in Dili. Bairo Pite has been the main area for trouble for some months. It has quietened down and has flared up again.

According to locals from the area, the trouble has never really stopped. It just heats up and cools down. When questioned, I am told that nothing much is different at all. We are just in a heated up phase.

The area has been under intense security force attention for some time and the trouble is pretty much restricted to a small area of Bairo Pite. There are not a lot of expats who live in this area. The Bairo Pite clinic is at the eastern end of Bairo Pite and is not in the worst part, despite being regularly hammered with rocks earlier in the year. It benefits from being quite close to the heliport where the OZ troops have a base. Most of the trouble is more on the western and southern sides of the heliport.

The well-known aid organisation Care is quite close to the trouble and would have a better idea of what’s going on.

The UN police are not reporting these events in great detail so residents may not even know whats going on. There was definitely increased chopper and APC activity over the weekend and this did cause people to ask if anyone knew why. No-one including me seemed to know.
As for the rest of Dili, it is pretty much business as usual. I was out on the bike this afternoon and had absolutely no trouble at all. I guess after a while, it all just drops off the conversation list.

I believe I did forget to mention that the Padang restaurant near the Harbour View cafe ceased operating a couple of weeks back.

Hotel renovations

The Dili Beach Hotel has recently undergone a substantial renovation following the acquisition of the premises by Mick from Mackay in OZ. Apparently there is and will be major renovations on the accommodation side but the most obvious change is the renovation of the upstairs area previously totally occupied by the Dili Beach Cafe.

The upstairs has had a complete change in furniture, a bar added, TV and most importantly, the retention of Johnson and the boys from the Dili Beach Cafe. So the food is the same and the views over the water are superb.  Try it out.

Apparently, people must actually read this stuff but after my positive views on the Indian Megha restaurant, several bits of feedback to me suggest that although the food was good, the service plummeted when any number of people were in the place. When I went, there were 2 of us so speed of delivery under pressure was not an issue. It’s a tough world out there.

Note : I am still here, just not much going on except some issues which have kept my attention on other things. No security issues of note although there have been reports of fighting out in the districts (ie Ermera and Liquisa). It feels like the ISF have stepped up their chopper and APC presence since just before the presidential election.  This may continue until the parliamentary elections are over.

Election results – 80% of votes counted

With over 80% of the votes counted, Jose Ramos-Horta is getting around 69% of the vote to Francisco (LuOlu) Guterres at 31%. This is leading up to a preliminary final result which may be released tomorrow.

There will then be a few days to firm up these figures before final detailed results by district and sub-district. I can’t see the margin changing much even though it is more likely that later results will favour LuOlu (I think he does better the further one is from Dili).