I was fortunate enough to be able to attach myself to an election monitoring team yesterday. This gives one better access to polling stations and given nothing on TV, an interesting day moving about.
One difference between the 2nd round and 1st round voting days was the absence of clashes between rival party supporters before the vote. It has been pretty quiet in Dili in this regard.
Based on what I saw and on comparisons others have made between today’s vote and the last vote was that things seemed a bit quicker and streamlined. At one polling station, I did a simple timed count and found they could process voters at a rate of one every 20 seconds when in full flight. At the first election, the figure was around 30 seconds.
A similar pattern emerged to last time – everyone is keen to get the whole thing over as soon as possible. Both personal observation and other feedback suggests a similar desire to queue up before 7am and a preparedness to queue for up to 3 hours despite most voting over and done with by noon.
The early voting figures from the polling centre I saw suggested that Jose Ramos-Horta clearly led the polling in Dili. Other feedback from other observers suggested similar results around Dili. There appear no surprises in that respect.
There were some security issues associated with some of the local Timorese hanging around during the vote counting but in the end, nothing happened. I expect to hear a few things on the grapevine today.
If politics really was all about policy and management of a country’s resources (in a wider sense) then I might get a shade more interested. Admittedly, the presidential election is more about the man rather than the party, so I suppose a certain amount of dumping on your political opponent is to be expected.
Some of the one-eyed political blathering (from both sides) has been pretty hard to take seriously. Some of the statements made of late have contained significant distortions of the truth and large departures from relevance. I don’t see it as a good sign for the “real deal” parliamentary elections coming up soon.
I missed the main candidate rallies over the weekend, mainly because I didn’t know about them. (Watch the football on TV or go to an election rally ?) But I saw evidence that the ISF (ie OZ/NZ military) were more visible but this was to be expected after some of the roughing up that occurred around some of the round one election rallies.
Last time, voting day was Easter Monday, but this time it is a Wednesday. I think this pretty much means it will be a holiday. I tried the Little Pattaya Thai restaurant on the weekend (an offshoot of the Bangkok Spice 2) and it seems a pretty nice place to spend an election day.
I finally did get around to eating at the Indian Megha restaurant and it gets my thumbs up. It is still a bit rough around the decor edges but is the only Indian (South Asian) restaurant in town with AC.
As “Timor Diver” commented recently, it is the same Megha restaurant that once stood just south-west of the port entrance in the white house on the corner. I admit to being completely oblivious to its existence last year.
The owner Sukumaran, is a cheerful guy who left Dili in the middle of last year, packed his shipping container and headed off to Aceh to try his luck there. Apparently, he lost heaps of money as business was poor and has returned to give Dili another crack.
He would have been one of a number who filled their shipping containers last year and headed out. Business owners filling shipping containers by the roadside in the Audian shopping strip was a common sight in May/June last year.
I doubt I could have talked about losing a sizable chunk of my life savings and still have a beaming smile on my face. Good luck Sukumaran.
I may be missing something but it just doesn’t seem like the same level of interest in the presidential election run-off. The rallies just haven’t risen above a threshold that I have noticed. There are 3 days to go and I guess plenty of opportunity to do something big. But the huge street rallies of the 1st round election just haven’t happened yet (or no-one is taking any notice).
I am no election predictor but if voters go with their 1st round vote AND follow the preference of their 1st round candidate’s 2nd round preference, one would expect a Ramos-Horta victory with from 60 to 70% of the vote.
The foreign election monitors will be here and one would expect them to be a little more focussed on the locations where problems may have occurred during the 1st round vote and also focussed on the procedures which appeared to have weaknesses.
At the end of the day, the parliamentary elections in a month or so will be the real deal. There are many who can’t wait until that is over so that the wheels of government bureaucracy can move a shade quicker.
Yesterday (5 May), the OZ travel advisory for TL dropped to level 4. The accompanying email notification of the change also includes a few notes on what actually changed. This change notification is a good thing.
Keeping in mind that this is all relative, things have not been as good for quite a while. The 2nd round presidential election is on next Wednesday and it would be reasonable to expect some security issues between now and then. The cynic would say that by dropping to level 4, it now gives room to raise it again when things do deteriorate.
One of the 2 unfinished restaurants under-construction last week has opened for drinks today. It is called the Little Pattaya and is located between the Bachky and Bangkok Thai restaurants at Metiaut on the way to Cristo Rei.
They think they will have appetizer food ready to serve tomorrow. The menu is obviously a bit abbreviated until the kitchen is fully kitted out, but they do have padh thai for $5 and about 10 other snack-oriented meals.
The decor is above average compared to others on the beach strip and it has a very well situated bar made from a canoe and you sit behind it looking out to the sea. The entire orientation is designed to focus your eyes to the sea and the sunset view is pretty good.
The restaurant at the Discovery Inn seems to be making itself known by having some form of opening this week. It is known as the Diya restaurant, which is of unknown culinary origin to me at this stage.
My eating card is growing.