On Wednesday, students at the National University (just behind the Parliament Building) put on a rally demonstrating against the government providing new cars to all MPs. They claim that in a time of increasing food prices, the poorer people in this country are having a struggle just to get enough food. The government claim that MPs need cars to do their jobs.
From what I heard, it sounded very entertaining but appeared to have no effect on the government decision and security was never really an issue.
That night, I was woken several times by “yahooing” out in the street – motorcycles revving, car horns blowing, chanting. Sounds travel a long way in the dead of a still Dili night and maybe my brain is sensitised to these sorts of sounds after 2006. “Damn those students, I said … I need sleep”. Gong ! It turned out it was a cheerful group doing some serious celebrating after a football game.
OOPS : Local papers report that following discussions between the government and the students, the students actually got the government to back off and reduce the number of new cars from the 65 planned to a much lower figure with none of them actually assigned to individual MPs. Such success ought to get them employed as lobbyists for a whole range of issues.