The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

More unrest in Timor

Wednesday 28 June 2006 at 11:44 pm

I’ve little to add to the interesting comments being made about Warren Buffet’s big donation, so I’ll talk about the other big news item to have been pushed aside by the soccer: Mari Alkatiri’s resignation over in Timor-Leste.

It’s been two days now, and the ABC reports that protestors are clearing out of Dili, but in many areas the protests seem to have degenerated into mob violence, fuelled by the ex-PM’s remarks (Tumbleweed even asks if that makes a good case for censorship; normally I’d say no, but I do wonder …).

So my earlier fears have not been appeased. Mari Alkatiri probably did the right thing by stepping down; I don’t know if the accusations against him are true, but he seemed like a destabilising force while still in power. Problem is, his resignation hasn’t helped defuse the situation, and could just leave things in a horribly fragile state unless he is replaced by a competent and popularly respected leader.

As a closing note, elsewhere in SE Asia: if Anwar Ibrahim does run for UN secretary-general later this year, I wonder what the reaction in Malaysia will be like? Somehow I doubt any of the ASEAN states would want to vote for him in the General Assembly, for fear of offending his former party UMNO

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Is Dili safer now, or not?

Wednesday 31 May 2006 at 11:17 pm

I’ve noticed an unusual trend in the last few days while following stories about Timor-Leste (aka East Timor). All of the bloggers I can find who are on the ground are suggesting that things aren’t all that bad and they don’t feel particularly unsafe. Admittedly, Dili-gence mentions a lack of troops on the streets, and other posts suggest that for some people the threat is quite real … but Tumbleweed suggests things have improved to the point that a public peace march is possible.

Overall, this is a stark contrast to the fairly scary stories that are filling the local media. Maybe the Australian journos who have invaded Dili are trying so hard to find front-page-worthy stories that what they’re uncovering is every single case of violence, rather than indicative samples of a large number of attacks …?

Even the bloke in charge of Australia’s troops (who’s done a remarkably diplomatic job talking to the media) thinks things are getting better, to the point of embarassing the Today show thismorning.

I shall conclude with a smattering of other posts: the Australian troops are being given some odd new rules in the wake of recent scandal, the potential long-term consequences for Australian foreign policy might not be very palatable, and Needlenose makes an interesting (albeit hugely oversimplified) point.

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