The AMP gov has spent billions of dollars (thanks to the Petroleum Fund set up by the previous gov) during its 3 years of government. By comparison, the amount of money spent by the previous government around the same period is only a small fraction, owing mostly to the fact that the petroleum revenue was largely absent.
But the previous government was able to achieve so much more with so little money than what AMP has been able to do with billions of dollars. If the previous government continued in the government, with this large amount of money, it is certain that much more people will be taken out of poverty and more social justice is achieved. The current government is in fact only continuing with the programs that the previous government has put forward, but lack of experience, abuse of power and corruption have prevented it to achieve better outcomes relative to the amount of resource at its disposal.
Economic growth also doesn't mean much, especially in the presence of high inflation, low real investment (bad roads, bad schools, etc.), high consumption, huge current account (trade) deficit and high and persistent inequality.
The AMP may have "lifted" a fraction of people out of poverty, but what does this mean? In the presence of so much inequality, we can conclude that yes, it did reduce the absolute poverty, but not relative poverty.
The amount of cash disbursed by the government has made sure that more people have money in their pockets. But this is an unsustainable policy because the money disbursed is not an investment with returns in the future. The money is quickly consumed. At issue is also the creation of a dependency culture and a client elistic culture, where governments use state resources (money) to buy the people's continued support. In TL this is unsustainable because the only revenue that can fund this practice is the Petroleum Fund. The Petroleum Fund will exhaust in the near future.
When the Fund finally runs out, the State will have nothing else to continue with this policy and people will get back to where it once were.
People are absolutely better off thanks to the large amount of money transferred from the State. But most people are relatively poorer because of income inequality. The rich are getting much richer, the poor are getting a little bit better. The rich are getting richer because of government's policy which discriminates against the poor. Corruption plays a huge part in this.
The way that the government favours only a small group of friends with the award of million dollar projects has somehow managed to trickle down to the poor and raised some of them out of poverty. But is this enough? Of course not. Where is the justice in this? Why does the majority of people are only getting crumbs while the AMP government reserves the whole feast to the elites? Did the people suffer under the Indonesian occupation so that only a handful of people can enjoy the promises of independence? No. And I believe most people are against this. The wealth of the nation should be divided equally and opportunities given equally to everyone.
Besides, the widening gap between the poor majority and the hand full of rich elites will only lead to an unsustainable development path. Social injustice will breed instability, raise crime statistics, and ultimately a failed state.
In the end, if you want to see the 9% poverty reduction propagated by AMP's propaganda machine, you should travel to the suburbs of Aitarak Laran, Fatuhada, Kaikoli, Surik Mas, parts of Becora, Maloa, etc. These are hotspots because of poverty and unemployment. But this is only in Dili. The situation is much worse in the districts where children are only getting one meal a day, the cost of living has gone beyond the reach of most poor people (e.g. the cost of a sack or rice), schools have no conditions, the road system is bad and isolate many poor rural communities from the rest, money is scarce and basic health services is inadequate. By contrast, you find the small Dili elite (ministers and members of parliament like Mates de Jeusu driving luxury cars, earning big salaries, travel abroad in business class frequently, holidaying in Bali whenever they can take time off work, with their children frequenting the Dili International School (e.g. Xanana's children) or the Portuguese School, etc.
Don't you think it's a bit absurd that the ministers and their families receive medical treatment abroad (Singapore, Australia or Indonesia)? What's wrong with TL's hospitals? Aren't they good enough for the ministers and the members of government? Why are their children being enrolled in Australian or Portuguese schools? Aren't the local schools good enough for them? The answer is yes, the services provided by the state are not good enough for them. But they are able to make sure that the state funds their lifestyles by sending them and their families to the best facilities possible.
So, 9% poverty reduction and an economy growing at one of the fastest rate in the world? Whose poverty is being reduced? Whose economy is growing? Who is benefiting from this charade? You would be crazy to believe in AMP propaganda.
Lindsay Murdoch BRISBANE
January 18, 2011
Death sentence ... Ila Amaral , pictured with her parents, in November. Photo: Basil Rolandsen
A NINE-YEAR-OLD East Timorese girl, Ila Amaral, has died because no Australian hospital would give her a life-saving operation.
For more than 12 months Dan Murphy, a doctor who runs a clinic for the poor in Dili, tried to convince Australian hospitals to accept her for surgery to correct her defective mitral heart valve.
"I blame myself first - I was unable to find the words to make things move for her," Dr Murphy told the Herald by telephone from the Bairo Pite Clinic, where Ila died last week.
A Victorian cardiologist, Noel Bayley, examined Ila in Dili in November. He said she needed open heart surgery. A cardiac team from Sydney had offered to travel to East Timor to perform the operation but permission to use local facilities was refused by Timorese authorities.
Dr Murphy appealed to the US Navy to be allowed to use one of the 12 operating rooms on the hospital ship USN Mercy when it was in Dili late last year but that was also refused.
"The navy people didn't want to allow the operation … because of the negative publicity if it didn't go well and she died," he said.
After failing to get a hospital in Australia to accept Ila, Dr Murphy appealed to others in the US and then a small cardiac hospital that is opening in Vietnam.
"All in all. a massive effort for something ridiculously simple as correcting a small girl's problem failed," he said.
Dr Murphy and his staff are devastated by Ila's death, only months after two teenage patients from the clinic underwent life-saving operations in Australia.
Responding to a story about the girls in the Herald, readers helped raise more than $30,000 to send them to Melbourne for operations at the Monash Medical Centre.
Dr Murphy, an American, is seen as a saint-like figure among the poor in Dili, where he has worked for almost 15 years.
"bureaucratic entanglement" in Australia for failing to save Ila and to help dozens of other Timorese requiring hospital treatment that is unavailable in East Timor, where most of the 1 million population live in poverty.
Money and assistance were available through the Rotary organisation Romac for Ila to travel to Australia under its program to assist children in Third World countries to receive medical treatment.
But Dr Murphy said innumerable emails and contacts failed to find a hospital that would accept her.
Romac's operations director, Richard Woodburn, said more than 300 children in East Timor required cardiac treatment.
Dr Murphy called for a system to be established that speeds up help in Australia for Timorese who will die unless they receive hospital treatment that is unavailable in their country.
"This little girl was simply not a high enough priority and because of that she lost her life when she should be living a healthy life," Dr Murphy said.
source: The Sydney Morning Herald
First Posted 17:52:00 01/16/2011
Filed Under: ASEAN, Diplomacy
MEDANA—Indonesia on Sunday voiced support for East Timor's bid to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
"Asean now has 10 members and we've heard that Timor Leste wishes to join and we openly support it," Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told reporters, using the country's official name.
There has been no formal discussion on the membership yet "but Timor Leste has already conveyed its wish openly," he said at a retreat for the regional bloc's foreign ministers on the island of Lombok.
His comments demonstrate how the relationship between Jakarta and Dili has improved in recent years.
East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, was invaded by Indonesia in 1975 as it moved toward formal independence, starting a brutal 24-year occupation.
It won its freedom in a 1999 UN-backed referendum marred by violence that left an estimated 1,400 people dead as Indonesian-backed militias laid waste to much of the country in a scorched earth campaign that displaced hundreds of thousands.
East Timor gained formal independence in 2002.
A reconciliation commission established jointly by East Timor and Indonesia found in 2008 that while gross human rights were committed by Indonesian forces, there should be no more trials and no further arrests.
Indonesia this year assumes the revolving chairmanship of the 10-member Asean from Vietnam, and will host the group's annual summit and related meetings, steering the agenda for the year.
Besides Indonesia and Vietnam, the other Asean members are , Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Thailand.
East Timor, Kosovo give a hint of challenges for Southern Sudan if it chooses independence
Then, as the grieving and the euphoria quieted, the hard and often divisive work of nation-building began. The struggle continues, more than a decade later.
If, as is widely expected, Southern Sudan has opted for independence in the weeklong referendum that ended Saturday, it will become the latest land to grasp statehood in the wake of violent upheaval.
Associated Press Correspondent Christopher Torchia covered the bloody aftermath of East Timor's struggle for independence from Indonesia, and is based in Turkey, whose Ottoman ancestors ruled Kosovo, also newly independent. Now, as Southern Sudan votes on whether to declare statehood, he draws on his experiences to explore the challenges that face states born in the 21st century.
How well will it work? A half-century ago, the world had dozens of examples to study as countries around the globe won their independence from European colonial powers. But today the addition of a new country to the world map is something unusual. So while comparisons can only be imprecise, the first steps of East Timor and Kosovo offer some guidance about the challenges facing the battered yet exultant people of Southern Sudan.
"The expectations of independence are always very high," said Australian academic Damien Kingsbury, noting that the administrators of a new country inevitably lack skills and resources. "The first few years are almost always pretty shaky."
The rough contours in all three cases — southern Sudan in Africa, the far smaller and less populous East Timorin Southeast Asia and Kosovo in the Balkans — are similar: former minorities shaking off a legacy of repression marked by ethnic and religious divides, and hindered by poverty and internal tensions despite international support.
In an even broader sense, the hardship of each raises questions about what makes a nation, if institutions and infrastructure are poorly equipped to handle the responsibilities of statehood in places where borders were drawn by long-gone empires.
In Southern Sudan, the symbol of secession, a hand with an open palm, was not just on the ballot slips; it festoons walls, vehicles and T-shirts, an indicator of enthusiasm for breaking with the north after a 2005 peace deal that ended two decades of civil war. If Sudan splits, the burdens of state that await the south will entail border demarcation, citizenship, security, education, law and accountability, and of oil and cattle-grazing rights in one of the world's poorest regions.
One big plus is the promise of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, whose base is the mostly Muslim north, that he will accept the referendum results, where most people are Christian or animist. If the pledge is honored, and African states lead the way toward international recognition, a huge hurdle will have been overcome.
But it could take a long time, as Kosovo has learned. Since declaring independence in 2008 with Western support, it has been recognized by well under half the U.N. membership.
Some have concerns about separatist movements on their own turf and worry about setting self-damaging precedents. Spain faces Basque and Catalan separatism. Russia has Chechnya, China has Tibet, India has Kashmir.
For a country like Kosovo, "It leaves you in international limbo," said Tim Judah, author of two books about the new country of 1.8 million. "You're not a state among equals."
In East Timor's case, Indonesia, emerging from a long dictatorship, agreed under pressure to a U.N.-backed referendum in the former Portuguese colony that it had invaded and occupied in 1975. After East Timorese voted overwhelmingly to separate, the rampage condoned by Indonesia destroyed much of the territory's limited infrastructure.
"We are going to start from below zero," Jose Ramos Horta, a Nobel peace prize winner who is now president of East Timor, said at the time.
The U.N. launched one of the most expensive nation-building projects in history but still drew criticism for scaling back too early. The country declared independence in 2002 in an ecstatic show of music and fireworks, but factional violence erupted four years later, forcing international peacekeepers to patrol the streets once again.
Southern Sudan, whose estimated population ranges between 7.5 million and 9.7 million, suffered the vast majority of deaths in the civil war — some 2 million, many from disease and famine. Since the 2005 deal is has prepared to some extent for statehood, but its autonomous institutions are weak and there are concerns that its own ethnic groups will compete for power and resources. Actor George Clooney's campaigning may have raised Sudan's profile, but any hope of long-term success would require many years of heavy international involvement.
Phillips warned that new countries with weak governance are prone to corruption, especially if they benefit from the windfall of newly acquired resources. Most of Sudan's oil reserves are in the south, which would be dependent on the north for export routes.
East Timor, population 1 million, is praised for establishing a fund to manage revenues from offshore oil and gas reserves, but remains desperately poor with fragile political institutions.
Landlocked Kosovo, a key concern for the European Union, avoided the chaos that some predicted after NATObombing forced its Serbian rulers to yield and it began nearly a decade as a U.N. protectorate. But it has few natural resources, ties between its ethnic Albanian majority and Serb minority are tense, and its image as a criminal haven deepened after a European investigator alleged that Prime Minister Hashim Thaci once headed a ring trafficking in human organs.
Thaci denies it, and some commentators say Serbia's legitimacy as a nation should be judged just as harshly because of its war crimes record.
"What so often happens, once independence is achieved, (is that) all of the conflicts that existed below the surface, and were put aside so you can fight a common enemy, then have a tendency to come out," said Prof. Hurst Hannum, an international law expert at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. "These states are, after all, artificial."
Croatian historian Ivo Banac said a prolonged independence struggle serves as a "basic element of identity" for a new state, and that countries in the Balkans looked for "lines of continuity" to medieval precursors swallowed up by Habsburg and Ottoman rulers. Similarly, he said, Scottish separatists look to their history as a sovereign state before Scotland and England became one kingdom in 1707.
Southern Sudan's clan-based, mostly pastoral population had no such political structure two centuries ago, when it fell under Egyptian and British rule.
But sometimes unexpected unifying themes turn up.
East Timor, a tiny slice of island in the vast Indonesian archipelago, is a separate country today in large part because for centuries it was a Portuguese colony. After Indonesia seized East Timor, it banned the Portuguese language. And when the struggle for independence reached its peak, a battle cry of the separatists was "A luta continua!" That means "The struggle continues" — in Portuguese.