Thursday, April 30, 2009

$250 million and Datuk Edward Ong

So we keep reading about this new hotel, casino cum Parliament that is supposed to float in an environmentally friendly way atop the Tasi Tolu lakes...

As reported by Kyodo "Edward Ong, told Kyodo News that he will invest about US$250 million to build the resort on a sprawling site in Dili. A basic agreement for the project was signed between Ong and East Timorese government officials recently. The resort, expected to be completed by 2012, will boast a five-star hotel with about 350 rooms, a 27-hole golf course set amid lakes, and a business park."

Where is the above mentioned agreement? What happens to the thousands of people who live in Tasi Tolu - land appropriation? Hotel/Casino and a new Parliament? How strange.

Another account confirms it will have 350 rooms. Want to find out the truth just call the man who is claiming he is going to invest the $250 million. Below is his calling card, obtained in Dili.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Winata Sighting

Tommy Winata has been in town again.....looking to get some land. One of Indonesia's wealthiest men, he likes to build casinos. He is also a very good friend of certain general's - see here for background. He also entertains Timorese officials at his Jakarta Hotel Borobodur frequently.

As reported by the Australian media in May 2008, "Now, a former associate of Indonesian generals, businessman Tommy Winata, is rumoured to be looking around Dili to build a casino, with Gusmao's blessing."

More background on Winata's Artha Graha Bank and its connections to general's is here.

Then again he could be here looking to plant hybrid rice. One other blogger writes
Benih Prima and Benih Super strains; High-quality seeds produced by PT Sumber Alam Sutera*, an agriculture company owned by tycoon Tommy Winata.

Development Jargon - A Translation

Development jargon, what does it mean?

"items of global interest"

"we will mobilise an expert"

"programme in support to Non State Actors"

Perhaps spend alot of money and acheive very little?


From: []
Sent: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 9:04 AM
To:; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; '';; ''; ''; ''; '';;;;;;;;;;;;
Subject: Next Dipl - NGO Meeting

Dear All,

You are cordially invited, by Ambassador Juan Carlos REY, to attend the next Dipl-NGO meeting scheduled to take place at CASA EUROPA on Thursday 7th May 2009 at 11.00 am.

You may wish to popose for the relevant agenda items of global interest. From our side we will mobilise an expert (Mr Egon MADSEN) to brief us all on the scope and progress in preparing a new European Commission funded programme in support to Non State Actors.

Looking forward to our meeting.


Head of Operations
Delegation of European Commission
Dili, Timor Leste
Tel: +670 3 311580, ext 400
Fax: +670 3 311581
Mob: +670 7316712

Three Years Ago: Petitioners

Three years ago on this day the Petitioners protest turned violent and F-FDTL was called into the city of DILI.

Violence erupts outside the Government Palace on the last morning of the demonstration. Two civilians are killed, four persons suffer firearm injuries, two persons suffer other serious injuries.

Iha dadeer loron ikus demonstrasaun nian, violensia mosu nakfera iha Palasiu Governu nia liur. Ema sivil nain rua maka mate. Ema nain haat hetan kanek tanba kilat. Ema nain rua hetan kanek todan oin seluk. (CoI 2006)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

World Bank Does not Follow Its Own Rules?

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: ;>
Date: Mon, Apr 27, 2009 at 8:31 PM
Subject: World Bank Letter

see attached letter. This is one of those, don't do it again letters. But shouldn't you not be allowed to do it in the first place? especially if someone does not meet the criteria in a TOR. What do you think?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ozorio In His Agitator Mode

Ozorio Leki, leader of Colimau 2000, agitating the Petitioner protest 3 years ago to this day. Read about it here.

Selling Land by the Truckload

It would seem that TINOLINA COMP Lda. has gotten the rights to break up a hill just past Tibar and sell it. Permits?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The $219,765 / annum "Special Parliamentary Liaison Adviser"

Well if you read the recent Tempo Semanal release here and the coverage in the Australian here, you will be able to read about the $219,765 / annum "Special Parliamentary Liaison Adviser".

A closer look at the documents show us some interesting things. The contract for $12,800.00USD/month for 12 months also includes:
  1. $3,000.00 for travel
  2. $1,000.00 for travel expenses
  3. $2,200.00/month (total $26,400) for living allowance. (It is hard to live on $153,600.00 tax free in Timor)
  4. incredibly a further $28,800.00 to be able to pay off taxes?!
  5. and some other stuff for an additional $10,965.00
  6. $219,765 in total.
Not bad for someone who apparently never finished University. University was always over rated anyway. But the Adviser is a long time friend of the Minister. BJF - "Bachelor of Job's for Friends"?

Interestingly, the contract expires in less than 90 days on 15 July 2009. So $135,000.00 is already in pocket. But will it be extended?

Scandalous: East Timorese go begging as foreign advisors rake it in (The Australian - 25 Apr 09)

In actual fact, Tempo Semanal seems to have broken the story, and the contracts in question can be viewed via this link

East Timorese go begging as foreign advisors rake it in

(Paul Toohey, The Australian - 25 April 2009)

Ines Almeida is a media flak for East Timor's Ministry of Finance. This year, she will earn a lot more than her Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao, who has a base salary of $US1000 a month with a $US500 allowance.

Ms Almeida, a joint Australian-Timorese citizen who lives mostly in Timor, is treated as an outsider, paid in US dollars out of World Bank funds and grant money from individual nations. In her 2008-09 package, she earns a base of $US182,400 and picks up a further $US41,365 in travel expenses and living allowances, taking the package to $US219,765. When converted to Australian dollars, that comes to about $300,000. Kevin Rudd earns about $330,000.

The Weekend Australian has obtained a number of current individual consultancy contracts for foreign advisers in East Timor's Ministry of Finance. Ms Almeida's pay is at the lower end.

Former foreign minister Alexander Downer says the consultancy fees are "obscene", given that East Timor is the poorest country in Asia, where more than 50 per cent of the people earn about $US1 a day.

Rodney Lewis is a former Liberal candidate who works in and out of East Timor. This year, he will earn $341,623 for providing 271 days' work as senior legal adviser to the Ministry of Finance.

Mr Lewis gets a further $49,824 for reimbursible costs and contingencies, taking his 2008-09 contract package up to $391,447.

Ms Almeida and Mr Lewis are not the issue. It is the World Bank, in conjunction with East Timor's Finance Minister, Emilia Pires, which has approved the extraordinary consultancies. Ms Pires signs off on the contracts, which then go to the World Bank for final approval.

The World Bank's stated aim is to provide "financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world".

Mr Downer says the UN never paid this sort of money when it was in East Timor, and still doesn't.

"It is obscene," he says. "These are aid programs; that's how the money gets there. I'm absolutely astonished. I know about these sorts of salaries and I know how much the UN pays.

"To earn $US250,000 in a year in the UN, you'd have to be very close to the top of the UN system. In a year, an under secretary-general of the UN would be paid a bit over $US300,000. I'm talking about the heads of the department of political affairs in the UN, or heads of peacekeeping missions, not media flaks or financial advisers."

Mr Downer says the UN caused a lot of resentment in the lead-up to East Timor's independence when its officials drove "comfortable cars" and lived on a luxury boat. Now the adviser pay situation had created an "enormous scandal".

"The amounts they're paying now are incredible," he says. "This sort of money is far more than East Timor's government ministers would earn and very few people in East Timor would be paid even $US20,000 a year. This is the sort of thing that becomes a bloody big problem for a country in this stage in its development. It's pretty sad."

Another Australian, Graham Daniel, is on a 12-month contract as a senior management adviser to the Finance Minister. For his 180 days' work through 2008-09, he is being paid $US236,160, plus $US60,361 in reimbursible expenses and contingencies, bringing his package to $US296,521.

Asked if he thinks the East Timorese would be shocked at how much he earned if they were aware of it, Mr Daniel says: "They shouldn't be made aware of it. I wouldn't be the most highly paid person in Timor. It's consistent with what I've been paid in other countries. My contract is certainly fairly high, but others are getting a lot more."

As a World Bank member country, the Australian Government makes a notional capital financial commitment to the bank, which may or may not be called in. In real terms, it transfers large amounts every year. In 2007-08, for example, it contributed $388.8 million to the World Bank's International Development Association.

Australia also makes one-off World Bank donations through AusAid. It gave $13 million to East Timor's five-year Public Finance and Management Capacity Building Program, out of which the consultants are being paid.

Mr Daniel says the money is not "granted to Timor" but to the project. "It can't be spent by Timor-Leste the way they want to spend it. It's tied under very stringent conditions. What I'm getting is no different to any other adviser in any other developing country and I've worked in many."

The East Timor Government says Mr Daniel has been humiliated in parliament by Opposition parties for allegedly mistreating a staff member. The incident is the subject of a ministerial inquiry.

"This is a vendetta against me because of highly corrupt people," he says. He declines to say who is behind it.

A US citizen, Francis Ssekandi, is another senior adviser to the Finance Minister. His 2008-09 package, including remuneration and travel expenses, is $US424,427 for 272 days' work.

"I earn $US700 a month," Ms Pires says.

"I personally think the money (advisers are paid) is too high ... Some of my advisers have been working in Afghanistan and Iraq and I had to compete to get them over here. It is way out of my control; we go by market standards.

"The contracts for the advisers we employ go through a rigorous public tender process. This process is very much following World Bank guidelines.

"From the time I've been minister (from 2006), we inherited (from the former Fretilin government) a dysfunctional Ministry of Finance. Thanks to these guys we have rebuilt the system. We have needed people with these skills -- and, hopefully, we won't need them for much longer.

"In post-conflict countries it is a complex job. Timorese people have not had the opportunity and education to do this. We need expertise. I am very much aware that technical assistance comes at a high price." Asked if she thinks the ordinary East Timorese people would understand the high pay packages, Ms Pires says: "I'm trying to explain to them. This is the world we live in. We all want to change the world, but I'm realistic."

Fretilin MP and party vice-president Arsenio Bano says they would not understand. "A lot of Timorese often cannot even get $1 a day," he says. "Fifty cents a day is a big thing. Even in a month some of them cannot get $5.

"The country is very poor and they (consultants) are paid too much. $US200,000 is more than the money that is invested in roads in the district of Oecussi this year. It's more than some of the school-feeding projects for 4000 students in one district of Ermera.

"It's amazing. I think there's a lack of responsibility here. The money is coming from development partners and from taxpayers ... They do not want to assist one person to earn $200,000; they want to assist one million people."

Nigel Roberts, the World Bank's country director for East Timor, New Guinea and the Pacific Islands, says he accepts that the issue is important.

"I agree the optics here may look incongruous but addressing the pressing needs of the country at this stage in its development requires help from outside, given the very small number of experienced and qualified Timorese staff available."

He says Timor is notionally rich because of oil, but there has been "a disconnect between the national income and personal incomes".

He says that while Timor's oil revenues have risen steeply, not all of that money is available for immediate expenditure because of laws which oblige the Government to put the bulk into a trust fund. Money is not being spent at the rates required and the foreign consultants are working to unblock that process.

"The Government had to be built from the ground up after independence, and this is taking time," Mr Roberts says.

He adds that last year's 12 per cent GDP growth rate relieved poverty and says that improvement has come as a result of the work of the consultants.

Mr Roberts says such fees are not unusual. "Timor-Leste needs to pay these rates if it is to attract first-rate talent, which I believe it is entitled to and needs in order to make the transition out of poverty," he says.

"Using cheaper expertise isn't going to help develop the country. In an ideal world, this type of expertise would be provided on a voluntary basis, but unfortunately no employment market anywhere in the world works on this principle, and people don't discount their services when they work in places like Dili or Moresby or Honiara."

President Jose Ramos Horta and Mr Gusmao were not available to comment yesterday but in March the President observed that "since independence about $3 billion has been spent on Timor but not in Timor".

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Timor-Leste tweaks Morocco's nose and dabbles in heavy North African Politics

The vice-prime minister of East Timor, Jose Luis Guterres, addresses a crowd of Saharawi refugees and international officials on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2009, in the Laayoune refugee camp near Western Sahara's border with Algeria. Guterres called for Western Sahara to benefit from a U.N.-sponsored referendum as his nascent country did, gaining independence in 2002. He spoke at a ceremony commemorating the 33rd anniversary of the Western Sahara republic, which remains in exile because Morocco controls two-thirds of the desert territory.

Saharawi President-in-exile Mohammed Abdelaziz, center, sits between regional governor Mahrez Lamari of the Algerian Tindouf region, right, and the vice-prime minister of East Timor, Jose Luis Guterres, left, Saturday, 28 Feb. 2009, during a ceremony in the Laayoune refugee camp, near Western Sahara's border with Algeria. Delegates from East Timor, France and Algeria joined the Saharawi government-in-exile on Saturday in its call for Western Sahara's independence. The ceremony, including nomads on camel back and marches by Saharawi boy scouts and female soldiers, ended a week of festivities for the 33rd anniversary of the proclamation of the "Saharawi Republic."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Merpati - How Many Screws are Loose?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

10,000 tonnes more rice for Timor-Leste

Vietnam Frees Part of Blocked Rice Cargo

Source: Reuters


Hanoi, April 22 - Vietnam has allowed a rice export company to load 53,500 tonnes for East Timor and Africa blocked by the authorities since late February, a trading company official said on Wednesday.

The Vietnam Food Association has in total halted the shipment of 120,000 tonnes of rice, including 43,500 tonnes bound for Africa, citing violations of export rules, in a move the shipper has said could lead to serious delays and trade disputes.

"We now have permission to ship all the 53,500 tonnes and loading is under way," the official at Kien Giang Trade and Tourism Co (KTC) in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang said.

The cargo included about 10,000 tonnes bound for East Timor, KTC said in a letter sent to the Vietnam Food Association seen by Reuters.

The association had blocked the shipment because it said 10,000 tonnes was destined for Malaysia, one of Vietnam's main rice markets for which Vinafood 2, the country's top rice exporter, is the only authorised supplier.

The head of Vinafood 2 is also chairman of the Vietnam Food Association, the industry body charged with overseeing rice exports.

KTC said its contract with a Singaporean buyer was on a free-on-board basis, so the exporter's responsibility for the cargo ended after it was loaded onto the ship.

It was not immediately clear when KTC would load the remaining 66,500 tonnes, but KTC director Nguyen Hung Linh has said the firm would start loading from July.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Samuel Beckett on UNMIT

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

Monday, April 20, 2009

55 - FFDTL e PNTL Opersaun Halibur 2008

Antonio Lima Lima on patrol with F-FDTL in Operation Halibur 2008 after the attacks on President and Prime Minster. Funny thing is that Antonio 55 is neither a PNTL officer not an F-FDTL soldier.

He does however have some fame circa 2006 as described by the UN Inquiry Commission.

Also on 8 May 2006 Minister of the Interior Lobato ordered the Commander of UPF, Antonio da Cruz, to deliver 15 HK33 semi-automatic assault rifles to his residence. These weapons were among the 180 HK33 firearms distributed legally to UPF. Eastern members of UPF had been disarmed by Commander da Cruz to make these weapons available. The Minister of the Interior arranged separately for PNTL ammunition to be delivered. He used the weapons to arm two distinct groups of civilians. The first was a group of 31 civilians under the command of Rai Los. The second was a group known as Lima Lima (55) under the command of Antonio Lurdes, aka Antonio 55. The Minister of the Interior told Commander da Cruz to give 10 of the rifles, 6,000 rounds of ammunition and 10 magazines to Rai Los in Liquiça. At about 10 p.m. that night Rai Los met Commander da Cruz in a cemetery to receive the weapons. During the same evening the Chief of Staff of the Minister of the Interior travelled to Ermera and gave the remaining five HK33 rifles and one crate of ammunition to Antonio 55. The Lima Lima group was told to await further instructions. At about 9 p.m. on 21 May Commander da Cruz and Rai Los met at a deserted location, this time near Maubara. On the instructions of the Minister of the Interior, Rai Los received a further eight HK33 weapons and 16 magazines.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I Love Myself - Manila Style.

Visiting East Timor President and Nobel Peace Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta speaks at the De La Salle university in Manila January 15, 2009.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

Got a question? Just call the boss.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Dili Wit. I have no World Vision.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Good Bye Conflict and China

Welcome to Conflict?

Oecusse Wireless

Newsflash: Pante Makassar PNTL Station just had wireless interest installed yesterday morning. The wireless age has arrived in the Enclave. Wonder what it will be used for?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Jendral Longuinos Monteiro? 27 March