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NZIIA Book Launch "East Timor - The Consequences"

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Speech Notes

NZIIA Book Launch "East Timor - The Consequences".
TUESDAY 17 OCTOBER 2000


Thank you for the opportunity to formally launch this publication of the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs on "East Timor - The Consequences".

Firstly, some congratulations. Congratulations to the Institute on its initiative in organising the seminar and the line-up of speakers who contributed to it.

For all who attended, it was a memorable and challenging occasion.

This publication gathers together those proceedings, making them readily accessible and permanently available and it will be of interest historically for capturing the diverse viewpoints on the topic at an important point along the way in East Timor's evolution.

Can I especially thank Bruce Brown for editing the publication. Bruce has a colourful career beginning as private secretary for Walter Nash. As a school boy I read his book on the Rise of New Zealand Labour - maybe he's partly to blame for the position I currently find myself in.

Bruce has served the Institute loyally and capably and this publication is the latest piece of evidence of his huge contribution to it.

My remaining comments tonight are almost by way of epilogue.

On the 5th of July, I said the new government in Indonesia inspired hope for the future after the oppression of the Soeharto years. I added that it had, however, run into trouble. The three months since have evoked more sense of the latter than the former.

President Wahid has endured a stormy time within Indonesia and internationally. His relationship with the MPR (parliament) has been tense and sometimes hostile.

The military has resisted efforts to erode its political position further. It has been guaranteed representation in the MPR until 2009.

It is by no means apparent that the TNI is responsive to his commands, though divisions within the TNI have prevented a unified challenge to him from within it.

In late September the case against ex-President Soeharto was dismissed by the court on grounds of his ill-health. Wahid claimed the doctors were politically motivated. Violence has erupted between pro- and anti-Soeharto demonstrators.

In mid-September Wahid ordered arrest of Tommy Soeharto. Subsequently he was sentenced to 18 months prison for corruption. Wahid dismissed the appeal for pardon, but the enforcement of the prison order was delayed by bureaucratic processes.

Outside Jakarta, ethnic, religious and separatist violence show no sign of abating. Some 8,000 people have been killed in Maluku in the communal violence there

A couple of weekends ago 26 people killed and 100 injured in West Papua after authorities removed independence flags. Much of the violence was inter-communal, between indigenous people and immigrants. Minister Yudhoyono warned that government would not tolerate separatist activities.

Aceh remains much the same as before. The 3-month “humanitarian pause” extended to January 2001 as a result of the separatist movement (GAM’s) negotiations with Indonesia in Geneva.

Wahid’s approach of offering dialogue and autonomy is the right one. But can he deliver it? Will his efforts be sabotaged by those with a vested interest in him not succeeding? “Pathologies of the previous regime remain in the system”. Indonesia’s political future is for that reason worrying.

Indonesia’s poorest province, and perhaps the one most important to New Zealand right now is West Timor. There have been dramatic and appalling developments there. Militia intimidation of UN aid workers increased in August and led to the murders of three UNHCR staff in Atambua on 6 September. This sent shock waves round the world and forced the UNHCR to pull out.

New Zealand helicopters rescued other UNHCR workers from West Timor.

The Security Council's Resolution 1319 of 8 September demanded that Indonesia disarm and disband the militias, bring the murderers to justice, and restore conditions secure enough to enable UNHCR to repatriate or resettle the more than 100,000 refugees remaining.

Pressure from the international community brought two reactions. The positive one is that the Indonesians made a start. Some weapons, mostly home made, were collected. Some of the efforts seem to be primarily for show, as in the case of the “weapons handover ceremony” on 26 September. Little progress is currently being made in disarming the militias.

Efforts are being made to split moderate militias from hard-liners. Eurico Guterres was arrested in Jakarta on 4 October on minor charges, and is still detained. Relations between the militias and the TNI are not as close as they were. (This would not have happened without international pressure.)

The negative reaction has been a tendency of some Indonesians to go into denial about what really happened in East Timor last year. Myths about how the referendum was not fair are being spread around.

It is a matter of judgment for ourselves and the rest of the international community to apply enough pressure on Indonesia to get results without provoking a nationalistic backlash and undermining the Wahid administration when its replacement could be much worse.

West Timor remains a dangerous and unstable place. The repatriation of refugees has again slowed to a trickle. Conditions are not nearly safe enough yet for the UNHCR to return.

In East Timor, good progress is being made with reconstruction and with nation building, although the security situation is not completely resolved.

Since early July quite a number of militia have infiltrated into East Timor from West Timor. Since the tragic death of Private Leonard Manning in action on 24 July, two armed militia have been killed by New Zealand forces in separate engagements. A Nepalese peacekeeper was also killed in action.

Despite the tragic loss of three New Zealand lives and the financial cost, New Zealand public opinion is still united in support of our involvement in East Timor.

Cabinet decided in September to authorise a third rotation of the New Zealand peacekeeping Battalion. This will take us through to May 2001. The question of a fourth rotation will be considered before Christmas.

In East Timor the CNRT Congress in Dili at the end of August showed the degree of political development there. Xanana Gusmao and Ramos Horta were re-affirmed as CNRT leaders despite a challenge to them from Fretilin. Party politics is developing.

The task of building institutions is going well. New Zealand is helping with Police, Customs, Judiciary, Corrections, Foreign Ministry and other area of government activity. Planning for an eventual East Timor Defence Force is already underway.

Overall, we can have cause for cautious optimism about East Timor. But the last few months, militia incursions and the continuing instability in parts of Indonesia, remind us that the hard-won gains cannot be taken for granted.


Once again, thank you for the opportunity to be here tonight. It is with great pleasure that I formally launch this publication and congratulate all those who have contributed to it.

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Speech Notes

NZIIA Book Launch "East Timor - The Consequences".
TUESDAY 17 OCTOBER 2000

Thank you for the opportunity to formally launch this publication of the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs on "East Timor - The Consequences".

Firstly, some congratulations. Congratulations to the Institute on its initiative in organising the seminar and the line-up of speakers who contributed to it.

For all who attended, it was a memorable and challenging occasion.

This publication gathers together those proceedings, making them readily accessible and permanently available and it will be of interest historically for capturing the diverse viewpoints on the topic at an important point along the way in East Timor's evolution.

Can I especially thank Bruce Brown for editing the publication. Bruce has a colourful career beginning as private secretary for Walter Nash. As a school boy I read his book on the Rise of New Zealand Labour - maybe he's partly to blame for the position I currently find myself in.

Bruce has served the Institute loyally and capably and this publication is the latest piece of evidence of his huge contribution to it.

My remaining comments tonight are almost by way of epilogue.

On the 5th of July, I said the new government in Indonesia inspired hope for the future after the oppression of the Soeharto years. I added that it had, however, run into trouble. The three months since have evoked more sense of the latter than the former.

President Wahid has endured a stormy time within Indonesia and internationally. His relationship with the MPR (parliament) has been tense and sometimes hostile.

The military has resisted efforts to erode its political position further. It has been guaranteed representation in the MPR until 2009.

It is by no means apparent that the TNI is responsive to his commands, though divisions within the TNI have prevented a unified challenge to him from within it.

In late September the case against ex-President Soeharto was dismissed by the court on grounds of his ill-health. Wahid claimed the doctors were politically motivated. Violence has erupted between pro- and anti-Soeharto demonstrators.

In mid-September Wahid ordered arrest of Tommy Soeharto. Subsequently he was sentenced to 18 months prison for corruption. Wahid dismissed the appeal for pardon, but the enforcement of the prison order was delayed by bureaucratic processes.

Outside Jakarta, ethnic, religious and separatist violence show no sign of abating. Some 8,000 people have been killed in Maluku in the communal violence there

A couple of weekends ago 26 people killed and 100 injured in West Papua after authorities removed independence flags. Much of the violence was inter-communal, between indigenous people and immigrants. Minister Yudhoyono warned that government would not tolerate separatist activities.

Aceh remains much the same as before. The 3-month “humanitarian pause” extended to January 2001 as a result of the separatist movement (GAM’s) negotiations with Indonesia in Geneva.

Wahid’s approach of offering dialogue and autonomy is the right one. But can he deliver it? Will his efforts be sabotaged by those with a vested interest in him not succeeding? “Pathologies of the previous regime remain in the system”. Indonesia’s political future is for that reason worrying.

Indonesia’s poorest province, and perhaps the one most important to New Zealand right now is West Timor. There have been dramatic and appalling developments there. Militia intimidation of UN aid workers increased in August and led to the murders of three UNHCR staff in Atambua on 6 September. This sent shock waves round the world and forced the UNHCR to pull out.

New Zealand helicopters rescued other UNHCR workers from West Timor.

The Security Council's Resolution 1319 of 8 September demanded that Indonesia disarm and disband the militias, bring the murderers to justice, and restore conditions secure enough to enable UNHCR to repatriate or resettle the more than 100,000 refugees remaining.

Pressure from the international community brought two reactions. The positive one is that the Indonesians made a start. Some weapons, mostly home made, were collected. Some of the efforts seem to be primarily for show, as in the case of the “weapons handover ceremony” on 26 September. Little progress is currently being made in disarming the militias.

Efforts are being made to split moderate militias from hard-liners. Eurico Guterres was arrested in Jakarta on 4 October on minor charges, and is still detained. Relations between the militias and the TNI are not as close as they were. (This would not have happened without international pressure.)

The negative reaction has been a tendency of some Indonesians to go into denial about what really happened in East Timor last year. Myths about how the referendum was not fair are being spread around.

It is a matter of judgment for ourselves and the rest of the international community to apply enough pressure on Indonesia to get results without provoking a nationalistic backlash and undermining the Wahid administration when its replacement could be much worse.

West Timor remains a dangerous and unstable place. The repatriation of refugees has again slowed to a trickle. Conditions are not nearly safe enough yet for the UNHCR to return.

In East Timor, good progress is being made with reconstruction and with nation building, although the security situation is not completely resolved.

Since early July quite a number of militia have infiltrated into East Timor from West Timor. Since the tragic death of Private Leonard Manning in action on 24 July, two armed militia have been killed by New Zealand forces in separate engagements. A Nepalese peacekeeper was also killed in action.

Despite the tragic loss of three New Zealand lives and the financial cost, New Zealand public opinion is still united in support of our involvement in East Timor.

Cabinet decided in September to authorise a third rotation of the New Zealand peacekeeping Battalion. This will take us through to May 2001. The question of a fourth rotation will be considered before Christmas.

In East Timor the CNRT Congress in Dili at the end of August showed the degree of political development there. Xanana Gusmao and Ramos Horta were re-affirmed as CNRT leaders despite a challenge to them from Fretilin. Party politics is developing.

The task of building institutions is going well. New Zealand is helping with Police, Customs, Judiciary, Corrections, Foreign Ministry and other area of government activity. Planning for an eventual East Timor Defence Force is already underway.

Overall, we can have cause for cautious optimism about East Timor. But the last few months, militia incursions and the continuing instability in parts of Indonesia, remind us that the hard-won gains cannot be taken for granted.


Once again, thank you for the opportunity to be here tonight. It is with great pleasure that I formally launch this publication and congratulate all those who have contributed to it.


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