sexta-feira, setembro 07, 2007

Strategic Issues: Australia siphoning off East Timor's oil and gas reserves

The Daily Star (Bangladesh) - Saturday, September 8, 2007 12:43 AM

Cdre Md Khurshed Alam ndc psc BN (Retd)

One time mentor and champion of East Timor's sovereignty, Australia, is siphoning off of her oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea in total disregard to UNCLOS 1982.

When Portugal effectively abandoned East Timor, (a colony since 16th century), located on the eastern part of Timor Island on Nov 1975, Indonesia controlling West Timor naturally entered East Timor just like Indian troops marched and occupied Goa in 1961, a Portuguese colony since 1510. Though none raised hue and cry against forcible occupation of Goa, including Portugal, yet she continued to support and train Fretilin separatist guerillas all through the years and predominantly Muslim Indonesia miscalculated the range of activities of the so-called champions of independence.

Following the 1999 violence, Australia led the International Force for East Timor which restored security in East Timor and continued to play a leading role in the follow-on UN peacekeeping missions and had been the front-line support for her transition to independence.

When it was clear that Indonesia's rule in East Timor was breaking down, the Australian government hatched farfetched plans to ensure dominance in the Timor Sea at any cost. The leading role played by Australia in the 1999 UN intervention into East Timor was actually aimed at ensuring that the tiny state remains firmly under Australian financial and military domination. Finally with strong help from Australia, Portugal and other western powers, Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste commonly known as East Timor was born in May 2002.

The unstable government in East Timor has always been dependent upon the troops, police and economic aid of Australia, which was provided mainly to exploit the dispute of East Timor's the Greater Sunrise Unit area and Bayu-Undan oil and gas fields and specially Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA) in the Timor Sea.

The position of the Timorese government, led by ex-Fretilin separatist leaders President Xanana Gusmao and Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, was that the question of the maritime boundary and sovereignty had to be settled as the basis for determining the rights of the two countries. Timorese government requested monthly talks on the sea boundary and a settlement within five years and the Australian government insisted on talks every six months and resolution in 99 years. For obvious reasons known to all, during the recent crisis in East Timor, Australia again responded quickly to the East Timorese government's request for assistance to help stabilise the domestic security situation.

Australia continued to put pressure on the new government of Timor which was facing lots of problems at home, to sign a new Timor Sea Treaty (TST) so as to facilitate Australia's control of the seabed resources. Despite the new government's almost total economic and military dependence on Australia, the then PM refused to sign away its right to negotiate new maritime boundaries. It however had to sign the TST in 2002 “without prejudice” to a final settlement of the sea boundary. At every meeting since then, Australia has blocked any such settlement. Among other things, Australia might have thought that a renegotiated border with East Timor may invite Indonesia to dispute the boundary with Australia established by the 1972 TST. Normally a dispute such as this could be referred to the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea for an impartial decision, sudden Australia's unilateral announcement in March 2002, that it would no longer accept maritime border rulings by these UN bodies, underscored the government's real intention as regards to their calculated move towards the oil and gas resources of East Timor. This factor in part also explains Australia's treatment toward East Timorese negotiators and the callousness displayed toward the welfare of the population it claimed to have “liberated” in 1999.

In late 2003, East Timor demanded Australia stop pilfering the Laminaria-Corallina royalties until the boundary issue was settled. However, Australia ignored the request as the field will be exhausted within a few years. Since the field began operating in November 1999, the Australian government has earned about US$ 2 billion while East Timor has received nothing. In 2003 alone, Australia received US$ 172 million in royalties from Laminaria-Corallinatwice as much as the entire budget of the East Timorese government. The most important point to note is that if the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) were applied correctly, the international boundary would be along a line equidistant from the land territories and the only fully operating field, the Laminaria-Corallina, would fall entirely under East Timorese control.

Australia maintained that she has been generous in its dealings with East Timor, as it has given East Timor 90 percent of the revenue from the Bayu-Undan field. However, if the UNCLOS rule were applied there as well, East Timor would have been entitled to 100 percent of the revenue from the Bayu-Undan field. Far from being generous, Australia has exploited East Timor's desperate need for revenue from Bayu-Undan to force the special concessions that had to be made over the much larger Greater Sunrise field. Australia stalled the necessary parliamentary legislation allowing the development of the Bayu-Undan until the last minute, threatening the whole project with collapse. This manoeuvre forced the East Timorese government to agree to the proposal of surrendering Greater Sunrise Area.

The East Timorese parliament, in an attempt to maintain some bargaining power, refused to initially ratify it. However, four years of intimidation by the Australian negotiators continued unabated unless East Timor agreed to sign a separate protocol covering the Greater Sunrise field. The latest agreement, however, concedes it under conditions where the Bayu-Undan fields will be exhausted in about 15 years.

The unresolved question of sovereignty also deprives East Timor of any part of the servicing and processing involved with the fields, all of which is now concentrated in the Australian city of Darwin. While there is little infrastructure in East Timor, sovereignty over the Timor Sea resources would have given the Timorese state a say in the rate of exploitation of the fields and led to some transfer of skills and employment. The Greater Sunrise protocol, signed by Australia and East Timor in 2003, and came into force in 2007, now provides the secure legal and regulatory environment required for the development of the Greater Sunrise oil and gas reservoirs. Under the TST, both Australia and East Timor are bound by the treaty to refrain from asserting or pursuing to rights, jurisdiction or maritime boundaries in relation to the other for 50 years.

The two governments have also undertaken not to commence any dispute settlement proceedings against the other that would raise the issue of maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea. Greater Sunrise area is apportioned on the basis that 20.1 per cent falls within the JPDA and the remaining 79.9 per cent falls in an area to the east of the JPDA over which Australia exercises exclusive seabed jurisdiction. This apportionment reflects the geographical location of the resources. Due to the agreed resource split in the JPDA, under this protocol East Timor would receive tax revenues from 20.1 per cent of the Greater Sunrise resource and Australia would receive tax revenues from 79.9 per cent.

According to the maritime experts, this one-sided deal will be worth in the region of an additional billion dollar to East Timor. However, its main consequence is that Australia has succeeded in having East Timorese government drop its claim of sovereignty over key resource-rich areas of the Timor Sea for generations to be commercially exhausted.

Finding no other option from her one-time mentor who helped her to secede from Indonesia, she has now agreed so for a relative peanut, and given that the total royalties from the Greater Sunrise field over its projected life may reach US$ 38 billion, despite the field lying much closer to its territory than Australia.

Under the new agreements, Australia will continue to exercise continental shelf jurisdiction outside the JPDA and south of the 1972 Australia-Indonesia seabed boundary. East Timor will be able to exercise fisheries jurisdiction within the JPDA. A Maritime Commission will also be established to enable high-level dialogue on a range of important issues facing Australia and East Timor in the Timor Sea, including the management of security threats to offshore platforms and cooperation in managing fisheries resources.

It has now been reliably learnt that the claim of the Australian government to have sent thousands of troops to East Timor for purely humanitarian purposes is not true, rather it was a scramble for oil and gas. The signing of the two Timor Gap documents and the presence of 4,000 Australian military personnel in East Timor clearly demonstrates their real mission about the urgency of protecting Australian corporate and strategic interests in the Timor Sea.

Among the most revealing aspects of recent events in East Timor has been the almost complete silence of the Australian media about the two agreements signed by the Australian government to secure control over the multi-billion dollar oil and natural gas reserves beneath the Timor Sea. No headlines, photographs or commentary greeted either signing ceremony or the official announcement in each other's capital. The recent announcement clears the way for a $1.4 billion project in the Bayu-Undan field, which is about 500 kilometres north-west of Darwin, and 250 km south of East Timor.

It is apparent that Australian policy has shifted from being the West's most ardent defender and champion of the right of the Timorese people to self-determination. Even the form of the Timor Sea treaties highlights the colonial character of the new arrangements. The initial signatory for East Timor was the UN Administrator, who held complete power over the former Portuguese colony and the treaties will legally bind any incoming East Timorese government, and in spite of some lukewarm efforts by the Timorese government this was the culmination of more than four years of bullying that the government of Australia finally ensured effective Australian economic and political control of the offshore border region and the wealth beneath its waters.

As for the Timorese masses, in whose name Australia has intervened, they have had no say in the arrangements whatsoever. All in all, the East Timor operation has provided a lesson in the modus operandi of the new “ethical” foreign policy proclaimed by the Western powers as the basis for their interventions. Under the pretext of a sudden concern for the lives and well-being of the refugees and the oppressed, a new colonialism has taken place, driven entirely by thrust for oil and gas revenues as well as other natural resources and strategic advantages. Six years after East Timor's so-called “liberation”, 40 percent of the population still lives on 50 cents a day or less, life expectancy is just 40 years and maternal mortality rates are among the highest in the world.

Increasing dependence on Australia for food, safety, divided politically and with an economy in tatters, analyst believes that East Timor may be on a path to becoming a failed state. The siphoning off of the lion's share of the region's oil and gas wealth by Australia will perpetuate this suffering for many years to come.

Bangladesh should draw some lessons from the happenings in Timor Sea as we are yet to demarcate our maritime boundary with both Myanmar and India and claim sovereign rights over the gas and oil reserves spreading on an area of about 2,07,000 sq km in the Bay of Bengal.

- The author is a free lancer.

Timor's growing pains

Source: Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
Date: 07 Sep 2007

Timor-Leste (East Timor) could study the aftermath of the genocide in the African state of Rwanda in tackling its own backlog of people awaiting trial, according to JICA President Sadako Ogata.

She met Thursday in Tokyo with Atul Khare, Special Representative for the UN Secretary General in Timor-Leste, and discussed that country's troubled past and future challenges.

One of the biggest, according to Atul Khare, is a backlog of some estimated 4,000 people awaiting trial on various charges connected with insurrections and fighting which have plagued the Asian state both before independence in 2002 and in later violence.

As the UN High Commissioner for Refugees during Rwanda's troubles in the 1990s Mrs. Ogata was a close observer of the traditional tribal system called gacaca courts, which the government used to clear a backlog of tens of thousands of cases in that country after peace was reestablished.

She suggested Timor-Leste, which needs an estimated $9.5 million in financial assistance to strengthen its justice system, could study the Rwandan experience and its possible usefulness to Timor.

The country is still reeling from decades of violence and destruction. When Portugal withdrew from the territory in 1975 Indonesian armed forces filled the vacuum and in the next two decades, independent reports said tens of thousands of people were killed after guerrillas began fighting for independence. When a referendum showed the majority of the 850,000 population favored independence, loyalists went on a rampage, reducing towns to ruins and killing hundreds of civilians.

Following independence on May 20, 2002, the United Nations helped restore order in one of the organization's biggest success stories, though security has remained tenuous. Parliamentary elections were held earlier this year.

JICA is active in Timor-Leste, one of Asia's poorest nations, which nevertheless has vast unexploited offshore oil and gas fields.

The UN official told Mrs. Ogata the government had only a limited capability to exploit and spend available funds and the private sector remained weak, both factors inhibiting the country's growth. Unemployment, particularly among young people, remained extremely high.

Timor-Leste has expressed an interest in obtaining loan aid to rebuild the country, and Mrs. Ogata said that once a forthcoming merger between JICA and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) is completed in October 2008, the 'New JICA' will be able to provide not only technical assistance but also yen loans and grant aid to developing countries, such as Timor-Leste.

She also said that JICA would consider providing funds for the dispatch of additional UN Volunteers (UNVs) to Timor.

UNMIT – MEDIA MONITORING - Friday, 07 September 2007

"UNMIT assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of the articles or for the accuracy of their translations. The selection of the articles and their content do not indicate support or endorsement by UNMIT express or implied whatsoever. UNMIT shall not be responsible for any consequence resulting from the publication of, or from the reliance on, such articles and translations."

National Media Reports

Fernanda: a big structure of government, but may have no capacity

The MP from National Unity Party (PUN), Fernanda Borges said that the structure of the Alliance government is bigger than the previous government.

Ms. Borges also said that if the members of this big structure have no capacity, it will be a disaster for the nation’s development.

“Previously they said that Fretilin-led government was big, but now the government is as big as the national parliament, it’s nonsense,” said Ms. Borges in the national parliament on Thursday (6/9). (TP)

NP to establish auditing commission

The national parliament is going to establish an auditing commission to investigate the work of the previous government.

“The commission is not going to investigate the Fretilin-led government only, but also the new government, because we cannot guarantee that the new government will have no mistakes,” said Dusae, MP of CNRT. (TP)

Longuinhos deserves to be the PNTL commander

The former PNTL commander, Paulo de Fatima Martins has said the new PNTL commander should have a legal background and that the Attorney-General Longuinhos Monteiro would be deserving of the role.

“I think the new Commander should have legal competency as well as domestic and international experience,” said Mr Martins in the national parliament, Dili.

Cicilio: president needs to clarify reasons why the new government went to the Alliance

The member of the national parliament from CNRT, Cicilio Caminha said that the national parliament and the president should go to the rural areas to explain why the Alliance was allowed to form government.

Speaking to journalists on Thursday (06/09) at the parliament, Mr. Caminha revealed that Fretilin’s flags were erected across the eastern part of the country to express dissatisfaction over how government was formed. (DN)

Timotio: still no law stopping the capture of Alfredo

The Director of the Judicial System Monitoring Programme (JSMP), Timotio de Deus said the court does not have the authority to withdraw the mandate to capture Alfredo Reinado.

Speaking to journalists on Thursday (06/09) in JSMP’s office in Dili M de Deus explained that the Court is not able to withdraw the mandate and furthermore, no Judge has ordered the mandate be withdrawn.

He also revealed that the Court maintains its position the need for Alfredo Reinado to face justice. (DN)

The petitioners are ready to collaborate with Xanana

The petitioners group does have the good will to collaborate with the Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão to commence dialogue between them, the state, and Alfredo.

Speaking to journalists on Thursday (06/09) after meeting with the Vice Prime Minister, Jose Luis Guterres at Government Palace, Mr. Agostu de Araujo alias Tara said they had met to discuss what solutions could be found to solve the case of Alfredo Reinado and the petitioners. (STL)

UNMIT - Security Situation - Friday 7 September 2007

This is a broadcast of the UN Police in Timor-Leste to provide you with information about the security situation around the country.

The security situation in Timor-Leste has been calm, but the situation in Viqueque remains tense.

Today in Dili, UNPol attended seven incidents. None of the incidents were major. In one of the incidents, a UN car was damaged by rocks near the market in Pantai Kelapa. The rear windscreen was smashed, but there were no injuries.

Yesterday in Dili, police made three arrests: one for extortion, one for assault and one for putting up an illegal checkpoint. The arrests were made in Comoro and Lavandaria.

Police in Viqueque have received a report of three houses – one of which was used as a kindergarten - being set on fire in Kaninuk sub-village on 5 September. No injuries were reported. The police have identified two suspects and are investigating further.

United Nations police officers in conjunction with the PNTL and the International Stabilisation Force remain fully deployed to respond to any disturbances that may emerge.

The Police advise to avoid traveling during the night to the most affected areas. Please report any suspicious activities. You can call 112 or 7230365 to contact the police 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Uma decisão contra a evolução desejável

Blog Do Mirante – Terça-feira, 4 de Setembro de 2007
Uma decisão contra a evolução desejável
A. João Soares

O secretário de Estado dos Negócios Estrangeiros e da Cooperação português no fim de uma visita a Timor-Leste afirmou que os cooperantes portugueses naquele país, "sobretudo os professores", passarão em breve a ter cursos de tétum antes de iniciar a sua missão.

O referido governante salientou que a formação em tétum será importante "para ajudar os professores a resolverem melhor os problemas dos formandos". Sublinhou, no entanto que a obrigatoriedade dos cursos de tétum não resulta de uma avaliação negativa do relacionamento dos cooperantes com as populações, pois, "de forma geral, os portugueses conseguem fazer-se entender em português, ou directamente, ou porque num grupo de quatro ou cinco pessoas há sempre alguém que pode fazer de intérprete."

Quer dizer que o próprio governante não vê necessidade nessa aprendizagem pelos cooperantes. Com efeito, antes de ser decidida a língua oficial do País, foi posta de lado o tétum, por ter pouca capacidade de incentivar as relações internacionais, havendo dúvidas entre o Inglês e o português, e acabaram por ter escolhido este mais por razão sentimental do que por utilidade prática.

Esta atitude do secretário de Estado acaba por ser um recuo em relação a essa discussão no início da vida do país independente. Reduz-se assim o interesse em aprender uma língua mais cosmopolita, por deixar de ser necessária na vida quotidiana.

O facto de as pessoas terem de saber um pouco de português para poderem contactar com os cooperantes era um estímulo forte para a aprendizagem da língua, que assim desaparece.

Xanana Gusmão primeiro-ministro de votos indevidos

Blog Timor Lorosae Nação – Sexta-feira, 7 de Setembro de 2007
Quem votou em estrangeiros para governar-nos?
Tibério Lahane

A astuciosa predisposição de Ramos Horta para nomear Alexandre Gusmão primeiro-ministro poderia ser de prever, independentemente de o ter feito de modo premeditadamente lento para não acirrar tanto os ânimos daqueles que sentem e sabem que o presidente tem umas preferências que beneficiam o seu amigo e companheiro de lides deficitárias com as boas regras democráticas. Bem, mas isso mais coisa menos coisa já se sabia.

O que não se sabia era que o respeito e confiança no Presidente Ramos Horta iria sair de todo este processo muitíssimo abalado.

Ramos Horta, ao conduzir tudo de acordo com as perspectivas dos mais cépticos e que já punham em causa a sua inocência em relação ao seu envolvimento no derrube de Alkatiri, fez com que fosse relevante o que se dizia e escrevia sobre ele na manha política, no assertivo estado de assentimento em relação ao rumo pró-governo australiano perseguido por Xanana Gusmão.

Muito menos se sabia que o descaramento de Xanana Gusmão, agora primeiro-ministro, nos conduziria para a revelação de mais um facto demonstrativo do seu comprometimento com os governantes australianos desde há tempos.

Também não se sabia que ao participarmos nas eleições estávamos a votar na possibilidade de termos australianos no governo, independentemente de dizerem que é conselheiro, consultor ou vendedor de ideias para nos tramar.

No meu caso votei PSD - terei de assumi-lo para melhor fazer entender aquilo que muitos timorenses sentem - e todos estávamos muito longe da AMP, para mais sabendo o PSD que a maioria dos que rodeiam Xanana naquele partido feito à pressa são indivíduos quase sempre conotados com o oportunismo, negócios pouco claros, vidas pouco claras, etc. O próprio Mário Carrascalão chegou a afirmá-lo…

Mesmo assim a AMP foi formada, o PSD aderiu e Xanana Gusmão, cujos procedimentos desaprovo de há uns bons tempos a esta parte, lá beneficia do nosso voto apesar de não o termos escolhido, nem ao CNRT, mas sim a Mário Carrascalão, ao PSD.

Assim, sem com isso contarmos, temos um personagem político com o qual não concordamos, de quem desconfiamos, em quem não votámos para ser empossado primeiro-ministro com o nosso voto!

Caricato. Ainda mais caricato continuará a ser enquanto o PSD não conseguir apresentar uma explicação para aquilo que fez sem a nossa autorização. Usando indevidamente a procuração que lhe passámos ao confiarmos e nele votarmos.

Desde a formação da AMP que muitos de nós lhe torcemos o nariz, mas como a esperança é um bem próprio do ser humano muitos foram equacionando a possibilidade de poder acontecer ser formado um governo com alguma capacidade e competência governativa…

Para espanto de todos Mário Carrascalão distancia-se e recusa participar nesta aventura de consolidação de oferecimento do Poder a Xanana Gusmão e muitos dos inconvenientes personagens por ele escolhidos e por Ramos Horta aceites.

Onde está Mário Carrascalão? Terá consciência de quantos eleitores perderão nas próximas eleições?

Terá consciência que se espera que ele próprio tome uma posição muito clara em relação ao anunciado recrutamento de Steve Bracks para membro oculto deste governo que está a sobreviver indevidamente com votos de quem não confia em Xanana mas sim em Carrascalão?
Que estará a preparar Xanana Gusmão desta vez?

Se não votámos no CNRT porque está Xanana a usar os nossos votos para contratar estrangeiros para o governo e certamente para governar longe dos princípios políticos e de actuação do PSD?

Perante isto, que timorense não se sente ultrajado?
Com a Fretilin nem perco tempo. Neste caso, não é ela a má da fita!

RDTL Appeals Court finds Clemency Law unconstitutional

La'o Hamutuk – Wed, 05 Sep 2007 16:00

After six months of internal debate and very little public consultation, Timor-Leste's Parliament passed a law on "Truth and Measures of Clemency for Diverse Offenses" on 4 June 2007, giving amnesty for most crimes committed between 20 April 2006 and 30 April 2007. The text of the law (in Portuguese and English translation) is at .

On 3 July, newly-elected President Jose Ramos-Horta asked the Court of Appeals to give advice on the constitutionality of the law. Two days later, he promised La'o Hamutuk that he will not sign it regardless of the court's opinion.

On 16 August, the Court of Appeals, comprised of judges Claudio Ximenes, Jacinta Correia da Costa and Maria Natercia Gusmão Pereira, found articles 1 and 7.1 of the law unconstitutional because the defined time period applicable for clemency violates the principle of equality in Article 16.1 of the Constitution of RDTL. The court also found that Articles 2, 8 and 14 of the law do not violate the Constitution. The Portuguese-language opinion is at . La'o Hamutuk's June 2007 Bulletin contains an editorial on this law, which we believe is bad for justice and for Timor-Leste, and a list of the 180 types of crimes which would be eligible for amnesty. See
- Charles Scheiner

La'o Hamutuk (The Timor-Leste Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis), P.O. Box 340, Dili, Timor-Leste (East Timor);
Telephone: +670-3325013 or +670-734-0965 mobile; email: website: P.O. Box 1182, White Plains, NY 10602 USA;
Tel. +1-914-831-1098 or +1-914-473-3185 (mobile)


Todas as traduções de inglês para português (e também de francês para português) são feitas pela Margarida, que conhecemos recentemente, mas que desde sempre nos ajuda.

Obrigado pela solidariedade, Margarida!

Mensagem inicial - 16 de Maio de 2006

"Apesar de frágil, Timor-Leste é uma jovem democracia em que acreditamos. É o país que escolhemos para viver e trabalhar. Desde dia 28 de Abril muito se tem dito sobre a situação em Timor-Leste. Boatos, rumores, alertas, declarações de países estrangeiros, inocentes ou não, têm servido para transmitir um clima de conflito e insegurança que não corresponde ao que vivemos. Vamos tentar transmitir o que se passa aqui. Não o que ouvimos dizer... "

Malai Azul. Lives in East Timor/Dili, speaks Portuguese and English.
This is my blogchalk: Timor, Timor-Leste, East Timor, Dili, Portuguese, English, Malai Azul, politica, situação, Xanana, Ramos-Horta, Alkatiri, Conflito, Crise, ISF, GNR, UNPOL, UNMIT, ONU, UN.