Subject: Partido Democratico: Political Statement 24 March 2003
Partido Democratico Political Statement
The PD bench wishes to inform the Parliament and members of the Parliament five points of concern and dissatisfaction with the Government, primarily, the Prime Minister, Mr Mari Alkatiri’s attitude. The five points are as follows:
1. Reshuffle of the Government:
Parliamentary Democracy means that there is a mutual dependency between Parliament and the Government. The Government answers and is accountable to Parliament, the sovereign organ of the people’s representatives. The Government is a branch where the Parliament deposits its trust to govern. Unfortunately, in Timor Leste’s parliamentary democracy, the Parliament answers and is accountable to the Government. This is a truly new system!
This Parliament has 33 seats belonging to Small Parties it is true that 33 seats are small! This means that only 165,000 people voted for the smallest parties. However, there should be no differentiation between small or big political parties when we talk about the people whom we represent and serve. Because all of us, small or big, have the same rights and are protected by RDTL Constitution.
The Prime Minister, Mr. Mari Alkatiri, has made statement through radio and other media outlet saying that he, as Prime Minister, will not talk to the smallest parties. He also said that there is no need for him to inform the Parliament on the reshuffle of the government because it is not the competency of the Parliament.
Taking into consideration the Prime Minister’s statement we would like to say the following:
a. If the 165,000 people who voted for the opposition parties deserve no respect from Mr Mari Alkatiri then other East Timorese should have also lost their respect to Mr. Mari Alkatiri. Because when the Prime Minister does not want to talk to Small Parties, it means that he is not willing to talk to the 165.000 voters and others who do not agree with Mr. Mari Alkatiri’s policies.
b. The Prime Minister’s Statement is not substantive and not reasonable. I doubt that the Prime Minister really understands the role of the parliament, the role of the Prime Minister and the relationship between the Parliament and the Government. Arrogance is everywhere. Everybody has it, but as Prime Minister, we, the uneducated servants of the people, wish YOU would hear us and that we can hear you. The Prime Minister not only disrespects Small Parties with seats in the Parliament but also the Parliamentarians from the Winning Party, Fretilin, and the Parliament itself. We ask: * What is the role of the Parliamentarians as people’s representatives in this Parliament?
* Is the Constitution of RDTL just a study book for students?
* Or is the Constitution just a curtain to hide from the eyes of the world, to pretend to show to the world that we have a constitutional democracy while doing everything alone and behind closed doors?
* Are Cabinet/executive the only organ of sovereignty or are there also other Government entities that should know what the Cabinet should and should not do? 2. Resignation of Bobonaro District Administrator, Mr. Joao Vicente
We, the opposition, cannot understand why the Prime Minister reacts so unjustly and with arrogance by saying to Mr. Joao Vicente that he will never be allowed to hold a position in the public sector again. The Prime Minister is directly condemned Mr. Joao Vicente and his family whose livelihood depends on his income. It is an unnecessary statement that only diminishing the professionalism of the Prime Minister and encourages other people to disrespect the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister should support the initiative taken by the District Administrator because it was a good initiative that had the support of the authority as well as the people. Such initiative will bring solutions to the problems of the border market security issues! This initiative would look different if Mr. Joao Vicente had not informed Dili in the first place. We know that Mr. Joao Vicente sent all the information to Dili but received no answer from the central government. In addition, Mr. João Vicente also coordinated almost everything with the UN including East Timorese security apparatus in the District of Bobonaro.
The Prime Minister should seek information from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the former Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Security organizations both of the UN and Timor-Leste before making any statement. What is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs position on this issue?
The issue also highlights the fact that the District Administrators are not empowered with the authority they need to act as administrators. Their role has yet to be define or they have no clear instruction as to what they have to do concerning the needs in their districts.
3. Nomination of Sub-District Coordinators:
It appears that the parliamentarians in this Parliament have not paid sufficient attention to the nomination of the Sub-district Coordinators by the Government. This nomination is unconstitutional because there are no laws or regulations that define political administrative divisions of the Country. If there is a law or regulation on this matter such law should be written on the basis of Article 65 and 71 of the constitution. If such law exists it should not be implemented without the approval by the Parliament and promulgated by the President of the Republic. Therefore, the action, taken by the Cabinet, is not only against the constitution but also sets a precedent that in the future the Cabinet/government can do anything it likes. This government considers the Members of Parliament as puppets that only know how to raise their hands. We request: * If the nomination of the sub-district coordinators is legal, what is the legal basis for the nomination? If so, which parliament approved such law?
* If the nomination is a provisory one, why the Parliament has never been told? 4. Open Governance:
The Cabinet is running its Open Governance campaign currently with its second event taking place in Bobonaro District, last week, centring on a road opening ceremony. The logic of open governance presupposes the existence of closed governance. This means that the last ten months of governance was closed governance. In order to follow the Cabinet activities we want to know the following: * What is open Governance and what is closed Governance?
* What are the differences between these two concepts?
When these concepts are not clear they create confusion on the question of Open Governance. Therefore we want to know the separation between the Government and Political Party(s).
The separation between the Government and the Political Party is not clear and transparent. The Prime Minster or the Chief of the Cabinet also is the General Secretary of the Party. We ask: * Is this Open Governance a pre-electoral campaign?
* How much money has been spent for programs or campaign generated by this government which often involved a large Group of a convoy of luxury vehicles and a large escort of police officers to provide security for the Prime Minister?
* If the Open Governance program requires such a large Group of Ministers to accompany the Prime Minister, what is the role of District Administrators and the District Authority?
* If, and whenever, the Prime Minister visits the Districts a team of Ministers follow him, what are the roles of the ministers?
* The Prime Minister needs a large security taskforce to protect him from whom?
* If the Open Governance program continues to be as large as the Bobonaro program it may prove to be an expensive program for the people of Timor Leste.
5. Immigration Law and Asylum
Regarding the Immigration and Asylum Law we know that everyone is conscious of the content of this law. We request from each parliamentarian to be wise and be directed by his or her conscience to think and raise his or her hand to vote accordingly, particularly regarding article 11.
If we pass this law, especially Article 11, we might not suffer from this but our future generations might be sacrificed because of it.
Colleagues, this law reflects the policy and behaviour of leftist regimes! This law is oppressive and prevents everyone who dreams to develop themselves and wish to find opportunities to advance their lives, especially those who do not have family members in the Cabinet.
This law will isolate us from international community and narrowed our ways to globalization. In the past, when we fought the Indonesian military occupation of East Timor, we criticised Soeharto’s dictatorship regime because he had laws similar to Article 11. Soeharto’s laws limited our freedom of speech inside and outside the country, our freedom of association and speech, our freedom of communication with brothers from overseas, and removed us from having opportunities to participate in government projects because we didn’t have a family member in the Government!
Colleagues and members of parliament, the approval of this Immigration and Asylum Law is to renew and giving our blessing to the laws that we fought against in the past 24 years of the struggle for the independence. Be wise, my colleagues and parliamentarians! Raise your hand but do not raise it to oppress and make your children and all Timorese suffer, now and in the future.
With this Political Statement we request and demand from the President of the Parliament to call the Prime Minister for a meeting with members of the Parliament in order to answer these and other questions and to discuss concerns and issues with both the small and large parties in the parliament.
Partido Democratico (PD) Fernando Lasama Presidente
Dili, 24 Marco 2003