Written by Antonio Padua Soares
The ongoing court battle between East Timor and Australia in Hague is East Timor’s first and important chance to stand up to Australia’s unfair and often bullying treatment of its tiny neighbor on the solution of maritime boundary and sharing of wealth lies in Timor Sea. If you read Paul Cleary’s Shakedown Australia’s grab for Timor oil, it is all there. What Australia cares about is none other than stealing East Timor’s oil.
For years Australia conspires to deny East Timor its right to a fair share of its wealth under Timor Sea. Australian political position was set and firmed since 1970s that an independent East Timor was not viable. Australia argued that it would be difficult to negotiate with Fretilin government than with Suharto Indonesia over the exploration of oil in Timor Sea. Its greed prevailed over fundamental values such as human rights, democracy, fair dinkum that it often loudly proclaims to adhere to. In return Indonesia’s succumb to its pressure; Australia was the first country in the world to recognize East Timor illegal integration with Indonesia despite genocide took place in the island country. The spirit of mateship East Timorese learned from their diggers during WWII was not reciprocated.
Successive government both liberal and labor continued to strongly support the notion that East Timor was better off with the integration with Indonesia. While East Timorese people were helplessly dying Australia turned blind eye and illegally exploited its resources. East Timor fought alone with the help of the Australian people. Many people falsely saw Australia as a savior with the INTERFET intervention in 1999. The true fact was it was the people of Australia that pushed its government who at the end reluctantly bowed to its people demand.
Australia withdrew from international process to resolve maritime boundary under UNCLOS shortly before East Timor restored its independence in 2002. It was an act of cowardice and another clear manifestation of its intention of grabbing East Timor oil. Australia knew from the start that its arguments were weak. Under UNCLOS resources in Timor Sea particularly JPDA Area and Sunrise belongs to East Timor.
Australia former foreign minister Alexandre Downer, who is now acting as advisor for Conoco Philips (what a coincidence), claimed that Australia has been far too generous towards East Timor by agreeing to 90-10 split of shared revenues from JPDA. Too generous is an absurd and overstated statement. How can it be possible when the generosity given was not Australian, but East Timorese? It is East Timorese that been generous by handing out 10% share of its own resources and other developments benefits from piping the oil to Darwin.
Australia’s greed for East Timor’s oil is further manifested by its intention to do whatever it takes including bugging PM’s office and negotiation team phones. Shockingly some of these spies disguise as aid workers.
Australia often used its bullying tactics to deprive East Timorese from gaining a better share of its resources. Before and up until now, its so-called independent media (sponsored by big companies) and professional journalists continue to spread rumors and unfounded claims of negativities towards the tiny island.
East Timor move to nullify CMATS based on the facts and witness’s testaments that Australia spied on East Timor during negotiation to get unfair advantage. Australia hasty action to seize East Timor’s legal representative’s office and to prevent witness K to be present at the court proves that it has something fishy to hide. One can conclude Australia does spy on East Timor. It just too embarrasses to accept it. It once again shows that the greed over Timor oil forces Australia to do whatever it takes regardless of it is legally, politically and morally right.
A confidential memorandum leaked to internet detailed about the Australia current ambassador Peter Doyle comment that Australia is not happy with East Timor action. Through a middleman he indirectly proposed to East Timorese leaders to forgo the arbitration. With the current budget unsustainable and lower oil price in the future, and oil money dries up soon, East Timor would rely heavily on Australia in coming years, he argues.
Recently there has been lot of negativities in press especially Australian media and some so-called independent analyst in East Timor (who maybe sponsored by big companies) about East Timor. These papers accused East Timor of falling into resource curse, failed state, poverty, corruption, worsening health care and etc. All of these are clearly concerted efforts played by media with big corporation sponsors and support from the government to undermine East Timor effort to claim its rightfully shares of its wealth and its fight against a mighty prosperous Australia and scrupulous greedy big corporations. They try to undermine East Timor effort to build its nation successfully and independently. Australia wants East Timor to be one of those pacific islands. Fortunately we are better enough to know that.
East Timorese should not be let themselves be used and manipulated by invisible hands disguise in the name of democracy, human rights, whatever standard or principle it is. As we have seen the proponents of democracy and human rights are the first one to violate. As was East Timor in 1975 under the pretext of communism, the invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and soon Iran is none other than for oil under the pretext of terrorism and the never found weapon of mass destruction.
In this globalised world, there is no such thing as true mate. We learnt from our past and looking forward, we should be mindful. These days lot of colorful people coming to Timor claimed as Timorese friends. Do they come to help us or to help themselves? The people of East Timor should be united behind our government to fight for what is rightfully ours.