East Timor, Reinado and the New Press Order


Terrorism, for the first time, has concluded in a constructive manner, something we would never have imagined, even in our wildest dreams. The age old clash between the two Timors, their delineation by Reinado and his extremist force, and attempts to slash the nations’ democracy have finally ended. The result is not a separatist ideology booming in the area, instead, we have an all-unifying, collective force provoked by the Asian Press.

What Reinado did to East Timor’s sociological scenario for the last one decade that climaxed with his daring attempt to kill President Ramos-Horta, is without doubt one of the most destructive episodes of terrorism witnessed by South East Asia. But, that simultaneously brings us to the big question – is it the ‘responsibility to restore democracy’ that forces Australia, Malaysia and Portugal to send their troops there, make them stay for years and patrol blood soaked streets? The answer is obviously ‘No’.

They have their vested interests in the rich natural resources of the country.Timor is facing a complicated situation. Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia have interest in the gas and oil of Timor; the UN has its interest of making its presence felt in the sole Christian dominated state of the Far Eastern island area, which otherwise enjoys a dominance of Islam;, and, the Western Press has its interest of showcasing terrorist activities in this part of the world. Ironically, the Asian press plays more than a sensible and responsible role. What is striking is that even the press of Indonesia, which colonized this state for years, supported the ‘unity of East Timor’, instead of provoking the government to make the most of this bizarre situation. Its eminent daily Waspada goes to the extent of urging people of East Timor not to perceive this action as a conspiracy of Indonesia. Even the Australian press joins this human approach with The Australian bashing the Australian Defense Force for its incompetence instead of sounding security concerns for its state, which is phenomenal, keeping the Western media in mind. This unbiased Asian media is surely making heads turn, with BBC making a special story on that.

For instance, Indonesia’s Waspada wrote,

“We hope that the bloody failed coup will not disrupt relations between East Timor and Indonesia… The impression should never emerge that the rebels were supported by Indonesia.”

Pikiran Rakyat, another Indonesian publication commented, “Man Alfredo Rein ado’s death has weakened the strength of his followers… East Timor cannot utterly rely on foreign powers… Xanana must persuade Alfredo’s friends to descend from the mountains and re-emerge from the forests to build the nation.”

Even The Australian wrote,

“That the attempt to kill both East Timor’s president and its prime minister nearly succeeded is a severe embarrassment for the ADF [Australian Defence Force]…”

The press in Hong Kong wasn’t left behind. The country’s daily, South China Morning Post reported,

“East Timor will move forward only through its people working as one by shrugging off their differences.”

The death of Reinado at the Presidential Palace may have made way for a lot of changes – political equation of the country, dominance of Australia, and, the death of West Timor’s hope. However, what it has shown the world is the birth of new generation Asian Press, which is not dictated by Western terms, or internal politics. Since 9/11, the world has been witness to a press which only highlights the problem of terrorism, sans any solutions, hence, only perpetrating violence. This was not only monotonous, but a threat to the idea of free press.

Under such circumstances, it is a heartening sight to see a bunch of leading dailies, cutting across country lines and political views, to present views in an objective manner. This surely acts as a beacon of hope to those in need of change.

It is interesting how a singular death has given birth to a New Press Order. You hear it correct – a New Press Order.

We can only hope that this is replicated by others.

Anindya Banerjee


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