http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,16049802^601,00.html Well it has been a a couple of years since I was last in East Timor. I arrived shortly after the Australian soldiers following the rampage by the pro and anti independence militias (oh yea for those of you from the left side of politics both sides managed to disgrace mankind as a species) .
I watched with pride as the Australian contingent conduct itself with dignity and professionalism and later with dismay over the next two years after the UN arrived with their bloated bureaucracy, incompetence and corruption driven practices undid all the progress made.
It was particularly sad, as I like a number of Australians believed in the lofty ideals of the UN only to find in practice the UN is little more than a third world employment agency (with some notable exceptions) that would not be qualified to run the proverbial "chook raffle" (although the UN would employ 1500 people on USD daily allowances and the chook would go missing)
Of course, United Nations did a great ? job even before the independence encouraging all and sundry to vote in the referendum. Of course, once the violence started (something that even blind freddy could have seen coming a mile away) in a moment of shining glory, the UN packed its bags and ran leaving the locals to fend for themselves. That said, it should be noted that some heroic and noble UN staffers stayed at considerable risk to themsleves to help and protect where they could however the UN as an organisation disgraced its charter again.
Anyone who had any dealings with the UN after they came crawling back, once Australia had cleaned up their mess and the locals had paid the price in blood, had no doubt that the future of East TImor was grim. Corruption and incompetence was taught as part of UN state building 101. Make no mistake, East Timor will remain dependent on Australia much like PNG for as far forward as you can see. Oil & Gas money will ensure a few corrupt dogs get rich but for the average Timorese live is tough and going to get tougher (but far be it for Australia to attach strings to its Aid like governance and sound practice that would be racist) .
Some classics (where were the UN advisors and what the hell were they thinking):
1. East Timor adopts the USD as official currency - smart when over 85% population earn less than $1 a day, kinda tough to make change.
2. East Timor adopts Portuguese as the national language - wee! now we can trade with Portugal, eer maybe some African and South American countries... (minor technical hitch nobody under 45 speaks it..oh well).
3. Tampons are now GST free (oh look found a UN advisor, you would think he or she had something better to do than swipe at Howard's GST particulary seeing how the only women who can afford tampons are UN staffers and expats).