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Can East Timor make the great leap forward?

As East Timor heads to the polls this year, starting with the presidential election next month, it will be embarking on a new and hopefully more positive phase of its often troubled development. East Timor now appears to be moving along a path of stability and hope, but a number of major issues await its new government but.

First among the issues to confront East Timor’s new government will be how to handle the withdrawal of the Australian-led International Stabilisation Force later in the year. East Timor is now much more stable since the 2006 crisis and looks to remain so, but its police are still poorly trained and underlying problems continue, including poverty and high levels of unemployment.

How people choose in volatile times

In a 2008 paper on neuroeconomics, Carnegie Mellon University economist George Loewenstein said: “Whereas psychologists tend to view humans as fallible and sometime even self-destructive, economists tend to view people as efficient maximisers of self-interest who make mistakes only when imperfectly informed about the consequences of their actions.” 

Timor-Leste to go to the polls

Timor-Leste will go to the polls as a result of its five-year electoral cycle on 17 March, kicking off an electoral process that will run until early July.

The question hanging over this process is whether it will mark the formal consolidation of democracy in the once deeply troubled territory, or whether it will signal a return to the problems of 2006–07 — which have been a common feature in many other post-conflict, post-colonial states.

The Arab Spring One Year On: the Challenges of Reforms and Democratic Transition

The Arab Spring, now entering its second year, was no random event. Rather, it was a synthesis of many interconnected failings within the post-colonial Arab state system ranging from endemic political corruption, to dire economic stagnation and associated social marginalisation of the masses to list just the obvious ones. But revolutions, as idealistic and romantic as they may appear to be, are never meant to be quick and tidy events. Indeed, the Arab Spring from its beginnings in Tunisia on 17th of  December 2010 to its current manifestation in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere in the region  is exhibiting all the hallmarks of a highly unpredictable phenomenon driven by a combination of internal dynamics and external interests.

Observers to Timor-Leste’s elections

As Timor-Leste heads into the three rounds of 2012 elections, election observers have begun to organise to monitor the election process and to report their findings. Accredited by Timor-Leste’s National Electoral Commission (CNE), observers continue to play a critical role in the young country’s still developing democratic process. Observers have been a part of Timor-Leste’s democratic process from the start of the country’s move towards independence. In 1999, independent observers spread across the then occupied territory, often by local transport and staying in homes or basic local accommodation, helping to enhance the larger international presence and thereby complicating plans by the Indonesian army, then known as ABRI, and its proxy militias to derail the ballot process. The observers gave Timor-Leste’s people an understanding that, though it was a difficult time, they were not alone.

Mining's small change

(This piece first appeared in The Age 16 February)

*Peter Carey is a professor of accounting in Deakin University’s faculty of Business and Law
*Neil Fargher is a professor of accounting in the Australian National University’s College of Business and Economics

Timor-Leste: the role of the president

The various contenders for Timor-Leste’s presidency in the 17 March election have begun to try to persuade the voting public why they should be elected as president. A number of candidates have said that, if elected, they will institute particular changes or reforms. These promises appear, however, to misunderstand the role of Timor-Leste’s president.
In short, the role of the president in Timor-Leste is, with few exceptions, a ceremonial one. Apart from a few carefully circumscribed areas, Timor-Leste’s president does not have an executive function.
Presidential candidates who announce that, if elected, they will institute particular changes therefore appear to be unaware of the constitutional role of the president. It is either that, or that they wish to change the constitution and give Timor-Leste a different type of political system.

SHALL WE TALK ABOUT WHALES AND WHALING? (10)

Lest we forget @ Albany

“Of course, it is in a remote place,” said a lady at a tourist information centre, slightly frowning.  I was a little paralysed with her reaction as it was not in the context of what I said before her words.

In the early November last year, I was in Albany, WA. As many of you, hopefully, may remember, Albany was the place where the last whaling station in Australia was operating.  The site has turned into a museum named the Whale World.  It seemed that it was crucial for me to visit the site for my research, and so I did.

It was quite a trip from Melbourne.  I flew into Perth and then took a coach service to Albany the next day.  I could have rented a car but because I hadn’t driven a car for more than a decade, I thought I better stay away from driving for other drivers’ safety.

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