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Answers to asylum seekers to be found in UNHCR, IOM in Indonesia, Malaysia, not Timor

The arrival of Foreign Affairs officials in East Timor this week to discuss a regional asylum seeker processing centre comes as the East Timorese parliament rejects the proposal. While East Timorese Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao has not closed the door on the idea, he has been, at best, polite about it. As an election issue, it will remain alive and kicking.

The government's policy of seeking talks with East Timor about establishing an offshore centre got off to a bungled start last week. Prime Minister Julia Gillard confirmed, denied and finally confirmed again that East Timor was the government's preferred site.

Offshore processing plan: someone forgot to tell East Timor

The announcement by the Gillard government that it intends to use East Timor as a processing stop-over for asylum seekers is either a very clever political ploy or a blunder that has the potential to derail her run for a second term for her government. At its heart appears to be a qualified endorsement from a man who has no capacity to offer it – East Timor’s President Jose Ramos-Horta.

The asylum seeker issues will no doubt be a central election issue and the Gillard government is looking to neutralize it. Using East Timor as a point of processing asylum seekers is smart because it keeps asylum seekers off-shore and hence satisfies voters who believed the ‘Pacific solution’ was a good idea.

Labor goes back to 1997?

Crossposted from geoffrobinson.info

In many respects modern Labor has returned to the type of inward musing that it engaged in after 1996. Then there was an assortment of vaguely defined rhetoric about the party’s perceived excessive social liberalism, these critics however were very vague as to exactly what alternative policies they proposed, instead they preferred to focus on what social liberals were alleged to think about former Labor voters. Gillard’s comments are interesting here:

War crimes amnesty dents fragile faith in rule of law

 

The sense of trauma continues and spirits of the dead are everywhere.

 

Driving through East Timor's western district of Bobonaro on the day Amnesty International released its report condemning East Timor's amnesties for war criminals, I experienced a compelling sense that the scars of 1999 and before had not healed. Perhaps a third of the houses I saw burnt in 1999 remain abandoned wrecks.

 

The people are rebuilding their lives, in many cases slowly, but the sense of trauma continues to manifest in sometimes imponderable acts, such as the violence of 2006.

 

I want to believe

Ask any good salesman the key to making a sale, and they will tell you that there are two parts to a successful sales pitch. The first step is to create or highlight a problem in the mind of the customer. The second step is to provide a “logical” solution to the problem, thus dissipating any anxiety.

 

The key to the solution being accepted is that the customer has to feel some degree of trust in the salesperson, which makes it easier for the customer to believe that what is being offered will work. Once that happens, the belief becomes an integral part of their identity, so it becomes very difficult to dismiss it.

 

It’s pretty basic stuff, but it works most of the time.

To go or not to go - Is Education valued in today's society?

Currently, there is significant debate over the recent announcement by Victoria’s Shadow Education Minister, Martin Dixon, that a Coalition Government would enforce truancy laws and fine the parents of students who are absent from school over extended periods of time, or who are regularly absent. The application of these fines would occur where an unidentified person decided that the reasons provided for absence were unacceptable. The basis for such a decision is as yet unclear, and it is not this issue that I am addressing here. As things become clearer, I am sure there will still be much to be clarified.

East Timor’s attacks on Australia

Australia’s relationship with East Timor is at its lowest ebb since 2005 when Alexander Downer bullied then Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri into accepting a fundamentally unfair division of the Timor Sea between the two countries. Since then, however, Australia has sent troops and police to help control serious instability in 2006 and has continued to be East Timor’s single largest aid provider.

Yet in recent weeks, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao has attacked Australia in ways that have left diplomats reeling and which are beginning to cast doubts over the future of the relationship. The fall-out between the two countries is being driven from within East Timor. In this, confusing categories is playing a major role, as illustrated by East Timorese journalist Jose Belo in The Age on Tuesday 15 June.

Independence leader blessed Aceh’s autonomy

Aceh independence leader

25-8-1925 – 3-6-2010

The death of Aceh independence leader Teungku (Lord) Hasan Muhammad di Tiro has put a final stamp on the peace that has descended on the long-troubled Indonesian province of Aceh. Di Tiro, 84, died from complications caused by leukemia. He had previously suffered two strokes which limited his activity in the final years of the Aceh separatist rebellion which he initiated in 1976.

Hasan di Tiro was born in the village of Tiro, near Pidie, Aceh from a long line of influential Muslim religious scholars. Notably, di Tiro was the grandson of Cik di Tiro, who was killed in 1899 leading Acehnese resistance to Dutch colonial forces which had invaded Aceh in 1873.

There is nothing like Australia... but we already knew that

 

It’s an appealing ad, but will the rest of the world get it?

  

Professional Cycling - escaping the crisis.

This week the cycling world again has been plunged into controversy after doping statements made by Floyd Landis. This is a further chapter in a saga that started with doping allegations in the Festina Tour of 1998. The allegations made by Floyd Landis this week raise issues that many people believe go to the heart of world cycling – its ability to deal with doping that appears to be embedded in the sport.

It is submitted that cycling can only come out of its crisis by dealing with the issues it faces in an open, transparent and impartial manner. Nothing less will work.

Landis’ allegations have yet to be fully investigated. However they are not the only such allegations of doping and abuse of power within the administration of the anti-doping system by the International Cycling Union (UCI). These allegations evidence a growing concern that the rules are not administered in a fair and transparent manner. 

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