Assoc Professor Michael Leach (Swinburne University of Technology)

Past, Present and Future: Why History
Discussant Paper
Assoc Prof Michael Leach
Faculty of Life and Social Sciences
Swinburne University of Technology
ANU Timor-Leste Update, 28-29 November 2013
The Politics of History
• History important: corollary is that very centrality of history
makes it a powerful source of political legitimacy
– And therefore, of conflict
– Contests over ‘ownership’ of resistance history; inclusion /exclusion from
central narrative of national liberation
• Constitution: focuses heavily on valorisation of the resistance
– FALINTIL, Clandestine, Diplomatic Front, Catholic Church
• History and memory important aspect of nation-building
– Difficulties drafting national history curriculum post 1974: divisions from
1974-5, 1999, 2006.
• Role of history and memory in democratic consolidation?
– O’Donnell (1988): democratic consolidation favoured if negative popular
experiences of repression / economic failure under previous regime.
– “inverse legitimation”: greater public resistance to attempts to
overthrow the democratic regime, reluctance by political elites favouring
The Politics of Recognition
• Politics of recognition
– Perceived ‘disrespect’ to a group’s identity and values, or perceived
‘misrecognition’ of its contribution to widely shared social goals (such as
national independence) may create conditions for political conflict
(Honneth 1995).
– ‘Struggles for recognition’ to gain acknowledgement of contributions to
the common project of Timorese nationalism
– Factor in 2006 political-military crisis, intergenerational tensions since
independence, intra-elite conflict, political campaigns
– Anti-system actors deny recognition of 2002 Constitution e.g. CPD-RDTL
• Constituencies:
– making recognition style claims against the state
– Veterans; Petitioners; IDPs; Clandestines; Youth; Traditionalists; Catholic
Church ; Victims
• Faultlines:
– Intergenerational; secular/ religious; modern/ traditional ; Internal/
diaspora ; CNRT v Fretilin ; 1974-5; Urban-Rural ; (East-West)
The Political Economy of Recognition
• 37,000 Registered veterans
– 67m pensions annual, one-offs 62m (La’o Hamutuk)
– Recipients of contracts under Infrastructure, referendum packages:
Emergency projects to vets $78m 2010-12, to increase 4% annually
– 5.8% of 2013 budget, exceeding security sector, health
– Does not include civilian / clandestine list; Petitioners, IDPs
– AMP/ BGK introduced other important pensions: Elderly, Single mothers
• Veteran payments important, high level of popular legitimacy
– Could a social security policy become political patronage network?
– Largest payments distributed June 2012: “…these warriors, genuine
heroes of our independence, deserve attention from the state, but we
worry when this rectification is used to pay for political party promises.”
La’o Hamutuk
– "Tinted Windows Veterans" Xanana Gusmao April 2013
– Other groups less deserving than veterans have benefitted from
infrastructure contracts
– Are there attempts to mimic recognition claims as means of rent-seeking?
And more malicious forms, e.g. capacity to cause unrest?
Source: La’o Hamutuk
Mauk Moruk
• Paulino ‘Mauk Moruk’ Gama:
– L7’s brother, linked with Sagrada Familia, Abilio Araujo
• Moruk publicly revives split within FALINTIL early 1980s
– Gusmao first seeks to restructure FALINTIL as military wing of nonpartisan, pluralist nationalist front, rejected Marxism, move to political
rather than military strategy
– Moruk among FALINTIL group then operating independently, opposed
new direction, Kilik and Moruk demoted
• Raised ‘Hudi Laran reaction’ 1984
– attempted internal coup attempt against XG’s leadership in 1984
– Subsequent death of Kilik in combat with Indonesians, Moruk
– In Holland, returns to Dili, called for ‘revolution’ and claimed taught XG
guerrilla warfare, claimed 800 followers
• Widespread relief in Dili as leadership, including FRETILIN
backed XG, no return to 2006
– Motivation – veterans money?
Not a failed or failing state…
• Political system proving durable
– Avoided cycle of internal repression and resistance
– even 2006 crisis had constitutional resolution
– 2013 has seen rapprochement rather than increased conflict
• No military ‘tutelary role’ qua “guarantors” of the constitution.
– Although confusion policing v military roles in law and order
– military police commanders, ‘overstepping the mark’
• No “reserved domains” of policy beyond elected government
– Some argue aspects of Constitution are in this category
– Limited parliamentary oversight of some key budget elements
• No coup, insurrection, separatist politics
– Groups challenging authority of state exist, but relatively minor (CPDRDTL), some of these elements incorporated over time (UNDERTIM)
– Integrationist minority incorporated into political system
– Democracy ‘only game in town’
Democratic Consolidation: Strengths
• Leadership
– Strong leadership group, competent opposition, increasing signs of
rapprochement two major political forces: Xanana Gusmao & FRETILIN
– Role of President clear in these developments, moderation of political
conflict (O’Donnell 1988, Valenzuela 1990)
• Political System
Semi-presidential systems working, suits Timor-Leste
Voters have decided on independent Presidents
Complementary authorities with different functions / types of power
reflects diarchic conceptions of authority familiar to Timorese
communities, greater capacity for inclusion, no winner-takes-all
– Free press, chaotic but unregulated, few limits on party registration,
freedom of assembly, relatively active civil society
• Proportional Electoral system
– Forces alliance making, inclusion
– High level women’s representation 38.5%
Democratic Consolidation: Challenges
• How durable will current stability prove
– Finite petroleum resources; demographic bulge of young Timorese
entering labour market; critical political leadership transition ahead
• Transparency
– Current development approach heavily dependent on successful anticorruption & audit measures
• State capacity, government effectiveness outside Dili
– Judicial functioning , army role in civilian policing, police reform process
incomplete, low levels of institutional performance in public service
– Roads, creating a national market and economy
• Avoiding “Institutional Ritualism” (Soares)
– inclination to form new agencies rather than address actual problems
– Partly encouraged by donors
Timor-Leste: 2003-2012
(Leach, Scambary et al 2012)

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