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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek TIME ASIANOW
SEARCH    GO

Welcome to Timor, Troops
But only if you're not from Australia, New Zealand or Portugal
By YISHANE LEE

also:
More stories Below The Fold

September 14, 1999
Web posted at 2:30 p.m. Hong Kong time, 2:30 a.m. EDT


    DAILY BRIEFING
Send in the Troops
Habibie says yes to intervention, but questions remain over who and when
- Monday, Sept. 13, 1999

Jiang Who?
The Chiense President's visit to Australia gets relegated to the back burner as East Timor continues to blaze
- Friday, Sept. 10, 1999

History Repeating Itself
Military marauders in Dili spark comparisons to the Khmer Rouge
- Thursday, Sept. 9, 1999

Spinning out of control
Martial law for East Timor, but in whose hands?
- Wednesday, Sept. 8, 1999

Grisly accounts of killings and 'cleansing' in East Timor
Is the militias' rampage the work of Indonesian special forces?
- Tuesday, Sept. 7, 1999

Blood in East Timor and Fire for Habibie
Chaos on two fronts following the pro-independence referendum
- Monday, Sept. 6, 1999

Moving Closer To an Agreement
A final deal over China's entry into the WTO may be in the offing
- Friday, Sept. 3, 1999

  ALSO IN ASIAWEEK
Intelligence
The story behind today's news from the editors of Asiaweek

APEC 99
Asiaweek Senior Correspondent Alejandro Reyes' dispatches from the Auckland conference

  TIME ASIA
Asia Buzz
Daily commentary from the editors of TIME Asia

Market Q&A
Each business evening with analysts around the region

A day after Indonesian President B.J. Habibie's sudden about-face decision to allow U.N. peacekeeping forces in East Timor, heated debate over its makeup and deployment schedule continued, threatening to delay help from reaching the strife-torn region. Reports of mass starvation, especially in outlying regions, have also sparked talk of U.N.-led emergency food drops prior to troop deployment.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas, now at the United Nations in New York to discuss implementation, said that "we would like to see whatever force that is going to be decided by the U.N. take its place in East Timor as fast as possible," with no conditions imposed, reports the International Herald Tribune.

His decision to allow intervention virtually guaranteeing no chance for reelection in Indonesia's November presidential vote, President Habibie strove for a conciliatory tone as well in speaking to leaders of the Indonesian Parliament's House of Representatives. Asked whether there were any limits on which countries could participate in a peacekeeping force, Habibie stressed that Indonesia is not at war with anyone, according to The Jakarta Post. "We're on friendly terms with everyone," the president said.

Their opponents in Parliament and the military disagreed. They demanded that the force contain no Australians or Portuguese, the Post goes on the report. The Indonesian military stressed that it "preferred" to have troops drawn from Southeast Asian countries. Aisyah Aminy, a leading member of Parliament, said Australia, New Zealand and Portugal should be excluded from helping "because they are not neutral." Said the chairwoman of parliament's commission for political, security and foreign affairs: "These countries have imposed their will on us to get themselves involved in East Timor. They have no shame."

Public sentiment is also getting riled up. In Jakarta, an effigy of Australian PM John Howard was burned during a demonstration outside his country's embassy. A larger demonstration of 500 in Indonesia's second city Surabaya saw the consulate there "ransacked," according to the Bangkok Post. Demonstrator Lt.-Col. Subiyantono, a platoon leader in Indonesia's 1975 invasion of East Timor, said of the peacekeeping troops: "Let them come and be killed. Let them see how fanatic the East Timorese are."

Indonesia's mixed signals and still-virulent nationalism prompts an editorial in the South China Morning Post to conclude that "Indonesia had barely started to reclaim some lost credibility by agreeing to admit international peacekeepers to East Timor when some of its politicians began giving it away again."

With reports of starving refugees ranging from 100,000 to 200,000, U.N. officials in Darwin took over a waterfront warehouse to store food and medical supplies, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. "But by last night," it continued, "there had been no go-ahead for the drops and two U.N. Hercules flew into Darwin after aborting an unannounced mercy mission to rescue more than 1,000 people in the beleaguered U.N. compound in Dili." Twelve of the Herald's 15 top stories concerned events surrounding East Timor, reflecting Australia's continued interest in the territory. Among them were accounts of refugees being "shot as they starve", bodies being burned, renewed targeting of nuns and priests, and refugees being duped by U.N.-clad persons and boated out only to return shortly thereafter. Dr. Andrew McNaughton of the Darwin-based East Timorese International Support Center "feared the militias and the Indonesian Army had embarked on 'a final solution' in East Timor that had echoes of Nazi Germany."

Australia's Prime Minister Howard has signalled that the nation's leading role in the East Timor crisis means changes in its regional and defense policies, the Herald reports. It continues: "His victory in forging a peacekeeping force will boost Australia's regional role, and give it greater clout in its relationship with its American allies-who by choice have been second fiddle players in the East Timor crisis."

The Herald also ran the usual soldier-going-off-to-fight story: a couple wed earlier than planned as the newly-married husband, an infantryman, prepares for possible deployment to Timor.


 
Below the Fold

All this and a trip to Vegas
Hong Kong financial secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen visits Las Vegas next week as a government think tank prepares to discuss whether Hong Kong should become "a gaming destination" to boost tourism, reports the South China Morning Post. "Gaming" is the term preferred over "gambling," in order to encourage a family-oriented resort rather than a casino alone. To boost its stagnating economy, Hong Kong has been trying to think of ways to increase tourism. These include efforts to lure Disney to build a theme park on semi-rural Lantau island and plans for a new race course there. Hong Kong can then offer one-stop entertainment on the outlying island: arrive at the new airport also located by there, take the kids on rollercoaster rides, place a few bets on horse races and then roll the dice at the craps table.

Men in Black
Hats off to APEC hosts New Zealand for finally coming up with a "local traditional costume" that didn't reduce the world's leaders to looking like package tourists during closing ceremonies. Having worn batik shirts in Indonesia and leather bomber jackets in Canada, the politicians yesterday were clad in all-black suits that are meant to "celebrate [New Zealand's] sporting heroes," the mighty All Blacks, according to the Hong Kong Standard.


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