Academic journal article Southeast Asian Affairs

Conclusion

Academic journal article Southeast Asian Affairs

Conclusion

Article excerpt

East Timor is a new nation quite literally being reconstructed "out of the ashes".3 In more normal circumstances, this would be an exciting challenge --- writing a constitution, developing political, legal and educational institutions, and charting the way forward on economic policy.

However, times are anything but normal. The East Timorese people are very poor, and they have lived under very harsh conditions in the last two years. Before that, they experienced a quarter century of troubled rule from Jakarta, and centuries of neglect from Lisbon. Everything is urgent, from holding an election to rebuilding schools and ensuring adequate food supplies. Aid supplies and international commitments are currently plentiful, but this window of opportunity may be fleeting. There will be other crises around the world which will divert international attention, and donor fatigue is a problem everywhere, especially when the inevitable domestic (East Timorese) political squabbles erupt, and tales of corruption and waste in government surface. The Portuguese world is currently very supportive, but it is distant, small, and unlikely to have the resources available to make a durable commitment to East Timor's development. …

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