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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 38 No. 22. September 11, 1975

The future

The future

While a Fretilin victory seems assured. East Timor faces a difficult period ahead. The civil war has weakened the country considerably and many of the middle classes necessary to setting up an Independent economy have fled independence in the present circumstances appears unfeasible without massive aid.

Indonesia, which has always been the main threat to an independent East Timor, has indicated that it will not 'tolerate' an East Timor led by Fretilin. Last Sunday Indonesian forces in West Timor were placed on alert and Indonesian warships were in positions off the coast of East Timor. The stage seemed set for Indonesian intervention.

However, in a statement on Monday, Fretilin Secretary-General, Mr Jose Ramos Horta said that he had met with the Indonesian ambassador to Australia and that he was "quite confident we have no worries from Indonesia" He went on to say that Fretilin was quite happy for East-Timor to remain under the Portuguese flag and saw independence as coming in about 3 years.

In New Zealand we can play an important role by demanding that the Labour Government oppose any Indonesian intervention in East Timor. Our close economic and political ties with the fascist regime in Indonesia must not blind the government to Jakarta's colonialist designs on East Timor. Nor can our government forget that the Whitlam government in Canberra is backing an Indonesian takeover.

Despite any assurances the Indonesian ambassador to Australia may have given Fretilin the official attitude of the Indonesian government is still to oppose any settlement for East Timor arranged solely between Fretilin and the Portuguese (even, one assumes, [unclear: if] Fretilin controls the whole of East Timor) and to also oppose any left-wing regime on its borders.

East Timor's future is important to us because Indonesian intervention will lead to a mini-Vietnam 300 miles north of Darwin. In a statement two weeks' ago Mr Rowling said he was encouraged by the restraint the Indonesians had shown by not intervening and by the possibility that the situation would settle down and lead to self-determination by the people. The Labour Government needs to go further than this. It must state its unequivocal opposition to an Indonesian takover and it should offer generous assisstance to the people of East Timor both before and after independence.