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Freedom Collection

Interviews with Jose Ramos-Horta

Interviewed January 8, 2010

The Indonesian regime– all Indonesia, as such– very, very important. It´s one of the largest countries in the world. It´s strategically located. And in particular, during the Cold War and in post-Vietnam, not only because of Indonesia at that time was very rich in oil and gas reserves– but– I would say, more important than that was– it is a strategic– location in Southeast Asia.

But the same time, what were Indonesia´s weaknesses? It was rule by a very corrupt regime, authoritarian, undemocratic, extremely corrupt, that gradually, slowly– was– corroding itself, rotten inside. And as time went by, the regime was even more corrupt.

Way back in– ´95, I gave an interview to CNN to a program call– “Light– t– a Diplomatic License”– by– Richard Roth. Even though– were– back then I was not even well known, I was already having some contacts with media. I was– known to some of the media, but it was before the Nobel Peace Prize. And in that interview that was– air– in mid-May ´95, I said the following, “Within two to three years, the Suharto regime will collapse under the weight of corruption, mismanagement and increasing political illegitimacy. When that comes, that moment comes, it will be easier to negotiate a solution to the Timor conflict.”

Well, let me repeat, that was in May ´95. In May ´98, the Suharto regime fell, almost exactly two to three years, as I had said in that interview. Because by then it was obvious that why l– the World Bank and IMF and the United States, the Europeans, all were still looking at Indonesia with– rosy– or tinted– glasses, well, those of us who knew better– were anticipating that the– that regime can not go on pretending.

Of course– you– we had the economic financial crisis the– that happened, that started in Thailand in July– ´97. By December ´97, it had affected– most of– Southeast Asia. Hardly any country in Southeast Asia escape. Even Korea– suffered severely. In Korea we had– the fall of the dictatorship, the election of Kim Dae-Jung– who was– fighting for democracy for over 30 years.

And in the streets of Jakarta, also in Indonesia, the students went to the streets. As a result of the economic financial crisis, Timor-Leste was by then too– much of a burden for Indonesia. So, that was Indonesia weaknesses– corrupt, mismanage, live– the regime was living on falsehoods. And sooner or later, any regime like that will crumble.