Indonesian media reported that Timor-Leste plans to purchase war Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) from Indonesian weapons manufacturer PT Pindad. A Director of PT Pindad will arrive in Timor-Leste on 12 September 2012 to formalize and sign the cooperation agreement. It is currently unknown how many of which APC type the government will order or how much Timor-Leste plans to pay for these APC, but estimates place the base price per unit between $420,00 USD and $840,000 USD* (for larger, more heavily accessorized vehicles).
This is the most recent case in a string of cases where the Timorese public learned of its own government’s weapons purchase through Indonesian media. The Timorese government has never informed the Timorese public about its weapons purchases.
Why are the Timorese people kept in the dark about those weapons purchased by their elected leaders with their country’s money? The government of Timor-Leste cannot hide behind reasons of national security for this failure to inform. If that were the case, the Indonesian media would not have access to the information either. So what is behind the Timorese government’s decisions to not inform the public of their weapons purchases? Why do they believe the people do not need to know?
Also, why does Timor-Leste need a APC? With whom are we going to war? Fundasaun Mahein would like to remind the government of Timor-Leste that the Timorese people are attacked daily by public security threats such as HIV and malnutrition. We must be smart about how we use our money – is it better to use it to fight malnourishment or to buy one APC that may never be used? Which choice would help the people of Timor-Leste more? Timor-Leste must actively engage our Indonesian neighbor in strategic defense and in defense cooperation. The country does not have a big defense budget. APCs are not necessary or particularly helpful to national defense.
Fundasaun Mahein (FM) urges Parliament Committee B, the parliament committee with knowledge on this matter, to address these questions and concerns about the APC purchase to the public. We eagerly await their response.