Photo Source: AP
During the 20 years since the restoration of our independence, the people and leaders of Timor-Leste have collectively achieved many things, including creating a lasting peace free from major violence, maintaining our neutrality and sovereignty and improving some of our basic infrastructure. Despite these achievements, structural violence in the form of poverty, corruption and impunity continues to harm the lives and wellbeing of many of our people, and delay Timor-Leste’s transformation into a prosperous and secure nation. Political impasses and international crises have further exacerbated our internal socio-economic problems. Too many of our people continue to live in sub-standard homes, lacking adequate sanitation, decent income and access to quality education and healthcare, which means that many children of our nation face significant barriers to achieving a comfortable, secure life.
To resolve these complex problems, we need a comprehensive, integrated plan for the structural transformation of our economy, which must be developed in consultation with stakeholders representing labour and industry, as well as technical experts and international advisors. The plan must realistically account for Timor-Leste’s natural resources, physical and non-physical constraints and socio-cultural specificities, and aim to modernise our society and economy while preserving key aspects of our cultural heritage and protecting labour rights and the natural environment. This plan must also include a comprehensive education reform program, including targets for improving maternal and child nutrition, school facilities, teacher quality and higher education curricula.
Such a development plan will increase our self-sufficiency, prosperity and sovereignty, but international cooperation will also continue to be crucial for securing our developmental aims and national prosperity and security. Continued diplomatic relations with regional and global partners, involvement in international initiatives, and security and defence cooperation are therefore essential for ensuring our national security and maintaining friendly relations with a wide variety of international partners. In this way, Timor-Leste can continue to reap the benefits of these partnerships while avoiding taking sides in international competition. By taking these steps, our historic leaders will secure our people’s prosperity, and cement their legacy long into the future.
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