It's a pity East Timor missed out on those spectacular gas resources just offshore. It was nearly theirs but an imaginative Australian maritime border meant that it was actually ours. But never mind, what with being all-round good guys we're only too happy to develop the gas-fields, build the pipeline, and we might, if they behave themselves, even let the East Timorese have some of the money. But not too much. They might let it go to their heads and spend it on something crazy like roads or hospitals or schools. Really, what would they do with those if they had them? Smash 'em up, I expect.
And what craziness are those Timorese up to now? Lately, Alfredo Reinado the mad, bad and dangerous to know rebel (or patriot, depending on what day it is) has shot Jose Ramos Horta, the president, and shot and missed Xanana Gusmao, the new PM. Perhaps Reinado's long friendship with Gusmao (involving handshakes, hugs, congratulatory letters, friendly visits to Gusmao's house, and not forgetting declarations of allegiance) put a tear in Reinado's eye and caused him and his similarly tearful fellow-ambushers to miss. Who knows?
We in Australia like Gusmao. He's exactly the right sort of fellow. We also know that Reinado is a mad villain. We know that because he went crazy-ape bonkers and destabilised East Timor when the wicked dwarf Mari Alkatiri was PM. We never liked Alkatiri. He thought the gas belonged to Timor and wanted Australia and our kind-hearted gas developers to pay full-tote odds or fuck off. How dare he seek a deal with the Chinese?! What an ingrate. Not only is he ugly and short, and a Muslim(!), but I can't recall a single instance of him gushing about how great Australia is.
Not forgetting the Roman Catholic church in East Timor - they really hated Alkatiri! He rudely wanted to have a separation of church and state and to make religious education optional. The anti-christ in person! After the church (and their helpful Australian advisers) unsuccessfully tried to convince various East Timorese army regiments to bring a coup against Alkatiri, no one was surprised that Major Reinado did the right thing and started shooting the wicked army members that refused to join the church's uprising. Chaos. 'Alkatiri made me do it!', said Reinado astoundingly. Um... okay, sure, why not? That doesn't make a lick of sense but let's not spoil the party. Seeya Alkatiri, ya evil ingrate midget party-pooper! Thank God that fine fellow Gusmao was there to take the reins. He understands the rightness of us drilling the gas, which is ours.
Sensibly, none of us paid any attention when SBS journo John Martinkus, an old East Timor hand and johnny-on-the-spot, investigated Reinado's uprising and found that it was complete bullshit with the local cops and members of the military all as thick as thieves, and all gormlessly pointing fingers back at Gusmao. My favourite bit was when a local commander called up his boss and whilst firing in the air said that he was under attack. On camera! Those whacky foreigners!
Really, what was Martinkus on about? Bullshit obviously, since not a single media organisation paid any attention. Not apart from Rupert Murdoch's minions that is, who bravely attacked Martinkus as a mad, drug-taking, child-molester, or some such ad hominem. Quite right. Was Martinkus sacked? I certainly haven't seen him since. Serve him right if he was.
And Alkatiri? Those useless bloody Timorese lawyers must have screwed up because the wild charges against him involving massacres and mass graves (no really!) went up in smoke and he remains a free man. I expect the smoke was due to Alkatiri digging up the bodies and burning them before reburying them. Villains do that, you know.
And spare a thought for poor old Reinado, now declared an outlaw. He ran around in the jungle uttering mad gibberish about being betrayed and accusing everybody. He was chased hither and yon but lobbed up on the TV occasionally, variously being ferried about in Australian helicopters or at his home with Australian SAS soldiers as escorts. Australians are much given to modesty and the troops were not unreasonably shy in the media spotlight. Later when busybody Portuguese peacekeepers poked their nose in and arrested Reinado, all the Australian supervised guards went walkabout. And so did Reinado and fifty of his fellows. All this across the road from an Australian Army base. The devil! And then, there he was back in Australian choppers again. Sure, why not? We declare him the Scarlet Pimpernel reborn.
It's clear now that Reinado was not just murderous, but completely nuts, just as you'd expect from a foreign jibber-jabberer. Apparently he attempted to murder Pres. Ramos Horta as they walked out of a peace meeting at Ramos Horta's home. Now that's a first: he heads into the lion's den, has a chat, and as he heads out, he slips the wink to his waiting fellows and they start shooting. Genius. Why nobody ever thought of doing this before is a complete stumper. Perhaps because the only person who ended up dead* was Reinado? Oh well. We're not surprised. Foreigners always do things that make no sense.
Or was there a meeting at all? Now it seems it was an ambush-like event. But not an actual ambush because it would easily qualify as the most crap ambush in history. Rightly, the word 'ambush' is being scrupulously avoided in the media. Just recently Reinado spent a year at the Australian Defence Academy, doncha know. Did he learn ambushes there? Obviously not, or if he did, he learnt them very badly. But he is foreign, so what do you expect? To avoid casting an unwarranted slur on the ADA let's avoid mentioning it at all. Everyone seems to agree that 'coup attempt' is the appropriately vague expression.
Peace meeting treachery or non-ambush, either way it's a cold hard certainty that Reinado was not shot elsewhere, dumped outside Pres. Ramos Horta's house, with he being shot for realism (and educational purposes), further rounds fired in the air, and not forgetting a few slugs for PM Gusmao's 4WD just to complete the picture. We know this because the media has utterly avoided any possibility apart from the one involving Reinado as the worst coup-plotting assassin on the planet. That he failed to kill anyone except himself and succeeded in consolidating Gusmao in power is perfectly uninteresting, not to mention unspoken proof of the idiocy of foreigners.
Happily for the Timorese, Australia has sent another thousand troops along with members of Mick Keelty's muslim-hunting Feds. We have not seized control of East Timor. Perish the thought. The East Timorese, with Gusmao as
People of East Timor! Three cheers for your Australian saviours!
*Two years later and I thought it would be amusing to illustrate this piece. In going through the process of finding and editing the various photos, something struck me about a hitherto unseen picture of Reinado's corpse I came across. It's above - go have a look. This is the picture that did not run in the Australian media. The picture that did run here showed his body from his feet and completely failed to show the wound in his head. Which was a shame because no one got to see what a perfect right-through-the-eye shot it was.
It seems that in spite of his seizing of the initiative/element of surprise, not only did Reinado fail to hit anything in any useful fashion at all, but astoundingly one of his taken-by-surprise "holy shit, are they shooting at us?!" ambush victims somehow managed to drill Reinado right through the eye with a single perfect shot. Wow.