Timor Sea Treaty
Neighbors Agree to Split Their Backyard Billions
After 15 months in complex negotiations over how to share the royalties from oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea, Australian and East Timorese officials were anxious. But as a historic treaty was signed on July 5, at the Dili headquarters of the U.N. Transitional Authority, the tension gave way to champagne toasts, jokes and happy snaps. A 1989 treaty between Australia and Indonesia divided the royalties evenly. But the new deal, described as generous by Australian politicians, favors the tiny and impoverished half-island in a 90:10 split that could be worth $A8 billion over the next 20 years. "It will give East Timor an opportunity to build itself into a truly successful nation," said Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.
Mari Alkatiri, East Timor's transitional Economic Affairs Minister, is wary of his country becoming dependent on oil-or frittering away its windfall. Sarah Cliffe, chief of the World Bank mission in East Timor, says it is "encouraging that the East Timorese leadership is well aware of this risk," adding that the new deal will allow the fledgling nation "to escape dependence on external aid ... after mid-decade." In recent weeks, the treaty talks had gathered pace to meet a deadline set by Phillips Petroleum of the U.S., which is planning a new gas pipeline from the Bayu-Undan field to Darwin. With national elections scheduled for Aug. 30, the treaty still needs to be ratified by an elected government in Dili.
Peter Galbraith, the former U.S. Ambassador to Croatia who was Alkatiri's U.N.-appointed partner in negotiating the new pact, notes a psychological shift among the country's leaders. "We've struck an extremely good deal for East Timor," he told Time. Galbraith, who often antagonized Australian officials with his ardor, admires the steely way the East Timorese defended their interests against a powerful friend. "The Australians still have some lessons to learn from the U.S. about the kind of approach you take to small neighbors," he says. "If you push people too much, you won't get the right result."
Mysterious Murder of The Hostages' Hero
Every day during Fiji's two-month coup crisis last year, John Scott faced men armed with machine guns as he took care packages to hostages in Parliament House. Then, Scott was kept safe by the logo of the local Red Cross, which he had headed since 1995. But on July 1, neither barred windows nor watchdogs (common in tense Suva) could protect him. At 6.30 a.m., a servant found Scott, 53, and his partner Greg Scrivener, 39, prone and naked on their blood-drenched bed, their heads almost severed; Scrivener's right hand and one of Scott's fingers had been amputated.
Police Commissioner Isikia Savua said the crime smacked of a "rage killing" by "a jilted lover," and alluded to a case last year in which a gay man cut off his partner's head and hands. But the victims' relatives, and local rumor, spoke of threats and phone taps, speculating that the murder might be linked to Scott's role during the coup. At week's end, though police had questioned suspects and sent blood for drug and hiv tests, Suvans remained baffled about who killed the hostages' "angel"-or why. Yet murmurs of political skulduggery continued, along with a sense that in the coup's wake, violence is just a knife edge away.
One Nation on the Mat
It's nearly three years since she failed to win the federal seat of Blair, but when faced with fraud charges last week, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson claimed to be the victim of Australia's Tall Poppy Syndrome. "Every time I do something, they have to come along and try and cut me down," said Hanson, who is running for the Senate at this year's federal election. Former One Nation director David Ettridge, also summonsed to appear in a Brisbane court on July 31, called the charges "a political witch hunt" and likened them to the persecution of Malaysia's former deputy leader Anwar Ibrahim-claims that Special Minister of State Eric Abetz later put down to "a bizarre paranoia."
Bizarre turns and paranoia seem to have fueled Hanson's political career since she railed against Asian immigration and welfare for Aborigines in her maiden parliamentary speech in 1996. After a strong showing at the 1998 Queensland election, her One Nation party was crippled by infighting. In 1999 a court ruled that the party's 1997 registration was invalid and fraudulent, and ordered Hanson to repay $A502,000 in electoral funding. Hanson vowed to fight on with typical stridency, saying: "We need to get over this hurdle."