Saturday, May 26, 2007

Enquiries

This sign-scuplture is part of an exhbition called Enquiries bing staged by Manu Scott at Auckland's Oedipus Rex gallery. Scott's sign refers to the famous photo of Whina Cooper and her great-grandchild walking down a road near Hapua, New Zealand's northernmost settlement, on the first day of the epic 1975 Land Hikoi:
The words 'Ake, ake, ake' refer viewers back to Orakau, site of the last major battle of the war that began when Europeans invaded the Waikato Kingdom in 1863. Near the end of the battle, when his troops were forced to fire plum stones because they had run out of bullets, the great Tainui chief Rewi Maniapoto jumped onto the battlements of the pa he was defending and shouted 'Ka whawhai tonu ahau ki a koe, ake, ake ake!', which translates as 'I shall fight against you, for ever and ever'. I remember ten thousand people chanting Rewi's words during the Waikato leg of the Seabed and Foreshore Hikoi of 2004, which retraced the route taken by marchers in 1975.

As well as the sign-scupltures, Scott's show includes a series of sad but beautiful photographs of the ruins of a Maori Boys School which recall Mark Hamilton's snapshots of the disused hospital at Tokanui. You can catch Enquiries until the end of the month.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once more on East Timor...

According to the latest GLW:

"The only socialist party to contest the June 30 ballot is the Socialist Party of Timor (PST), which is campaigning on the need for the development of the agricultural sector and the empowerment of East Timorese people at the local level of production. The PST has maintained and helped support a number of cooperatives since 1999 with very few resources, and hopes to improve its representation in the parliament from the one seat it presently holds. A May 19 article in the East Timorese paper Suara Timor Lorosae reported that the PST will run five candidates, including its current MP Pedro da Costa, on the CNRT’s party list."

http://www.greenleft.org.au/2007/711/36904

So after backing the right-wing, pro-Australian occupation, Washington- and Canberra-endorsed Ramos-Horta, the PST is now standing its candidates under the slate of Gusmao's new party. This the same Gusmao, of course, who played a leading role in the anti-Alkatiri coup orchestrated last year.

This is a scandalous situation, particularly with regard to the ongoing support the Australian DSP provides to the PST. The PST (nor the DSP for that matter)clearly has no right to be regarded as a socialist organisation...

7:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What exactly is the Socialist Party of Timor (PST)?

If the DSP are to be believed, the PST represents a genuine socialist movement in East Timor and deserves the support and solidarity of all leftists in the region. But the scandalous role played by the PST in the presidential and parliamentary elections raises serious questions. In the second round of the presidential vote, the PST backed the pro-imperialist candidate of choice, Jose Ramos-Horta. Now comes the pay-off—the PST has been allocated five spots on the parliamentary slate of Xanana Gusmao’s new party, the CNRT.

And all this without a word of criticism or explanation in the Green Left Weekly or from the DSP leadership.

An investigation into the PST is long overdue. The following notes are intended as an initial contribution.

As the quote from the GLW article above makes clear, the PST stresses the “agricultural sector” in its campaign work, and its development of agricultural cooperatives, including coffee and other cash crops, appears to play a central role in its activities. This would indicate that the party’s base is not among the working class or urban youth but in a section of the peasantry and the petty bourgeoisie.

This is not accidental and reflects the party’s entire reformist and nationalist political orientation. Links (no. 14, 2000), the DSP’s theoretical organ, published “A brief introduction to the Socialist Party of Timor”, in which we learn:

“The Political Manifesto identifies two arenas of struggle. The first is the struggle for political power, that is, for a "socialist state" (negara sosialis). The second is for the economic organisation of the masses at the grassroots as a start to building "socialist society" (masyarakat sosialis). The proposals in this second area are for a "Popular economic cooperatives movement characterised by intensive education among the oppressed masses and based in the rural areas".

“The Political Manifesto envisages that, as the cooperative movement grows, it will create a structure that will be the basis of the party structure. The Manifesto also envisages that profits accumulated by the cooperatives could be used to finance business enterprises that could challenge existing enterprises owned and run by the capitalist class.

“In addition, the concept of an "economic revolution" through the cooperative movement appears to be based on an assessment that a strategy based on direct struggle for political power is inadequate.

“Our political orientation, in the specific objective conditions of our people at the moment, is to build the socialist society first and the socialist state tomorrow. Or, to put in another way, to strive for a situation with a democracy where two powers develop, that is: the Government and the People.

“The PST states that mass mobilisation must be used to force a policy retreat by the state if the government or big capital begins to suppress or hinder the cooperatives' development.”

The political logic of this perspective appears to have led the PST leadership to get into bed with some dubious figures. “PST Secretary-General, Avelino Coelho da Silva, is also a director of a business consultancy, IMKI (Institutio Mau’bere ba Koperasi no’o Igualade, Mau’bere Institute for Cooperation and Equity). IMKI comprises businesspeople and lawyers and offers a range of negotiation, drafting and other legal services. Xavier do Amaral, the DRET founding President, is also a director.” (http://members.pcug.org.au/~wildwood/01apracfoa2.htm#12pst)

In the pre-independence period, the “Maubere Institute for Cooperation and Equity” offered its services to the UNTAET regime as a mediator in labour disputes.

We learn from the GLW: “The wage increase and improvements in conditions are incorporated in a contract drafted by the Maubere Institute for Cooperation and Equity (MICE), a legal aid and advocacy organisation recently established by da Silva with the assistance of Australian lawyer Martin Hardy. The contract is the first during the transition period. Negotiations are continuing for it to include sick leave, holiday and compassionate leave, and redundancy payments.

“MICE is calling for the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) to conduct a detailed survey on the cost of living in East Timor, which could be used as the basis for setting a minimum wage for workers in both the public and private sector. While some regulations exist for UNTAET workers, there are no formal laws or conditions established for workers in the private sector.

“’Other protest actions by workers will occur if their wages remain low and the price of food and transport stays high’, da Silva told Green Left Weekly. ‘Others will follow the example of the Olympia workers. They will realise they have the right to better wages and conditions than those they receive at present.’” (http://www.greenleft.org.au/2000/394/24347)

Who is da Silva’s Australian partner, Martin Hardie? According to one report, he was another carpetbagger who arrived after the 1999 independence referendum:

“According to sources in Darwin and Dili, Multiplex had received a sympathetic ear among the CNRT leaders thanks to Joao ('Joy') Goncalves and Darwin-based lawyer, Martin Hardie. Joy is a Timorese who fled to Melbourne in the mid-1970s, and later moved to Cairns, Queensland, where his family owns a supermarket. Goncalves, who had a very low profile role during his twenty-four years in Australia, as far as Timorese politics is concerned, seems to be currently well-entrenched in the CNRT inner circle. He is often seen managing the CNRT office in Dili, or travelling with Xanana Gusmao. Many Indonesian-educated Timorese jokingly call him 'Mensekneg CNRT', referring to the Indonesian acronym of 'State Secretariate Minister.' By cooperating with Multiplex Corporations, Joy allegedly plans to open a new supermarket and a hotel in Dili. Martin Hardie was fortunate to have the right contacts to approach the CNRT leadership. Those contacts were Jose Gusmao, a relative of Xanana Gusmao and formerly the CNRM Representative in Darwin, and Angie Pires, a Timorese woman whose sister was Gusmao's former wife. During my visit to Dili in mid-November 1999, I was told that Martin Hardie was the one I had to see in Dili, to make an appointment with Xanana Gusmao.

“Due to Goncalves's mediation, Multiplex has recently obtained a contract of A$0.5 million to rebuild the Dili headquarters of the old Portuguese-era chamber of commerce, called ACAIT (Associacao Commercial Agricola e Industrial de Timor). During the Indonesian occupation ACAIT had been changed into KADINDA (Kamar Dagang dan Industri Daerah) Timor Timur, which was headed by Manuel Carrascalao. ACAIT has recently been revived by an ad hoc committee, again headed by Manuel Carrascalao with Joy Goncalves as the secretary. Without consulting other former members and without holding a public tender, this ad hoc committee has appointed Multiplex to reconstruct the old ACAIT building. In the meantime, Joy is already planning to open a restaurant in the reconstructed building. Apart from the absence of a public tender, the A$0.5 million proposal to rebuild the ACAIT building also contain some labour irregularities. The proposal is based on an A$25 minimum wage for construction workers, while in reality Timorese workers are mostly only paid A$5.”

http://www.arena.org.au/Archives/Mag%20Archive/Issue%2047/features47.htm

According to one website, Hardie was imprisoned for his activities: “A Darwin-based lawyer, Mr Martin Hardie, fell foul of the legal system in East Timor and spent some time in the UN administered prison at Becora, outside Dili.” (http://www.samuelgriffith.org.au/papers/html/volume%2012/v12chap6.htm)

I would hope that the above information, gleaned from a simple google search, warrants further probing and an explanation from the DSP…

12:39 pm  

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