EAST TIMORESE INDEPENDENCE NEO-COLONIALISM? The East Timorese are beginning to rapidly find out that having a new flag, a national anthem and a parliament, do not necessarily mean they are independent. After waging a war for over two decades and losing over a third of their population in the process, the East Timorese find themselves on the threshold of a new era. Unfortunately this new era may not be the passport to personal security and economic independence that they struggled for. Since the Indonesian military and the militias were driven out with the assistance of an International peace keeping force, under the auspices of the United Nations in 1999, the East Timorese struggle for independence has undergone a profound transformation that has the potential to destroy everything they fought for. The insecurity generated by the Indonesian backed militias has been replaced by an insecurity related to peoplesΉ ability to secure a roof over their heads and earn a living in the post-independence brave new world. As freedom is intimately tied to economic independence, the East Timorese may find that if they donΉt guard and expand their newfound independence, they may become a neo-colonial outpost in Asia. If the new East Timorese parliament allows foreign investors to dictate their economic future, they may, like Cambodia, become a source of cheap labour in a globalised economy that only benefits foreign investors and those few East Timorese who may be able to act as intermediaries between foreign capital and the local population. Those East Timorese who fought for independence and the future of their children, may find that having their own parliament, flag and national anthem is a pyrrhic victory. Those East Timorese who fought for independence and their supporters, may find that they will have to take back to the streets to win the fight against economic domination by foreigners and an emerging East Timorese elite that are more interested in their own economic future, than creating wealth that can be used for the common good of the East Timorese population.

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