Interview with Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao,
Yuli Ismartono [time 30:26]
President Xanana Gusmao became the country's first president since it gained independence in May, 2002. Although President Gusmao spent most of his life fighting for his country's independence, he is known as a proponent of peace and reconciliation. Today, he devotes his time and energy to rebuilding Timor Leste after years of conflict. He is also known as a charismatic leader, because he is a poet, and has written an autobiography called "To Resist is To Win".
Yuli Ismartono: Welcome to our program, The LEADERS. I'm Yuli Ismartono from AsiaViews. We are in Dilli, capital of Timor Leste, to chat with His Excellency, President Xanana Gusmao.You have now led Timor Leste for close to three years. In your view, what have been the biggest challenges?
Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao: The big challenge now is to build the state institutions, and of course, component in this effort, another challenge is to change the mentality of the people, in order that they understand that right now, in the beginning, we need to sacrifice, we need to do everything that we can to strengthen the state institutions. I believe, fundamentally, these two are the big challenges we face now.
YI: And what are the development priorities for your country?
Gusmao: According to standards of the international community, education is the priority, but for us, right from the beginning it is culture. And because of the lack of economic development, small and medium enterprises, should be a priority. But we are also putting more money into education, in health, taking into account that we have to develop everything from zero. The big challenge now is how to deliver jobs to our population. We are a little bit more than nine hundred thousand, more than half of this population are youths, and almost fifty percent are under twenty; this is a problem of having so many thousands of youths without employment, without jobs, this is the priority - jobs.
YI: So education, and job-creating programs.
Gusmao: Yes, and culture.
YI: Timor Leste is rich in natural resources, how important will oil and gas be to the future of Timor Leste?
Gusmao: Very important, not only for the future, but in the medium term. We are being assisted by the international community, we have a small budget, a little bit more than 130 million a year. But we are losing one million a day, because we have, we claim the right of oil fields that Australia is exploiting, we are losing one million a day. The money coming from the oil, will make a big difference. We can do what we want, what we need.
YI: And how long will that be?
Gusmao: We hope that in the next three years, maybe we can start receiving 100 million a year, from another field.