“In victory be magnanimous”: President of Timor-Leste visits Maldives

Visiting President of Timor-Leste (East Timor) Dr José Ramos-Horta was met with a seven-gun salute this morning at the president’s jetty, the first day of his state visit to the Maldives.

The two countries signed an agreement to promote cultural exchange and encourage travel through a visa agreement.

Introducing the Nobel Peace prize-winning head of state, Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed said Timor’s experience with transitional justice following its independence provided valuable insight for the Maldives’ own process of national reconciliation.

“His excellency [Ramos-Horta] is no ordinary head of state – he is a renowned, fearless and uncompromising champion of human rights,” Nasheed said. “We can learn from their experiences building democracy and of transitional justice.

Ramos-Horta thanked Nasheed for the invitation, joking that “some people at home were suspicious as to why I was going to the Maldives on Valentines Day. I had to show them the letter from the president to prove it was not forsecret romantic purposes.” He also said he was “nervous about coming, in case the President invited us to a meeting underwater.”

He pledged Timor’s support for the Maldives’ bid to join the UN Council of Human Rights, praising Nasheed’s “creativity, commitment, and conciliatory and compassionate approach to past political opponents”.

Timor Leste, like the Maldives, was one of the few countries “to have ratified ever human rights instrument, on day one our our succession to independence,” Ramos-Horta said.

“It took 24 years of occupation [by Indonesia] before we freed ourselves, and tens of thousands of people died. And yet there is no anger or resentment between us and former occupiers – we have the best possible relationship, and thousands of Indonesians are still living in Timor without abuse or discrimination.

“The greatest act of justice is that we are free. We are free because Indonesia also freed itself in 1999 with the fall of the Soeharto regime. Indonesia won by freeing itself of East Timor – and they did. If you look monthly import-exports, [Indonesia] wasted a lot of money on Timor. Now our import bill to them is huge, in the millions of dollars. Our independence restored Indonesia’s honour and dignity.”

Ramos-Horta said a conciliatory approach following Timor’s independence had led to heavy criticism from “heroic bureaucrats” in the United Nations and Brussels, who favoured an “international tribunal to try everyone in Indonesia who was involved in the crimes of the past.

“[Such an approach] would have shown on our side a lack of wisdom and insensitivity to an Indonesia [which was itself] in turmoil and in transition to democracy.”

Ramos-Horta said he himself had “lost brothers and sisters, some of whom we cannot even recover the bodies. That happened to thousands of people.”

“Each country has its realities; its challenges and complexities,” he explained. “I prefer to be criticised for being soft on people who committed violence in the past than be criticised for being too harsh or insensitive in putting people in jail. Our approach fits our reality, an approach the president of the Maldives and I share – the need for magnanimity.”

“Immediately after our independence in 1999, I said: ‘in victory be magnanimous. Don’t rub the wounds of those who feel they lost. Make they feel they won, also.'”


13 thoughts on ““In victory be magnanimous”: President of Timor-Leste visits Maldives”

  1. Dr José Ramos-Horta is a great man. And someone who's ideology we should emulate. But our focus is a nation that is very different. People do not know or even believe the abuses of the past! When it comes to all the families who've been witness to torture, it was because we deserved it. People don't know the true depth of the problem that plagues the very heart of our government and our society. All the abuses we faced were subtle, delicate,ruthless while being tempered, and even masterful.

    So this is a very different problem. It is a very different story. And unless we address it in a unique and innovative way - then our nation's true history is doomed to be swept under the rug.

  2. Hi,
    It is a bloody joke if President Horta believes that the situation that existed in the Maldives under President Gayoom was similar to that in East Timore prior to independence. The "subtle,delicate, ruthless while being tempered, and even masterful" abuse that Salim Waheed mentions in his comment, is worse today. It is sad that some people who lecture about torture and abuse of the past don't know or opt to ignore the more widespread and ruthless torture and abuse that is happening presently in the Maldives.

  3. Salim, i agree. The situation in Maldives is very different. Ours was not an oppression like that in Timor Leste. We are a people who believed that Gayoom was and had the right to be the Supreme leader, with supreme authority. Which is why the current govt is still feeling the brunt of Gayoom loyalists.

    Plus, President's Nasheed's stand of "in victory be magnanimous" didnt really go with what President Ramos-Horta's vision of "Don’t rub the wounds of those who feel they lost. Make them feel they won, also.’”.... in fact so far all what we have seen is the current govt making sure Gayoom and his party feel their loss... whether in parliament, meetings, presidential addresses etc....

    This visit by the President of Timor Leste might be a suggestion of President Nasheed turning his back on the inquiry into past crimes by Gayoom & Nasir too. Justice or finding the truth doesnt necessarily translate into JAILING everyone...or anyone at all for that matter. Justice & truth....is about knowing what has taken place in this nation, and how we as a people became zombies to brutal, oppressive governments.

    We have to learn from our history...to do that the truth has to be uncovered... our judiciary will also not be improved and corrected if the previous way of doing things, and previous judges who did the wrong, are not corrected...
    Being "magnanimous" does not help correct the institutions that we run at the will of the supreme authority...Gayoom. And i would have thought President Nasheed realized his mistake of calling for "forgiveness" by now... but i guess not. Looks like he is still trying to find a way to stop the call for truth & reconciliation or justice...by supporters of his own party.
    And i am also a bit curious as to why Timor Leste's President came to visit us? Or more like why our President invited him? What makes Timor important?

  4. one of the south asias poorest nation leader has visited another poor nation - maldives.
    i wonder what good will happen from this visit !!!

  5. Dr Shaheed wearing a yellow tie, wonder when he will change that color again.

  6. boahalaaku:

    what is your problem . you also can wear blue tie if you want to. are you j. because dr shaheed is doing well in his job.?

  7. i agree with u hairaan,
    and to ibrahim zahir, did u know that they ve one of the biggest Oil investment in their country. did u actully know it's been like 20 yrs they got independence and they are far much better than maldives. poor countries can contribute to each other, money does not have to be every thing, because at the end of the day it always have to be a symbiotic relationship. who knows when we might start getting Rice and wheat from Timor-Leste

  8. It is true Dr José Ramos-Horta is a great man, statesman and a hero!

    What he faced was a country vs country affair and if they had to ahd have to settle it, they again perhaps will have to go to war! Therefore ‘in victory be magnanimous. Don’t rub the wounds of those who feel they lost. Make they feel they won, also.’, can work and benefit!

    Ours as everyone know, is not so! It is partly blood related, jealous related, hypocrisy related and gluttony related events that has sent our nation to this level!

    If President Nasheed want to adopt the Mahathma policy, he can do it towards the atrocities of Gayyom's government and have to take up a lot of criticism now, and after he step down expect a repetition of what Gayyoom did to evade and tarnish President Nasir!

    Unless justice is done, most of our hearts will not compromise!

    Mahathma did try, not to split and to reconcile! The result is history!

  9. boahalaaku :

    Timor-Leste is oil rich country.
    please read history of timore-leste. thank you

  10. Not just a yellow tie. Even the paper that Dr. Shaheed is signing at the moment is yellow.

  11. Do not confuse Horta was Gusmao, the great man really was Xanana Gusmao. While Gusmao was suffering in the hills and later being tortured in the prisons of Indonesia, Horta was happily living with his wife in Portugal and Angola. After independence he divorced his wife and is now married to or living with a twenty something from Australia. The divorced wife is now a lead figure in the opposition and a Minister. Timor has lots and lots and lots of oil. Let us be very very nice to them. Let's invite them all.

  12. p.s. Facts: they got independence in 2000, UN administred elections held in 1999. They are the poorest country in Asia and Pacific combined. I mean poverty you cannot even imagine. Like little children taking water from the gutter and drinking it right infront of you because there is no other source of water in the hot season. No comparison to the Maldives


Comments are closed.