has to be made
no wonder the dollar is sliding. Did you see that bloody opening ceremony?"
the currency dealer from the bank, and a couple of his mates were getting
pissed and moody at the table in the corner. It was more a statement
than a question, and it seemed to be directed at me.
that fucking politically-correct stuff about abos and women and the
environment. What a bunch of losers. Jesus, they'll be laughing at us
all over the world", James said loudly.
pretended to be engrossed in the swimming heats, but just then Channel
7 switched over to another long run of advertisements. It's hard to
be fascinated by the Qantas ad when you've seen it 85 times and you
never liked Peter Allen much anyway, so I took my cider to the table
in the lane.
was a beautiful evening outside and the streets were quiet and deserted.
Nobody much had come from overseas and everybody who could get out of
Sydney had fled.
came out with a coffee. "Remember the heady days seven years ago
when we were told we'd all make our fortunes renting our flats to Nigerian
journalists for thousands of dollars a week?" she asked. "Well
now there are hotel rooms empty all over town and the only tourist who's
come into the café so far was a backpacker asking directions."
then the mobile rang. It was Tommy the ecologist in Jakarta.
your Olympic opening ceremony on TV. So beautiful, so inclusive. We
were, I think you say, entranced, by the business of the colourful fishes
and the poisonous jellyfish, but we did not understand the tapdancers
in checked shirts ..."
was a celebration of our vanishing industries ..."
the business of the little square things they pushed around on the ground
were lawnmowers, an Australian icon. In the great suburbs of Sydney
mowing the grass is the most regular exercise people get. How are things
you know, the army are running the country. They do whatever they like.
They pay no attention to President Wahid and Megawati Sukarnoputri encourages
them. Your Mr Richard Woolcott, the former ambassador, was here the
other day and the foreign affairs minister presented him with the Star
of the First Great Prince, a most prestigeous award. You know he was
always a supporter of our invasion of East Timor. It is a reward for
his work to make good relations with the Suharto regime."
and a few days later your defence minister says Australia was to blame
for the killings in West Timor. Here the government has released a lot
of confidential papers about how Whitlam and Fraser supported the Timor
invasion in 1975. They didn't tell us anything we didn't already know
or suspect, but the cynicism of their betrayal of the East Timorese
was breathtaking. There's a brutal bit where Woolcott quotes Whitlam
as having said he was in favour of the Indonesian takeover but '...
obeisance has to be made to self-determination' and after that, of course
we backed Suharto's boys and the slaughter started. What's this Jakarta
laughed nervously, "Oh, it is just the army reminding Wahid. They
do a mysterious bombing and they remind the government that they need
soldiers to stop bombings. They killed that bastard, the militia leader
Mendoca Moruk, and cut his balls off to get his men outraged to kill
the UN people in Atambua. They have killed here, as you say, two birds
with one rock. Moruk had that day been summonsed to appear in court
over the East Timor killings. Now he will never talk and the army reminds
the government they need men with guns to stop massacres. It is a huge
joke and Wahid will never pin the stock exchange bombing on Tommy Suharto."
if it ever comes to court, he could always try calling Richard Woolcott
as a character witness." I said.
Indonesia and Timor adventures ...
December 98 to January 99
Nick is blackmailed into taking part in a top secret mission to kidnap
an Indonesian general. Bad weirdness and treachery in Australian foreign
assignation in the Marlborough 11 May 1999
In which Nick signs up for a hazardous mission to help
the East Timor independence fighters.
flight to Timor
18 May 1999
Nick finds himself kicking Kalashnikovs and Paddy McGuinness
dolls out of a Cessna Cargomaster over East Timor.