A New Era?
This edited book originated in the inaugural Timor-Leste Update held at The Australian National University (ANU) from 28–29 November 2013. Entitled ‘Timor-Leste: A New Era? Prospects and Challenges for Timor-Leste’, the Update was an occasion for focused analysis and lively debate on a broad spectrum of issues facing the nation over the next 5–10 years. Attended by around 150 policymakers and scholars, and hosted by the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) program at ANU, there was general consensus that the Update should become a biennial event.
In planning the Update, we were generously assisted by a group of dedicated and enthusiastic colleagues who joined us on an organising committee that met regularly during 2013 to refine the topics and program. Our sincere thanks go to committee members Susan Harris-Rimmer, Janet Hunt, Joanne Wallis, Ruth Nuttall and Pyone Myat Thu. We also wish to acknowledge the professional staff who worked with us on the staging of the Update, most importantly Joel Nilon, whose experience and calm manner were critical to ensuring the event ran smoothly, and to Peta Hill, for negotiating complex travel arrangements. We also thank Louana Gaffey for administrative support and Jonathan Barrett, for ensuring the event was recorded and podcast.
We are extremely grateful to the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, in particular His Excellency Ambassador H.E. Mr Abel Guterres who collaborated generously with us as the program took shape. To mark Timor-Leste’s Proclamation of Independence Day, the Embassy organised a very successful celebration on the evening of the 28 November, to which all Update speakers and participants were invited, and at which the then Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Julie Bishop, offered commemorative remarks.
The Update would also have been impossible without the sponsorship of the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, ANU’s Research School of Asia and the Pacific, the State, the Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, and the Asia Foundation Timor-Leste.
Much work has gone into preparing this edited book for publication. We are extremely grateful to Lindy Allen and Geoff Hunt, who provided exceptional copyediting and formatting support. We also thank Emily Tinker at ANU Press for guiding us through the publication process.
Finally, we sincerely thank the conference presenters who took time out of their busy schedules to attend the event. Many travelled from Dili, others from Indonesia, Thailand and Portugal. Particular thanks are due to those who contributed to this volume. In planning the Update and the edited book, we aimed to bring together a group of leading scholars, policy analysts and political leaders, including many from Timor-Leste itself. This volume reflects that mix. It also reflects the thoughtful analysis that each brought to bear on specific aspects of Timor-Leste’s development a decade out from its rebirth as a nation, and the challenges for the future. We are grateful to them for devoting the time to this project.
Sue Ingram, Lia Kent and Andrew McWilliam
Canberra, June 2015