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Timor Leste is ready to join Asean grouping
Published on: Saturday, April 11, 2015

Kuala Lumpur: Timor Leste is ready to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) anytime, says Ambassador to Malaysia, Jose Antonio Amorim Dias.

He said after attaining independance 13 years ago, Timor Leste was confident in fulfilling the Asean membership criteria, including providing sufficient human resources to attend numerous Asean meetings throughout the year.

"We don't have any specific target (for any year), with an understanding that it is not an easy process but the message of the Timor Leste's people is, Asean member countries can accept our application as soon as possible," he told Bernama in an exclusive interview at the embassy here, two days ago.

He said Timor Leste had at least fulfilled two major requirements for Asean membership so far, namely the country was located in this region and it had opened embassies in ASEAN member countries.

Currently, Timor Leste has opened 22 embassies. Apart from the Asean member countries, embassies have been opened in Europe, Africa, North America and Latin America, too.

In March 2011, Timor Leste submitted an application to join Asean during the Indonesion Chairmanship of Asean.

Currently, it is being reviewed by a special working group that wants to see efforts made by Timor Leste to join the 10-member regional grouping.


Amorim Dias said the application was basically accepted by Asean member countries "with some reservation from Singapore which wants Timur Leste to make proper preparations before the application is fully accepted." "It means that the formal letter (application) was not rejected but Asean members would like to see Timor Leste much better, in terms of our readiness," he added. – Bernama

Amorim Dias promised that once Timor Leste joined Asean, the country would double its efforts in learning and going through all processes conducted by Asean.

Joining Asean will provide Timor Leste a lot of benefits, including in areas of trade, security, stability of the country and cultural exchange with the Asean Community, he said."

"However, joining Asean does not mean that we are seeking financial assistance from Asean member countries since we do have our own financial resources.

"In fact, we have to pay for the Asean membership and definitely, we have to carry all the obligations and duties once we become member."

Amorim Dias hopes, at the 26th Asean Summit here this month, member countries would take proactive measures to show commitment in making Timor Leste an Asean member.


Timor Leste also wished to see its officials trained at the Asean Secretariat (in Jakarta), he said, adding that he hoped Asean Secretariat officials travelled to Timor Leste to conduct intensive training for its officials.

"Thus, it will show the seriousness of both sides (Timor Leste and Asean member countries), since we are now putting an effort to establish our national secretariat for Asean.

"Officials from the Asean Secretariat in Jakarta or other Asean countries can visit Timor Leste to view our progress and efforts to join Asean," noted Amorim Dias.

Asean comprises Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Former Timor Leste prime minister Xanana Gusmao, during his visit to Malaysia in March last year, had said Kuala Lumpur supported Dili's (Timor Leste capital) application to become Asean member.

Amorim Dias said although some member countries were of the opinion that Timor Leste made slow progress towards joining Asen, he stressed that his country had achieved remarkable progress since independance.


On Timor Leste's development, he said the government was able to build more schools and provide scholarships for students to study abroad, as one aspect of human resource investment.

Timor Leste's oil and gas sector boosted the country's economy to the tune of between US$200 and US$300 million in revenue a month, benefiting the 1.2 million population, he added.

"Yes, we still need time to develop our people and infrastructure but imagine, we have to build our country from zero...you are not going to build a strong, perfect country in 13 years.

"You need about 30-50 years," he said of the country which was formerly known as East Timor.- Bernama

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