[TimorLesteStudies] New book 'A Pretty Unfair Place' by Ken Westmoreland

Michael Leach MLEACH at groupwise.swin.edu.au
Sun Feb 28 02:40:52 EST 2010

'A Pretty Unfair Place' asks two questions about East Timor, ten years after
self-determination: if the country is a 'failed state', then who is to
blame, and if independence were a 'mistake', then what was the alternative?

The book takes the four main players in East Timor, Indonesia, Australia,
Portugal and the UN, to task. It delves beyond the different versions of
events put forward by people on opposing sides of the debate, which has been
reduced to being about what is 'fashionable' or 'unfashionable'.  

In addition, it looks at the transport and communications infrastructure,
which has handicapped development, and links with the outside world, and
language policy, which its opponents have tried to sabotage, and which its
proponents do not know how to make work. 

East Timor's greatest enemy has been the las ugly 'ism': parochialism. Not
only are foreigners in East Timor ignorant about East Timor, they are
ignorant about each other's countries. The traditional lack of contact
between the countries of the Asia-Pacific rim and the Portuguese-speaking
world has exacerbated misunderstandings and disagreements over East Timor,
which is pulled in opposing directions.   

Yet the prospects are not all gloomy: East Timor has a chance to avoid the
'resource curse' suffered by other small states lke Nauru, and follow the
example of success stories like Mauritius. 

Copies of the book can be ordered online here:


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