Those amongst you who want to be big must first be your servers; those amongst you who want to be famous must first be your slaves. Why? Because the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to give his life so that Mankind may live (Mark 10: 43-45)
My beloved brothers and sisters:
1. Once again we are at a crucial moment in our history, a moment that is important in our efforts to develop our nation. This is our first general election. In less than two weeks we will choose, for the first time, our leaders the people's representatives who will be given the heavy responsibility of drafting a Constitution that will encompass all our hopes and aspirations.
2. All the eyes of the world will be upon us. We will be the first new nation in this new millennium. In the midst of the current world where democracy is being threatened; corruption running out of control; and violence used to end conflicts, we have a responsibility to the international community which has helped us in this giant step towards independence to ensure that the elections are free, peaceful, fair and honest.
3. It is important that we elect people who are qualified to sit in the Constituent Assembly and people who would respect the outcome of the elections. Drafting the Constitution is a sacroscant function because it will reflect all our genuine hopes and will also act as a source of laws for the people in order for them to live in unity and in a free and fair environment.
4. We will choose our representatives, and participate in the elections, not because we owe any allegiance to any political party but because we want to vote genuinely from our hearts.
5. Because of this we have an important duty to ensure that whoever we choose to sit in the Constituent Assembly must be fit and competent to carry out his or her duties. Who are they? “Whomsoever that is given this overwhelming authority will originate from HIM (Romans 13:1)
6. It is important that when choosing our representatives from the political arena, we pay close attention to their party platform and programs. We have to see whether their programs include ways of overcoming basic problems in our society. The programs must be based on a platform of promoting peace, justice and development.
7. It is also necessary for us to see whether the people we choose to represent us have the following qualities:
Will that candidate be able to carry out his responsibilities as a people's representative at the Constituent Assembly? The candidate must be competent and be judged by his personal behaviour and his commitment to serving society.
b) Personal Integrity:
The candidate must have moral integrity; be honest and adhere to his principals. This means a complete commitment to protecting human rights and freedom. He or she must also have strong family values. The candidate must be true to his words and be serving God through his deeds.
c) Commitment to the good of all:
In my previous pastoral letter I said our political aims must incorporate the common good of all. We must elect candidates who will be able to champion the causes of all Timorese not just that of their family members only.
8. These guidelines are based on Jesus teachings (in Mark 10:45, Matthew 24:45-51, Matthew 25:14-30 and John 13:1-35) and the Church teachings. But we have to stress that it is not our pastoral duty to state the people that have these qualities. The Church is not supposed to take sides with politics or to espouse a particular political system.
9. We urge you brothers and sisters:
a) To pray for a free and fair election;
b) To vote honestly using your own conscience taking into account the personal qualities of the candidates and the key questions as mentioned above;
c) To vote independently of your ego; family, political party or district considerations. Instead, vote for the people whom you think will best serve this new nation.
d) To reject all efforts to cheat, intimidate or use violence from the campaign period till when the elections are held;
e) To not involve yourselves in corruption or immoral activities on behalf of candidates;
10. Once again, we take this opportunity to sincerely thank UNTAET and the international community for being with us in this important step towards democracy, peace and development. We are grateful because without the contribution of these people [UNTAET and the international community] to develop again Timor Lorosae, we would be much worse off. Thank you.
BD: Peoples' Participation - A collection of recent media releases, reports and articles