I subscribe to an email list covering life in Timor Leste (called ETAN for those interested).
Today I found the following in my inbox, extraordinary words which I struggle to comprehend:
The President of the Republic Taur Matan Ruak, thinks many Timorese still have a corrupt mentality, and because of this corruption does not only occur at high levels, but at the community level as well.
Many times when I visit communities, I hear people questioning me about the higher level people all being corrupt, but in truth the whole of society has a corrupt mentality.
“Although there has been some changes the perception is that all high level people in our society are corrupt,” The head of state said at the Presidential Palace at Aitarak Laran, recently.
He gave the example of some veterans who falsified personal histories to claim money from the state, the elderly who falsify documents to received the pension, some students who falsify their records to get their diplomas, those who sell fish and meat who manipulate prices to get more profits, and because of this, corruption does not only occur at high levels, but also at the grassroots.
“It is our society that has a corrupt mentality, and not just high level people,” the PR said.
In Timor, the President is not the elected head of government so President Ruak does not speak for a government. However these are remarkable words. I simply cannot imagine this type of political rhetoric as standard discourse.
One the one hand it reads as a deflection of criticisms directed towards the elite of Timor Leste. I’m unsure. Perhaps it is simply some straight talk from a political leader disappointed in the daily acts he has recently encountered in society.
Whatever it is, it is unique.