Ramos-Horta at the UP College of Law

East Timor President Ramos-Horta at the UP College of Law

East Timor President Ramos-Horta at the UP College of Law


East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta is the only president I know who, after giving a lecture to college students, willingly takes questions as well.
He was one of the speakers in UP’s Centennial Lecture series on August 11. I was more than an hour late, but was still in time for some good quotes.

(Quoting a saying about the war) “If you don’t talk, the war will last a hundred years and then you will talk.”

“If in the process of struggle for independence you use the same tactics as your opponents you are no better than them.”

When a Palestinian student asked him about the success of the East Timorese, Ramos-Horta advised them to give civil disobedience a try. “Through force you are not going to beat mighty Israel..but imagine 4 million Palestinians sitting down, civil disobedience…one reason for your problem is many of you use indiscriminate violence. Where have you led your struggle?”

East Timor, he said, has a per capita income of about $4,000. Two years ago it was just $2,000.
“But the real income of the people has not changed.” What his government needs to do, he said, is “to change the nominal income into the real income.”

Asked about his legacy, he said he does not think about those things. “I really don’t care what people think of me when I’m dead. While alive I want to be able to do very practical, basic things.”

“We try to do small things in our daily lives, even just helping one person…If you have power you can do much more than helping one or two or three…”

Explaining the pardon he gave to someone convicted of rape and murder during the 1999 upheaval in East Timor, he said: “I don’t have the courage to send an Indonesian general to jail and I am sending this (man)?…”

Earlier, he said that sometimes, “you have to buy peace.”

Ramos-Horta pointed out that though Indonesia left East Timor a mess after the referendum, THEY STILL LEFT. “They were not a defeated army. They left behind a mess but they still left.”

“One thing we’re proud of in East Timor is we never manipulate religion one way or another.”

His parting words: He said he was “eternally grateful (to Filipinos) for championing our cause when it seemed hopeless at the time.”

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2 Responses

  1. […] Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta recently gave a lecture in the Philippines. He told a university crowd: “If in the process of struggle for independence you use the same tactics as […]

  2. […] Jose Ramos-Horta, President of East Timor Filed under: Uncategorized […]

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