Speech by H.E. Minister of Defense, Mr. Filomeno Paixão de Jesus On the occasion of the Celebration of the National Day of the Republic of Korea

Dili, 7 October 2019

Excellency Ambassador of the Republic of Korea,Distinguished members of the Government of Timor-Leste, Distinguished Diplomatic corps,

Distinguished guests,Ladies and Gentleman

Joh-eun jeonyeog-ibnida sinsa sugnyeo yeoleobun

(Good evening ladies and gentlemen)

It is with great pleasure for me to address in this auspicious and special occasion.

Today, we all gather here to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Korea.

On behalf of the people and the government of Timor-Leste, I would like to present our very wholehearted congratulations and greetings to the People and the Government of Korea who are celebrating all over the world including in this tiny nation.

The government and the people of Korea have always been incredible and extraordinary to us, Timorese, as the Koreans were here in East Timor even before our independence. 

As I am a former FALINTIL Commander, with pleasure I proudly state that the South Korean UN Peacekeeping Troops were among the pioneer UNITED NATIONS Coalition Forces to be sent for peacekeeping operations in East Timor in 1999 and they successfully conducted their mission to assist stabilize security and peace of East Timor from October 1999 to October 2003.

In 2001, prior to independence, the South Korean UN Peacekeeping Troops were stationed in LosPalos and were instrumental in our ‘setting up’ of our 1st Battalion of our Defence Force, F-FDTL.

I clearly recall they donated a lot of military equipment as logistics support for our troops in building our army. We had a very limited defence budget and depended largely on donor support as we were not an independent state than in 2001.

Subsequently, South Korea donated, three Republic of Korea Navy Chamsuri class Patrol Boats on 26 September 2011 to assist build up our small naval component of F-FDTL.

As all of you are aware, defence equipment are very expensive and this bilateral defence aid will always be close to our hearts in our struggle for stabilization, consolidation and security sector reform of defence and security.

The sacrifices of South Korea did not stop there. The South Korean Military troops sacrificed their lives too in East Timor serving UNMISET. Five young, enthusiastic and dedicated Korean peacekeepers died in Oecussi on 6 March 2003, when they were swept away by a swift-moving river. The incident occurred when a vehicle with two of the Korean soldiers on board got stuck crossing the river in the enclave of Oecussi. Three other soldiers from another vehicle tried to help them, but the strong current carried away all five. For all of us here, their memory shall be imperishable.

South Korea have been supporting us unfailingly to contribute to the development process of Timor-Leste since the very beginning of the state building and peace building process. The progress and achievements that Timor-Leste has been experiencing at this moment, are also a part of the contributions of all bilateral partners, including the Republic of Korea.

Following the restoration of independence in 2002, the diplomatic relations established between Timor-Leste and the Republic of Korea led to the bilateral relations between both countries into various cooperation programs particularly in the areas of Agriculture, Health, Labour, Education, Defence and Security.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year marks the 17th year of our diplomatic relations and this admirable and diversified bilateral cooperation has given a positive impact on the achievement of Timor-Leste’s strategic development goals. In recent years, thanks to the joined efforts of both sides, we have witnessed frequent exchanges at various levels, in expanding cooperation in prolific areas that has undoubtedly brought tangible benefits to the people of both countries. 

In this special day, I would like to give a special recognition to the development agency of the Republic of Korea – KOICA, who have been actively coordinating and implementing the development assistance programs of the Republic of Korea Timor-Leste. As you all are aware, capacity building is critical for ‘Whole of Government’ and the Private Sector.

Within all various development programs besides for defence and security that I shared much earlier, firstly, I would like to point out on other equally important contributions of the Republic of Korea in the education sector. In this area, the Republic of Korea through KOICA has contributed to the achievement of attaining high technical and scientific qualifications and credentials of many young Timorese that are essential for the acceleration of the social and economic development of this country. The establishment of the National Graphics and Printing Center to produce sufficient text books and teachers’ guide for secondary education in Timor-Leste, and the awarding of scholarships at Korean Universities, supporting the training of highly qualified staff, and all academic and scientific exchange are highly valued by the government and our young people who have a thirst for new knowledge and skills.

KOICA has also expanded the bilateral cooperation and implemented numerous cooperation projects such as: rehabilitation of Becora Technical Secondary School and improvement of school curriculum as well as provision of school textbooks; provision of National Textbooks, Student Workbooks, Teacher’s Guidebooks and Teacher Training for Math and Science of 7th, 8th and 9th grades. Thank you, KOICA leadership.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Here, I would also like to highlight the contribution of KOICA in working closely with the government to improve the drinking water supply through Photovoltaic Power Plant Desalination to the communities in Hera & Metinaro; to establish geological map in Suai Municipality.

Meanwhile, in the Agriculture Sector, the establishment of Fisheries Training Center to strengthen human capacity in fisheries sector and increase aquaculture productivity has been tremendous in supporting the diversification and transformation process of the economy.

As for the Health Sector, the establishment of National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory and strengthen TB diagnosis and management; reduction of under-nutrition lactating mothers and their children in Oecusse and Dili through supplementary feeding; and supporting few NGOs for water and sanitation, mother and child healthcare, and mobilization of social business, have been extremely instrumental and important in providing a good quality of healthcare services to our population. 

Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen

Through the Memorandum of Understanding between the Secretariat of State for Vocational Training and Employment of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste and the Ministry of Labor of the Republic of Korea on the Sending of Workers to the Republic of Korea under the Employment Permit System signed in 2008, has increased the employment opportunities for our young population in Timor-Leste and assisted to increase the income levels of many families and communities in Timor-Leste.

We are pleased to see that KOICA has also organized Diplomatic Training Courses for Timor-Leste’s junior diplomats in Korea, which is intended to facilitate the growing understanding of Korean History and its Diplomacy.

Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen

With all the development assistance, I believe that, the Republic of Korea will have a special space in the hearts of the people of this country who have experienced a continuous surge of trauma in our self-determination.

In conclusion, on this special day, on behalf of the government and the people of Timor-Leste, I would like to once again convey our sincere congratulations to the government of the Republic of Korea and the Korean people. We humbly present our best wishes for the continued peaceful, prosperity and well-being of the people of the Republic of Korea.

I hereby thank the Ambassador for sharing this historic occasion with all of us today. With that, I would like to invite you all to join me in a toast to celebrate the National Day of the Republic of Korea and for the excellent relationship between our two countries.

 I thank you and God bless us all!

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