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Jakarta Post

Timor Leste, Tetum, Portuguese, Bahasa Indonesia or English?

  • J. Ramos-Horta

Jakarta   /   Fri, April 20 2012   /  11:53 am

Once in a while, a journalist or scholar opinionates on Timor Leste’s choice of its official languages. Victor Richard Savage, associate professor in geography at the National University of Singapore, wrote recently “The current presidential election in Timor Leste has brought international visibility to this rather marginalized state within Southeast Asia.”

Mr. Savage then proceeded to provide us with his scholarly opinion on what is actually a very simple issue in Timor Leste, the issue of languages.

Articles 13 and 159 of our Constitution determine that Tetum and Portuguese are our official languages and Indonesian and English are our working languages. Can one be more open-minded and pragmatic than that?

Timorese leaders and people, though islanders, are very outward-looking, open to cultural influences, eagerly learning and absorbing the good (and bad) we...