Speech by

President of the Republic, José Ramos-Horta

on the occasion of the

24th Anniversary of the National Police of Timor-Leste

27th March 2024

Version 2.2 (English)

Your Excellencies,

Mrs. President of the National Parliament,

Mr. Prime Minister

Mr. President of the Court of Appeal,

Mr. Minister of the Interior,

former Members of Parliament,

Members of the National Parliament and the Government,

Members of the Diplomatic Corps, International Agencies 

CEMG Maj.-Gen. Commander of FALINTIL – Timor-Leste Defence Forces (F-FDTL) 

Commander General of the PNTL,

Ladies and Gentlemen Officers, 

Officers and Member Commanders of the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL)

We have gathered here to celebrate the 24th Anniversary of the National Police of Timor-Leste. On this occasion dedicated to the motto “Professional and Resilient“, we reflect on the achievements of the past and the challenges and opportunities on the horizon.

Partnerships:

To our International Partners I express our heartfelt appreciation for their continued support, which is fundamental in developing the capacities of the National Police of Timor-Leste. Since the restoration of independence, partners have consistently played a crucial role in training our officers, providing equipment and sharing knowledge that has strengthened our police. They consequently contribute to the security and stability of our country.

I extend my thanks to the United Nations agencies and friendly countries, such as Australia, China, South Korea, the United States of America, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Portugal and the United Kingdom, who have been dedicated partners during the process of creating, consolidating and developing the PNTL.

With your generous contribution we aspire to make our police force more professional, adopting the best international practices, resilient, able to implement ongoing training programmes for its members, and sustainable. Let us take advantage of the opportunities offered by new information technologies and procedural innovation, always aiming for excellence in our operations.

I want to express special gratitude for the close, ongoing and long-term support offered by the Timor-Leste Police Development Programme (TLPDP), funded by the Australian Federal Police (AFP). In recent years, the TLPDP has been a key partner in strategic and budgetary assistance, technical support and training programmes for the various units, services and departments.

I see in the AFP the best integrated model of police agencies of various specialities, avoiding duplication, unnecessary expenses and, above all, avoiding rivalries that are often extremely harmful to a security institution.

I would also like to highlight the partnership established with Indonesia, which has been particularly important given that we share air, sea and land borders. This is an extremely fruitful cooperation with practical results in preventing and dismantling attempts to infiltrate criminal drug networks and other associated crimes such as the smuggling of people and goods, human trafficking and arms trafficking, among others. This support is actively extended to the ASEAN context, with hundreds of agents and officers being trained in Indonesia every year at various levels of education, both undergraduate and postgraduate. 

I would like to reiterate our thanks to all our international partners for their solidarity and consistent support in building our National Police. 

Together, we will continue to work in favour of the security and well-being of our nation.

Challenges:

We face challenges but there is also undeniable progress in the evolution of the National Police. Everyone’s dedicated efforts have been evident, and we should celebrate.

We are preparing for major milestones such as joining the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and continuing our active partnership in the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), expanding bilateral relations. 

Of particular note is the announced visit by His Holiness Pope Francis and other heads of state, such as His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam and the President of the Republic of Cape Verde. The Elected President of our great neighbouring sister nation, Prabowo Subianto, wishes to visit Timor-Leste even before he takes office. He will receive a warm and fraternal welcome at any time.

The PNTL faces challenges in managing financial, logistical, operational and human resources. We must be prepared to receive well, in peace and security, not only the high political representatives of friendly countries, but also business people, investors, tourists and citizens who visit us.

These major events demand our ability to anticipate, plan and execute operations with a high level of professionalism. 

We have to confirm that Timor-Leste is YES an oasis of peace and tranquillity in an increasingly unstable and unpredictable world. It is imperative that we have well-trained police officers who know the laws and regulations, who are aware of citizens’ needs and who are alert to risks and potential threats to public order and security. 

We must be able to prevent irregular acts, guarantee road, community and border safety, combat common or organised crime, while always respecting fundamental rights and freedoms. Close and exemplary service for our citizens and visitors is essential.

All police officers must be aware of the difficulties and challenges, but also trained to overcome obstacles by adopting innovative and technologically advanced measures, calling on our development partners whenever necessary.

I encourage all PNTL leaders to invest in their own learning and in the development of their teams, because it is through this commitment to continuous improvement that we will achieve our common goals.

Leadership in Learning and Organisation:

We reaffirm our commitment to strengthening and continuously improving the National Police, ensuring the safety and well-being of all our citizens and visitors.

Through inspiring leadership, we promote a culture of continuous learning and organisational excellence. 

Officers and commanders must behave in an exemplary manner, serving as role models for their subordinates and implementing procedures that promote not only discipline, attendance, duty compliance and team spirit, but also a police approach that is close to citizens, families, communities, businesses and investors. This closeness is evidenced by the support of companies such as OKA, BRI Bank, Mandiri Bank, Pertamina International, Telkomcel, Sylvia Printing and the Indonesian Embassy in the Healthy March held on 23 March. By implementing a true spirit of belonging in both officers and citizens, we have materialised the concept of Community Police, which represents the first line in preventing irregular acts, fighting crime and maintaining peace and public order.

Indiscipline should not be tolerated; excellence should be promoted, with the recognition of police merit through commendations and decorations for those officers who are most dedicated and capable of sacrificing their lives in favour of the security of our Timorese brothers and sisters.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all those who will be recognised today with certificates of merit, promotions and decorations for their exemplary service to our people.

May these gestures of recognition inspire all members of the National Police of Timor-Leste to continue to strive for excellence and to serve with dedication and integrity.

Youth, Security:

I encourage youth to become actively involved in building a safer, fairer and more prosperous society, whether through service in the police or through other ways of contributing to the well-being of the community.

It is crucial to encourage the education and training of young people, not only within school curricula, but also in civic education topics. This includes promoting values such as discipline, mutual respect, compliance with the law, and the duty to obey orders and directions issued by legitimate justice and police authorities.

We need more educated young people who are aware not only of their fundamental rights, freedoms and guarantees, but also of their individual and collective duties towards others and towards the authorities.

It is essential that young people understand that the activities of groups and associations are permitted by law, and that they must be morally and legally accepted if they are to contribute productively to building exemplary citizenship.

It is with great regret that we observe the actions of certain groups of young people who, under the sporting pretext of “martial arts”, continue to perpetrate serious aggressions, causing considerable material and physical damage and, unfortunately, on some occasions resulting in fatalities.

Faced with this scenario, I pose the following questions:

“Shouldn’t fans of martial arts fight in sports rings, competing for medals? Shouldn’t they represent Timor-Leste in national and international competitions, defending our flag and anthem, instead of bringing their fights to our streets and communities?”

I urge our youth to reflect deeply on these questions and to choose a path of positive and constructive contribution to the development of our society and nation.

Women in the Police and in Society:

It is of paramount importance to recognise the fundamental role of women both in the police and in society at large. Women play a vital role in promoting security and strengthening communities. We must continue to actively support and promote the participation of women at all levels of the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL), ensuring equal opportunities and recognition for their valuable work.

We recently celebrated International Women’s Day on 8 March 2024, with celebrations and events across the country, including in the PNTL itself. 

This is an opportune moment to reiterate our commitment to international goals, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment. These commitments are transposed into the Strategic National Development Plan (PEDN 2011-2030) and into the policies of successive governments, which must mobilise us to promote greater and more effective participation by women in the various state bodies and decision-making positions.

I have placed women in leadership positions within the Presidency of the Republic.. I also seek to balance the selection and placement of human resources between men and women, because I firmly believe that the nation can only be strong, modern and developed with the full participation of women, properly trained and prepared to make a significant contribution to the advancement of communities and the country as a whole.

I would like to call on the PNTL to implement more measures and mechanisms that actively promote female empowerment in the security forces and services. We must adopt measures that facilitate women’s access to promotions and leadership positions. Only in this way will we be paving the way for the day when we have a woman occupying a high-ranking position in the PNTL General Command.

I firmly believe that by investing in the training and empowerment of women in the police, we are building a fairer, more equal and safer society for all of Timor-Leste’s citizens.

Resilience in the PNTL:

I would like to emphasise the value of resilience within the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL). We face many challenges, but it is the ability to adapt and bounce back that makes us stronger. We must continue to nurture this resilience in order to overcome any obstacles that may come our way.

It is important to recognise that the Defence and Security Forces, such as the PNTL, play a fundamental role as an example of discipline, conservation and maintenance of assets, as well as repairing and extending the life of equipment. We provide an exemplary service to citizens, we are called upon to help the population in times of peace, and in crisis situations and natural disasters.

I’m talking about sporting activities such as the CUP 2024 Football Matches, held as part of the 24th Anniversary festivities, which promote healthy relations between PNTL members and strengthen ties with civil society organisations. I would highlight the actions to clean up cities, reforest, honour our martyrs and national heroes, provide humanitarian assistance to vulnerable people, help victims, search and rescue. 

I would emphasise that the work of the police goes beyond arresting criminals, preventing crimes or saving lives. It is in the most critical moments that we demonstrate that we are friends of the community, that our true essence is revealed. We are the ones to whom people entrust their safety and the protection of their lives.

Through our continued resilience and dedication, we will continue to play a key role in building a safer, fairer and more prosperous society for all citizens.

On this 24th Anniversary of the National Police of Timor-Leste, we reaffirm our commitment to professionalism, resilience and excellence. 

Together, we will continue to work to ensure the safety and well-being of all Timor-Leste citizens.

May God bless us!

Read this Speech in other languages:

Portuguese Version (Original) | Tetun Version | Indonesian Version