Monitor: The Asian press ushers in the East Timor independence referendum

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THIS BALLOT must proceed for the good of the East Timorese people. This is their election, and Portugal, Indonesia and the United Nations owe them the chance to determine their own fate. Any interference will simply plunge East Timor back into war. Indonesia cannot afford to make mistakes and must resist all temptation to interfere, under whatever pretext, in East Timor.

The Jakarta Post,

Indonesia

THE UN should be ready to step in with peacekeeping forces. If this seems untenable, consider the alternative: a UN-sanctioned vote marred by violence and intimidation, a loss of credibility that fuels divisiveness, and civil war. It is not too far-fetched to imagine East Timor as the next Somalia - a forlorn, divided land.

Asiaweek

ALL PARTIES have the responsibility to ensure that the referendum goes ahead as scheduled, peacefully, freely and fairly. If the result is in favour of independence, it will send troubling signals to the Indonesian government about the right to self-determination by other separatist forces. We as Asians should not let East Timorese people's right to determine their own fate and future be violated. The peace in East Timor is peace for the region. (Somsri Berger)

Nation, Thailand

FOR INDONESIAN migrants, East Timor's vote for independence on Monday offers a frightening future. Many fear revenge attacks after the vote, widely expected to choose independence. Giving native East Timorese more control over the public service and economy will take some time.

Kompas, Indonesia

THE INTERNATIONAL community gives more importance to the promise of independence for East Timor than to the pro-democracy electoral reforms. That Indonesia still has reservations on the issue of granting independence to East Timor is evident, but Indonesia could not resist for long pressure from the global community to give up its illegal occupation of East Timor.

Tribune, India

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