|East Timor’s José Belo … courageous fight against "unconstitutional" media law. |
Image: © Ted McDonnell 2014
Opposition quickly took off among independent journalists, civil society advocates and eventually media freedom organisations such as the regional Pacific Media Watch and global International Federation of Journalists and Reporters Sans Frontières took up the cause.
Yet even though this law was clearly a much bigger threat to Pacific media freedoms as a regional precedent than the military backed Fiji Media Decree, it took some time for mainstream news media groups to take notice.
And this is mostly thanks to the courageous efforts of Tempo Semanal’s editor José Belo, who is also leader of the fledging Timor-Leste Press Union (TLPU), to bring it to the attention of the global community.
This draconian draft law (not-so-draft as it has already been adopted by the National Parliament and has just been stalled temporarily by the Appeal Court over some "unconstitutional" sections) smacks of the worst repression days of Indonesian occupation and of the Suharto era of media censorship.