Timor-Leste’s Ramos-Horta urges ASEAN solidarity amid SCS disputes

Timor-Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta urged member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to show solidarity to strengthen their position amid China’s aggressive behavior in the South China Sea (SCS).

Ramos-Horta made the remarks in an exclusive interview with broadcast journalist Vicky Morales on “24 Oras” Friday. 

“ASEAN countries first have to stick together whether those that have overlapping claims with China or those who are landlocked. You have to show solidarity to each other and this is a major issue, so ASEAN should negotiate as ASEAN,” Ramos-Horta said. 

The Timor-Leste president also said the dispute may be resolved similar to his country’s previous issue with Australia in 2018.

“It shows how a mature country like Australia, a democracy, doesn’t reject submitting to an international mechanism whether the UN or some other international mechanism to resolve,” Ramos-Horta said. 

Several countries including the Philippines, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei have competing claims in the SCS. 

The Philippines earlier filed a fresh diplomatic protest against China for allegedly firing a water cannon at a boat carrying supplies for Filipino troops aboard the BRP Sierra Madre in the Ayungin Shoal.

Timor Leste is applying to become a member of the ASEAN. 


Ramos-Horta said reconciliation between Israel and Hamas militants was “difficult now to see”.

“It’s far more difficult now to see how there can be reconciling of the very extreme opposing views,” Ramos-Horta said.

He described the deadly Hamas attack on October 7 as “unacceptable” but also criticized the retaliation of Israel. 

“We can’t criticize Hamas aggression, massacre of civilians without criticizing Israeli bombardment and destruction of Gaza,” Ramos-Horta said. 

“If Israel had any moral quality as a victim of Hamas aggression, it lost it. If it had behaved reasonably resisting the temptation of an eye for an eye or 10 eyes for 1 eye approach… if it had resisted that, Israel would come up with credibility. Had they not done what they did… Hamas would have been politically totally destroyed,” he added. 

Arnie Teves

Asked on the status of former Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. who was reportedly seeking political asylum in Timor Leste, Ramos-Horta said: “The application was rejected by our Prosecutor-General. Then went to the Court of Appeal which is our Supreme Court following the procedure in Timor Leste… slow, and tedious but knowing what I know I don’t think the Court of Appeal will make a decision that’s different from the government.” —Sundy Locus/NB/KG, GMA Integrated News

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