Speaking Of Asia

A Timorese lion in winter looks back

Jose Ramos-Horta reflects on his country's struggles from independence to its place in South-east Asia

Long used to treating Asean as coterminous with South-east Asia - a conflation that the regional specialist Malcolm Cook recently described as "intellectually distorting" - we tend to forget that physically, too, the region is more than the Association of South-east Asian Nations.

A significant unfinished business in integration is Timor Leste which, in 2002, shook off a quarter century of Indonesian occupation after centuries of Portuguese colonial rule and thus emerged as the first new nation of the 21st century.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2018, with the headline 'A Timorese lion in winter looks back'. Print Edition | Subscribe