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Hello. I'm Tony Maniaty. I'm

a journalist and author

currently lecturing at the currently lecturing at

Danish School of Journalism in

Aarhus. Tonight's Australian

Story is a world away from in the new nation of East Story is a world away from here

Timor. A place I first visited Timor. A place I first

more than 30 years ago to cover

film the events now portrayed in the

film 'Balibo'. Tonight is the

unfolding story of an unusual

friendship between an Australian soldier Australian soldier and Jose

Ramos Horta, East Timor's much-loved President. much-loved President. Major

Mike Stone first appeared on

Australian Story in his

military role. But when he

returned to Dili to work

alongside the President he was

plunged into a life and death

crisis that made headlines

story. around the world. This is his


We were really excited about We were really excited

going to 'Balibo', the movie.

The girls and I deciding what

to wear, looking right and

seeing Michael and Megan. I

have my family and friends and

hard that was special for me. It's

hard to share overseas moments

sometimes but this was one

small thing that I guess I got

to share. I'm sure that if

Michael wanted to pursue acting

he could. We've had a lot

he could. We've had a lot of

people say, "Who was that guy

at the beginning of the film?"

It's a cast with Anthony

LaPaglia, Gyton Grantley, all

these name actors and here is

giving this this face people don't know

giving this really compelling

performance. Next door they

watched in the film. He did

very well. Totally naturally

like a professional actor. I

think because he knows the

issue well. He could do it

with feelings and without a

script. I'm sure he will end up

in Hollywood or being an actor,

as well. but that would be very welcome but that would be very

as well. For

For me I could see the

empathy with the people from

Michael. He's walked with the Michael. He's walked with

East Timorese people. He has

seen their suffering and pain

and his heart is very much with

them. So it was lovely to see

him in that role. Most of today him in that role. Most of

we've been assembling

information with regards to the

events of December 7,

to 1975. Timor is very important

to our family. Dad served there

every year since 2000 as a

chaplain in both the Federal

Police and the Australian

Police and the Australian Army.

I've been there for a good part

of the last ten years in a

variety of roles. We had hoped

when Michael went back there when Michael went back

towards the end of 07 that

things would be peaceful, things would be peaceful, but

of course within a few months

yet another national crisis was

at hand and fortunately Michael at hand and fortunately Michael

and I were both there at the

time to respond to

that. NEWSREEL: A state of

emergency has been declared in emergency has been declared

East Timor... The East Timor... The President

Jose Ramos Horta was seriously

wounded in an assassination

attempt. I consider him a

friend. I consider him like an

uncle. Like a part of our family. It was an incredible

shock. I knew that he had been actively involved in shock. I knew that he had been

actively involved in extracting

Jose Ramos Horta after the

assassination attempt and

helping save his life. It was

helping save his life. It was a

real shock for me seeing the

most wonderful man, the most

influential person in East

Timor lying before me, part

naked, unable to do anything,

in a coma on the edge between

life and death.

One thing I have tried One thing I have tried to

understand here is the trauma

that the Timorese people have

gone through in the past. After

I met Nick I was given a copy I met Nick I was given a

of the Australian scaf story

about him. I was curious to

find out more about the him and

was amazed to discover the

background and commitment he'd

shown to East Timor over so

many years. OK. I've been

deployed to East Timor deployed to East Timor three

times now. It began in 1999.

It was probably more the

second deployment in September

2001 where I developed my language skills.

I think by the end of that

trip I could speak what I would

define as coffee table talk.

define as coffee table talk.

In 2004 Michael was selected In 2004 Michael was

by the army to return to East

Timor to command a training

team assisting the training of

the East Timor Defence Force.

Not one of them spoke

English. It was a real

mind-blowing experience

thinking I've got a lot to

learn and it really was dive in

and swim.

and swim. Michael took it upon

himself to learn the language

from the locals. Every time I

returned to East Timor it

amazes me how Michael's skills in language have continued to

improve. One day I was giving a speech in

a speech in a town. Major a speech in a town. Major Stone

came to say hello to me. Well,

I then impromptu invited him to

give a speech as well. I

thought I was going to put him

on the spot to embarrass him

with his limited Tetum.

I have never seen him

speaking in public before. He

is not only a good Tetum

speaker, but he knows how to

entertain the crowd.

And since then I told him,

"Listen, I'm not inviting you

to speak again anywhere because

you over shadow me. You outdo

me. So know more competition with me next time."

Michael's role MAchael's role escalat d Michael's role escalated

dramatically in 2006 when

another crisis erupted. The

outbreak of this crisis was a

surprise and somewhat of a

shock. There are countless

people that said if Australia

wasn't there when it came that

hundreds of thousands of people hundreds of thousands of

would have died. There

would have died. There were

times when the Australian Army

came in for

criticism. NEWSREEL: Two men

were shot dead and within hours

word spread that Australian

soldiers shot one of them. Two

more men were killed on Dili's

beach front. Again Australian

soldiers were blamed. An

important role I had was to get

on TV and communicate our

message, to dispel myths and

rumours and communicate what

was happening at the time.

I don't know whether it is

natural skill or learn it in

school, but he is very

effective in communicating to our people.

And that's why the ADF use

him to appear on our television

to convey messages to the

people and he has been very

effective. He's become very

much a household face for many

Timorese. He features on the

front page of many newspapers

and TV news broadcasts in the evenings.

Seeing him in action makes me

feel very proud to be an Australian by birth.

Today was an absolutely his

torical event. For all the

leadership of the military to

come here and the police and

Government leaders and all Government leaders and all the

youth to come together armed

with flowers, I must admit I

was very emotional. It's was very emotional. It's good

for the people that they do

have a true hope for them,

which is so important. I feel

proud of my son that he's been

contributing to that. Just a small part.

Well, I was disappointed

when he told me the other day

that he was leaving East Timor.

And I mentioned to him that I

hope he comes back and I would

definitely welcome him to work

in my office. I think it was

wonderful in the 2007 episode

when Jose Ramos Horta says he

would like to have Michael come

back and working for him to see

that that happened. That it

actually came to pass within a

few months, really.

Well, I spoke to and wrote to

PM John Howard at the time

requesting that the Australian

Army reassign Major Mike Stone

to work with me. I had just

been elected President and one

of my main concerns is the reform of the Defence Force.

PM John Howard was very kind,

generous and promptly agreed.

So Mike Stone came back for a three-year assignment working

in my office. Michael's role

in his appointment as in his appointment as adviser

to the President has had many dimensions to

dimensions to it. Certainly far

beyond the scope that a normal

major in the Australian Army

would be expected to perform.

Certainly his primary role has

been providing advice on

security matters within the

country. Michael and the

President are very, very much

alike. They are both incorrigible and very

ambitious. Only the bad news

from East Timor gets a splash

in Australia. They share a very

special relationship. No-one is

blaming today's

Indonesia. Sometimes there is

tension. Obviously working for

a man like that is intensely

stressful. But there is a

certain dynamic that they gel

very well together. Action.

President Horta asked Michael

to give substantial to give substantial assistance

to the 'Balibo' film production

team. We're filming the famous

seen where Shackleton painted

the flag. The President viewed

the project as a very positive

one. He asked me to help and

facilitate the basic logistics

in Timor L'este. In the film in Timor L'este. In the film I

needed to find an Australian who would interview Juliana

DaCosta, the framing device of

the film. I auditioned actors

in Australia and kept thinking

who would I bring, how long

would it take for them to understand the language and

then it dawned on me, here was

Michael who I had been dealing

with on a daily basis and

fluent in Tetum and comfortable

in front of the camera and has

a kind of charisma and

compassion I needed for that character.

Juliana, was there anyone in the crowd you can identify for

us? I was definitely

nervous. I'm nervous every time

I do public speaking and

certainly I was nervous being

part of such a significant

film. I certainly didn't

film. I certainly didn't want

to be, even for half a second,

the person that screws it up.

The scene when we were

filming it took a life on its

own. There was a moment

watching it where you felt like

you were really watching an

interview happening, which was fantastic.

In February 20088 I was on

one of my regular trips to

visit our Federal Police

members in Timor and I remember

Michael meeting me at the

airport and telling me how he

just mentioned to the President

that dad is in town and the

President saying, "Wow, let's

go down to Atabai and see the

work he's been doing down

there." Mike Stone worked with

a group of Australians a group of Australians trying

to do some very basic, but

indispensable things for

reremote communities. Then we

got news that the road back to

Dili had been cut by

landslides. I was able to be

flown to Dili in a flown to Dili in a helicopter.

Mike Stone had to drive his car

back to Dili. I came back with

the President and we then had

dinner that night down by the

beach, just near his house and

I said goodbye to him thinking

I wouldn't see him for a couple

of months. Late Sunday night

Michael gets back into Dili

after a very, very long weekend. And we decided that he

was going to get to sleep in on

Monday morning, finally.

The President has always been

in the habit of an early

morning walk. He walks from his

house up to the statue house up to the statue of

Cristo Rei and back. On the

morning of 11 February he was

on his walk when a massive

amount of gunfire, machine

gunfire erupted in the vicinity

of his house. He ran back to

the house. He had two guards

with him. Within about 10m from

the front gate of his house a

gunman stepped out on to the

road and open fire on him. he

was shot through the lung and

shoulder. It was in military

terms unsphooiable. I woke up

to my phone ringing at 7 in the

morning and it was one of the

guys I work with. Paul

Remedious was screaming, "Michael, Michael, the

President's been shot. Call an

ambulance. Call the ISF. We

need a helicopter here, right

now." I was laying there for

quite a while until a battered

ambulance arrive. Mike had

been alerted to what had

happened to me. While I was on

the phone, "An ambulance is

here, where do I go?!" I said

Paulo you have to get to the

medical centre at the

heliport. The ambulance would

have gone to the national

hospital which didn't have the

equipment or the staff to deal

with such traumatic injuries.

So if the first instance

Michael got them to take him to

the right place. I remember

vividly even though I was

losing blood and near death, I

was completely serene. It's not

like I was panicking fearing

death. I even told the

ambulance driver, "Please go

slow." He was driving so fast.

Lucky he didn't go slow

because I would dead by the

time we got into the clinic. I

had lost so much blood. I

can't imagine what it was like

for Michael as he opened the

doors of the ambulance and saw

the blood, Jose's blood pouring

on to the ground... Right there

and then I had doubts as to how

the President was going to pull

through this. How he could

possibly lose so much blood and

it really hit me like a steam

train. This man who I train. This man who I respected

so much. In that instant, I put

my hands on his shoulders and

thought what could I do, I was

helpless at that point. I said

Hi, sir, it's Mike here. You

are going to be OK. Are you in

safe hands. He had his eyes

open. He was just breathing

like gasping... I hate to say

it but like a dying fish. He

was at his absolute last

breaths. I lifted his body

with my hands in his wound on

to the emergency table and he

was in pain. He was vocal about

his pain at the time. But we

knew - everything had to be

quick. Hoezai was stabilised

at the Aspen Medical Centre.

His blood supply was replenish

ed and he was placed on an

emergency flight to Darwin Hospital.

I was at Dili airport getting

ready to board a plane to

return home. I received a phone

call from Michael saying, "Dad,

the President has been shot!

The President has been shot!" I

couldn't believe it. I said,

"Dad, go to Darwin and when you

arrive there, make contact with

the President's nephew." Dad

knows the family. He asked that

I provide some spiritual

support to his family and bring

their family members to their family members to the

Darwin Hospital. We got to the

emergency ward and literally

shortly after that this

ambulance arrived and hoezai

was brought into the triage

room. I sced a number of

prayers over him and held his

hand and placed my hand on his

head and stepped back and the

doctors took to work to deal

with the gunshot wounds that he

had. While the President

fights for his life, police and military patrols have been

stepped up on the streets of

Dili. NEWSREEL: A state om

emergency has been declared emergency has been declared in

East Timor after yesterday's

assassination attempt on the

President. As complex as

Michael's normal job is with

the President it became more so

because then he became the

military adviser to the next

President in line. Basically I

had two key objectives - one

was protect the good guys and

two was to catch the bad guys.

Or stop the bad guys from doing anything. NEWSREEL: Australian

soldiers have arrived in East

Timor hoping to prevent any

further outbreaks of violence. Jose Ramos Horta

remains sedated in remains sedated in the Royal

Darwin Hospital... Jose Ramos

Horta was in a coma for a

2-week period. He was lying on

this table, shirt had been

chopped off him, tubes going

chopped off him, tubes going into his mouth and nose and

just lying there. It was a very

humbling situation just to see

this man who really had done so

much for East Timor suddenly

struck down by assassin's

bullets. During that time I

had a nightmare, a dream. I was struggling between life and

death. I was, you know, on the

borderline. The dream was of

three individuals that I

couldn't see distinctively who

they were. Who was sort of

interrogating me, trying to

asphyxiate and torturing me asphyxiate and torturing me to

death. Then at one point I

said, "Can you at least tell me

what I have done wrong to

deserve this treatment?" And

then a voice came saying and I

remember the voice very

distinctively in a very clear,

like a command saying, "Let him

go, he has done nothing wrong."

Then the three disappear and I

felt very light. I knew that

God needed to bring Jose Ramos

Horta back to East Timor to

hold his country together. I

was desperate that he stay

alive. I prayed my hardest

prayers. It was quite an

emotional time for me I know

just standing there holding his

hand, putting my hand on his

forward and just willing,

desiring that he live. Praying

to God that God would deliver

him. He spent hours with my

whole family and comforting

them. I didn't know obviously

because I was in a coma, but my

family told me he spent family told me he spent three

days at least I think in the beginning. NEWSREEL: The Australian surgeon Australian surgeon treating

East Timor's President is

sounding positive about his

chances of recovery. Everything

is going as well as it could

be. We are not foreseeing any

major complications. In East

Timor arrest warrants have been

issued for suspects wanted over

the shootings. The situation

was totally new to everybody was totally new to everybody in

Timor L'este. It was unheard

of and unthought of that the

greatest peace maker has almost

been assassinated.

So the fact that he was shot

was a terrible irony for Timor.

Perhaps the fact that it was

him and not somebody else

shocked the nation into peace.

Nobody believed that it could

happen. The country descended

into a unified depression.

Everything for the country was

at stake at that time.

NEWSREEL: Thousands turned

out in Dili to welcome out in Dili to welcome home

Jose Ramos Horta after his

2-month recouperation in

Darwin. It was pandemonium at

Dili airport as huge crowds

turned out to welcome home a

much-loved President. much-loved President. Michael

was very relieved when hose was

able to return to East Timor

and particularly delighted that

he wanted to continue on in his

role as President. It was

really quick. You know how

close I live here and screamed

all the way to here and alerted

these guys. As horrible as the

February 11th events were, it

truly brought us together. We

work well together in crisis

mode. We've been together

through a lot of difficult

times. It was awful for both

of us, don't get me wrong. It

was emotionally traumatising in

a way I don't know how to

describe, but we did well

together. During my last visit

to Timor we were at Michael's

house one night when the

President rang and asked if he

could pop in for a port. When

he arrived he said to Michael,

"I've got another peace

initiative I would like you to

look at and see if you could

organise an international bike

race around East Timor." I

thought of the bike race for thought of the bike race for a

number of reasons. Not only as

a sports activity, but as a

public relations diplomatic

exercise to put back Timor on

the map through a positive light.

This would not materialise if

not for the hard work,

resourcefulness of Mike Stone.


the moon that we did the the moon that we did the event

and did it with style. It was

run successfully. Emp was safe.

Everyone was happy. And it

showcased the country for what

it really is. The Tour de it really is. The Tour de Timor

has been a triumphant success

for that country. It has shown

the Timorese that they can

stage a world event and they've

shown the world this is a

country you can travel to that

is safe and Mick worked

tirelessly to do that. I hope the head of the head of the Australian

Defence Force will not review

his mission here in Timor.

My secondment to the

President finishes in President finishes in January

next year. I'm still a next year. I'm still a serving Australian Army officer and

after 14 years I will have a

break. I will take long service

leave next year. The President

has asked me personally if I

can stay on working for him in

his cabinet. The Australian

Army should just make him Army should just make him a

brigadier general or head of

the Australian Defence Force.

Or if they don't do that he

probably will stay on in East

Timor. I always cop plenty of

stick from him. Which is fine.

I give him plenty as well. I

didn't know whether to take him

seriously or not. Gary also

will stay and continue to pray

for our sins, for my sinned, I have

have many, and I need a

full-time preacher to pray for

my sins. The whole family my sins. The whole family love

East Timor. East Timor is part

of who we are as a family. I

doubt that we will ever not be

apart from East Timor. We feel like family with them.

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