TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Timor Leste's founding father Xanana Gusmao said late BJ Habibie had once urged him to focus on human resources development and mastery of science and technology to enable Timor Leste to make a quantum leap in the aftermath of its secession from Indonesia in 1999.
"I am so deeply touched by the thoughts of my 'brother'. He (Habibie) suggested, 'Xanana, according to me, you all must pay a serious attention to education, and, in this age, focus more on technology and science," Gusmao quoted Habibie's suggestion as saying.
Speaking to journalists after visiting Habibie's residence in Patra Kuningan, Jakarta, on Saturday evening, he said that in remembering Habibie's messages, a certain part of the Habibie Bridge in Dili, Timor Leste's capital city, marked the symbol of technology.
"On the bridge, there is a symbol of technology to tell the people that Habibie is a democrat and the father of technology," said Gusmao who had been jailed in Indonesia as a political prisoner from 1992 to 1999.
The figure who released him from the Cipinang Prison in 1999 prior to the convening of the UN-backed plebiscite, and gave the people of East Timor their rights to vote for staying with or separating from Indonesia was Habibie, he said.
For him, Habibie is not just an Indonesian figure who had contributed to the birth of Timor Leste through a referendum, won by the pro-independence camp, but he is also his good friend, said this first president of Timor Leste.
On Saturday evening, Gusmao visited Habibie's residence at Patra Kuningan to submit two letters and express the deepest condolences of the entire people of his country on the passing of the third president of Indonesia.
Accompanied by Timor Leste's Ambassador to Indonesia Alberto Xavier Pereira Carlos, Gusmao were received by Habibie's family members, including his two sons, Ilham Akbar Habibie and Thareq Kemal Habibie.
Several days ago, there was a video footage showing Xanana Gusmao's moment of visiting Habibie at a hospital in August. These two figures had made good friendship for long time.
The 83-year-old former president passed away at 6:05 p.m. Wednesday (Sept. 11) at the Gatot Subroto Army Hospital (RSPAD) where he was being treated by the best doctors, including those from the Presidential Doctors Team, since September 1.
The former president was buried at the heroes' cemetery with full military honors on Thursday (Sept. 12).
Along the way from the mourning house in Patra Kuningan to the National Heroes' Cemetery in Kalibata, South Jakarta, numerous people stood on the road shoulders to pay their last respects to BJ Habibie.