UNDP Resident Representative Munkhtuya Altangerel’s Farewell Speech

June 15, 2023

UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Munkhtuya Altangerel

@UNDP Timor-Leste/Ayumi Kimura

Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Adaljiza Albertina Xavier Reis Magno,

Chief of Staff of the President’s Administration, Mr. Bendito Freitas and Senior Advisors to His Excellency, 

Excellencies Ministers, Presidents of Municipal Authorities,

Excellencies Ambassadors and Heads of Cooperation, 

Leaders and the Representatives of the Church and charitable and civil society organizations,

Persons of Eminence, Distinguished veterans, and activists,

My Resident Coordinator, Ms. Funmi Balogun, and my UN and UNDP family,

My dear colleagues from all partner organizations and institutions,


Good evening and Boanoite!


I’m so honoured to see you all together this fine evening. In less than a week I and my beloved family will depart Timor-Leste- the vivacious and beautiful country and the people whom I’ve served in the last 4 years as the Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme. I can say with great certainty that I and my family are leaving the country completely transformed—filled with deep love and great admiration for this resilient nation!  


I’m also filled with great many memories of life-changing experiences and lessons learned—and as my Director of the Regional Bureau of Asia Pacific, Kanni Wignaraja who visited Timor-Leste in 2022, reminds me- those teams who have stayed together during the times of strife and great uncertainty such as COVID and natural disasters – those teams will have forged an unbreakable connection and bond, and will forever remain as confidants, partners and indeed, a family!


And what a fantastic team and an extended family we have built together, my dear friends and partners! Each and everyone of you present here today has had a direct engagement and partnership with me and UNDP as we supported the efforts of the individuals, the communities and the Government to recover from the dual crises of the pandemic and the Easter Floods of 2021. Indeed, challenges and uncertainties have been many- but our resolve much stronger in Unity and Trust.

UNDP Resident Representative with UN Resident Coordinator in Timor-Leste and UN Women Head of Office

@UNDP Timor-Leste/Ayumi Kimura

As my Resident Coordinator mentioned, yesterday it was my great honour and privilege to accept on behalf of UNDP the highest national award – The Order of Timor-Leste – from the Office of the President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. This great honour recognizes the fact that I and UNDP colleagues alongside with the United Nations Family have been given a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to serve the People of Timor-Leste during one of the most challenging of times, and that we did not shy away from risks and uncertainties – but stayed and delivered, with humility and purpose, as one team. All national and international staff of the United Nations exemplified this deep commitment to serving the nation and the people- they worked tirelessly to overcome the difficult trials and forge brighter recovery pathways.


I would like to particularly highlight the four noteworthy efforts of significance to the United Nations family, particularly UNDP:

First, when the COVID pandemic spread through the world like wildfire back in 2020, the UN family and key partners stayed with the people of Timor-Leste, and supported emergency response measures, including provision of the essential medicines, life-saving equipment and services, and technical capacities. UNDP is honoured to have been an important partner to this response – we worked side-by-side with the municipalities and communities and the Government- especially, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of State Administration, as well as development partners. Thank you all for your deep trust and partnership!


Second, during the unprecedented floods which hit the country during the Easter weekend of 2021, the UN and UNDP were among the first responders, canvassing the affected communities and providing emergency relief, food baskets and cash-for-work in inundated aldeias and sucos. I thank our cherished partners- the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of State Administration and our Dear Minister Miguel Perreira, the Dili city Administration, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, the Japanese Embassy, the Korean Embassy, the Portuguese Cooperation and many others who have entrusted UNDP financial resources to design and deliver these initiatives which have restored the agency, the dignity and the right to self-determination of the people and communities. This experience has deeply touched me on a personal level as I have witnessed the profound resilience and strength of the Timorese people, especially women, in overcoming such a devastating disaster. Having lost all their earthly possessions, they continued caring for each other with strong resolve and pure kindness, right there on the streets and temporary shelters. I will always cherish these memories, having learned so much from them – sometimes you find moments of exhilarating joy and life affirmations amidst the most difficult of circumstances.

Third, in partnership with the European Union, the National Parliament, the Ministry of State Administration, the Ministry of Justice and judicial oversight institutions we supported landmark legislative acts and laws for Decentralization and the modernization of the Justice Sector. 

H.E. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Adaljiza Magno, given Souvenir to UNDP Resident Representative, Ms.Munkhtuya Altangerel

UNDP Timor-Leste/ Ayumi Kimura

And very significantly, we have been entrusted by the Government to provide close technical assistance to the recent Elections- Presidential and Legislative! Our elections programme has been funded and carried out in trusting partnership with the Embassy and the Government of Japan, the Ministry of State Administration, STAE and CNE. I would like to personally extend my gratitude to His Excellency Kimura Tetsuya, Ambassador of Japan and his amazing staff, as well as to His Excellency, the President of CNE, Jose Bello and DG of STAE, and all electoral management bodies! For the next elections, let us all remember to shake the bottles of the indelible ink- or better yet, let us perhaps transition to a bio-metric system of voting! Whichever works best!

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, indeed, we look forward to continue supporting the 9th Constitutional Government in implementing these reforms, and strengthening citizen-focused services delivery and digital transformation. At the same time, we will continue working with our communities to deliver more than 130 climate-resilient roads, irrigation, agro-forestry, solar-powered water and electrification for households, and integrated area-based development initiatives – these reach out to more than 50% of the Timorese population. 


Dear Municipal Administrators and Presidents in Baucau, Ermera, Liquica, Oecusse, Manufahi, Manatutu, Atauro, Suai, Viqueque, Bobonauro and Lautem- dear State Secretariat of Environment, and Civil Protection Agency- my special thanks and gratitude for your trust and patience. Some of the Administrators have told me not to come back unless we implement these significant for communities initiatives- and I’m happy to say with deep relief and gratitude that we are well on our track to deliver what we have promised. I was able to visit you all very recently, and have witnessed the progress underway. With your communities and NGOs such as Permatil, Rabia and others, we’ve co-designed and co implemented the climate adaptation solutions, have carried out meaningful conversations, sang songs about aihan, toos nain, hadomi and aman and inan, and found our grooves in tebe tebe dances. 

Fourth, the UNDP has been at the forefront of reaching out to our Timorese youth, especially in rural areas, through a combination of the soft-loans scheme, business incubation, employment initiatives, internship programmes and skills development outreach. During my farewell audience with His Excellency, Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak, he particularly highlighted this initiative and pointed out that the ‘seeds have been planted for the domestic private sector and entrepreneurship development, as well as value-chain creation.’ Nothing beats investing in the power and potential of our future generations. Thank you to PM’s office, MTCI, MCAE, BNCTL, SEFOPE, and the Secretariat of Youth and Sports for entrusting us to lead these efforts, and my special gratitude to VM Domingos Antunes, KOICA Director Eunju Cha, Korean Ambassador Shin Mantaek and previous Ambassadors of Korea who have been the grand visionaries of our joint efforts. I’m so privileged to have traveled throughout Timor-Leste and witnessed the ingenuity and creativity of Timorese young women and men; If we continue prioritizing their bright ideas and talents, the future of the country will be very bright indeed.


In closing, I would like to thank Honourable President Jose Ramos Horta for extending His hand in friendship and counsel- I have been deeply privileged to have spent precious time with Him, exchanging and debating ideas about human development. I have personally learned so much from our Feto Leaders- Ministra Adaljiza Magno, Ministra Odete Belo, Madre Guillerhmina, Veteran Mana Kasian, Dili President Mana Guillerhmina, my RC Funmi Balogun, my sister Nishtha Satyam, the Head of UNWOMEN, and many women leaders who are here today- Your own fabulous styles, Your unique way of seeing the world, carrying yourselves with dignity and sense of power, your bravery in tirelessly promoting gender equality and human rights, continue inspiring me day in and day out. Indeed, as Timorese saying goes, Feto Forte- Nasao Forte! Luta continua (the struggle continues!)


My dear friends- our next journey will be in beautiful islands in the Pacific Region, where I and my family will have the opportunity to serve UNDP Fiji Multi-Country Office, covering 10 island nations. I will sail forward carrying with me all these unforgettable experiences and will strive to come back one day to our beloved Timor Lorosae.

I, my beloved Husband Beau Gordinier, whom many of you know as a healer and your acupuncturist, and our precious daughter, Lani- the mother of many Timorese rabbits, are leaving big chunks of our hearts and souls in Timor-Leste and within each of you. These fragments and filaments are already flourishing into fragrant spice gardens, mangrove forests and deep-water reefs and coral eco-systems- and the fruits of our trust and joint labour of love will continue brightening the life’s mysterious pathways ahead.


Hau hadomi Avo Lafaek, Hau Oan Foho, maibe Agora hau Oan Tasi! 

Hau hadomi Timor-Leste! 

Viva Timor-Lorosae! Viva povu Timorense!


Obrigada barak.