421 Eaton to Evatt [1]

Ministerial Despatch 8/1947 (extracts) BATAVIA, 14 November 1947


I have the honour to state that the work of the Committee of Good Offices still holds the main interest in the East Indies, particularly in Java, and full details of its work have of course been promulgated officially. It is the general opinion that progress in preliminary talks has been slow, that the question of the provision of a ship for substantive talks between the parties is still very much in the air and that the date of commencement of substantive talks is governed largely by the date from which a ship will be available.

2. Meanwhile the Committee and Staff spends the major portion of its time in Batavia, and is subject by general contact and entertainment to impregnation with Dutch influence. Great advantage is obviously being taken of the fact that firm action by the Committee is most difficult when governed by the term 'good offices'. Judge Kirby informs me that the Committee is, even at the present time, 'sitting on dynamite' and I feel this is only too true.

3. It is obvious that the Dutch are employing all delay tactics possible and this is probably for the following reasons:

(a) A quick solution, unless to the advantage of the Dutch, is not required on account of possible economic assistance from the U.S.A. to Holland while the issue is in abeyance.

(b) Delay is likely to cause difficulties and dissension amongst all concerned with the dispute.

(c) Change of countries in Security Council. [2]

(d) Food and economic position in the Republican territory which will deteriorate as time goes on.

(e) Advantage of the Committee remaining in Batavia as long as possible.

The Dutch seem to be striving in every possible way to bring considerations of the status of the various States, East Indonesia, East Sumatra, West Java, Borneo, etc., into the settlement of the dispute, even with the Committee of Three. Their object is to obtain, in the solution by the Committee, a United States of Indonesia, of which the Republic will be just a part.

4. The local Chinese press now seems to have become a medium for anti-Republican propaganda, with the possible connivance of the Chinese Consul-General, who seems to have turned Dutch-wards. A Chinese radio is to be initiated in Batavia for broadcasts. In addition a new Dutch short-wave broadcast service to Europe is being established.

[matter omitted]

6. Again the almost insurmountable difficulties regarding the cease fire order and demarcation lines without a political solution are emphasised and to me it still seems that a withdrawal of forces of both sides from the disputed areas and the establishment of a Joint Police Force must eventually be the practical solution.

7. An interesting point brought up by the French Consul-General, M. Raux, at the meeting between the Committee of Three and the Consular Commission [3], was to the effect that the Committee of Three should endeavour to obtain the withdrawal of certain high officials of both parties to the dispute who have been very virulent to the other side, as their presence will mitigate against a solution when substantive talks are commenced.

8. It is worthy of note that the Netherlands East Indies authorities have not yet promulgated the names of their delegation for the substantive talks, but at the same time representatives have been brought to Batavia from all the various States already established by the Dutch in order that they should take part, whenever possible, in talks with their Contact Committee which is at present engaged in preliminary talks with the Committee of Three.

[matter omitted]

10. The senior Netherlands East Indies officials do not appear in any way to be relaxing in their attitude towards the Committee of Three and the dispute in general. On the other side the Republican camp is becoming more and more pessimistic and despondent on account of the slow progress. However, in the near future it is quite possible that mutual talks will commence for the first time between Republican and Dutch officials, but these talks will be confined entirely to proposals for the implementation of the cease fire order.

11. Difficulty of interpretation of the Security Council Resolutions of 1st August and 1st November, regarding the 'Cease Fire Order' and the withdrawals respectively, have caused, and are continuing to cause, confused thinking by those associated with the dispute, and are factors which tend to hamper an attitude of compromise. On the other hand many people fully appreciate the difficulty for the members of the Security Council to picture clearly the situation in Indonesia and to realise that the so- called 'Police Action' is a full scale, though small, military operation, and that definite armistice conditions should have accompanied the Cease Fire Order.

1 Addressed to Evatt in Canberra. Chifley was Acting Minister for External Affairs in Evatt's absence.

2 Australia's term as a member of the Security Council was scheduled to end on 31 December.

3 See Document 414.

[AA:A4231/2, 1947 BATAVIA]