513 Massey to Evatt

Dispatch 13/47 [SINGAPORE], 14 March 1947

I have the honour to report that, in accordance with directions contained in External Affairs telegram No.100 dated 28th February, I have forwarded copies of the statement on foreign affairs made by you in the House of Representatives on 26th February, 1947, to Their Excellencies the Lord Killearn, His Majesty's Special Commissioner in South East Asia, and the Right Honourable Mr.

Malcolm MacDonald, P.C., Governor-General of Malaya. Copies were also forwarded to Their Excellencies the Governor of Singapore and the Governor of the Malayan Union, and to each member of the British Defence Committee in South East Asia.

2. Soon after receipt of the documents, Mr. MacDonald sent for me and asked me to convey to you his very sincere appreciation of your action in arranging for him to have a copy of the speech and also of the substance of the speech itself. Similar requests have been made by Lord Killearn, Sir Franklin Gimson, Governor of Singapore, and Sir Edward Gent, Governor of the Malayan Union, each of whom have requested me to express their pleasure at receiving copies of the complete speech and the documents relating thereto.

3. I would like to let you know that the general feeling is that your suggestions are extremely opportune and each responsible officer realises the possible far-reaching effects of the action proposed in your speech. [1]

4. As no doubt you have gathered from my reports of the meetings of the British Defence Committee in South East Asia, the discussions have shown a keen realisation of the necessity in this area for closer co-operation between the various political and racial groups therein. At the present time, there is undoubtedly a great awakening of the Asiatic peoples of Malaya and surrounding countries. In some instances their aspirations are not clearly defined, while in others they are setting out after a clear-cut objective. In either case, the ultimate end will be the same-a greater measure of independence and enlightenment in South East Asia-provided that the peoples concerned are encouraged and are made to feel that the Atlantic: Charter is not just so many words.

5. Discussions which I have had, particularly in the last few months, with leading Chinese, Indians and, to a lesser degree, Malays and Indonesians, have led me to the definite belief that the time is opportune for the regional conference of South East Asia countries referred to in your speech.

6. As your representative in this part of the world, I can assure you that you may expect the wholehearted support of every senior official, from the Governor-General downwards, in this area. I believe you can also count on support of the countries which are represented at the Special Commissioner's Liaison Officers' meetings which are held month by month, and those countries which have an interest at the moment in the British Defence Committee in South East Asia.

7. My despatch covering a report of the 10th meeting of the British Defence Committee in South East Asia has a bearing on the matters referred to herein and will, together with previous reports, give an indication of the earnestness with which the problems of regional co-operation are being tackled here.

8. During my discussion with His Excellency the Governor-General, he referred to his forthcoming visit to Australia, as did Lord Killearn in discussions I had with him on Tuesday last, and they both expressed the very keen desire that nothing would prevent them meeting you for personal discussions at a date as early as convenient to all concerned.

1 Evatt had predicted increased opportunities for political, cultural and commercial co-operation as democratic states of South-East Asia developed to political maturity. He proposed the formation of a regional instrumentality in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific, along the lines of the South Pacific Commission, to facilitate exchange of basic information on problems of administration, education, health, agriculture, commerce and cultural relations.

[AA : A1838, 383/1/2/1, ii]