138 Eaton to Burton

Departmental Dispatch 17/1948 BATAVIA, 21 May 1948

SECRET

GENERAL POLITICAL SITUATION

Since my last Despatch [1] the only progress made in the current political negotiations has been in the work of the various sub- committees, all relevant details of which have been for-warded to you by our Delegation on the Committee of Good Offices.

2. The Dutch are now placing considerable importance on the Federal Conference which is to commence at Bandoeng on 26th May, and which will be composed of representatives of the future member states of the United States of Indonesia, of member states yet to be formed and of minority groups. Observers from territories where the population has 'so far been unable to consolidate its political views', such as East and Middle Java, will also be admitted (see Government Information Service handout No.A.E.863 [2] of 12th May forwarded to you on 14th May). Though the Dutch have denied that this Conference is in any way a Constituent Assembly the decisions of which will be considered binding, it is patent that it will be a Constituent Assembly in function, if not in name, and that the Dutch regard its deliberations and decisions as of the utmost importance. They envisage the Conference as extending over several months. In my opinion it will take precedence over any other negotiations, particularly in view of the approaching election in the Netherlands. It is significant that Dr. Idenburg, the former Deputy Lieutenant Governor-General, has now returned to Batavia with Dr. Koets, the former Secretary to Van Mook's Cabinet, and Dr. Bannier, of the Ministry for Overseas Territories. It is reported that Dr. Idenburg is to be responsible for organising the office of the High Commissioner of the Netherlands-Indonesian Union. The Netherlands Ministers Lieftinck and Gotzen are also coming to the Indies for discussions in the financial and administrative fields, and were due to leave the Netherlands on 18th May.

3. In the meantime, the all-Indonesian National Front, in co- operation with GAPKI (the Federation of Indonesian independence Movements with headquarters at Makassar), has organised a similar conference to be held in Batavia for three days commencing on 24th May. A statement issued by the preparatory Committee of this Conference says that it will concern itself with discussions regarding the establishment of the Interim Government, the United States of Indonesia and the Netherlands-Indonesian Union and with the organisation of a permanent All-Indonesia Congress. The statement continues that the Conference will not be hostile to the Federal Conference to be held at Bandoeng nor is it 'to fill up the shortcomings of the outcome of the Federal Conference'. About seventy-five delegates will attend.

4. The participation of GAPKI in the Indonesian National Conference has precipitated a crisis in the East Indonesian parliament. The Government had already accepted the invitation to the Federal Conference at Bandoeng and selected its delegates, some of whom were members of GAPKI. However, a conference of GAPKI at Makassar early in this month (resolutions from which I attach to this Despatch [3]) opposed the Bandoeng Conference. The East Indonesian Parliament assembled yesterday evening to discuss the question, but no information is yet available as to the outcome of the debate.

5. It is still clear that the Dutch are determined to make every attempt to retain political and economic control of Indonesia and the Bandoeng Conference must be regarded as a major move in this policy. if the statement [attached herewith] [4] by the spokesman of the Government Information Service is any indication of the Dutch attitude, then it is apparent that the Dutch hope to use this Conference to by-pass the Republic altogether. While it is admitted that the Republic will eventually have to become a member of the United States of Indonesia, the reaching of an agreement whereby this might be effected is now held to be a matter of secondary importance. The main object now is to get on with the organisation of the Federation among those states and other territories which are willing to co-operate. Success in this policy would effectively isolate the Republic and the close participation of the Netherlands Delegation in the sponsorship and business of the Conference leaves the immediate future of the Republic and the talks under the Committee of Good Offices very much in the air.

6. Despite the general air of pessimism regarding the Netherlands- Republican negotiations, I myself do not believe that, even should there be a complete breakdown, there is much likelihood of another police action, as is considered probable in some quarters. The Dutch can already bring considerable pressure to bear on the Republic through such measures as their sea blockade and the effective organisation of independent states in the territories they occupy. Moreover, apart from considerations of cost and international repercussions, military operations could be quite disastrous to present attempts to organise a Federation and I am confident that those responsible for policy are sufficiently aware of this to dismiss any suggestion for military action.

1 Document 123.

2 Not located.

3 Not published.

4 The words in square brackets were added by hand.

[AA:A4231/2, 1948 BATAVIA]