167 Ball [1] to Burton

Memorandum SINGAPORE, 7 June 1948


The contrast between our reception by the Dutch and the Republicans was no less striking because we had expected it. DR.

VAN MOOK himself was friendly and courteous, but this attitude was not evident in the behaviour of some of his chief advisers. DR.

VAN HOOGSTRATEN, for example, began our conversation by saying 'well I take it that you have got a number of goods you cannot get rid of in Australia and so you thought you might unload some of them on us'.

2. When I met him just before I left Batavia, he said in the course of another charmingly frank conversation-'what I do not like about the Australian Government is that it kicks its friends in the stomach when they are down'. He then went on to speak violently about Australian policy on the Security Council. At the end of the talk he said 'anyway, Australia has backed the wrong horse. You have kept thinking the Republicans were going to win this struggle-surely the present facts will convince you that this was a blunder. Nothing now can prevent the full success of our cause.' 3. At Djokjakarta, Soekarno, Hatta and all the members of the Government were touchingly friendly. They went out of their way to make our stay in their territory easy and happy. On our arrival HATTA and the Cabinet received us and talked to us for an hour. At 11.0 a.m. we called on the President, SOEKARNO, at his palace. He was most friendly and sincere, and like HATTA, referred with gratitude and admiration to DR. EVATT'S work on the Security Council, and his general policy towards Indonesia. CRITCHLEY has made a great reputation with the Republicans, of whom, when his name came up, SOEKARNO said 'I love him'. He then went on to explain what very good ideas CRITCHLEY had and what an immense support and inspiration he was to the Republican leaders.

4. I had a long private talk with SHAHRIR and with SALIM. I gave SHAHRIR Dr. Evatt's personal message, and he gave me to understand that he had forgotten any thought of personal irritation that he may have previously felt about some of his experiences in Australia. [2] There is speculation in Djokjakarta about the possibility of SHAHRIR becoming Prime Minister soon as the leader of the Indonesian Social Party. SALIM was clearly out of favour officially during our stay. SHAHRIR was staying with him at his house and the two seem to be working very closely together. SALIM has given us a letter for Dr. Evatt which we enclose in the Bag.

5. During our two days in Republican territory, we visited educational institutions, laboratories and hospitals. The main impression was of sincerity and industry, handicapped by lack of certain essential materials due to the Dutch blockade.

6. I feel that Australia has a singular opportunity to give some intellectual leadership to the Republic. They cannot get on without it, and they would prefer it to come from Australia than from the United States. The U.S. has already set up an Information Library in Djokjakarta. It seems to me that this is something we might try to do at once. The idea would not be to provide literature boosting Australia, but to have some trained librarian in charge, who could talk to the Republican students and technicians and put them on to the sort of scientific and political publications from Australia that would help them in their work. In the recent past, they have been almost completely cut off from the rest of the scientific and academic world.

7. The Republicans were very anxious that Australia should send to them direct whatever supplies would be made available to them.

They would also like us to deal directly with them over scholarships. They put this to us in a very indirect way, recognising that this might be an embarrassing political issue.

8. DR. SCHUURMAN on the other hand, in Batavia, was very explicit that whatever aid Australia gave to the Republican area, must be given through the N.E.I. authorities in Batavia. He repeated that DR. VAN MOOK had already said that the N.E.I. would only accept relief goods if shipping services between Australia and N.E.I. ran smoothly. As for the distribution of goods and scholarships between Republican and Dutch territories, the Dutch authorities he said, must be the arbiters. He could only promise that Australia could rely on them 'to do the fair thing'. I felt that this question of the proportionate distribution between Dutch and Republican territory and the associated question of the means by which the goods would be sent, were not matters that I should discuss while in the N.E.I., and I indicated this both to the Dutch and the Republicans. I said that these were questions that would no doubt be decided in later consultations with the Australian Government.

9. I discussed with DR.SCHUURMAN in a tentative way, the possibility of future trade between Australia and the Indonesian Republic. He said that if the N.E.I. authorities:-

(a) were able to inspect cargoes in order to ensure that no materials of war were being sent to the Republic and (b) to ensure that none of these exports from the Republican Territory were from European-owned estates there could be no objection to trade on a barter basis.

Trade by normal financial methods would only be possible after a political agreement had been reached between the Dutch and the Republicans.

10. My general impression of Indonesia was that the Dutch are in a very favourable position for the immediate future. The economic blockade they are imposing on Republican territory is very effective. In the long term, however, I feel convinced that the Dutch will be faced with insuperable difficulties, partly because so many Indonesians [who] now are technically co-operating with the Dutch are, at heart, bitterly anti-Dutch. I think the future undoubtedly lies with the Republicans, but this future may not come for 10 or 20 years.

1 The Ball mission left Sydney by Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) special aircraft on 27 May. The mission stayed overnight at Dili on 28 May before moving on to Sourabaya on 29 May. On 30 May the mission arrived in Batavia where Ball held discussions with Van Mook, Schuurman and Van Hoogstraten. On 1 June the mission left by air for Djokjakarta and Ball had discussions there with Sukarno, Hatta and other members of the Republican Government. On 2 June the mission travelled by road to Klaten, a town fifteen miles from Djokjakarta,and in the evening Ball talked with Sjahrir and Salim. On 3 June the Ball mission returned to Batavia by air and then proceeded to Singapore.

2 See Document 12 and note 2 thereto.

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