90 Critchley to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram K84 BATAVIA, 26 February 1948, 8.10 p.m.

IMPORTANT SECRET

Your telegram 47. [1]

The third West Java conference met on February 23rd to implement the resolution of the second conference in December calling for the establishment of a state of West Java with a provisional Government and Parliament. [2]

2. There were 99 delegates. Of these only 53 Indonesians were elected indirectly by popular vote. Of the remaining, fourteen Indonesians, eleven Dutch, eight Chinese and two Arabs were all appointed by the Civil Governor for West Java and there were also eleven members of the Preparatory Commission. The Dutch admitted that the majority of 53 elected representatives were Republican sympathisers. Neher quoted a figure of 27 but Republican support suggests a much higher figure.

3. Having succeeded on the first day in establishing that determination of its agenda was a matter for the conference and not for the chairman alone, elected Republican supporters, attempted on the following day to secure that the agenda be amended and a stormy session was abruptly adjourned.

4. Informal discussions were then held and a compromise amendment which proposed the implementation of the resolution of the December conference on the understanding that the status of West Java should be decided by a future plebiscite, was drafted and signed by five members including the Chairman and the leading Republican Representative Soejoso.

5. The Chairman, however, opened the session on the third day by reading a letter from the Civil Governor of West Java to the Preparatory Committee Conference which stated, inter alia, that the Netherlands East Indies Government had already approved the resolution for the formation of the State of West Java adopted at second conference and further pointed out that Representatives of West Java had been invited to participate on Netherlands Delegation and in the provisional Federal Council. (It will be recalled that second conference considered itself undemocratic.

See my telegram K24). [3]

6. In view of this letter the Chairman withdrew his signature from the compromise amendment which he said could no longer be discussed. Soejoso requested an opportunity to speak but was ignored. A committee was appointed at the instance of the Civil Governor to seek Government recognition of the conference as the Parliament of the State of West Java. Pending reply the conference was adjourned.

7. Although he would not admit that the procedure had been undemocratic Neher in answer to my direct request [said that in view of the uncertainty disclosed during the Conference, the NEI Government had not yet decided whether it would meet the request] [4] for recognition.

8. Nieuwsgie[er] the leading Batavia morning daily was severely critic[al] of the undemocratic nature of the third day's meeting and concluded by saying 'We cannot admire this procedure but democracy is a difficult profession'.

Boe[di]ardjo (see my K68) [5] who attended as a member of the public and assisted Republican Representatives was forced to leave Bandoeng by police on the grounds that he had no entry permit. On his return to Batavia he informed me that even the head Indonesian Representatives including the Chairman were anti Dutch but were afraid of division of the Government.

1 Dispatched on 23 February, it requested Critchley to cable any important developments regarding the West Java Conference to Forsyth in Washington and the Department of External Affairs.

2 See Document 39 and note 2 thereto.

3 See Document 479 in Volume XI.

4 Mutilated in the cited copy, the words in square brackets have been inserted from a copy on file AA:A4357/2, 48/254, ii.

5 Document 67.

[AA:A1838, 403/3/1/1, xv]