252 Quinn to Evatt

Ministerial Dispatch Hag 36/49 (extract) THE HAGUE, 1 March 1949


[matter omitted]

6. In regard to Indonesia, Dr. Valentine stressed that he was merely speaking in his personal capacity. His remarks were nevertheless widely accepted as an expression of the United States Government viewpoint especially in regard to the international implications of the second Dutch police action. He pointed out that the Dutch must have been fully aware of the international difficulties which would be created by their policy and since there could have been little cause for misunderstanding as to what the reactions of various other nations could be, there could now be little justification for anger or dismay. To give way to either emotion would be to postpone ultimate understanding and solution.

Emotional heat, he continued, rarely created light. If world opinion could be convinced not only by verbal assurances from the Netherlands, but very promptly and beyond question by its actions, that its objectives in Indonesia were those of all peace and freedom loving nations, much of the heat would go out of the argument and understanding would be in sight.

7. The wisdom of Dr. Valentine's observations made less impression on the public mind than the fear that strong United States disapproval might result in a suspension of aid to the Netherlands under the Marshall plan. Nevertheless indignation at the allegedly high handed interference of the United Nations with the economically 'imperialistic' United States as prime meddler in Holland's domestic affairs still appeared to prevail over appreciation for benefits received or the nation's traditional financial caution. In fact, both the United States and Australia were attributed with the basest commercial motives for their policy and the first publication of news of the so-called 'Fox Contract' [1] was greeted editorially with expressions of pious horror that such shameless commercial duplicity could exist.

8. Throughout the Netherlands the confusion felt at the course of events in Indonesia by most sections of the population found its outlet in bitterly expressed resentment of the alleged interference from the outside world described in the previous paragraph of this despatch. While the conservatives (notably the Anti-Revolutionaries) were rejoicing that at last strong and apparently effective action was being taken against the Indonesian Republic, the more liberal elements in political life were not equally complacent. On 17th January the Party of Labour held a meeting in Amsterdam which adopted a resolution urging the granting of freedom of movement to the Republican leaders, restoration of the Republic and the transfer of power to a Federal Government. An A.N.P. translation of the text of this resolution is attached as Annexure 'A'. [2] Further disquiet was caused at the publication of the report [3] by the United Nations Committee of Good Offices on the conditions under which members of the Republican Government were interned on Bangka Island. The failure of the Dutch officials on Bangka to carry out instructions regarding the comfort of their charges and in particular their free movement on the island itself, was the subject of much bitter comment and the Dutch public at large felt that they had lost prestige in international eyes and had been badly let down by their colonial administration in Indonesia.

9. As the police action continued, a war of communiques kept pace.

Although the end of the Sumatra fighting was announced early in the month, it was difficult to obtain any picture of the more vital military and political situation in Java from the accounts of individual incidents put out by Lieut.-General Spoor's headquarters in Batavia. In an interview published in Batavia on 20th Jan. the Netherlands Army Commander said that he hoped that 'temporary insecurity would last considerably less than three months'. He called this temporary insecurity a logical result of the beginning of the 'mopping up phase' of operations by the Netherlands forces and claimed that it would serve no useful purpose to split the army into small groups in order to keep 'static guard'. The counter claims of military success, or at least of Dutch frustration by guerilla tactics, put forward by Indonesian representatives received more support from a report [4] by the military observers of the Good Offices Committee than did the optimistic pronouncements from Dutch headquarters. This report was not appreciated by the Netherlands Government which went to some pains to try and prove that it presented a 'strongly coloured picture, generally giving the impression that it is not free from partiality'.

10. As an evidence of the Netherlands Government's concern at the situation the Prime Minister, Dr. W. Drees, left on January 4th for Batavia, where he was met by the Netherlands Ambassador in London, Jhr. Dr. Michiels van Verduynen, who had flown out several days previously. The Prime Minister's visit was brief and confined to consultations with the High Representative of the Crown, Dr.

Louis Beel, the Batavia officials and a section of the Federalists. Although there had been some vaguely expressed hopes of his making significant contact with the Republicans, local discouragements apparently proved too strong, and he did not visit Jokjakarta. In a press statement made before his departure for Holland on 20th January, he did however stress the importance of the Republic in the projected Indonesian Federal Government. This statement is attached as Annexure 'B'.

11. The announcement by the Indian Government of its intention to call a conference at New Delhi on the Indonesian question was followed by speculation as to whether Australia would accept an invitation to attend. The Australian decision to be represented by officers of the Department of External Affairs drew critical comment from a number of Dutch papers. The more moderate journalists noted in sorrow rather than in anger that no heed was paid to the Dutch point of view but took some comfort from the fact that no immediate action against Holland was decided upon. As might be expected, Trouw (Anti-Revolutionary) was particularly bitter and after attempting to ridicule the New Delhi meeting as a whole, referred to Australia as 'the crypto-Communist State in the South Pacific' which had succeeded in exterminating practically all its native population.

12. The debate in the Security Council, of which you will have received full reports from New York, increased the exasperation of Trouw. Commenting on the proposal to turn the Good Offices Committee into a full Commission, this newspaper said: 'What the Americans want boils down to restoring the Republican leaders as rulers of the Republic and transforming the Good Offices Committee into a United Nations Commission which would exercise authority in the whole of Indonesia thus substantially replacing the Dutch authority. Thus leadership would be replaced by a United Nations Commission, that is to say-America with Australia as right hand man.' 13. The publication of the draft Resolution on Indonesia submitted to the Security Council on Friday 21st January also resulted in a sharp press reaction.

Algemeen Handelsblad, urging that the draft would need revision if it were to become acceptable to Holland, pointed out that the Resolution specifically recognised Holland's sovereignty by referring to its transfer; the Security Council would also have to respect this sovereignty. The Socialist Vrije Volk urged the proposers of the Resolution to study the results of Dr. Drees's journey to Indonesia. 'They might then see that they are one step behind and that the dispute between Holland and the Republic is no longer in the foreground. It is now a question of agreement being reached between the Indonesians themselves on a Government for the whole of Indonesia and of joint agreement on the establishment of a union with Holland.' 14. From the Government side, criticism of the Resolution was also forthcoming. At a dinner following upon the annual meeting of the Netherlands Foreign Press Association, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Stikker, forecast a breakdown of law and order if the Resolution were accepted. 'The intervention of the United Nations in the international field has shown that, at the present stage of international organisation, there does not exist such a thing as effective administration by the United Nations, because the United Nations had no army, no navy, no air force and no police.' The passing of the Resolution [5] on 28th January drew protests from the Netherlands representative on the Security Council, Dr. van Royen, and again the official Dutch theme was that of illegitimate interference in the affairs of a sovereign nation.

1 See note 1 to Document 43 in Volume XIII.

2 Neither of the Annexures to this Document are published.

3 See document 98.

4 See note 1 Document 55.

5 Document 168.

[AA : A4231, 1949 THE HAGUE]