335 Critchley to McIntyre

Letter BATAVIA, 4 April 1949

Although I did not say so in my last letter [1], I presume you understood I was disappointed with the Security Council's failure on 23 March to take a direct line [2] as a consequence of the Netherlands refusal to comply with the earlier January resolution.

[3] There is a considerable danger that the Indonesian question will continue its long drawn out and downhill course. The failure of the Security Council to act positively must have two serious consequences:-

a) loss of prestige by the Security Council and United Nations machinery generally, and b) increased distrust in Asia of the policy of the Western powers.

2. My fears regarding the Commission's decision to call a preliminary conference at Batavia are also being borne out. The replies [4] of the parties to the Commission's invitation were much as expected. The Netherlands have made a general reservation which could cover all contingencies and in particular justify the demand that Netherlands forces remain in Djokjakarta. The Republicans maintain they can take no decisions until their government is restored in Djokjakarta. Meanwhile the federalists and the Dutch press are continuing to clamour for federalist participation in any talks.

3. Altogether the situation is not promising. We have no alternative but to make the best of it: to push ahead with the meetings between the parties as quickly as possible, to endeavour to obtain agreement in principle at the outset on the restoration of the Republican Government to Djokjakarta, and then to proceed to discussion of other matters. Meanwhile we are awaiting the arrival of Van Royen who is expected about 12 or 13 April. Because of the importance of the Djokjakarta issue, and because the meeting in Batavia may be crucial, I am continuing to urge that the Commission spend the next week in considering in detail the problems associated with the restoration of the Republican Government. Unfortunately I can get no agreement to a further visit to Djokjakarta.

4. I am afraid Cochran is inclined to underestimate the Republican difficulties. He still speaks as if agreement in principle on the return of the Government to Djokjakarta would justify the Republicans giving personal assurances on their attitude to the conference at The Hague. He also hopes that Hatta will participate in the talks at an early stage, whereas I can appreciate that Hatta himself will be anxious to avoid risking his prestige until agreement is reached on the Djokjakarta issue and preferably until he has had an opportunity to consult with his cabinet.

5. Sjafrudin's announcement of the re-shuffled emergency government was carefully timed and underlines the difficulties of the Republican leaders at Bangka. In this connection attachment 1 [5], a translation from the Sin Po of 31 March, is informative and is supported by attachment 11 [6], a translation from the Republican Batavia daily, Merdeka, of 30 March. Sjafrudin's statement provides the first detailed information of the personalities in his government. The portfolios have been allocated as follows:-

Premier, Defense and Information Minister Sjaffrudin Prawiranegara;

Vice-Premier and Education Minister Mohamad Hasan;

Minister of Interior and Public Health Dr. Sukiman;

Foreign Minister Dr A. Maramis;

Minister of Public Works Dr. Sitompul;

Minister of Justice Susanto;

Minister of Transport Indratjahja;

Minister of Finance Lukman Hakim;

Minister of Red Cross Dr. Kasimo;

Minister of Religion Maskur;

Minister of Social Affairs Sultan Mohamed Masjid.

According to the Indonesian Office in London Susanto will also be acting Minister of Reconstruction and Youth to succeed former Minister Supeno, who was captured near Djokjakarta and shot by Netherlands troops.

6. Clearly the position of the Republican leaders is difficult and, as I pointed out in last week's letter, the obstacles in the way of implementing the Security Council's resolution are growing.

At the same time the Dutch are exaggerating the obstacles that exist at present. I believe the influence of Sukarno and Hatta is still paramount, and that if the Republican Government returns to Djokjakarta, it will obtain widespread support so long as its leaders maintain a firm policy. To balance the picture I am therefore enclosing as attachment 111 [7] a translation of an article in Sin Po of 29 March, 'Establishment of communist cabinet in Republic impossible'.

7. The position in Pasundan continues to be extremely interesting.

In this last week the official Netherlands army communiques and the Dutch press have given special prominence to the claim that 5 of the Siliwangi battalions in West Java are now cooperating with the Dutch. The facts as far as I can ascertain are that two of the battalions have entered into informal agreements with the Pasundan Government on the latter's initiative. These agreements provide for 1) no interference by the Dutch army with the Siliwangi troops in certain areas on the understanding that the Siliwangi troops will maintain law and order in those areas against Darul Islam groups and other armed bands, 2) the supply of arms and ammunition, food and clothing to the Siliwangi battalions in question, 3) the eventual incorporation of the battalions in the federal army.

The Pasundan Government in initiating the talks has been primarily concerned with the need to restore order and to protect the local villagers. On the other hand the Siliwangi battalions which had encountered strong opposition from Darul Islam were in need of rest, ammunition and supplies. There is no question of these Siliwangi units cooperating with the Dutch and unless we can make progress politically they may soon be fighting them again.

8. In my letter of 22 March I mentioned on page 4 the all-Sumatra conference called by Mansur of East Sumatra. The conference which assembled on 29 March, 1949, lasted for four days. As expected the Republican-controlled areas of Atjeh and Nias did not attend but all the other territories in Sumatra were represented. American correspondents present at the opening session of the conference have reported only lukewarm support for Mansur and Malik (wali negara of South Sumatra), who wished the conference to come out solidly against the Republic and against nationalist leaders in the BFO. However, the conference provided occasion for both Mansur and Malik to demonstrate their support for the Dutch and for typical Netherlands propaganda blasts.

9. Attached are two Aneta despatches from Medan, the text of the manifesto adopted by the conference (attachment IV [8]) and an account of the final session (attachment V [9]). You will notice that four of the territories represented abstained from voting on the decision of the conference. The four delegations were reported to be in agreement with the manifesto but without delegated powers of decision. All delegations, however, signed the 'manifesto' because the statement the conference adopted was not called a 'resolution'.

10. Paragraphs 2 and 3 of the manifesto seem the most important.

They open the way for the Dutch to organize the whole of Sumatra ostensibly in accordance with the wishes of 'all territories'.

11. The following incidents provide additional evidence that the Dutch are preparing to tighten their grip on Sumatra.

a) Mansur last week prohibited government officials of Sumatra Timur from membership of the 'National Front Association', a pro- Republican nationalist organisation which has been operating peacefully and with considerable following for some time in Medan.

The reason given for the prohibition is 'that the association is striving for objectives undermining the state'.

b) 'Waktoe', a new magazine and 'Warta Berita', a daily, both pro- Republican papers published in Medan, have been prohibited from carriage through the post to the 'newly liberated areas' of Djambi, Benkulen, Tandjungkarang and Telukbetung, and attempts are being made by the central post office at Medan to recall copies posted before the prohibition.

c) 'Waspada', a Republican paper published in Medan was suspended last week for one month by the assistant resident who has military authority in East Sumatra, for publishing 'incorrect alarming reports'. The offence was publishing a news item from the foreign press which quoted Malik as saying at a press conference at Medan:

'The Netherlands will make a great historical mistake if they do not take into account the resolution [10] adopted by the delegation leaders (of the BFO) who urged the reinstatement of the Republican Government'. It has been explained that Malik actually said: 'The Netherlands will make a great historical mistake if it ignored the BFO'. Even the Dutch Batavia daily, the Nieuwsgier, criticizes the suspension. According to the Nieuwsgier the highest authorities (the central government) should decide the fate of the newspaper whatever the convictions of the paper may be and especially where the issue concerns the quoting of a foreign press article.

12. Incidentally a Sundanese language paper in Bandung has also been suspended for publishing in almost identical terms the foreign press report used by 'Waspada'.

13. Another matter of some interest is the recent alteration in the title of the senior Netherlands officials in each of the federal states. Hitherto they have been described as Crown Commissioners but now their title has been changed officially to that of 'Representatives of the High Representative of the Crown'.

Supomo, the leading constitutional jurist among the Republicans regards the alteration as another indication that the Dutch are determined to hang on to Indonesia and that the so called transfer of sovereignty will leave important powers with the High Representative of the Crown. He points out that with the transfer of sovereignty to the U.S.I. there will be no place in the states for representatives of the Crown as such whereas 'representatives of the High Representative of the Crown' could retain some authority.

1 Document 305.

2 See Document 312.

3 Document 168.

4 See Document 333 and 334.

5 The article from Sin Po dated 31 March reported that Sjafrudin had been successful in forming a cabinet based on the mandate he had received from the Hatta Government shortly after the Second Dutch Police Action, and that the Republican leaders held at Bangka could no longer claim to be the Government of the Indonesian Republic.

6 The article from Merdeka dated 30 March argued that the powers of the Republican Government would remain with the Emergency Government of Sjafrudin untill the Republican Government was restored to Djokjakarta.

7 The article from Sin Po dated 29 March argued that Sjafrudin's Emergency Government to whom the TNI remained loyal, was unlikely to become Communist because it wished to remain the support of non-Communist countries, particularly the United States, the United Kingdom and the countries represented at the New Delhi Conference.

8 The report from Aneta dated 2 April contained a manifesto of the all-Sumatra Conference calling for the early establishment of a United States of Indonesia and the formation through mutual co- operation of a strong and united Sumatra.

9 This report dated 3 April in Aneta reported a sentiment in favour of Sumatran unity at the last session of the all-Sumatra Conference.

10 See Document 279.

[AA : A1838, 401/1/2/6, i]