408 Pritchett to De Ranitz

Letter BATAVIA, 18 May 1949


After our conversation [1] on Monday afternoon concerning the Relief Supplies, I felt that I had perhaps not made my position quite clear to you, and that it might be of assistance to you for me to elaborate my views on paper. I do this quite informally and as a personal communication to you.

You pointed out that the arrangement we had agreed upon was for the supplies (other than the textiles) to be distributed by the Red Cross under the supervision of Lt. Col. Sullivan, and you queried that I should now be assuming that this arrangement would lapse and the goods be handed over direct to the Republic. My reason for assuming this is that since our arrangement was merely a measure to overcome the difficulties arising from the special circumstances of the time, these circumstances having changed, the difficulties no longer arise and our arrangement is no longer necessary.

You will remember that the supplies for the Republic were shipped following a conversation between Mr. Schuurman and Mr. Critchley in which it was agreed that to avoid unnecessary delay the supplies should be despatched as soon as possible, and that my Government should in the meantime suggest an allocation as between non-Republican and Republican areas; if the Government of Indonesia was not able to agree to this allocation, it would be subject to further negotiation, but supplies which were not in dispute should be forwarded immediately to their destination.

However, it was not until the end of December that you informed me that the suggested allocation was acceptable and by this time it was no longer possible simply to forward the supplies which had arrived, to their destination, since they were consigned to the Republic (the supplies for non-Republican areas, as you know, being held up by the shipping ban consequent upon the military action). It was to meet this difficulty that you, in the first place, were good enough to suggest that the supplies be distributed by the Red Cross and that the arrangement regarding Lt. Col. Sullivan was finally concluded. With the proposed restoration of the Republican Government, it now appears to me eminently proper, sensible and straight-forward that we should revert to the original arrangement and hand the supplies over direct to the Republican Government. Since no objection was raised to this procedure prior to the military action other than the provisional one concerning the allocation of the supplies, I confess that I am at a loss to see that any matter of principle is now involved which necessitates delay. But, however that might be, with the present urgent calls for supplies of this nature, I think you will agree that this is a matter wherein principle might well give way to expediency with an easy conscience.

You also queried whether it was intended that the Republic arrange a distribution in those territories under its control before 19th December and if so, how was this now to be arranged. Since this will be a matter for the Republic itself to determine, I can give you no firm reply; but the Republic will no doubt be able to arrange a distribution in those areas in which its administration is recognized and should it wish to make a wider distribution, I have assumed that it will be able to rely upon the co-operation of the Government of Indonesia administration. It seems to me that these details are primarily the concern of the Republic, particularly its Ministry of Health, and there is no particular call for us to discuss them. However, I might repeat that the stores are limited in quantity and are mainly hospital supplies which can be disposed of fairly readily.

There are also certain practical considerations which favour reversion to the original arrangement and the delivery of the supplies without further delay. I understand from the Red Cross representative that his organisation cannot undertake to store the goods, but if it is going to distribute them this will be necessary, as they will first have to be unpacked and this cannot be done in the K.J.C.P.L. godown. If the Republic takes over the goods some unpacking in Batavia might still be necessary, for example, to allocate a portion to Atjeh, but it can be minimised;

in any case, you will sympathise with my anxiety that the supplies be formally received by the Republic in toto and in one piece, if I may so express it, before unpacking commences. A second consideration I already mentioned to you on Monday, namely that Lt. Col. Sullivan has been seriously ill and will, I understand, unfortunately be unable to act as supervisor for some time. This means re-opening the question of supervision or waiting until Lt.

Col. Sullivan recovers-both alternatives involving still further delay and, to raise an unpleasant point, adding to the mounting costs of storage.

With regard to the question of the textiles, since this appears to have become entangled in the general question of the relations between the two parties, I can only hope that the present development of an amicable atmosphere will allow of the clothing also being distributed. Perhaps, with the Republic's present request for supplies of clothing for its policemen, the distribution of the textiles will even be welcomed. If it be considered helpful, I am quite prepared to undertake to impress upon the Republican authorities the views held by the Government of Indonesia about these textiles and to secure an explicit assurance that special care will be taken in their distribution.

I hope these comments are of use to you. I know you share my desire for a quick and agreeable settlement of this matter. I feel that such a settlement would help us in our work for amiable and co-operative relations and could contribute to the arrangements for the remaining supplies.

1 See Document 403.

[AA : A4357/2, 352/2, i]