478 Pritchett to McIntyre

Letter BATAVIA, 26 August 1949

The dust of last week's 'crisis' [1] has now settled and we have this week been going about our work in a more orderly way. I have just come from a meeting of the main Delegations, at which we established sub-committees to deal with political prisoners and Republican supply. The sub-committee to work out paragraph VII [2] of Dr. van Royen's statement of 7th May, and the Central Joint Board having already been established, we are now in a position to get ahead with the work left over to us by the main Delegations before their departure to The Hague.

The meeting of the Central Joint Board at Djocjakarta last Saturday (my cable K.339 [3]) was not at all satisfactory. In the first place, by an arrangement made by the Republicans, U.N.C.I.

was left out of the main discussions leading to the agreement on the directive to the local Joint Committees for the delineation of zones. In complaining of this, I do not mean that the parties should never get together by themselves and reach agreements-the more of that the better. However, in this particular case we had special responsibilities, both as full members of the Board and as the party whose military observers are chairing the local Joint Committees and so have to carry the burden of steering the Committees through the contentious work of the delineation of zones. We felt then, that we should have an opportunity of putting our position to the parties. As it was, on arrival in Djocjakarta the Republicans said they wished first to confer among themselves, then to talk with the Dutch, and then to hold an informal session of the Board. Dow, the week's Chairman, pointed out that this allowed no time for discussion with the Deputies and Wongsonegoro, the chief Republican representative, said he would allow for this.

However, he did not, and we were presented with a directive which we had hardly more than ten minutes to examine, let alone criticise, particularly in the face of Dutch insistence that since both parties were agreed, their agreement should be formalised on the spot to allow the Board to move on to other urgent business- namely, the item on the Observance of the Cease-Hostilities Agreement.

The second reason for our dissatisfaction was the directive itself, which we found far too vague and unlikely to be of any assistance to the local Joint Committees. In addition, I knew that the directive did not meet Republican ideas, even though they had agreed to it, and I suspected that they had been completely outmanoeuvred during the discussions. I have since found out that the Republicans went into the meeting with some completely new and ill-considered proposal for scrapping the delineation of zones altogether. The Dutch scattered their ranks by pointing out that this contravened the Cease-Hostilities Agreement, and then pushed through with their own proposals, the main point of which was that zones of patrol should be as contiguous as possible and should be no smaller than a sub-district. Rather than preparing the way for an orderly re-grouping of the Dutch forces, preparatory to their withdrawal into the main towns, this proposal afforded opportunity to consolidate the Dutch position in the field. To complete Republican confusion, the F.C.A. representative [4] pressed for a system of combined patrolling, which as you know has long been anathema to Djocjakarta. The discussions reached a deadlock and the Dutch said they should have to refer to U.N.C.I.; as a final bid they dropped the sub-districts and Wongsonegoro agreed, explaining to Ali Budiardjo later that reference to U.N.C.I. would have involved endless talk! I have gone into this in some detail to illustrate to you the confusion in which the Republicans have been over the last few weeks-for as you know, the point on which they have always stood firm, and with good reason, is that U.N.C.I. must participate.

Since last Saturday, I have talked the situation over with Natsir and Budiardjo and Republican representation has now been re- organised to ensure that at least one of their senior people in the Central Joint Board will remain in Batavia for contact with U.N.C.I.

The Board met again on Tuesday night and after three hours' informal session agreed to refer the Dutch complaints of Republican infringements, as detailed in their various letters, to the Local Committees, for investigation and report. It is a pity that the Dutch insisted on this point, since the Committees already have their hands full, without being called on by the Board to investigate specific complaints, most of which, as I explained last week, in any case refer to incidents which were settled some time ago. However, De Beus was acting under Government instructions and the Board could not get on with its other work until he was satisfied.

Our impression is that the Dutch now realize that they greatly exaggerated the military dangers last week, and now seek some justification by having the Board deal with their complaints. The Republicans fear also that the Dutch are attempting to construct a case illustrating lack of Republican authority over the T.N.I.

There might be something to this insofar as the T.N.I. Commander in East Java is concerned (the Republicans describe him as 'difficult'), but in general Republican authority is to be measured in terms of Republican communications, and these could not be worse. However, the various couriers were to have completed their marches by to-day and with the Sultan touring East and Central Java next week, the Republicans are confident of a speedy improvement in T.N.I. implementation of the Cease-Hostilities. I might say that the Dutch have not put themselves out to supply communication equipment. The position in that respect will become clearer after the sub-committee on supply has met.

In general, the atmosphere has eased considerably since last week and the Dutch, though still to my mind oversensitive about infringements, have largely recovered from their hysteria. At the same time they still show too little readiness to approach the situation here 'on its merits' and allow themselves to be blown about by winds from The Hague. So far they have been dominant and the work here has suffered accordingly; I feel that it will depend on what the Republicans can offer in the way of constructive policies, coherence and a determined approach, whether the work of the next few months be productive or not.

It is still too early to report on the implementation of the Cease-Hostilities, but general impressions are that it is progressing satisfactorily. Reports are now beginning to come in and I should be able to give you a survey next week.

1 See Document 474.

2 See Document 376 and 385.

3 See note 2 to Document 474.

4 Alwi.

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