479 Critchley to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram C7 THE HAGUE, [3 September 1949], 2.50 p.m.


So far there has been little progress or indeed discussion of the basic issues of the Conference. All delegations have been deluged by informal contacts with people not directly concerned with the conference and by official functions and excursions.

2. Notwithstanding the early advent of the Assembly [1], the Republicans do not appear to be unduly worried by the delay in getting down to practical talks. They have used the past weeks to strengthen their bonds with the Federalists and there is immediate prospect of much more intensive committee activity. As a first stage, the leaders and deputies on the various committees are holding informal talks to clear the way for more detailed discussions and written statements next week.

3. The atmosphere is good. In part, this is due to the carefully prepared reception and entertainment of the Indonesian delegations. But more important, all the Dutch leaders with whom the delegations come in contact, show a surprising readiness to accept the inevitability of an early transfer of sovereignty.

4. On the other hand, the Republicans are seriously alarmed by what they regard as a Netherlands press campaign to show the Republic as unprepared to implement the cease-hostilities agreement. Dutch reports from Java stress that in east and central Java T.N.I. troops are infiltrating and encircling Netherlands positions and that only the greatest forbearance and discipline on the part of the Dutch troops are preventing incidents. Continuing to describe the situation as 'explosive', these reports also complain that the T.N.I. is failing to co-operate in the formation of local joint committees. (So far only 5 are reported to have been set up.) In reply, the Republicans claim that the Dutch reports are greatly exaggerated and that T.N.I. troops are not infiltrating but are coming out from under cover in areas they have always occupied. They explain that the apparent lack of co- operation is due entirely to communication difficulties.

5. In any case, it is unfortunate that the Dutch press is only publicising the unfavourable effects of the Netherlands reports from Indonesia. No effective publicity is being given to the facts that as the Dutch admit casualties are down, shooting has been reduced by 80% and reports from Sumatra and West Java emphasise the active efforts of both parties to carry out their agreements.

6. In view of the danger that unfavourable reports from Indonesia could be used by the diehards to wreck the conference, it is most desirable that all joint committees and zones of patrol be established without delay. Special efforts should also be made to ensure that military observers gather first hand information as to the situation in east and central Java. It may be desirable to make a detailed report when the facts are available so that special publicity can be given to the favourable aspects of the cease-hostilities implementation.

1 The UN General Assembly.

[AA : A3094/1, 2/1]