128 Memorandum to Canberra

Jakarta, 22 April 1975


Portuguese Timor

Attached is a copy of a Record of Conversation with Mr Akosah from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 15 April.1

  1. It will be noted that Mr Akosah confirmed that Indonesia had adopted a new approach to the problem of Portuguese Timor but that it had not changed its objective of integrating that territory into Indonesia. The new approach, which Akosah described as more 'elegant' than the previous one, was evident in the treatment given to leaders of UDT during their visit to Jakarta last week. (JA8979 refers.) Mr Lopez da Cruz, President of UDT, told us that he was pleased that Indonesia had adopted this new approach and thought it might provide the basis for closer cooperation between Indonesia and an independent Portuguese Timor, which he considered the likely result of the decolonisation process there. In answer to questions, he said that the Indonesian ministers and others to whom he had spoken had made a concerted effort to convince him of the benefits of integration. General Ali Murtopo had apparently made vague promises of financial assistance, but he had not, according to Mr Lopez da Cruz, set a figure on it, nor indicated where it would come from. Mr Lopez da Cruz seemed quite realistic in his assessment of what the Indonesians were trying to achieve by inviting him to Jakarta.
  2. Mr Lopez da Cruz made it quite clear, however, that he would accept integration with Indonesia if that were the result ofthe elections in Portuguese Timor (which he thought would take place next year). But as mentioned in our JA8923, there is a dispute within UDT about the approach towards APODETI the party should adopt.
  3. Mr Lopez da Cruz said he had agreed with the Indonesians that Portuguese Timor should not become a centre for communist activity in the region. FRETILIN was not a communist party, he had said, although it did contain communist members. In his brief discussions with us he expressed much more criticism of FRETILIN radicalism than he had during his discussions with us in March.2
  4. Mr Akosah confirmed on 15 April that the UDT leaders were not the guests of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but of BAKIN. The lunch we had for the Portuguese Timorese3 was arranged through Lim Bian Kie in General Ali Murtopo's office and was attended by Indonesians who were looking after the guests during their stay in Jakarta. These included Colonel Jusack (who accompanied Mr Rodgers to Atambua) and Mrs Maria Sugiarto (the wife of the Secretary-General of GOLKAR). It seemed clear that the visit was in fact arranged by OPSUS.
  5. Mr Horta's (FRETILIN) visit too was arranged by OPSUS. He described the visit to us as a private one. He met General Ali but as far as we know has not yet met ministers.
  6. We have reported by telegram the main points of our talks with Mr Horta on 21 April.4 Mr Horta was much less confident about FRETILIN success than in early March, although he maintained that FRETILIN strength had increased since then. Previously he had talked of the Timorese taking to the hills to resist an Indonesian invasion. Now he virtually said the Timorese would be bought off by Indonesia. He would continue to struggle for independence, but much of his earlier enthusiasm seemed to have gone. He said he intended to spend three months at the ANU starting in June. (An offer to study in the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta had been turned down by him.)
  7. The possible Indonesian tactic which concerned Mr Horta most was the use of television. He considered that when the satellite which would relay Indonesian TV was operating (sometime in 1976) and the Indonesians were providing cheap---or free-TV sets in Portuguese Timor, APODETI would be in an almost unchallengeable position.
  8. Mr Horta may be overreacting to the change of approach by Indonesia. But his views suggest that the Indonesian task of persuading the people of Portuguese Timor to favour integration may not be as difficult as we have thought.
  9. A copy of this memorandum has been sent to Lisbon.



[NAA: A10463, 801/13/11/1, ix]