132 Memorandum to Canberra

Jakarta, 19 May 1975


Portuguese Timor

Harry Tjan, CSIS, has told us that the Indonesians were as surprised as we by the proposed visit to Australia by Soares and Araujo of APODETI (JA95021). They have been in Jakarta to prepare for the talks between Timor party representatives and the Portuguese Government which are supposed to be held in Macao soon. As no date had been determined yet Soares and Araujo had gone to Bali for sightseeing. There they had decided to go to Australia for talks with the Government.

  1. Initially Tjan was reluctant to divulge details of how the arrangements were being made. Subsequently he told us that Wirjono in the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra had been informed and would be discreetly looking after the visit.2
  2. Tjan acknowledged that the visit had not been well handled by APODETI. He seemed a little apprehensive about its chances of success.
  3. In answer to questions Tjan gave us an idea of the approach APODETI might adopt in talks with the other parties and the Portuguese Government. It would be along the following line. APODETI would agree to a transitional government only if it had more than half the membership. If as of course was likely, Portugal refused APODETI would demand a plebiscite. If the Portuguese agreed APODETI would ask how the plebiscite would be conducted. If the answer were by 'one man one vote' APODETI would object on grounds that the people were not sufficiently educated and politically aware; if by some other means (for instance voting by the chiefs only) APODETI would object on grounds that it would be undemocratic. APODETI would adopt a positive approach aimed at gaining political advantage from the failure to reach agreement. Eventually, Tjan said, there would be a 'rebellion', or something of the sort, in Timor and APODETI would get some 'outside assistance'.
  4. Tjan was speaking very informally (at lunch) and his remarks should be treated with caution. But he had spoken with Araujo and Soares (presumably as part of their preparation for the Macao talks) and the scenario he described was specific. It would represent we think at least one of the approaches discussed with APODETI. Tjan replied in the affirmative when asked whether the correct implication of what he had said was that Indonesia and APODETI would not agree to an act of self-determination and that there would not be one.
  5. This was the first time in the last few months we have heard that Indonesia might not allow an act of self-determination to be held. Ali Murtopo, Tjan, Lim Bian Kie and others have adopted an optimistic attitude towards the possibility of APODETI winning (of course, with considerable Indonesian help) an act of self-determination. That attitude was consistent with Indonesia's change of tactics: from seeking to impress the Timorese with Indonesia's military strength to wooing them with more attractive propaganda and cooperative attitude. But Tjan's description of APODETI's possible approach in Macao is also consistent with the new tactics. From Tjan's comments it would appear that APODETI will try to adopt a positive and cooperative approach aimed at achieving the opposite effect.
  6. We have sent a copy of this memorandum to Lisbon.

A. R.TAYLOR - Counsellor

[NAA: Al0463, 801/13/11/1, ix]