20 Minute from Arriens to Furlonger

Jakarta, 14 August 1974


Portuguese Timor

Harry Tjan called today on his own request to discuss Portuguese Timor. He said that he had put up a second paper to the President on 13 August. This paper was in anticipation of Mr Whitlam's visit next month. As I had discussed with him last week, Tjan strongly advised the President not to make any reference to Mr Whitlam about any clandestine operations that Indonesia might be considering in Portuguese Timor. The other main point of the paper was to suggest that the President might discuss with Mr Whitlam the scope for international initiatives to pave the way for the integration of Portuguese Timor into Indonesia. Tjan mentioned the possibility of raising the matter in the United Nations, for example placing Portuguese Timor under the trusteeship of the United Nations. Indonesia also had in mind explaining internationally its problems and interests in Portuguese Timor and talking to the Portuguese Government.

  1. The President replied to Tjan's paper that he would only be prepared to talk to Mr Whitlam if he could be assured that Australia's attitude to any such Indonesian initiatives would be favourable. He does not apparently wish to sour the atmosphere of the meeting by getting a rebuff from Mr Whitlam. He therefore asked Tjan to clarify Australia's attitude. If necessary, he said that Tjan should visit Australia as soon as possible to investigate Australian attitudes for himself.1
  2. I told Tjan that our policy was still under consideration in Canberra and that the subject had not yet been referred to the Minister or to Cabinet. I said that the mood at present in the Department appeared to be one of keeping our options open and allowing matters to take their natural course in Portuguese Timor. Tjan said that he had already reported to the President to this effect.
  3. Tjan stressed, as he did last week, that time might be running out in Portuguese Timor. From the example of the speed with which the Portuguese territories in Africa looked like obtaining independence without a plebiscite Tjan was apprehensive that the Portuguese Government might decide within the next year unilaterally to grant Portuguese Timor independence. Other factors that have accelerated the Indonesians' thinking on Portuguese Timor are the return from Europe of the Governor of Indonesian Timor, El Tari, and the visit to Jakarta of the President of Apodeti. The latter has been in Jakarta for two weeks and looks like staying a while longer. Unlike Horta's visit, the Apodeti Chairman's visit is not being publicised. There will be no press conference. The Chairman has appealed for Indonesian assistance and Tjan said that the appeal could not very well be refused. Unlike the other two parties, they had received no funds. The Chairman had only been able to fly to Jakarta when an Indonesian booked on the plane had given him his seat at the last minute; until then the Chairman had been told the plane was full, although on embarkation this proved not to be the case. Ali Murtopo's group is thinking of sending him to Australia to explain his party's policies. Tjan asked me whether this would be a good idea; I said that I thought it would, as a follow-up to Ramos Horta's visit. (I briefed him on Horta's visit.)
  4. Tjan said that the President implicitly trusted Australia but that Mr Malik did not. He had yesterday discussed Portuguese Timor with Malik who had in some way managed to convey distrust about Australia's intentions. It seems he even implied that the Centre was indirectly acting on Australia's behalf. Tjan was also called in by HANKAM to discuss Portuguese Timor and Cocos and Christmas Islands. He found HANKAM, like the President, to be confident of Australia's good intentions. Only Malik, it appears, is off-side and he seems to have been isolated in this exercise. As, Tjan explained, the policy towards Portuguese Timor was very much directed by the President himself, Mr Malik would have to fall into line.

[NAA: Al0463, 801/13/1111, ii]