422 Report by Miller

Canberra, 10 February 1976


The Winspeare Mission on Timor

The following are some impressions of the situation in Timor obtained from members of the United Nations mission in the course of conversations over the last week at Darwin.1

Schlitter-Silva, a Brazilian who works for Tang in the U.N. Secretariat in New York, said on 2 February that the mission had really seen very little in Timor. Their progresses in each of the centres they visited had been very tightly programmed, for example from the airport to the Governor's House, to the Government Guest House and back to the airport. Security had been overwhelming and youthful, armed and occasionally scary. While in some places the mission had been greeted by some quite hostile placards saying, for example 'talk little and go quickly', these had been in English or Indonesian and the hostile signs had contrasted with friendly faces. Schlitter-Silva doubted how much and how widely the purpose of the mission's visit, or even what the mission was, had been understood.

Schlitter-Silva said that the signs of physical damage in Dili and Baucau were less than the mission had expected.There were signs of bullet marks on buildings in Dilibut no signs that there had been use of heavy weapons. Baucau did not even appear to have been fought over.

Schlitter-Silva thought that the Timorese people were extremely nai've politically. The conflict between UDT, Fretilin etc. had been in many ways a family quarrel. There were very few people of any political sophistication in the pro-Indonesian areas of Timor which they had visited, and it seemed to the mission that very few could have had any idea of what kind of situation they were getting themselves into. On some personalities, Schlitter-Silva thought that Governor Araujo from Apodeti was hopeless, although his son was better. On the other hand UDT Vice-Governor Lopez da Cruz impressed as a shrewd politician, and ex-Fretilin Minister Gonsalves, who was Belgian educated, and Mario Carascalao 'the bourgeois equivalent of Horta', were also impressive.

At a later discussion Jensen, Winspeare's Chef de Cabinet, gave similar assessments and went on to dispute some of Horta's characterisations of personalities and the situation in Dili. Horta, for example, had said that Mario Carascalao had been under house arrest but Jensen and I think Winspeare had apparently gone with him to the dentist. Jensen said he felt that they had had a quite informal and genuine discussion with Lopez da Cruz who had presented his, and his party's position in terms of having initially wanted independence but, after having been abandoned by Portugal, having come to the conclusion that there was no realistic alternative to integration with Indonesia; they were now working to make the best of that.

Horta, on the other hand, told me on 6 February that Mario Carascalao had told him in New York that those taking part in the PGET were not doing so freely. He dismissed Gonsalves as 'only a technician', who had not been a Minister of the Fretilin Government in the political sense.

Horta repeated to me exactly the political program which he had outlined to Winspeare and I reported in telegram O.CE862.2 I asked him his reaction to the idea of a possible coalition, saying that given the hostility between Indonesia and Fretilin it did not seem realistic to envisage Indonesia agreeing to a referendum in which one alternative was a Timor under the sole political control of Fretilin. Horta simply repeated that since both UDT and Apodeti had by now opted for Indonesia the choice had to be between Indonesia and Fretilin, although he agreed that after Fretilin had won such a referendum individuals with political affiliations with the other parties who were prepared to cooperate with Fretilin could be given opportunities to do so.

Noting that I did not think it would be possible for Indonesia to grant a special degree of autonomy for East Timor within Indonesia, given their concern to preserve the Unitary State and the fact that special cases could be made out for many areas of the Republic, I said that it seemed to me that Indonesia could nevertheless by administrative action grant a degree of de facto autonomy to East Timor. For example, it could ensure that senior Central Government appointments in Timor were all held by indigenous Timorese. Horta showed no interest in such a prospect.

On 7 February in the plane Winspeare made some frank and sardonic, and thus very sensitive, remarks about Indonesia's leaders and his experiences with them. He said that it had become clear in the course of the mission's stay in Indonesia that they were being pursued by Ali Murtopo's people, who were evidently under instructions to bribe or compromise them in a crude and inappropriate fashion. Apparently they had had the greatest difficulty in being allowed to pay their hotel bills, or any other bills, during their stay in Bali, and even in meeting their own airfares. 'Just by chance' Malik's itinerary was altered by a day to meet a preference expressed by Winspeare to a Mrs Yaya(?), who was supposed to be only a hotel proprietor and manager in charge of looking after the group's arrangements in Bali; Winspeare was repeatedly pressed to accept gifts oflndonesian paintings, the price of one of which in Jakarta was $A6,000.

Winspeare was as amused by all this as anything else, but he said that he knew that similar hospitality had been extended in Bali to most of, if not all, the personalities prominent in the PGET; he said he knew the hotel where they had stayed. Winspeare spoke of Murtopo as 'the power' in Indonesia.

Winspeare spoke a little about his discussions with Suharto whom he described as 'a little General', and 'a man with the mentality of an accountant'. Suharto had said to Winspeare that he was being urged to accept the incorporation of Oecussi at least, and probably the rest of East Timor as well, simply on the basis of an administrative act by the Indonesian Government at the request of the present authorities in Oecussi and Dili. He had said, however, that Indonesia's anti-colonial principles and past required that an act of choice be held, but 'how to arrange it to ensure the required result?' Winspeare's reply had apparently been 'don't ask me'.

Winspeare described Malik as relatively powerless but easy to talk to on a realistic basis, and 'an accomplished liar'. Winspeare had warned Malik not to forget that Winspeare was 'here to tell you to withdraw', and not to take too lightly the part of the Security Council resolution calling for an Indonesian withdrawal. Anwar Sani had apparently asked Winspeare whether the Italian regiments in Spain during the Spanish Civil War had not been volunteers. Winspeare had replied that they had been called volunteers but they were still regiments. Winspeare said that he had eventually obtained Malik's agreement in writing to refer to Indonesia having extended 'military assistance' to the PGET.

Winspeare said that in a way he now knew too much about the Timor issue to report on it to the Security Council. His present intention, however, was to try to write the report in Geneva with Jensen after returning from Lisbon and to send it, rather than take it personally, to New York to the Secretary-General. Winspeare appears to be thinking in terms of a relatively brief report describing what he had done, what he had seen of the situation and what he had been told about it by the various principal parties.

Winspeare said that when in the past he had submitted similar reports after missions for the Secretary-General, they had simply been transmitted without change to the Security Council. However, he did not know whether the present Secretary-General would wish to follow this procedure. Winspeare said that one important fact about the Timor issue from the U.N. point of view is that Waldheim comes up for re-election as Secretary-General at the end of this year, and for this he will need to be acceptable to all the permanent members of the Security Council. Winspeare said that before he left New York he had been told by Tang that as far as China was concerned it disagreed with every clause of the Security Council's resolution,3 and that Winspeare's mission would have value only insofar as he told the Indonesians to 'scram'. Schlitter-Silva, who works for Tang reflected concern about how China might decide to treat Winspeare's report when he said that while from near at hand Timor did not really appear to be an international issue, 'it could look different in the Security Council'.

Quite apart from Mello Gouveia's claimed knowledge previously reported (telegram O.CH317200),4 Winspeare said that Horta appeared confident of getting support in future from China. To me Horta said that if the Indonesians did not withdraw Fretilin would be justified in seeking assistance from 'friendly countries', and gave the impression of being optimistic about receiving it. In reply to my question whether he was talking about people or things, he said 'people and things'.

A number of the mission members at different times talked about the possibility of China extending support to Fretilin, and replied to remarks to the effect that this would seem to have one obviously undesirable result for China-namely of being likely to strengthen Russia's influence with Indonesia-by referring to the 'different Chinese sense of time', and their alleged characteristic of taking a longer view than Westerners. More concretely Winspeare thought China might well regard it as a good issue on which to do its 'Third World' act. Schlitter-Silva indicated that while he agreed that the Chinese attitude was the main problem internationally, his own assessment, based partly on the attitudes of 'Chinese in the U.N. Secretariat', was that in regard to Timor and Fretilin China was 'playing the game', quite enjoying and perhaps even being amused by it, but leaving itself a way out while it waited to see what happened. But members of the mission did not seem to rule out the possibility that this 'stirring' by China could extend as far as some material assistance to Fretilin, a ship-load of munitions, for instance.

Finally, a brief characterisation of the attitudes of the two 'political' members of the mission other than Winspeare might be of interest:

    Jensen is a Dane who acquired Malaysian citizenship. He served in the Sarawak administration during confrontation, and some of his friends were killed by Indonesian action. He is, therefore, not disposed to sympathise with Indonesia, but he thinks they have more in their favour in regard to Timor than they have in regard to West Irian (which he described simply as an instance of Sukarno expansionism). He essentially blames Portugal for what happened, and for abandoning its responsibilities.
    Schlitter-Silva was naturally sympathetic to the Portuguese, whose company he clearly enjoyed. He tended to emphasise the political naivety of the Timorese as the main reason for what happened. He will not be present in Geneva when Winspeare and Jensen prepare the mission's report.

W. G. T. MILLER - Assistant Secretary - Executive Secretariat

[NAA: A10463, 801/13/11/1. xx]