44 Cablegram to Lisbon

Canberra, 8 October 1974


Visit by Ali Murtopo

For Ambassador

You will be generally aware of Lieutenant-General Ali Murtopo's background and his role within the Indonesian Government. However, the following material may be helpful when he calls on you.

  1. He prefers to be known as General Ali. His style and personality are more suited to the backroom role he has played in Indonesia on President Soeharto's behalf since 1965 (and even before then). He is secretive, unorthodox and impatient with administrative detail. He places great store on personal contact as a means of solving problems and smoothing over difficulties. Among its several functions, his private organisation OPSUS (Special Operations) is called into play where unorthodox and extra-legal tactics are needed. During confrontation, OPSUS maintained army links with Malaysia and her western friends. It was also active in West Irian mobilising support for the territory's continued association with Indonesia.
  2. In carrying out these functions Ali remains the personal executive of President Soeharto, to whom he is regarded as being completely loyal. He is thus a figure of considerable authority and can be relied upon to convey accurately the President's own views and to relay the views of others directly to Soeharto.
  3. Ali will presumably be interested to have your assessment of recent developments in Portugal, about which he may show some concern. He might also appreciate your assessment of Portuguese views of decolonisation in Timor. We would be interested in an account from Ali of his own talks with the Portuguese, if this is possible.

[NAA: A10463, 801113111/1, iii]