463 Letter from Taylor to Curtin

Jakarta, 9 June 1976


You will have our telegram on [Soeharto's] talk with Moerdani on 5 June1 during which he apparently assumed full responsibility for the Timor business. I think this move demonstrates that Soeharto maintains his confidence. It also illustrates a decisiveness that some commentators have claimed has been lacking in his actions in the last 12 months.

Tjan told us that Moerdani was quite relieved at the President's action. Tjan too was obviously happy about it. (I sense that Tjan was a little worried that he might attract some blame for the poor foreign attendance at the 31 May meeting—of which as you know he was one of the main architects—and as I think he sees it the President's move has protected him as well as Moerdani.) Moerdani has been criticised for some of the administrative and operational bungling during the Timor campaign. More senior generals than him have been kept right out of the operation and were peeved as a result. According to Tjan, however, the President's move has led to a halt in this criticism; now it would be aimed directly at the President and not at Moerdani.

Another line of comment I have heard a few times (from civilian sources outside the government) has been that Timor has demonstrated that Soeharto's judgement is not infallible. I do not believe that this is a widespread comment.

Despite the criticism of aspects of the operation particularly of the secrecy surrounding it (and the consequent hardships for next-of-kin oflndonesian soldiers in Timor, and the lack of the usual recognition of what the soldiers have been doing i.e. medals etc.), I have come across no criticism from an influential group of the policy that East Timor must be integrated into Indonesia. There is, however, a strong feeling that, after integration, East Timor should not be given special treatment vis-a-vis other provinces in Indonesia.

[NAA: A1838, 3038/10/1, xlvi]