7 Cablegram to Canberra

Jakarta, 22 May 1974


Portuguese Timor

Satari (BAKIN) told us today that following the change of government in Portugal, a comprehensive study has been undertaken by BAKIN on Portuguese Timor. The Indonesians do not consider there is any evidence of an indigenous liberation movement in Portuguese Timor; the people there are too backward and are not politically motivated. Indonesia's main concern appears to be that developments in Macao might spill over into Portuguese Timor. As Satari put it, having dealt with China by the front door, they might now have to deal with a backdoor threat. Indonesia does not appear to favour the idea of an independent Portuguese Timor as this too they see as a potential source of instability.

  1. Satari reaffirmed that Indonesia wished above all to avoid appearing expansionist. Their expectation is that Portuguese Timor will remain under Portuguese control for some time to come, but he admitted that Indonesia's first preference would be for the eventual incorporation of Portuguese Timor into Indonesia, if this could be done in a manner that did not reflect adversely on Indonesia. One possibility might be to make informal [soundings], including the UN, on international opinion towards this possibility.
  2. Satari knew nothing of the suggestion in Michael Richardson's press article that the Indonesian Government wished to hold talks with Australia about the future of Portuguese Timor.1

[NAA: Al838, 49/2/1/1, ii]