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199 Memorandum from Gilchrist to Watt

Jakarta, 18 October 1951

Technical Assistance Co-ordination

I refer to your Circular memorandum No. 440 of 21st September, 1951, (your file 2081/1 )2 and to the last paragraph of our Despatch No. New Series 4/51 of 8th October.3

2. I discussed the substance of your above mentioned Circular memorandum for several hours at an informal evening meeting with three members of the United Nations Technical Assistance Mission in Indonesia (Messrs. Stepanek, Martin-Smith and Baxter) and the Chief of the UNESCO Science Co-operation Office (Dr. Wolsky). These persons expressed great keenness to co-operate with the Australian Embassy along the lines indicated in your memorandum. I also discussed the matter with Dr. Keenleyside, as indicated in our above mentioned dispatch, concerned in giving aid to Indonesia.

3. At the first meeting abovementioned, it was clear that the United Nations Technical Assistance Mission here has for some months been pursuing a rather rudderless course and its members felt that the Mission should put its own house in order as well as increasing its liaison with other agencies here such as ECA and the Australian and British embassies.

4. Among the ideas which emerged from this preliminary discussion were:—

(a) Indonesia urgently needs materials for use in workshops, model farms, schools demobilised servicemen's civilian training camps, and similar instructional institutes. Among the most urgent needs are agricultural, wood-working and metal-working tools, writing paper and exercise books. The demand for such instructional equipment is greater than the United Nations and ECA appear to be able to meet in the foreseeable future, it was said.

(b) There is little or no scope for Australian short-term instructors in Indonesia unless they speak the Indonesian language. The question was asked: 'What facilities has Australia for teaching Australians the Indonesian language'?

(c) There was strong support for the scheme proposed by the National Union of Australian University Students for volunteer graduates to come to Indonesia and be employed in Government service here with a modest subsidy from the Australian Government to cover certain costs (please see my memorandum on this subject).

(d) Adverse criticism was expressed regarding Australian scholarship arrangements. It was said that these were too tied down by academic and Civil Service regulations, standards and procedures; to slow in operation; insufficiently flexible; too narrow in conception; too academic.

(e) Queries were asked as to what had happened to the proposed Australian seminars in Government Administration, Social Welfare and Librarianship. A number of Indonesian enquiries, which had not come to the notice of the Embassy, were reported in this regard (please see my following memorandum).

(f) It was suggested that Australia could fill a need by publishing preliminary school text books for the Indonesian Government.

(g) It was asked whether Australia could process large numbers of educational film strips from originals made in Indonesia.

(h) It was asked whether Australia could supply small machines for making paper (from rice straw), to relieve the shortage of paper for school use.

(i) The poor quality of text books used at present for teaching English in Indonesia was referred to, and it was asked whether Australia could assist in this regard.

(j) It was suggested that a member of this Embassy should get outside Djakarta and contact institutions in other towns where practical educational and technical needs, as well as work actually in progress, can be observed, as distinct from the bureaucratic confusion and hesitation in the ministries. It was suggested that a far clearer idea of the amount of self-help which provincial institutions are showing, and a much clearer idea of their needs, can be got than by sitting in Djakarta. It was also suggested that, whereas the Ministry officials may give a timid reaction, for political reasons, to technical assistance offers, provincial institutions have direct and urgent needs and are prevented to state them unequivocally. By contacting the latter it may be possible to set up a backdoor pressure on the ministries, which might induce the latter to react more speedily and decisively to any broader proposals from us. (In this regard, I hope that it may be possible for myself or Mr. Parsons4 to visit Bandung and Ajokjakarta early in January and make a survey of educational and technical institutions in those centres),

(k) The utility of sending a fairly high level officer from Canberra to Djakarta to investigate Indonesia's Technical Assistance needs was discussed. It was felt that a good deal of preparatory work here should be done first such as exchange of information between Technical Assistance agencies and communication of the resultant information to Canberra.

(1) One special case of the need for educational material which was mentioned was teaching aids for blind, deaf and dumb, or physically handicapped children. There is an institute in Bandung where such work is being carried on until the end of this year by a hardworking and devoted Dutch teacher, with most inadequate materials. He is leaving soon, but is trying to train an Indonesian to carry on his work.

5. It was agreed that U.N.T.A.M. members would prepare a list of institutions in Indonesia, needing priority technical assistance, and some sort of teaching materials 'shopping list' for Australian consideration (this has not yet been received). The Embassy agreed to give U.N.T.A.M. members a list of Australian Technical Assistance provided to date to Indonesia (mainly scholarships and educational materials) and a confidential general summary of possible further lines of assistance under consideration (this is under preparation).

6. I have been warned by two United Nations representatives here that Keenleyside,5 despite his general approval, takes a rather 'monistic' view of Technical Assistance to foreign countries�in other words he feels that the United Nations should play the leading role and that other countries should fulfil something of a satellite function in providing supplementary technical assistance. In particular, I was told that he thinks that high-level experts from contributing countries should be contributed through the United Nations scheme, rather than bilaterally.

7. I have not yet discussed your circular memorandum with ECA officials here except in very broad terms, but I hope to have a discussion with Dr. Hayes,6 Head of the ECA Mission to Indonesia, during the next week.

8. We have also been told that at least one official in the Indonesian Ministry of Economic Affairs (Sudjipto) who is handling the Indonesian end of the Exim Bank7 loan implementation here, is very irked by the onerous restrictions imposed by the terms of that loan, and has been asking why the Indonesian Government does not take advantage of the Colombo Plan offers of assistance. The official in charge of the Indonesian Interdepartmental Committee on Foreign Aid (Darmawan, of the Economic Affairs Ministry)8 is always pleasant but always non-committal on this point.

9. The British Embassy has shown very little interest until lately in developing Indonesian interest in the Colombo Plan, but during the last month, their Third Secretary, Mr. Brash,9 has been detailed to act in this work.

10. We strongly hope that Mr. Doig may be able to spare some time during his transit through Djakarta, to discuss these matters with Indonesian officials and also with U.N. and ECA officials concerned with Technical Assistance to Indonesia.

[NAA: A462, 587/7 part 1]

1 Hugh Gilchrist, First Secretary, Australian Embassy, Jakarta.

2 Document 191.

3 The paragraph described an outburst by the Director-General of the UN Technical Assistance Administration, Dr Hugh Keenlyside, while he was in Indonesia. It also reiterated the importance of coordinating Colombo Plan activity with other aid-giving agencies. See Dispatch no. 4/51, NAA: A4231, 1951/Djakarta.

4 Alfred Parsons, Third Secretary, Australian Embassy, Jakarta.

5 Dr H.L. Keenleyside, Director-General UN Technical Assistance Administration.

6 Samuel P. Hayes, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs, US Department of State.

7 That is, The Export-Import Bank.

8 Darmawan, Director of Foreign Relations, Department of Economic Affairs.

9 Robert Brash.

Last Updated: 10 January 2017

Category: International relations

Topic: History