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207 Letter from Department of External Affairs to Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Jakarta, 21 December 1951

The Australian Embassy presents its compliments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, and has the honour to provide a clarification, in reply to the enquiry in the Ministry's Note (No. 62647)1 of 4th December, regarding the connection between certain training facilities offered by the Australian Government to Indonesia, and the 'Colombo Plan'.

It may be useful, first of all, to restate in more precise terms exactly what is meant by the phrase 'Colombo Plan'. In reality there are two schemes now in operation, which can be described as being parts of the Colombo Plan. These two parts operate to a large degree independently of each other, although they are in some degree complementary to each Other. One is a major scheme called the Economic Development Programme. The other is a much smaller scheme called the Technical Co-operation Programme.

The Economic Development Programme, which has been worked out in consultation between the several participating countries, extends over a six-year period beginning 1st July, 1951, and contemplates the expenditure of some hundreds of millions of pounds over that period. Implementation of this scheme did not begin until July, 1951. The scheme is concerned with major economic projects, as for example, the development of irrigation and settlement of the Thai Valley in Pakistan, economic assistance to India in the form of grain shipments during the present year, large schemes for hydro-electric development, enlargement and improvement of ports and harbours, development of transport and communications, cattle-breeding schemes, and similar material assistance in the form of large projects which have been mutually agreed upon.

The Technical Co-operation Programme is very much smaller both in its scope and in the amount of money involved, compared with the Economic Development Programme, to which it is supplementary and subsidiary. As at present constituted, it is planned to operate for three years. It began to operate on 1st July, 1950, and so, half the period of this Programme has already passed. The Technical Co-operation Programme is restricted to providing:

(a) scholarships, fellowships and other opportunities for study and observation overseas.

(b) experts who may give technical assistance by advice on various aspects of training and education. (For example, in technical, agricultural and vocational education programmes, civilian training for ex-soldiers, university training, the education of physically-handicapped children, the use of special equipment in educational institutions and other fields of training.)

(c) equipment and materials to be used as part of training schemes (for example, the supply of text books and the printing of text books as may be requested; school, laboratory, workshop or farm equipment, for training purposes; and educational equipment and materials generally).

(d) financial assistance to selected educational institutions or projects, which may be agreed upon as needing such assistance. (For example, teachers' training colleges, commercial training colleges, institutes for the popularisation of science, university faculties, ex-soldiers' re-establishment organisations, national and regional libraries, film centres, schools for blind persons, experimental schools for special purposes, etc.).

The Australian Government wishes to make it clear to the Government of the Republic of Indonesia that:

(a) The Technical Co-operation Programme is independent of the Economic Development Programme and has a separate financial allocation distinct from the latter. It also has a different timetable and period of operation. The organ of the Technical Co-operation Programme is the Council for Technical Co-operation, which is located at Colombo, and which is composed of Departmental officials of the participating countries. Its function is mutual consultation regarding the technical assistance needs of the countries participating and the best means of supplying those needs.

(b) It is possible for Indonesia (or any other country in South and South-East Asia) to participate in the Technical Co-operation Programme without membership of the Colombo Plan Consultative Committee, and without participating in the Economic Development Programme, and without the necessity of providing information (on economic development plans) asked for in the Economic Development Programme's questionnaire.

(c) Australia is contributing approximately �A3'A million to the Technical Assistance Programme. It is expected that about �A200,000 of this will be made available during the financial year, July 1951 to June 1952.

Of the Scholarship and Fellowship which were offered to Indonesia by Australia up till 1951, most were Scholarships provided out of an Australian fund called the 'Post-UNRRA Educational Relief Grant' (which had been established in 1947 in implementation of a UNESCO Conference resolution urging all UNESCO countries to make a contribution towards education reconstruction in countries which had suffered great damage in the second world war).

From this Post-UNRRA Educational Relief Grant, the Australian Government also bought about �A 15,000 of educational materials (libraries, film projectors, text books, art materials, filmstrip projectors, filmstrips), most of which have now been delivered to the Indonesian Ministry of Education. Nearly all the money provided under the Post-UNRRA Educational Relief Grant has now been spent, and the only remaining Australian Government money for technical and educational assistance to countries in South and South-East Asia is the fund approved by the Australian Parliament as Australia's contribution to the Technical Assistance Programme.

Twenty-five of the Scholarships and Fellowships offered to Indonesia at the beginning of 1951, however, were financed from the Australian contribution to the Technical Assistance Programme. The twenty Scholarships and Fellowships which have been offered to Indonesia for 1952 by the Australian Government in the Embassy's Note of 1st October, 1951, are also financed out of the Australian contribution to the Technical Cooperation Programme. In that sense, they are all Colombo Plan Fellowships and Scholarships.

The Australian Government, however, has never considered that acceptance of these Scholarships or other study opportunities has obliged the Indonesian Government in any way to participate in any part of the Colombo Plan; and no condition of participation in the Technical Co-operation Scheme by Indonesia is connected with the offer of any of the abovementioned Scholarships. This is also true regarding the Australian Government's offer of short courses (group seminars) of study and observation in the subjects of Government Administration, Librarianship and Social Welfare. The same statement is also true regarding the opportunities for study and observation of Port Control and Organisation in Australia, referred to in the Embassy's Note of 9th October, 19512

At the same time, it is the view of the Australian Government that, as the resources available in Australia for giving technical assistance to countries in South and South-East Asia are limited, it would be fair and just if priority be given to those countries which are at present members of the Council for Technical Co-operation at Colombo. The reason for this is that the members of that Council have agreed to discuss amongst themselves their mutual needs of technical assistance, with a view to making these resources go as far as possible, and to exchange information regarding the progress and methods of technical assistance, in order to help each other plan more efficiently the use of technical assistance from overseas, and thereby get most benefit for all concerned. The availability of experts, and the provision of educational materials and equipment, in response to any country's request, is especially limited by existing resources, and therefore, especially in these two fields of technical assistance, it is felt that consultation between countries interested in obtaining such forms of technical assistance is likely to produce the most efficient results.

The Embassy takes this opportunity of renewing to the Ministry the assurance of its high consideration.

[NAA: A11604, 704/2/2]

1 The Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked whether there was any connection between an offer of technical assistance made on 9 October 1951 and an offer of scholarships and fellowships made on 1 October 1951.

2 Not published.

Last Updated: 10 January 2017

Category: International relations

Topic: History