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212 Cablegram from Embassy in Jakarta to Department of External Affairs

Jakarta, 11 January 1952

28. RESTRICTED

Tjokroadisumarto, Head of the General Affairs Section of the Foreign Ministry asked me 8th January to discuss the basis of Australia's offer of scholarships for 1952 to Indonesia in relation to the Colombo Plan. He asked for elucidation of the Embassy note of 21st December, 19511 (copy sent you for information air bag number 1) especially the phrase 'in this sense the scholarships are the Colombo Plan scholarships'. From his embarrassed and confused remarks, I gathered that some Foreign Ministry officials have belatedly become concerned by the possible political implications or the moral obligations arising out of accepting scholarships or other courses offered by Australia. He said that the Indonesian Government would soon have to take a 'permanent decision' regarding its attitude towards the Colombo Plan. From his manner rather than his words it seemed that when the question finally goes to up to Cabinet it may be hotly debated there. He also mentioned seeing a press report this week that Burma had 'virtually decided' to participate in the Colombo Plan. He offered a personal and confidential suggestion that we avoid mentioning the Colombo Plan in connexion with the Australian offer of awards 'because of political questions'; I replied that we did not feel any moral or other obligation lay on Indonesia as regards the awards offered.

2. The Foreign Ministry later telephoned an informal request for us to suspend temporarily the granting of any further awards to Indonesian students under the technical co-operation programme.

3. Parsons, 9th January called on Tjokroadisumarto who—

(a) said that the Ministry fully realises that in the acceptance of facilities offered under the technical co-operation programme there is no commitment regarding ultimate membership of the Colombo Plan.

(b) Nevertheless, reiterated Ministry's feeling that acceptance of these facilities involves a certain moral obligation. When confronted with practical implications of suspension, he said that the Ministry was anxious not to be pressed to the point where it would cause embarrassment or personal disappointment to nominees already selected by the Australian authorities.

4. The Ministry's present uncertain attitude appears to reflect lack of co-ordination with other Ministries and follows on discussion between Tjokroadisumatro and Rasjid,2 acting Secretary General. The matter will be considered by a political committee of the Foreign Ministry which will either support the Ministry's attitude towards acceptance or rejection of further awards or refer the matter to Cabinet for decision. Present suspension will mean at least temporary delay in arrangements being made for government administration and library seminars and in further action on other special group courses.

5. There was no prior hint that the Ministry would act in this way. We have avoided peddling the Colombo Plan but we have been frank with the Ministry and as accurate as possible in explaining the basis of the awards offered. I feel that the best course for the present is to await developments.

6. Ambassador Subandrio3 who recently arrived from London for consultations told newspaper Abadi 9th January he did not yet know the Indonesian Government's opinion regarding the Colombo Plan. Asked for his personal opinion he warned against too high hope for financial and technical assistance from the plan but said it provided useful forum for exchange of ideas between Asian countries which at present were under-developed.4

1 Document 207.

2 Sutan Muhamad Rasjid.

3 Dr. Subandrio, Indonesian Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

4 In a message to Canberra of 21 January (Cablegram 42), the Embassy explained that the Indonesian Foreign Ministry 'informed us that...[it] is quite happy for the Indonesians to continue to accept all training facilities but does not �officially recognise the Colombo Plan'� . The decision had been taken by Achmad Subardjo, the Indonesian Foreign Minister, whom the Embassy believed 'to have personally felt that temporary suspension was unwarranted'.

Last Updated: 10 January 2017

Category: International relations

Topic: History