14 Killearn to Evatt

Cablegram 147 [1] SINGAPORE, 19 March 1947, 11.55 p.m.


Massey has given me your message saying that you would appreciate a personal assessment of the present position in Java. [2]

The position is that signature of Linggadjati is once more tottering on the brink.

On March 15th Dr. Sjahrir wrote a letter to Professor Schermerhorn in the following terms:

'In reply to your communication of March 2nd we have the honour to inform your Commission that we have learned with satisfaction that it was not the intention of the Netherlands Government to impose its interpretation of the draft agreement of Linggadjati unilaterally upon the Government of the Republic. Furthermore we are happy to learn from you that the Minister Jonkman in his speech of December 19th, 1946 [3], by giving priority to the declaration of the Netherlands Government meant thereby only that an interpretation of the text from the Dutch, also the history in being (sic) of each article, will apply.

We see however neither the necessity nor the cause either of going further into the declaration of the Netherlands Government mentioned above or of raising objection to the actual contents of the declarations of the Netherlands Government of the 10th and 19th December.

In our view these papers produced in the Netherlands arose from the method of handling the matter there and were thus principally intended for internal politics of the Netherlands.

Moreover, an addition of papers (explanation of Commission-General and declarations of the Netherlands Government of 10th and 19th December) to papers which in our opinion are also included in the signing of the draft agreement of Linggadjati (minute and official correspondence) would increase sources of interpretation by yet a few.

Finally the drawing up by us of our own interpretation and comparison of this interpretation with yours could lead to prolonged discussions which in many respects would be a repetition of discussions which we conducted last year. Thus it would certainly not be possible to reach any result in the time limit set by you.

If, however, it is the intention of the Netherlands Government not to proceed for its part to signing except in the manner as established in the assembly of Second Chamber of the States General on December 10th 1946, we for our part declare that we have no objection to the explanation of the Commission-General, the declaration of the Netherlands Government of December loth 946, and address of Minister of Overseas Territories on 19th and 20th December being included as their interpretation of that to which the Netherlands Government considers itself bound on its part by signing of draft agreement and of that which she undertakes to put into practice in application of agreement although without binding ourselves to these papers.

After signing there will, in our opinion be still ample opportunity to submit to mutual discussion of the above mentioned views and intentions of Netherlands Government.

Indonesian Delegation is now, by virtue of motion of confidence in conducting Government of Republic negotiations with the Netherlands Government passed by Plenary Session of the National Committee on March 5th, authorised by the Peoples Assembly to sign the draft agreement of Linggadjati as initialled.

We invite you accordingly once more to sign without delay the draft agreement initialled together by us so that we can begin the solution of urgent problems of restoration and reconstruction.'

The Commission-General have been authorised by The Hague to sign on this basis. Sjahrir actually offered to sign on March 17th but the Commission-General said they would not be ready for a few days.

Meanwhile the Dutch forces staged an operation near Sourabaya to occupy water sluices which have been a source of constant dispute between the two parties. Whether this action which the Indonesians claim to be a breach of the truce, and which was certainly ill timed, will postpone or prevent the signature remains to be seen.

His Majesty's Consul-General at Batavia is urging restraint and quick signature.

The fact is that the conflict of view is not so much between the Dutch as a whole and the Indonesians as a whole, but rather between moderates and diehards on the Dutch side and moderates and extremists on the Indonesian side. Had the decision rested entirely in the hands of the Commission-General for the Dutch and Soekarno and Sjahrir for the Indonesians there would have been an agreement long ago. But the moderates on each side have had to play their hand very carefully to ensure sufficient support among their own people.

The signature of Linggadjati (if it takes place) will certainly not put an end to these divergences of view or to the difficulties that arise from them. But it will be a success for the moderates and ought to open a new chapter in which progress is possible.

Among other matters which ought then to prove capable of solution is the present deadlock over the so called Dutch 'blockade'. It is perfectly understandable that the Dutch should wish to prevent trade in property looted from the Dutch abolition and on this point the interests of the British estate owners are identical. On the other hand arbitrary actions of the Dutch naval forces in carrying out the Dutch policy has led to incidents outside territorial waters over ships under the British flag about which His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom have protested at The Hague. Further, the application of the Dutch regulations has the effect of interrupting trade between the Netherlands East Indies and the outside world at a moment when other countries need all the food and other products which it may be possible to get out of the Netherlands East Indies, and the Netherlands East Indies badly need consumer goods. It is true that certain Dutch- Indonesian economic and other committees set up last autumn are in existence but all concerned are agreed that any adequate degree of cooperation between the Dutch and the Indonesians over the economic problems can only be hoped for after the signature of Linggadjati.

Please let me know if the above does not make the position sufficiently clear or if there is any other information you would like.

1 Sent via the Australian Commission in Singapore.

2 Document 12.

3 See Document 1, note 4.

[AA:A1838/283, 403/3/1/1, iv]