287 Landale to Burton

Departmental Dispatch Hag 56/48 THE HAGUE, 25 October 1948



The resignation of Dr. van Mook from his position as Lt. Governor General of Indonesia was in a sense bound to produce speculation, controversy and rumours here. Ever since he took over the reins of government in Indonesia, he has enjoyed a Jekyll and Hyde reputation. He has been accused by various sections of the press of acting under British influence, of being dominated by the Netherlands Labour party, and, inference at any rate, of wishing to set up a Far Eastern Empire with himself as a 'Constitutional potentate'.

2. Whatever set of circumstances finally led up to his resignation, and at the moment these are not entirely clear, one must not forget that the Dutch are to some extent unused to the existence of a powerful political figure. True they had their Colyn before the war, but the very nature of their present political system with its numerous parties most of which have religious backgrounds, favours the rule of the safe as opposed to the brilliant man. Van Mook's dominating position then may have in some measure fanned the fires of controversy.

3. I have in my cable No. 153 [1] briefly reported the press reaction to his resignation. I propose now to deal with this more fully. The attitude of the official Socialist paper 'HET VRIJE VOLK' may be summarized as follows:- 'Dr van Mook's resignation is the result of an irresponsible policy conducted from The Hague. It is impossible to guess what the results may be. We can only fear the worst.' The two influential Liberal papers 'ALGEMEEN HANDELSBLAD, and 'NIEUWE ROTTERDAMSCHE COURANT' appear to be in favour of the resignation but believe that the timing of his decision was unfortunate. The independent Socialist paper 'HET PAROOL' writes:- 'This decision has put The Hague in a very difficult position but it cannot have been so surprising, because the sudden generosity shown in The Hague towards the Federal representatives, proved that the Netherlands Government was in a hurry to prepare the Interim Government in order to sack the Lt.

Governor General. if only the Dutch Government had not undermined Van Mook's position, he would have been willing to help his successor and train him in his difficult task. But the Dutch Government did not think it worth while to meet the Lt. Governor General halfway.' The other independent Socialist paper 'HAAGSCH DAGBLAD' reveals that the new Minister for Overseas Territories, Mr. Sassen, the Christian Historic Union, and the Liberals, made Dr. van Mook's resignation their primary condition for joining the Cabinet. 'Dr. Beel's appointment in replacing Van Mook is nothing less than horse trading' the paper adds. 'This Cabinet has been born in insincerity and since we have no assurance that such horse trading will not be conducted again, we are extremely worried about the future.' The paper adds that since it has become known that a number of high officials in Batavia have already expressed their desire to leave when Dr. van Mook leaves, his successor Dr.

Beel is now engaging a number of experts in The Hague to accompany him to Batavia.

4. There was no editorial comment in the two Dutch Progressive Catholic Dailies 'DE TIJD' and HET BINNENHOF' but the Conservative Catholic 'DE MAASBODE' definitely expressed satisfaction.

'Although Dr. van Mook clearly demonstrated his love for Indonesia, his sympathy towards Holland has always been conspicuous by its absence. We cannot be sorry that the Lt.

Governor General is leaving the stage, and his departure was obviously imperative after what has recently happened. We have never joined in the rumours that the Liberals and the Christian Historics demanded his resignation as a condition for their co- operation in the Cabinet. We do not want to refer this time to his insulting habit of presenting The Hague with accomplished facts.

Neither do we intend to remind readers of his immediate surroundings which only strengthen his stubborn attitude. We merely wish to point out that Van Mook's policy was dangerous, in so far as it threatened to disrupt the historic ties between Holland and Indonesia. Van Mook and his henchmen were only interested in Indonesia; the future of Holland left them stone cold. Since all understanding for the Dutch point of view is absent from Van Mook's ideas, he is unsuitable for the task which he has to fulfil in these decisive times.' The Conservative paper 'TROUW, reminds its readers that the Conservatives have never had much sympathy for the departing Governor General. His attitude towards the Republic has been fatal. A point in his favour, however, is the Federalist idea, for which he was entirely responsible. The paper merely 'hopes' that Dr. van Mook's departure will be an improvement but adds that there is little reason for confidence in the appointment of Dr. Beel. 'The party of Labour and the Catholics will undoubtedly reopen their battle for policy' TROUW bitterly adds.

5. One unofficial theory I have heard for his resignation, is that the Beel Government was collectively resentful of Van Mook's independent activities in Indonesia but whenever the question of Van Mook's removal was raised by the Minister for Overseas Territories, Mr. Jonkman, it was shelved owing to the latter's unpopularity with the rest of the Cabinet. When the new Government was formed after the elections, Professor Romme, leader of the Catholic Parliamentary party, Mr Sassen, the present Minister for Overseas Territories, and Mr. Tilanus, leader of the Christian Historical party (according to this report) wishing to ensure that policy for Indonesia was directed from The Hague, pledged their support only on condition that Dr. van Mook resigned.

6. It is as yet not possible to sift fact from rumour or conjecture, but there are fairly good grounds for supposing that the immediate reason for his resignation was because he could not agree with the Netherlands Government's intention of instituting a Federal Interim Government in Indonesia, at the earliest possible moment. It would appear that he envisaged a more gradual process.

1 Dispatched on 14 October.

[AA:A4231/2, 1948 THE HAGUE]