75 Officer to Burton
Departmental Dispatch Hag 13/48 THE HAGUE, 17 February 1948
SUBJECT: Development of Dutch New Guinea.
Since my Departmental Despatch No. Hag. 5/48 of 4th February 1948
2. I have ascertained that the Minister for Overseas Territories, Mr Jonkman, in an 'aside' to the Second Chamber some weeks ago, announced that the question of immigration to New Guinea was under close observation. He stated that emigrants to New Guinea would probably come from three sources:-
a) 100,000 Indo-Europeans who have become displaced in NEI b) 30 or 40 thousand Dutch farmers c) Dutch ex-Servicemen and many young people in search of adventure.
This 'aside' of the Minister was not reported by the press and was completely missed or ignored by the official information services.
I still think that official plans, if such exist, are very tentative and that the main concern of the Government at the moment is what form the future status of New Guinea will take.
3. But some exploratory work is being done for I hear that four experts have arrived already in BIAK with a view to making a detailed research as regards the possibility of settling the Dutch Eurasians there. They, it is reported, wish to institute their own Government under the Dutch crown.
4. I hear also that active plans for the exploration of New Guinea have been made by the Netherlands New Guinea Exploration Committee consisting-apart from the representatives of Dutch scientific institutions-of representatives of Royal Dutch Shell Company, the Netherlands Trading Society, the Billiton Tin Company and Unilever. Apparently an expedition will be sent shortly for two years to inspect the area on the tableland in Central New Guinea, and this expedition will be followed by others.
5. Some light is shed on the situation by a lecture delivered by Dr. Klein on 6th February to the 'Allied Circle'. Dr. Klein is not an official of the Dutch Government but he is acknowledged as a great expert on Dutch New Guinea. The subject of Dr. Klein's lecture was co-operation between Dutch and Australian New Guinea, and he stressed that in the past there had indeed been very little. Contributing causes of this were:-
a) the distances involved b) general absence of communications c) the wildness of the country and the absence of understanding of the need for co-operation on the higher Dutch and Australian Governmental levels.
6. Dr. Klein said that plans for the development of Dutch New Guinea were still only in a tentative form but he was of the opinion that the Netherlands Government favoured the creation of a dependent territory of New Guinea initially under the control of the Crown. The Republican efforts to gain control of New Guinea should be resisted not for political reasons, but because of the inexperience of the Indonesians in colonial affairs; he likened Indonesia to a youth of 16 and New Guinea to a child of two. Dr.
Klein complained that the interest of the Netherlands Government in New Guinea had been meagre and he gave as an example that the New Guinea administration had asked for ten soil experts to make preliminary surveys prior to European colonisation and that Batavia had only seen fit to send two.
7. Dr. Klein said that the best areas of development were the extreme north of the peninsula near the Cape of Good Hope where oil deposits had been found and also the tableland south of Hollandia and in the vicinity of the border of Australian territory. There were two areas here suitable for colonisation by European settlers, one at 1,500 metres and the other at 2,000 metres above sea level. Here in his opinion many kinds of tropical produce could be grown in conditions not unsuitable to white men.
The development of this area however would depend largely on the building of communications through the rugged country to the coast-a distance of over 100 kilometres through very different terrain. A possible solution would be to send goods just over the border into Australian territory where they could be taken to the coast by barges down the Sepik river. This solution would entail a far greater degree of co-operation with the Australian authorities than at present existed.
8. Dr. Klein confirmed that there were Dutch political prisoners in New Guinea at present working on the dumps of war materials left there by the Allied forces. He also mentioned that there were plans for the migration of a large number of Indo-Europeans to New Guinea from Java and the other islands of the N.E.I. When questioned, he said that the New Foundation to control migration to New Guinea (vide my Departmental Despatch 5/48) was to come under the Stichting Landverhuizing Nederland. Mr Hartland however.
has denied this. I shall endeavour to obtain further information on this subject.
[AA:A4231/2, 1948 THE HAGUE]
1 Officer's Departmental Dispatch of 4 February, not published in this volume, was in fact Hag 8/48.