91 Eaton to Department of External Affairs

Departmental Dispatch 4/1948 (extracts) BATAVIA, 27 February 1948


I have to report on recent developments in the establishment of autonomous states in the territories of Java and Madura.

1. Madura 2. Indonesia saw its first plebiscite in January, 1948, when adult Madurese voted to decide the status of Madura as a member of the future United States of Indonesia. This plebiscite was organised by a central committee through executive and subcommittees throughout the island. Adult members of the various villages were assembled and had read to them a resolution from the central committee which stated, inter alia, that relations between Madura and the central Republican Government had been severed as from 11th November, that authority in the island had been assumed by R.A.A. Tjakraningrat, ex-Regent and Republican Resident, and that the government of Madura was now autonomous and co-operating with the Central Government at Batavia.

3. The villagers were then invited to express their opinion on the following points:

(a) The status of Madura as an independent state within the United States of Indonesia;

(b) the appointment of R.A.A. Tjakraningrat as Madura's representative to the provisional Senate of the interim Government;

(c) the granting of authority to the Wali Negara (Head of State) and the central committee to determine the political organisation of the island;

(d) the conformity of the Government of Madura to the Linggardjati Agreement;

(e) the expansion of Madura's representation on the senate of the interim government to three members;

(f) the requesting of the Netherlands East Indies Government to recognise the status of the island.

4. The villagers' votes were duly taken on 23rd January and the following figures on the plebiscite have been released:

Number qualified to vote 305,546 Actual voters 219,660 In favour 199,510 Against 9,923 Abstentions 10,230 It is not clear just how these figures are related to the points set out above; however, the large majority 'in favour' was hailed sympathetically by all but the Republican press, as expressing the wish of the overwhelming majority of Madurese for an independent state.

5. Taking into consideration the facts that the population of Madura is well over two million people and that there are very substantial numbers of Madurese living on the main land who did not vote in the plebiscite, the number of voters was extremely small, certainly not an overwhelming majority of the total population. Furthermore, even if the voting was free and not, as Republican critics declared, closely supervised by the Dutch, the number of people qualified to vote represents a very restricted franchise. The result of the plebiscite could in no way be regarded as a 'verdict of the people'.

[matter omitted]

2. West Java 11. The third West Java Conference opened in Bandoeng on 23rd February. Its purpose was to implement the resolution of the second Conference in December, 1947, which called for the establishment of a State of West Java with a provisional Government and parliament. [1]

[matter omitted]

15. On the following day, Soejoso attempted to secure an amendment to the agenda, but the session became out of hand and was adjourned by the Chairman after one hour. Informal discussions were held overnight between the five supporters of Soejoso's amendment and the Chairman of the Conference Preparatory and Contact Committee and a compromise was reached in an amendment which proposed the implementation of the resolution from the December Conference on the understanding that the status of West Java should be decided by a future plebiscite. This amendment was signed by five representatives, including the Chairman of the Conference and Soejoso. However, at the beginning of the session the following day, the Chairman read out a letter from the Civil Governor of West Java to the Preparatory Commission of the Conference which stated that from the expressed view of the Government it could be assumed that the Government already approved of the resolution from the December Conference, so that it could be concluded that West Java state had already been formed. The letter further pointed out that the Government had invited representatives from West Java to participate in the Netherlands [Delegation] [2] and in the provisional Federal Council. In view of this letter the Chairman withdrew his signature from the compromise amendment and ruled that it could not be discussed. Soejoso sought to speak, but was ignored. The Conference then appointed a Committee to request the Civil Governor to seek from the Government recognition of the Conference as the Parliament of the State of West Java.

16. The fourth day of the Conference opened with a reading of a reply from Dr. van Mook to the request from the Conference. The relevant portion of this reply read as follows:

'The Government is prepared to comply with the above-mentioned request if there is certainty concerning two points.

In the first place it seems desirable that this request be clearly seconded by a statement of the Conference itself now that it is meeting; it is not known to the Government whether such a statement has been obtained.

In the second place it goes without saying that such a recognition in itself would have little significance unless at the same time the Conference were also to deal with the further organisation of the provisional Government of West Java. Proposals in this regard should be made to the Government, for a provisional representative body would not be able to fulfil its tasks without more detailed regulations and without a well defined executive.

Consequently it will have to depend upon the further decisions of the Conference whether this recognition can be combined with a definition of the task and a further organisation which will make a further regular development possible.'

17. Following the reading of this letter, a note from Soejoso and thirty-four others was read which protested against the 'undemocratic proceedings of the previous day'. A resolution, signed by a large number of delegates, was also read which opposed Soejoso's amendment whereby the Conference gained the right to determine its own agenda. The Conference then passed a resolution calling upon the Preparatory Committee to inform the Government, through the Civil Governor, that it was the wish of the Conference that it be recognised as a provisional parliament with the task of producing a State Regulation and establishing a provisional government of West Java on the basis of this Regulation. [The resolution was passed by 62 votes to 35, with one abstention.]

18. The Conference has not yet ended.

19. It is noteworthy that Bandoeng is a closed city for which residence permits are necessary. Raden Djajadiningrat has denied that Dr. Budiardjo, the Chairman of the Republican Plebiscite Movement in Batavia, was ordered to leave the city, though he was not able to produce a permit when asked. Dr. Budiardjo did leave the city, but of his own accord, added Djajadiningrat.

1 See Document 39 and note 2 thereto.

2 The words in square brackets in this Document were added by hand.

[AA:A1838, 854/10/4/2, v]