188 McIntyre to Burton
Minute CANBERRA, 9 March 1948
RECOGNITION OF NEW SIAMESE GOVERNMENT
The Foreign Minister of the new Siamese Government has addressed a Note to the Australian Consulate-General in the terms of the attached telegram B36. The Note contains an undertaking that the Siamese Government 'will continue to observe with care all its treaty and other obligations', and looks forward to close and cordial co-operation between Siam and Australia.
2. Identical Notes have been addressed by the Siamese Government to representatives in Bangkok of other foreign Governments. A number of these representatives have already made a formal acknowledgment in the terms set forth in telegram B36. The remainder are expected to do so, if they have not done so already.
3. This acknowledgment of the Siamese Note constitutes formal recognition, as normally required under international law, of a regime which has come into power by other than constitutional means. (Not only was the Dhamrong Government ousted by a revolutionary coup, but the constitutional framework of government in Siam was subsequently altered).
4. No advantage is to be gained by Australia in withholding an acknowledgment of the Siamese Note. The Siamese Government promises to honour the peace treaty. Under that treaty it undertook 'the payment to the Government of Australia of such compensation for loss or damage suffered in respect ... of the property rights and interests of all kinds in Siam of the Government of Australia and of Australians whether held by them individually or as members of firms, partnerships or companies ...
as appears reasonable and adequate to the Government of Australia or to a Board, Committee or Commission approved by the Government of Australia'. It also undertook to pay reasonable compensation to Australian citizens 'for any loss or injury sustained by them either as a result of their detention or internment (by the Government of Siam), and to the dependents of any such Australians whose death was occasioned by the acts of the Government of Siam or their agents of subjects'. Australia is a member of the Claims Committee set up to work out an claims for compensation in respect of property and 'personal prejudice'. The Claims Committee is still working on this task, and expects soon to be in a position to present a claim to the Siamese Government. In the meantime the Siamese Government merely repeats the undertaking of its predecessor to pay the claims when they are presented. No question of reparations or other outstanding issues from the peace treaty are involved. On the other hand there are positive arguments in favour of granting recognition without further delay:
(a) Australia has no longer any reason to treat Siam as anything other than a friendly country. Our policy in general has been to cultivate the friendship of the peoples of South East Asia and to encourage them to adopt the practices of democracy. Of all countries in the area none has shown more zeal than Siam in trying to learn at least the forms of democracy.
(b) The new Government has come into power as a result of elections which are a reasonable facsimile of democratic elections and has just secured a solid vote of confidence in Parliament.
(c) To ignore the Note, particularly when all other countries concerned are expected to acknowledge it, would look unnecessarily pointed and would be regarded by the Siamese as a gratuitous slight.
(d) Eastman will shortly have to have formal dealings with the Government of Siam in connection with the compensation claims.
I feel strongly that a telegram on the lines of the attached be sent to Bangkok.