279 Critchley to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram K281 BATAVIA, [3] March 1949, 3 p.m.


Following return of the Contact Committee from Bangka (K280 [1]) the B.F.O. met tonight 3rd March, and unanimously and with acclamation passed a resolution appealing to:

(1) The Dutch to meet two Republican conditions set out in paragraph 2 K280.

(2) The Republicans to issue a cease-fire order for the whole of Indonesia as soon as the Government was restored at Djokjakarta.

(3) The Dutch and the Republicans to maintain law and order in Indonesia.

2. On the morning of March 4th, Sultan Hamid orally informed Beel of decisions of meeting. Beel, greatly upset, said that resolution constituted acceptance of Security Council's Resolution [2] and therefore his plan was unnecessary. He intimated that B.F.O. would have to choose between his plan and the Security Council resolution and if they insisted choosing the latter he would have to resign.

3. At a meeting he arranged between Hamid and Cochran, Herremans suggested that a compromise might be found on restoration of the Republican Government at Djokjakarta. Cochran was not sympathetic. He considered that resolution of B.F.O. should be conveyed formally to Beel and that latter's resignation might not be a bad thing. This advice was unsatisfactory to both Hamid and Herremans. Both Hamid and subsequently Schuurman have informed Cochran that resolution of B.F.O. was not necessarily binding.

4. Hamid as Chairman then called a further meeting of B.F.O. on March 4th when he suggested that resolution might be withdrawn or amended. Led by East Indonesia a section of B.F.O. urged resolution once adopted could not be withdrawn at Dutch request, without justifying charge that B.F.O. Members were puppets. It appeared, however, that Hamid with support of eight votes might succeed in having resolution withdrawn. East Indonesia then suggested that resolution should be retained, that Representatives of B.F.O. should proceed to Bangka where they should negotiate an addendum to previous informal agreement which would set out in detail what was proposed in restoration of Republican Government at Djokjakarta. This addendum would for example outline area to be restored which was one specific point on which Beel had objected to B.F.O. resolution.

5. Hamid was agreeable to further visit to Bangka but was resentful when his suggestion, he should personally select a new Contact Committee, was rejected.

6. It was further proposed by East Indonesia that any agreement reached at Bangka should be formal and signed on the spot by Representatives of B.F.O. and Sukarno, Hatta. On the other hand Hamid and Mansoor of East Sumatra insisted that any further agreement reached should be brought back and discussed with the Dutch before it was made formal. After a further stormy debate which failed to reach a decision on this point the meeting was adjourned until 11 a.m. today March 6th.

7. This behind the scenes story shows up clearly the position of B.F.O. It will be also helpful in assessing value of Netherlands' invitation to a round table conference and the hollowness of the Dutch suggestion that Indonesians should work out to some extent their own problems. I have made sure that Cochran has been fully informed and has kept the State Department advised. Because of the sources involved, information in this telegram should be used by you with the greatest discretion.

8. Please classify this telegram as Top Secret.

1 Document 272.

2 Document 168.

[AA : A1838, ts383/6/1, i]