371 Pritchett to Burton

Memorandum BATAVIA, 29 April 1949

I refer to my telegram No. 65 [1] of to-day's date concerning the Relief Supplies for Indonesia.

2. With regard to the Netherlands proposal that they should substitute textiles of a neutral colour from their own stocks for those textiles among the Australian supplies coloured blue and khaki to the import of which the Government of Indonesia will not consent, the Far Eastern Office has now written to me as follows:

'Before indicating which markings the textiles to be provided by the Government of Indonesia in exchange of the Australian supplies, will bear, it will be necessary to ascertain the present value of the textiles to be replaced.

'The total of supplies destined for Republican areas was originally mentioned to be A126,000. Experience however has shown that the actual market value of the goods may not necessarily be the same. It is therefore suggested that the textiles to be replaced be valued by experts to be appointed in common agreement between the Indonesian and Australian authorities in Batavia.'

They suggest that 'in order to finalize this matter at an early date' it would be advisable for me to contact the Head of the Trade Division of the Department of Economic Affairs directly. I regret that owing to my illness I have not been able to discuss this point with either the Far Eastern Office or the Department of Economic Affairs and have no comments to offer at this stage.

However, Jhr. de Ranitz of the Far Eastern Office in a note [2] to me dated 7th February, stated that the ban on the import of the Australian textiles would not be lifted for at least two months and since then he has on several occasions informed me that he could see no prospect of the ban being lifted even at the end of two months. As I advised you in my telegram No. 2 [3] of 5th January, the objection to the distribution of the Australian textiles comes from the Army authorities and the present situation offers no grounds for belief that they will be now inclined to modify their position. I should therefore be grateful for your instructions on this new proposal.

3. Arrangements for the distribution of the medical supplies are now fairly well advanced. Lieut. Col. Sullivan discussed the matter with Dr. Bahder Djohan, the representative in Batavia of the Indonesian Red Cross and proposed that his organisation should handle the distribution of the supplies. Under this arrangement the distribution could be effected quite independently of the Netherlands and Indonesian authorities and the supplies would be transported from Batavia to their final destinations in Republican areas entirely by the Indonesian Red Cross.

4. Dr. Bahder Djohan was agreeable and I then discussed detailed arrangements with him and Dr. Leimena, the Minister for Health in the Republican Cabinet. We agreed that the procedure should be for Dr. Bahder Djohan to inform the hospitals at Djocja and Solo of what supplies were available and invite them to submit requisitions. Supplies would then be forwarded to the hospitals under cover of a form listing the goods delivered and stating clearly their nature as a post-U.N.R.R.A. gift from the Australian Government and that they were for the hospitals' use only. It was suggested that the form should be in quadruplicate, the hospitals retaining one copy and signing and returning the other three as receipts. Both Dr. Bahder Djohan and Dr. Leimena assured me that the supplies would be properly used by the hospitals they nominated and that there would be no chance of any leakage onto the black market or of the goods being diverted into hospitals not servicing Indonesian civilians in the Republican areas.

5. Dr. Leimena said that if possible, he should like a portion of the supplies to go to the Republican area in Atjeh and in view of the lack of communications with Atjeh, suggested that the Netherlands authorities should be approached through the United Nations Commission for Indonesia for assistance. However, in the meantime, Jhr. de Ranitz informed me that he thought there would be little difficulty in arranging for the transport of supplies to Atjeh and I am to discuss this question directly with him.

6. The present position is that Dr. Bahder Djohan has now given to me the requisitions from Djocja and Solo. However, to meet these requisitions will involve opening the cases of supplies. As it would be unwise to do this in the present place of storage the best solution appears to be for the Indonesian Red Cross to transfer all the supplies into their own store rooms where the cases might be opened safely. I have asked Mr. Cutts to try and arrange this and am awaiting his advice. It would, however, be of assistance if you could supply me with lists detailing the contents of the various cases as the lists forwarded with your memorandum No. 260 (892/2/2) of 8th December, 1948, do not give the contents in full.

1 Dispatched on 29 April, it reported that the NEI authorities were insisting that the value of the Australian textiles intended for distribution in Indonesia would need to be ascertained before they could be exchanged with material from Dutch Stocks.

2 Document 195.

3 Dispatched on 5 January, it reported that the Netherlands Army objected to the distribution into Republican territory of 'textiles of a colour which bears resemblance to military and/or police uniforms'.

[AA : A4357/2, 352/2, i]