454 Critchley to Burton

Letter BATAVIA, 8 July 1949



As reported in my last letter [1], the evacuation of Dutch troops and the taking over of the capital by Republican troops proceeded smoothly. Only one additional incident of importance has come to light. Apparently, prior to the evacuation of Dutch forces from Medari on 30 June, a leak was created near the bottom of a 50,000 gallon Diesel oil reservoir in a sugar factory. The leak was discovered and stopped approximately three hours after the Dutch had withdrawn, but by that time a large quantity of oil had flowed into an irrigation stream and thence into adjacent rice fields.

Republican experts estimate that an area of 650 hectares will be affected for at least one month.

2. When the Commission arrived in Jogjakarta in response to the Sultan's invitation to witness the return of the Republican leaders on 6 July, they found a peaceful and quiet city. Since the Dutch withdrawal, the firing at night has stopped completely and communist posters publicised by the Dutch have ceased to appear in the streets of Jogjakarta. According to the Republicans, these posters were the work of the Dutch, and the PKI (the communist party in Indonesia) has denied it had anything to do with them.

The Chinese Vice-Consul at Jogjakarta reported that 5,000 Chinese, who recently evacuated the city, are now anxious to return.

3. Ali Budiardjo, of the Socialist Party of Indonesia, believes there is no danger from communists in the Residency. His experience with the guerillas was that feeling against the communists was extremely high because of the Madiun revolt and that it was dangerous to be a communist. He admits there is a small communist concentration near Klaten, but considers it weak.

Budiardjo also pointed out that practically all the Madiun prisoners released on 19 December were not real communists and were rapidly incorporated in the guerilla forces of the nationalists.

4. On the morning of 6 July I was driven around the city by the Sultan of Jogjakarta. Most of the city is undamaged but in the southern section where, according to the Sultan, there was continuous fighting during the occupation, many houses have been destroyed. We next proceeded to Prambanan on the eastern boundary of the Jogjakarta Residency. The road along which, according to Republican reports, no Dutch convoy had been allowed to pass without attack, is now quiet; we had no armed escort. The town of Prambanan bears ample evidence of the past six months' fighting.

Every building has been destroyed. However, the market has now returned to normal and we mingled and talked to the people without incident. On the way along, we also visited some of the erstwhile Dutch posts now occupied by the TNI. The garrisoning of these posts must have been a truly unenviable task for the Dutch troops, who apparently only occasionally left their strongholds for periodic sweeps of the surrounding country side.

5. The President and the other Republican leaders arrived at Maguwo airfield at approximately 1 p.m. on 6 July. The party was welcomed by the Sultan. After inspecting the TNI guard of honour, still dressed in their tattered guerilla uniforms, President Sukarno and Vice-President Hatta greeted a few specially selected local notables and the members of the Commission before driving to the city.

6. Crowds line the five miles from the airfield to the Presidential Palace which was guarded by soldiers stationed at 30 yards interval. The crowd appeared enthusiastic and orderly. Red and white flags were carried and displayed everywhere even on cycles.

7. The principal ceremonies connected with the return of the Republican Government were held at the Presidential Palace.

President Sukarno, replying to a fiery and long-winded address of welcome by the Vice-Chairman of the Working Committee and a more restrained welcome from the Chairman of the committee for the restoration, was brief. He said the Republican Government had been able to return to Jogjakarta because of two main factors, the strength of the Indonesian people and the support of the international community. Such support could be seen, for example, in the work of the Security Council's Commission in Indonesia. In conclusion, President Sukarno stressed that only by unity would the people achieve their common aims. The speech, which was broadcast and relayed by loudspeakers, was not intended to, and did not, evoke a strong response.

PROBLEMS OF SUKARNO AND HATTA 8. It is evident that Sukarno and Hatta will face many problems, particularly in the initial period. There is a bitterness against the Dutch which did not exist before December 19th, and a confusion of thinking after six months of dislocation both of which will make a concerted policy difficult. The military reaction is a good example. The TNI are convinced they alone are responsible for the restoration of Jogjakarta and are reluctant to cease fighting. Their conviction is understandable, as is their underestimate of the importance of the activities of the civil administration which made their resistance possible, and of the international pressures which have effectively restricted the Dutch. Simatupang, who can be regarded as one of the more moderate TNI leaders is obviously reluctant to become a member of the delegation again. His present view is: 'Fighting the Dutch is better than trying to negotiate with them'. The TNI difficulty could be solved if the TNI leaders could be convinced that the Dutch are now pursuing a new policy. Simatupang repeatedly asked:

'But have the Dutch changed?' The difficulty is that the attitude of many Dutch individuals, of the press and in particular of the army, [tend to raise considerable doubts as to whether] [2] there has been any real change of heart. Already, for example, there are reports from Holland of political machinations designed to undermine the present policy. Romme, the power behind the Catholic Party, is continuing as the arch plotter of anti-Republican policy and his protege Beel and son-in-law Sassen are undoubtedly energetic lieutenants. There is a real danger that the agreements already negotiated by Van Royen could be sabotaged after the event as was Linggadjati. [3]

As I have stated in earlier letters, I believe Dutch policy has changed but I am worried about the attitude of the Dutch people generally. The restoration of the Republican capital and the supply of arms to the Republican police are convincing evidence of a new approach. I also feel that the failure so far to replace General Spoor is a good sign, as are the reported resignations of Major-General Meyer and Colonel van Langen, respectively territorial commander, Central Java and brigade commander, Jogjakarta. However, the more concrete signs of a new policy that can be shown to the Republicans, the less difficulty will their leaders have in achieving a reasonable cessation of hostilities and, what is all-important, Republican unity. In particular the Republicans are looking for assurances on two main points:

(a) Preservation of the TNI and its incorporation as a nucleus in the federal army, and (b) The final transfer of sovereignty to the USI this year as a result of the RTC.

10. Because of the present uncertainty, Dutch cooperation in maintaining Jogjakarta as a going concern and in helping to maintain communications between Jogjakarta and other parts of Indonesia and the outside world, is of special importance. The bitterness created during the last six months has made it impossible at this stage for the Republicans to welcome the Dutch in the Residency. All Dutch inhabitants have been evacuated. This must gradually be changed if the cooperation and understanding necessary for a settlement of the dispute is to be achieved.

Unfortunately the local Dutch authorities have been responsible for a number of incidents which have not helped matters. The opening paragraph of this letter provides a good example. More important, by banishing a number of Magelang families to Jogjakarta, the Dutch have caused a good deal of mistrust and the suspicion that Jogjakarta is to be sealed off and isolated as was the Republic before 19 December.

11. Much therefore depends on the ready flow of supplies from the Netherlands to the Residency. So far, informal agreement has been reached on practically all the technical details, the re- establishment of the KLM service being the notable exception. The Commission agrees that this understanding should be formalised as early as possible in the interest of both parties. The Republic requires an assurance that needed supplies will be forthcoming and the Netherlands an assurance that if supplies are dissipated, the Dutch will not be held responsible for subsequent shortages. One possible danger I foresee is that Netherlands authorities may seek to place the Republic in the same position as the other negaras they have created and expect them to go cap in hand to their federal agencies. Such an attitude would of course be bitterly resented by the Republicans.

12. Assuredly the sooner there is a comprehensive settlement the better. In the meantime there is a possibility that the Republican cabinet will be reorganized to give the Sultan responsibility under the President and Vice-President for administration of the Residency. Such a move would release Hatta for the vital duties of negotiating with the federalist Indonesians and subsequently with the Dutch.

POSSIBLE PROGRAM 13. The KNIP is meeting almost immediately but there is naturally some delay in assembling important members. The Republican mission headed by Leimena is reported to have contacted the Emergency Government in Sumatra on 6 July at 1400 hours. An official report is expected soon. Until Sjafruddin and some of his associates have been brought to Jogjakarta, I do not believe that the Government will be able to take any important decisions. There is no reason to expect any hitch with Sjafruddin other than the time lag required to bring him to Jogjakarta. The UNCI plane will be used to make this lag as short as possible.

CEASE-FIRE 14. It can therefore be expected that the Government will not decide on the cease-fire for at least some days. Republican leaders have agreed they will press ahead but I expect delay. As mentioned earlier in this letter there is a good deal of confusion in Jogjakarta which will have to be cleared up before a common policy can be agreed upon, and before the support of the army can be assured, Sudirman was expected to arrive in Jogjakarta today.

From Simatupang I gained the impression that the army leaders do not oppose the three documents which have been drafted for the cease hostilities, but that they do not think they go nearly far enough. As already emphasized, there are two dangers. Firstly, opponents of the present Netherlands policy will be quick to attack the Republic if there is any hitch in the cease-fire and to make political capital of this at The Hague. On the other hand, attempts by the Republican leaders to take a strong line on the cease-fire without careful preparation could seriously weaken their position and create divisions in the Republic.

INTER-INDONESIAN CONFERENCE 15. There is no reason why the inter-Indonesian Conference should be delayed and I expect an early invitation to be issued by the President to all federalist leaders to come to Jogjakarta. There is reluctance on the part of some federalists to visit the Republican capital, but it is clearly desirable that the inter- Indonesian Conference should at least open its sessions there.

Hatta and some of the delegation believe that the Conference can be completed quickly and need only agree on general principles.

Other members feel that it is desirable to work out detailed understandings with the federalists so that there can be no hitches at The Hague Conference. I agree with the second view as it will obviously be much easier for the Indonesians to reach agreement at Jogjakarta than at The Hague. It is most important that Hatta should lead the negotiations on behalf of the Republic because of his standing and influence with the federalists.

16. The federalists have a working paper on the important subject of the provisional federal government to which sovereignty will be transferred by the Netherlands. Their draft is very much influenced by the BIO decree [4] and federalists are likely to insist on the establishment of a provisional parliament and even a provisional senate, both in my opinion an unnecessary waste of resources in view of the shortage of suitable Indonesian administrators.

ROUND TABLE CONFERENCE 17. No further details regarding the RTC are available. I still feel most strongly that there will be delays beyond 1 August. The size of the proposed delegations is somewhat dismaying. The federalists propose to send no less than 70 people and the Republicans are now talking in terms of 40 odd. There will therefore be a lot of show but the main work will have to be done in small and select groups.

INTERVIEW WITH VAN ROYEN 18. Attachment I [5] is the translation of an article in the 'Nieuwsgier' on an interview Dr. van Royen gave over Radio Indonesia. It is a useful contribution at this stage.

VISITING JOURNALISTS 19. In my letter [6] of 24 June, I referred to the fifteen journalistic 'trained seals' at present touring Indonesia as guests of the Dutch. Some of their recent work has been most unfortunate. For instance, H.R. Knickerbocker is credited with having said in an interview that Sukarno 'reminded him of Hitler'.

The latest effort is an attack, by William Newton of Scripps Howard, upon the Commission's senior military advisors and indirectly upon the Commission itself. I attach a translation of the 'Het Dagblad' report [7] of his despatch. Needless to say, there is no basis whatever to the charges that reports from the field are 'distorted' in favour of the Republicans. In point of fact, consolidation of reports from the field, for the benefit of the Commission is undertaken by the Commission's Military Executive Board, and the influence of the senior Belgian, British and French observers often makes it difficult to avoid bias in the other direction. Also attached are Brigadier Prior's comments on Newton's article. [8]

20. Fortunately, the news agencies are all represented here by experienced correspondents, who have spent considerable periods in Indonesia and whose objective and factual reporting is doing a great deal to offset the effects of the fifteen guest performers.

21. You will notice that Newton refers to the 'report' of Captain C.G. Williams. I should be extremely glad to learn the full facts regarding this report as requested in my K. 322. [9]

1 Document 453.

2 Words in square brackets inserted by hand.

3 See Appendix I in Volume XI.

4 See note 1 to Document 74.

5 Attached I was a translation of a Nieuwsgier report dated 8 July of radio broadcast by Van Roijen entitled 'Chaos in Indonesia can only be prevented by cooperation'.

6 Critchley's letter to Burton dated 24 June reported that fifteen US journalists were visiting Indonesia under Dutch sponsorship.

7 Attached II was a translation of an article from Het Dagblad dated 7 July and entited 'How Facts on Indonesia are Distorted by UNCI'. It reported the opinion of a correspondent of the Scripps- Howard Combination that Colonel Carlock and Brigadier Prior had been reported 'partial' and 'personal' views to the Security Council.

8 The reference was to a memorandum dated 8 July from Prior to Critchley seeking to refute the "Disclosures" By Mr. Newton, the Scripps-Howard correspondent.

9 Dispatched on 23 June, it asked the Department of External Affairs for confirmation of a report in Vrije Volk on 23 June purporting to set out the contents of a report by Captain G.C.

Williams, an Australian military observer, to his 'superiors in Australia on events in Indonesia in the past years'.

[AA : A1838, 401/1/2/6, ii]