477 Quinn to Burton

Memorandum Hague 256/49 THE HAGUE, 25 August 1949

As reported in my telegram No. C. 5. [1] the Round Table Conference opened in The Hague shortly after 2 p.m. on Tuesday August 23rd. As was to be expected the opening proceedings were largely of a formal nature and the Conference was inaugurated by the Prime Minister, Dr. W. Drees, who welcomed the Delegates in a speech which after briefly rehearsing the history of previous negotiations, re-affirmed the desire of the Netherlands Government to carry out its decision to transfer sovereignty to the United States of Indonesia. This was an irrevocable resolution and did not rest 'on impulse and sentiment nor on an unwilling acquiescence in the superiority of circumstances', and although many in the Netherlands thought that the interests of all concerned would have been served if a more peaceful and gradual transition could have proved possible, 'there is no sense in overlooking the consequences of acceleration and the development which has set in as an after effect of the war' and the idea of Indonesia's sovereignty now demanded a speedy realisation. The Prime Minister also remarked on the need for the participants in the Conference to realise their responsibility and to avoid serving local or temporary interests. 'History will pass the final judgement on this Conference. Each party is exposed to the temptation to endanger the great goal for the sake of temporary success and momentary applause from a certain group of supporters.

I hope with all my heart that all delegates will have the strength to withstand this temptation.' The leader of the Republican Delegation, Dr. Mohammed Hatta, spoke in Indonesian and gave a brief exposition of the Indonesian Republicans' conception of Indonesia's position in relation to the Netherlands. 'No matter how strong the validity of the argument of the Netherlands Government that the Kingdom of the Netherlands is vested with the sovereignty of Indonesia, the Indonesian people regard and feel their country as being sovereign. They have a government which is subordinate to no alien government; they have their own army and their own police to guard law and order from aggression from within and without; they have their own currency issued bytheir government, and last but not least they have their own foreign policy... The Indonesian/Dutch issue is fundamentally a psychological problem which has its roots in colonial history and is rendered all the more complicated by the psychological conflict that has been going on for four years. For this reason further delay in the transfer of sovereignty, after reaching an agreement in this respect, will be felt by the Indonesian people as a political stratagem to continue colonial rule in Indonesia and will therefore cause the people to be suspicious of the Netherlands' intentions... The relations between Indonesia and the Netherlands in the future can only endure if they rest on a firm foundation of mutual understanding and mutual confidence.' Dr Hatta referred also to the maintenance of Netherlands economic interests in Indonesia on the basis of cooperation between the Netherlands and Indonesian governments. He pointed out that the Indonesian government's concept called for a policy of economic welfare for the people. Free Indonesia would no longer be a 'colony of natives as in the past, supplying coolies for low wages', but would demand 'a living wage and social security for her labourers in accordance with the situation in civilised countries', and the principle of freedom from want enunciated by President Roosevelt. However, a prosperous Indonesian people with substantial purchasing power would in the long run not be a detriment to the interests of foreign countries, particularly the Netherlands. On the contrary it would further their interests.' The next speaker was the chairman of the B.F.O., Sultan Hamid II of Pontianak, who also spoke in Indonesian. Hamid stressed the need for mutual trust and paid a tribute to the improvement resulting from the assistance given in the negotiations in Java by UNCI. He referred to the rise in nationalism in Egypt, in India, and in the Philippines as part of the development in which Indonesia was bound to participate. He mentioned the agreement at the inter-Indonesian Conference regarding the future of the Republic of East Indonesia which would be built up of a number of equivalent states with their own government and their own finances. The question of finance was very much in the minds of the Federalists. There were dangers of a severe inflation and there would need to be, in addition to the efforts of the Indonesians themselves to stabilise their economy, an injection of foreign credits.

Speaking on behalf of the Netherlands delegation, the Minister of Overseas Territories, Mr van Maarseveen, stressed that the purpose of the Netherlands delegation was to make the Conference succeed. 'The issue of the preliminary Conference in Indonesia has proved that it is possible for the parties to come to an agreement provided results of this preliminary conference, the realisation of which we can see here in part at this moment, are otherwise conscientiously observed and provided the principles about which an agreement was reached at Batavia, are adhered to both at the Conference and outside; provided the Conference intends furthermore to consider and safeguard in a reasonable manner the reasonable interest of all parties directly or indirectly concerned therein; provided that in all possible differences of opinion, the goodwill of the parties to come to a just and righteous solution prevails, the reaching of agreement will be in sight.' The Minister also referred to the present situation in these terms:

'During the negotiations for the transfer of sovereignty, may those who shortly are to form a free Indonesia, show to the world that Indonesia can govern itself in an orderly manner and that the authority necessary for that order can be produced and exercised by Indonesia itself.'

At the conclusion of the delegation speeches, the UNCI chairman of the week, Mr. T.K. Critchley, described briefly the part which the Commission have taken in bringing the preliminary negotiations to fruition. 'The United Nations Commission for Indonesia was intimately associated with the preliminary negotiations held in Batavia. Its members have come to The Hague to participate helpfully and actively in the Round Table Conference. Delegations may be assured that the Commission stands ready to place its experience and assistance at the disposal of all parties. We confidently hope our participation will conclude with an early report to the Security Council of the final success of the Conference.' The provisional Agenda and draft rules of procedure for the Conference were then adopted. On a proposal by Dr. Hatta, seconded by Sultan Hamid, the Prime Minister, Dr. Drees, was elected chairman of the Conference and on the proposal of the Minister of Overseas Territories, the leaders of the three delegations were elected vice-chairmen. Dr. M.J.K. Prinsen was confirmed in office as Secretary-General. The President, Dr. Drees, called on each of the three delegations to nominate three members who would sit with a representative of UNCI in a committee of 10 and with the following members this committee met on the following day.

Netherlands Delegation - Mr van Maarseveen - Mr Stikker - Dr van Royen Republican Delegation - Dr Hatta - Mr Rum - Mr Pringgodigdo B.F.O. Delegation - Sultan Hamid II - Mr Anak Agung Gde Agung - Mr Suparmo and Dr. A.J. Vleer (Secretary) UNCI members - Messrs. Cochran, Critchley and Herremans Five committees have been instituted:-

1) Committee for Political and Constitutional Affairs 2) Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs 3) Committee for Military Affairs 4) Committee for Cultural Affairs 5) Committee for Social Affairs The committees are to hold their first sessions on Friday morning at 10 a.m.

1 Dispatched on 23 August, it reported that the Round Table Conference had opened in a good atmosphere.

[AA : A1838, TS48/1/4/5, i]