148 Record of Conversation Between Curtin, Taylor and Tjan

Jakarta, 18 June 1975


Portuguese Timor

Tjan said that the Portuguese proposal for consideration at the Macao meeting was essentially a variation of the FRETILIN/UDT Coalition program. It was unacceptable to APODETI and to Indonesia. He discussed APODETI's possible tactics at the meeting (which he thought would be held soon, despite the objections of FRETILIN) in familiar terms although a slight variation of the 'worst case' scenario was offered. Tjan said if APODETI did not get its way in Macao, it would, through one of the kings or chiefs in the border region, establish a 'government', and seek support from Indonesia. Indonesia would refuse support, but would allow 'volunteers' to assist the new government. There would of course be plenty of them.

  1. In general, Tjan said that things were now going reasonably well for APODETI. Because of the attitude adopted by FRETILIN, APODETI appeared to be constructive and helpful, whereas FRETILIN was the negative element in the situation.
  2. In answer to a question Tjan said that there may have been solutions other than integration acceptable to Indonesia, but it was now too late. A decision that there must be integration had been taken early in the piece, and it was now not possible to change. Tjan was categoric in saying that there was no other solution now.1
  3. Tjan said that 'Australia' had helped push Indonesia in the direction of a decision on integration after the April 25 revolution in Portugal. A large range of Australian journalists and academics thought that the most logical solution was integration.
  4. Asked about possible overseas reaction to the use of force by Indonesia in Portuguese Timor, Tjan said that Indonesia expected quite a hostile reaction from most African countries. These countries did not know anything about the situation and saw it in terms of 'antiĀ­ colonialism' and the struggle of the black man against the white man. Indonesia, unfortunately was the white man. Many African representatives at the United Nations took no notice of instructions from their governments, even if they got them, and would hardly be likely to sympathise with the Indonesian position. There was thus little point in Indonesia applying pressure on the governments. In any event, Tjan did not think that Indonesia would have much success in persuading African governments to its point of view. Tjan, however, appeared not to be at all concerned about this; in any event he appeared not to have thought very much about the detail of how the United Nations might enter itself in the matter.
  5. Tjan said that the ASEAN countries would prove to be no problem if Indonesia were to integrate Portuguese Timor by force, nor would India. He doubted too, whether the United States would be very concerned. He pointed to the lack of United States reaction to the North Vietnamese 'invasion' of South Viet-Nam. Tjan said that if the Americans and others got too upset, the Indonesian[s] could always turn elsewhere for what they wanted. (But at another point in the conversation, when Tjan referred to Indonesia's move towards adopting a more 'non-aligned' foreign policy, he said that there was no possibility that Indonesia would turn to the USSR.) The only country the Indonesian Government was slightly concerned about was Australia. While General Ali and his group understood the pressures that might be applied to the Australian Government publicly to condemn Indonesian action, other forces in the Indonesian Government would not. (Tjan was implying quite clearly that some sections of the Indonesian Government would favour a less close relationship with Australia if Australia were to be too adversely critical of Indonesian actions.)


[NAA: A10463, 8011/13/11/1, x]