157 Letter from Dan to Joseph

Jakarta, 21 July 1975


[matter omitted]

You wish to be sure that what Tjan says to us is Indonesian Government policy. So do we. You know that one of the toughest tasks of an Australian diplomat is to discover the sources and content of Indonesian Government policy (on any subject). As an Embassy I do not think our record is too bad on that score. As for Tjan, with his connections with Ali Murtopo, Yoga Sugama, Benny Moerdani and Mashuri, I have no doubt that he speaks with great authority on Portuguese Timor. You know that Ali and Yoga are the central figures in the operation. Tjan is a close adviser and confidant of Ali's. (One of Ali's main offices in Jakarta is just down the corridor from Tjan's office in the Centre-which is Ali's, and to a certain degree the President's, 'think tank'.) Tjan and Lim Bian Kie, Ali's private secretary, are as close as brothers. Yoga is the effective Chairman of the Special Committee on Portuguese Timor and Ali is his deputy in Bakin (on paper at least). Ali heads the OPSUS operation which has the special tasks [and] responsibilities for Portuguese Timor. Lim Bian Kie is a main OPSUS operational man and Tjan is a leading adviser.1

What further evidence can one provide of Tjan's bona fides? Tjan does not always speak from memory. He frequently reads to us from the actual records of secret meetings on Portuguese Timor. He has in his possession classified documents on the subject. He sometimes receives phone calls from leading personalities (Ali, Yoga) while we are in his office. Just before I arrived in his office on that day last February2 he had received a phone call from Yoga about the newspaper reports of the secret military plan for Portuguese Timor.

You may ask why he tells us so much. In the first place there is the remarkable relationship that the Embassy has built up over the years. This has taken time, and much effort by many of our people. Tjan respects us, and is confident in us. He speaks to us as he speaks to no one else. This does not mean that we accept everything he says as gospel or necessarily as Indonesian Government policy. Much has to depend on our own interpretation and judgement. We do our best to cross-check the particular subject elsewhere-in Bakin, the Foreign Ministry and, depending on the subject, in Hankam. With regard to Portuguese Timor we have enough evidence from other3 sources to know that what Tjan is telling us is accurate. (The4 sources are fascinating. I have suggested that someone in Australia might compile a report exclusively from these sources.)

There is a very clear implication in your message5 that Tjan is not fully seized of the implications for Australia/Indonesia relations of armed intervention by Indonesia in Portuguese Timor. The implication follows that we have been remiss in telling Tjan of the Australian Government's serious concerns. You will have noticed it reported in our telegram6 that of all the countries in the world only two had been singled out as likely to express the greatest concern in the event of Indonesian military action. One of these was Australia. Had Tjan not mentioned Australia in this context, or if he had dismissed Australia as unlikely to protest too loudly you would have been justified in spelling out, as you did, all the points you wanted conveyed to Tjan. But he has already acknowledged that Australia would be their greatest problem. What more can we do? We tell him-and others-at every opportunity of our worries and our fears. We shall continue to preach to the converted but in this respect we cannot get a better result than the one already achieved.

Incidentally, Portuguese Timor is becoming almost a taboo subject for key Embassies here-Singapore and the other ASEAN countries, the United States and Netherlands. Few Embassies now even bother to raise the subject with us. The British Embassy's views are also interesting which you shall soon see. They know what is inevitable, and they attach a higher importance to their long term interests in Indonesia. They want to stand at a comfortable distance. At the same time Australia seems to be getting more and more active and increasingly involved as a party principal. Are we trapping ourselves in a comer?

[NAA: A1838, 3006/4/3, v]