224 Minute from Mcintyre to Rowland

Canberra, 11 September 1975


Portuguese Timor: Likely UN Attitudes Towards Indonesian and/or Portuguese Actions I have thought up to now that it would be reasonably safe to assume that feeling in the UN as a whole would be inclined to be fairly tolerant of any Indonesian action to intervene physically and openly in Portuguese Timor-provided the Indonesians could make it appear a 'clean' action taken in order to preserve peace and stability in the region and to facilitate an orderly progress towards decolonisation through self-determination.

  1. I still think this is a fair assumption. Indonesia's standing throughout the UN is pretty good. It can expect generally sympathetic support from non-aligned countries, and particularly from Moslem countries. In addition, Anwar Sani is personally well respected as a moderate and constructive representative who held a substantial reputation during Indonesia's term on the Security Council.
  2. As for Portugal, what Harry has said about its popularity and standing in the UN is relevant.1 While its rating was substantially transformed following the coup last year, its weak performance since then and its messy domestic situation will have lost marks for it, and it will not earn any kudos if it simply dumps Portuguese Tunor in the UN's lap and washes its hands of the whole thing.
  3. But we should perhaps not take too much for granted. Pending evidence of the nature and capacity of whatever new government emerges, there is likely to be a certain amount of uneasiness in non-aligned and leftist quarters at the prospect of a switch from a progressive, anti-imperialist regime to one that looks more right-wing. This uneasiness could be compounded among the more fervent de-colonisers if it becomes apparent that the efforts of the dying regime to hand over the authority in Portuguese Timor to an actively leftist group claiming to represent a majority are being thwarted by Indonesia and perhaps by others. The statements of Major Mota 2 and the frequent communications addressed by Fretilin to the Committee of Twenty-Four Chairman Salim, with no parallel action from the other Timorese parties, are likely to be unhelpful in this regard.

[NAA: A1838, 3038/7/1, v]