231 File Note by Taylor

Jakarta, [15] September 1975

SECRET

President Soeharto & FRETILIN

Mr Dan and I in the course of our recent discussions with Tjan have twice asked about the President's attitude towards a declaration of independence by a FRETILIN-controlled East Timor.

  1. On the first occasion Tjan said that the President would not see a FRETILIN declaration as reason enough for unilateral Indonesian action. The people of Portuguese Timor had a perfect right to the Government they wanted and, provided Indonesian security were not threatened, Indonesia should respect that right. [Indonesia would not recognise their independence though. It would not be difficult to quarantine Portuguese Timor which would be so weak that it could not be independent.]1 This had, according to Tjan, been the President's reply to a similar question to ours from Moerdani.
  2. Tjan gave much the same reply on 1 September when we asked him again. However, he said that the President had indicated to Moerdani that he (Moerdani) could take care of such a development. The heavy implication of Tjan's comments was that the President was suggesting to Moerdani that, in the event of a FRETILIN independence action would need to be taken to ensure that there was justification enough for Indonesian intervention. (Indonesia was clean if the President was clean.)
  3. On another occasion Tjan described the President's attitude towards dubious activities as one of covering his eyes with open fingers (or looking through open fingers).

[NAA: A10463, 801/13/11/1, xiv]