35 Submission to Whitlam

Canberra, 23 September 1974


Portuguese Timor

The accompanying series of telegrams from our Embassy in Jakarta and our Mission to the United Nations in New York about Portuguese Timor report information which gives us cause for concern. The most important information is in Jakarta telegram O.JA4892 of 19 September1 reporting that the Indonesians have established contact with the Portuguese Deputy Foreign Minister (Campinos) with whom they have agreed that the two countries should work towards forming a joint Portuguese-Indonesian administration of Portuguese Timor. Ali Murtopo is to visit Lisbon early next month for talks with Spinola, the Portuguese Foreign Minister and the Minister for Inter-territorial Co-ordination. Campinos is reported also to have expressed agreement with the Indonesian view that Portuguese Timor should become part of Indonesia. The Indonesians appear apprehensive lest we might initiate action on Portuguese Timor in the United Nations; and it was envisaged that Mr Malik and Ali Murtopo's private secretary, Liam Bian Kie, would be in touch with Senator Willesee and our people in New York. The first contacts have already been made.2

  1. There are two main points of concern in these reports:-
    1. They seem to ignore, or at least play down the need for an act of self-determination by the inhabitants of Portuguese Timor-and on the Indonesian part they seem not to have taken into account your own comments on this point to President Soeharto.
    2. The reports seem to indicate some misunderstanding between the Portuguese and the Indonesians as to what their respective views are on Portuguese Timor. The Portuguese seem to be saying that the Indonesians are not interested in Portuguese Timor, while we know that they are; and the Indonesians seem to think that the Portuguese are content for Portuguese Timor to become part of Indonesia, while Portuguese public statements indicate that the Portuguese are attached to the principle of self-determination in Portuguese Timor and consider that only a minority of Timorese support integration into Indonesia.
    Meanwhile there are reports indicating that political activity about the future of Portuguese Timor is picking up. The leader of the Timorese Independence Party, Horta, was to have held a public demonstration in Dili last week to oppose integration with Indonesia. Radio Australia reports that 4000 people took part and we are checking on this report. In Lisbon a demonstration was to have been held on Saturday supporting complete independence for Portuguese Timor. The United Nations Secretariat has received a telegram from what it regards as a very small Maoist group in Timor in favour of independence.3
  2. For the Minister's discussions in New York with the Indonesians and in particular for his discussion with Mr Malik, he will have to hand the telegrams attached. He also is aware of your own discussions with President Soeharto and the subsequent documents which have been issued by the Department on policy towards Portuguese Timor. It seems important, however, that the Minister (and Mr Furlonger in Jakarta) as well as others who may become involved in discussions with the Portuguese and Indonesians about Portuguese Timor should have guidance from you about your reactions to these latest developments in the light of your recent conversation with President Soeharto.Attached for your consideration is a draft telegram to the Minister in New York repeated to Mr Furlonger in Jakarta.

[NAA: A11443, [1]]