385 Cablegram to Canberra

Jakarta, 18 December 1975


Portuguese Timor: United Nations Involvement

Alex Alatas, Malik's personal assistant, told the Ambassador when he was arranging to see Malik tomorrow about some of his recent statements, that the Indonesians here are pleased with Harry's statement to the Security Council.1 We appear to have recovered some ground in Jakarta since our vote in the General Assembly on Resolution Lll31, the consequent stage-managed demonstration at the Embassy and some of Malik's subsequent comments.

  1. In considering the questions raised in the telegram UN47892 it may be useful to have our brief assessment of the present Indonesian attitude.
  2. We believe that we should keep in mind that Indonesia has not changed its essential policy and that it will not withdraw from East Timor whatever the Security Council decides. It remains determined to integrate East Timor although it will do so as 'properly' and as 'legally' as it can from a presentational point of view.
  3. As has been the case for months and as we reported in our JA 17583 Indonesian policy is being conducted on two levels-the international diplomatic presentational level and on the actual level involving the achievement of Indonesia's policy objectives on the ground in East Timor. To a certain extent Malik and some other officials here as well as representatives of the Indonesian missions abroad, including Sani in New York, are charged with the conduct of the presentational level of Indonesian policy. The actual policy makers in Jakarta including the President, who are framing and executing the real policy however, look upon the United Nations consideration of Timor as something of a charade which they need to go through to ease as far as possible the international pressure on Indonesia while they continue to pursue their unchanged objective.
  4. Having decided on the need to use overt military force to defeat FRETILIN and achieve their policy objective of integration the Indonesians are not going to be diverted by the United Nations. Indonesia's immediate military objective seems to be to gain control of East Timor and establish a viable pro-Indonesian Administration. Until that has been achieved the Indonesians will not allow foreigners into East Timor. (We expect this will be a piecemeal exercise. For instance when Dili is sufficiently in pro-Indonesian hands foreigners may be allowed into the city.)
  5. Partly for presentational reasons Indonesia is looking for ways of associating the United Nations or some regional group with an eventual act of self-determination, the result of which would have been ensured during the period in which the Indonesian military seek to gain complete control of the Territory.
  6. Our information at present is that the Indonesians plan to have Dili administered by the pro-Indonesian parties by early January (it is now under military administration) and that they are thinking in terms of an act of self-determination (which Sunarso of BAKIN referred to as a 'referendum') in about March. The latter, especially, may be optimistic.

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