424 Record of Conversation Between Tjan and Taylor

Canberra, 11 February 1976

SECRET AUSTEO

Visit to Indonesia by Mr Fraser

[matter omitted]

  1. Tjan repeated what he had said recently, that he thought Mr Fraser would be very welcome in Indonesia at a convenient time for him and the President. There had been rumours that Mr Fraser planned to visit Singapore and possibly other ASEAN countries before visiting Indonesia. Tjan said that in terms of Australia's relations with Indonesia, this would be a mistake and would not be understood in Indonesia. The informal visit by Mr Fraser to Singapore after Tun Razak's funeral has caused no problems, except in so far as it led to suspicions that Singaporean and Australian leaders were discussing the situation in Indonesia in a misleading way. I said that my understanding was that Mr Fraser was considering a visit to Indonesia in July, possibly in conjunction with a visit to China and Japan. I had seen no suggestion that he would visit other ASEAN countries before visiting Indonesia.
  2. Tjan returned to the point about our alleged discussions with Singapore and said that in his discussions with Mr Peacock in Jakarta he had tried to get across the point that if we wanted to find out what was happening in Indonesia we should ask the Indonesians. He or members of his group were in a position to know what was going on and were authorised to keep Australia and several other countries informed. When they were not in a position to know, they would tell us and we could look elsewhere for other centrally placed groups. At present they were in the best position to know what was happening.

Timor

  1. In answer to a question about Indonesia's thinking on the possible nature of an act of self-determination in East Timor, Tjan said that not much thought had been given to this matter. Indonesia was waiting to see what Winspeare said in his report. If his proposals were not too expensive, then Indonesia would adopt them.
  2. As to the situation on the ground in Timor, only Ermera of the major towns remained in Fretilin control and then only because the pro-Indonesian forces had not done anything about it. IfWinspeare wanted to visit, then the pro-Indonesian forces would take it.
  3. I gave Tjan a copy ofMr Peacock's statement of 8 February.1 He asked why Mr Peacock was so keen that Australia participate in another debate with the Security Council, and I went through our policy with Tjan, noting that both the Prime Minister and the Minister were fully committed to it.

[matter omitted]

Visit to Dili

  1. I mentioned that we had heard that Malik might be flying some Ambassadors from Jakarta to Dili. Was this report correct? Tjan said he had not heard of it, but it would make sense in terms of Indonesia's policy. In any case he doubted whether it could happen before the end of February because of Malik's commitments with ASEAN meetings.

Internal Situation

  1. I told Tjan that I had heard rumours about a letter from five generals to the President seeking greater action against corruption. Tjan said he did not know of such a letter or who would have signed it. He went through a list of generals, commenting on the likelihood of their taking part in such an action.
    [matter omitted]
  2. I referred to another theory that the President had isolated himself from his advisers since Malari and thus was not fully aware, or in control, of what was going on in the country. Tjan agreed that Soeharto had raised himself above his closest advisers since Malari. That was his political style. Before Malari politics had been dominated by a battle for the number one adviser position. Such a situation did not exist now. Tjan did not think that the President was out of touch with what was going on.
  3. I asked who the President's main advisers were. Tjan said, on intelligence matters, Yoga ('not because he was head of BAKIN, but because of his personal relationship with the President'); on economic matters, Widjojo; on business matters, Lim;2 on military matters, Panggabean and Moerdani; on international affairs and politics in general, Ali Murtopo; and on personal and religious matters, Sudjono Humardani.
  4. Tjan commented that in the political in-fighting Ali was still the most successful.
  5. Asked about the President's health, Tjan said that Soeharto was now working at about 80% capacity. There was now less chance that he would change his decision to seek a further term as President than there had been in January.
  6. Tjan confirmed that lbnu Sutowo was finished. lbnu had quite serious asthma. On the day before he left for the United States he had ceased to breathe for two minutes.
  7. Wirjaso would probably succeed lbnu as President-Director of Pertarnina. He was now acting in the position and had taken over virtually all the responsibilities of the position. Tjan said it did not matter that he was not a general as he was acceptable to the generals. He was an expert in his field. The only question was whether he would be a good manager.
  8. I asked whether Tjan thought Moerdani would become Minister for Defence after Panggabean retired. Tjan said that Moerdani could become Minister for Defence at some time, but not yet. The Army was very conscious of its hierarchy and for Moerdani to become Minister soon would offend too many senior people. Tjan's view was that Moerdani, when he finished in Timor, would return to an Army post for a while before coming back to HANKAM and to a senior position. Service at relatively senior level was very important for political power in Indonesia. Lack of such service was one of Ali Murtopo's drawbacks. He had worked with Soeharto on political/intelligence matters for a long time and missed out on a good army post.
  9. Tjan confirmed that his expectation that Ali's standing in the army would improve during the next 12 months depended upon Moerdani. Moerdani was now in a position to promote officers. Those whom he promoted would of course be supporters of Moerdani and pro-Ali Murtopo. He was in a relatively good position in the army because he was considered by his contemporaries as an outstanding officer. There were, therefore, a large number of middle­-ranking officers who would support him if senior officers tried to prevent his progress.
  10. I mentioned that KOPKAMTIB seemed to be more in the news recently than usual. Tjan related this development to efforts being made to give the Indonesian regime a better image. For instance there had been the release of detainees and more would follow this year. Buyung Nasution had recently commented on the question of detainees. This had been good because it opened up the question again within Indonesia. The anti-smuggling and anti-corruption campaign also fitted into the picture of a more liberal and clean regime. Pang Lai Kim added that the first reaction to the anti-smuggling had been a reduction of the flow of merchandise to factories. Smuggling had been one way of getting relatively cheap goods to factories and with the introduction of this campaign, smugglers had lost confidence, at least for the time being. It was too early to say whether the anti-smuggling campaign would succeed.

[matter omitted]

[NAA: A1838, 3038/13/2/1, xii]