432 Cablegram to Canberra

Jakarta, 16 March 1976


East Timor-Self-Determination and Integration

When I saw General Moerdani about the journalists over the weekend (our JA54141) he used the phrase 'after integration' on several occasions.

  1. I asked him whether, in using this phrase, he envisaged the early integration of East Timor with Indonesia. He clearly did and I asked the question merely to elicit his views on the subject.
  2. Moerdani said integration was inevitable. There was no alternative to it and it would take place this year.
  3. I said that if Indonesia did not withdraw its forces and if an act of self-determination was conducted with Indonesian forces still in East Timor this would cause criticism of Indonesia. In fact, if it were to become simply an act of confirmation of the integration of the territory into Indonesia this would not be acceptable to many members of the United Nations. General Moerdani said if Indonesia withdrew its forces there would only be a 'return to bloodletting and chaos.' Did we seriously want this? It might be 'tough for Sani for a while' but Indonesia would 'ride out' any criticisms which arose in New York. I said this situation could create further difficulties for Australia and tensions in our relations with Indonesia, given the Government's public commitment to a withdrawal of Indonesian forces and to a genuine act of self-determination. Moerdani said it would be regrettable if we drifted even further apart than we had because of Timor. Indonesia had looked to Australia as [a] neighbour and a friend for understanding. It had been disappointed. But Indonesia would have the support or the acquiescence of other countries in the region. That point made however, Moerdani said that he had recently participated in a high level discussion about 'the act of self-determination which would lead to integration' and it had been decided that as internationally acceptable an act as possible should be conducted.
  4. I asked Moerdani whether he could give me any details of the type of act of self­-determination planned and of the timetable for it. Moerdani said Indonesia attached importance to dates. The plan was that the proclamation of integration should be linked with the National Day celebrations on the 17 August. A Bill amending the constitution to include East Timor would be passed by the DPR on the 15 August so that the President could refer to the integration of East Timor by popular consent in his traditional Address to the Nation in Parliament on the 16 August.
  5. The process which would lead up to this act of self-determination would be as follows:
    1. The 13 districts of East Timor would send elected representatives (probably between 40 and 50) to a meeting in Dili to determine whether East Timor should be independent or become a part of Indonesia. These representatives would include Fretilin (that is ex-Fretilin) supporters.
    2. If it chose the latter, the meeting in Dili would send representatives to Jakarta to convey to the DPR and the Government of Indonesia its decision in favour of integration.
    3. The PGET would send invitations to the Committee of Twenty-Four to observe the meeting in Dili and perhaps the selection of representatives to attend that meeting.
    4. The DPR and the Government of Indonesia would send a team to East Timor to check with people (probably only those in the main population centres) whether they really wanted integration.
    5. The Committee of Twenty-Four would also be invited to attend any debate in the DPR on the POET's request for integration and any DPR and Indonesian Government's representative's consultations with the people in East Timor.
    6. The DPR would discuss the findings of its team and if they favoured integration pass the Bill amending the constitution and declaring East Timor a part of Indonesia.
    7. The Government oflndonesia would accept the integration of East Timor, presumably in the President's speech to the Nation on 16 August.
  6. Moerdani who gave me this information confidentially said he hoped Australia would be able to accept this process. Given the present situation in Timor and its lack of political institutions and infrastructure he said this was the best Indonesia and the PGET could do to accommodate international pressure.
  7. Incidentally this act of self-determination was drafted by Tjan who has also gone through it with us. Tjan indicated that the process could begin in April. He said that a PGET delegation was assembling in Jakarta to consider going to New York to propose the act of self­-determination. In doing so, of course, they would refer only to point (i) in paragraph 6 above. According to Moerdani the delegation is likely to include Rajah of Atsabe, Thomas Gonsalves and Mario Carrascalao.


[NAA: A10463, 801/13/11/1. xxi]