We have spoken with Lim Bian Kie since he returned from his trip to the United States. (Harry Tjan was present.) The following were some of the main points that emerged.
Lim said that his discussions with Duncan Campbell in New York had been very useful. He had also spoken to the Japanese, U.S. and French delegations. He said that he considers it likely that the subject of Portuguese Timor will be raised in the Committee of Twenty-four in the course of 1975, but probably not until after the elections in Portugal in March. The Indonesians expect that the Committee of Twenty-four would then invite representatives from the three political parties in Portuguese Timor to put their views to the Committee. Lim is rather concerned about the impact that Ramos Horta is likely to make on the Committee, and that there will be nobody in Apodeti capable of matching him. Lim thinks it likely that the Committee of Twenty-four will decide to send a visiting mission to Portuguese Timor, quite possibly before the General Assembly meets. He said that, unlike the visit to Cocos, a trip to Portuguese Timor would be attractive to members of the Committee, as it would probably pass through Hong Kong or Singapore. As such, the Indonesians expect that the African members of the Committee will be enthusiastic about a visiting mission.
Lim has gone into the composition of the Committee of Twenty-four in some detail and is not encouraged by what he sees. In particular, he is worried by the presence of black Africans, who tend to equate self-determination with independence. In this respect, he felt that Mr Malik's remarks about independence had been most unfortunate.1 Malik was, however, toeing the line.
Lim expects that the outcome of these UN initiatives will probably be a referendum in Portuguese Timor towards the middle of 1976. This is the timing that the Indonesians themselves favour. It is neither too long to allow the development of a strong independence movement, nor too short for the Indonesians to influence the situation. Lim feels that if the Indonesians cannot influence matters in the direction they want within 18 months, they will be unable to do so at all.
Lim said that by 1976 it should be possible for Indonesia to gauge fairly accurately what the likely outcome of a plebiscite would be. If it was clear that the territory would not vote for incorporation into Indonesia, Lim said that the use of force could not be ruled out. (Harry Tjan agreed.) He spoke of the possibility of fomenting disorder in Portuguese Timor and of the Indonesian forces stepping in to salvage the situation at the request of certain sections of the population.
I asked Lim whether, in contemplating this possibility, Indonesia had taken full account of international reaction to such a step. It would certainly put Australia in a difficult position. Lim stressed that it would be very much a last resort, but that security considerations were overriding. I also asked him whether Indonesia was not exaggerating the security difficulties it might have with an independent Portuguese Timor, and whether they had considered, as an alternative to the use of force, the prospects of gaining a preponderant influence in an independent Portuguese Timor-which might well become a kind of Indonesian satellite. Lim indicated that the latter was not a real alternative for the Indonesians.
It is evident that Indonesian plans to influence the development of political thinking in Portuguese Timor are well advanced. Lim spoke of the possibility of sending in considerable numbers of Indonesian Timorese into the Portuguese half, where they would go undetected. There were also the Catholic links, and the Indonesians would try to keep the border as open as possible to permit free movement. Lim made it clear, however, that the operation would be a considerably more difficult one than that in West Irian. He said that even if Ali Murtopo became Minister for the Interior, he would continue to have charge of the operation.
On Ali Murtopo's visit to Lisbon, Lim said that they were concerned about the possibility that Portugal's attitude towards the decolonisation of Portuguese Timor might have changed since the resignation of President Spinola. They are worried that the swing to the left in Portugal will produce a less favourable attitude towards the right-wing regime in Indonesia and consequently to the possibility of handing the territory in Timor over to the Indonesian Government. We told Lim in general terms of Cooper's conversation with Campinos on 7 October,2 in which Campinos took a rather harder line on Portuguese Timor than he appeared to have with Frans Seda.3 Lim was not at all surprised by this, and said that it was precisely the type of change that they had feared. I must say that I am inclined to agree with Lim, and that Cooper may be mistaken in thinking that the Indonesians exaggerate the degree of agreement reached earlier with Campinos. It is more probable that Campinos is simply piping a different tune. I also feel that Cooper is rather too disparaging about Ali's judgement in his O.LB462.4
Ali is a very skilful operator and is not easily misled-although he does not always express himself clearly and is quite capable of misleading others.