75 Record of Conversation Between Tjan and Taylor

Jakarta, 30 January 1975

SECRET AUSTEO

Coalition Between UDT and FRETILIN

As Harry [Tjan] had not seen a copy of the Joint Communique between UDT and FRETILIN1 I gave him one, stressing that I could not guarantee its correctness and noted that there were several words missing. After a quick reading Harry said that the Communique appeared to be provocatively anti-Indonesian. It looked as though the coalition parties wanted independence handed to them without an act of self determination as had been the case in Mozambique and Angola.

  1. Referring to our conversation on 21 January, I asked what he thought the reaction of Indonesian policy makers would be. Harry thought the Communique would not help the moderate opinion and again launched into a description of what he said was the prevailing attitude of most members of the high level Special Committee established to deal with Portuguese Timor. Representatives from Foreign Affairs, Interior, BAKIN and HANKAM sat in this Committee. Ali Murtopo was a member. On this committee, he said, the HANKAM view tended to prevail. The popular arguments were those dealing with the security and stability of the region and the need to combat communism. Apparently the Committee has looked at the experience of Malta and seen how Russian influence has been introduced through Malta into NATO and the Mediterranean. If this would happen in Malta, why couldn't similar developments occur in an independent Portuguese Timor? Generally the Committee was very anti-communist and tended to see problems in black and white terms, i.e. if there were any chance of communist influence being exerted in Portuguese Timor then all efforts should be taken to prevent it. Harry said the President's approach was as far as possible to prevent problems developing rather than curing them when they arose. (Note: It is interesting to note that the Information Minister reporting to the press on the Cabinet Meeting on 28 January, which considered the security situation in 1975/76, said the President had told the meeting, 'we had better prevent rather than surmount security disturbances even though we are able to do so.')
  2. Harry said that the President's main concern in his approach to any problem was the development of Indonesia. Anything which detracted from that development was to be avoided. The President did not want to increase expenditure on defence to meet any continuing security threat that might be posed by a weak, independent Portuguese Timor. Therefore, it would be better to prevent such a threat from developing. (Note: The cost to Indonesia of integrating Portuguese Timor did not seem to have been taken into account.)
  3. Harry again mentioned the disillusionment of the President with his treatment from the Americans in particular, but Harry implied, also from other western countries. According to Harry, the President said to the Information Minister, Mashuri, several weeks ago, 'I have placed myself in the orbit of the west, and what have I got in return?' In this connection Harry reiterated that the main issues in the President's mind were the lumping of Indonesia with other OPEC countries by the US Congress in restricting trade preferences and by the US Government in its attitude to soft loans by the ADB and IBRD. Harry also said that the President and members of the Special Committee on Portuguese Timor had difficulty in understanding why Australia placed so much emphasis on the need for an act of self determination, apparently without concern to the possible threat to the stability of the region of an independent Portuguese Timor. It was because of his concern for the stability of the region that the President had told Mr Whitlam Australia should retain Christmas and Cocos Islands. In the view of some, Australia's position on Portuguese Timor was hypocritical. I said that the present Australian Government had always espoused the need for acts of self determination in the decolonisation process. As he would know feeling in Australia about the need for such an act in Portuguese Timor seemed to be growing. Apart from its own principles it was necessary for the Government to take account of this feeling. Harry repeated that he was only expressing views which he understood were held by some in senior positions in Indonesia.
  4. The President considered that Australia, as much as Indonesia, should be concerned with the stability of the region. That is why he had been, and remained, anxious to involve Australia in a military assistance program in Indonesia. It was not the size of that program that was so important, but the fact that through the program the President thought Australia had indicated its interest in and was participating in, maintaining the stability and security of the region.
  5. Harry said that since the establishment of the Special Committee, the Centre was not as involved in the day to day policy on Portuguese Timor as it had been earlier. He characterised the Centre's earlier involvement in terms of being a 'think tank', that is it suggested policy options and so on. The Centre was, however, occasionally required to produce papers for the Committee and, of course, Ali Murtopo was a member of the Committee.1

[matter omitted]

[NAA: Al0463, 801/13/11/1, vi]