Skip to main content

Historical documents

287 Landale to Burton

Departmental Dispatch Hag 56/48 THE HAGUE, 25 October 1948



The resignation of Dr. van Mook from his position as Lt. Governor
General of Indonesia was in a sense bound to produce speculation,
controversy and rumours here. Ever since he took over the reins of
government in Indonesia, he has enjoyed a Jekyll and Hyde
reputation. He has been accused by various sections of the press
of acting under British influence, of being dominated by the
Netherlands Labour party, and, inference at any rate, of wishing
to set up a Far Eastern Empire with himself as a 'Constitutional

2. Whatever set of circumstances finally led up to his
resignation, and at the moment these are not entirely clear, one
must not forget that the Dutch are to some extent unused to the
existence of a powerful political figure. True they had their
Colyn before the war, but the very nature of their present
political system with its numerous parties most of which have
religious backgrounds, favours the rule of the safe as opposed to
the brilliant man. Van Mook's dominating position then may have in
some measure fanned the fires of controversy.

3. I have in my cable No. 153 [1] briefly reported the press
reaction to his resignation. I propose now to deal with this more
fully. The attitude of the official Socialist paper 'HET VRIJE
VOLK' may be summarized as follows:- 'Dr van Mook's resignation is
the result of an irresponsible policy conducted from The Hague. It
is impossible to guess what the results may be. We can only fear
the worst.' The two influential Liberal papers 'ALGEMEEN
favour of the resignation but believe that the timing of his
decision was unfortunate. The independent Socialist paper 'HET
PAROOL' writes:- 'This decision has put The Hague in a very
difficult position but it cannot have been so surprising, because
the sudden generosity shown in The Hague towards the Federal
representatives, proved that the Netherlands Government was in a
hurry to prepare the Interim Government in order to sack the Lt.

Governor General. if only the Dutch Government had not undermined
Van Mook's position, he would have been willing to help his
successor and train him in his difficult task. But the Dutch
Government did not think it worth while to meet the Lt. Governor
General halfway.' The other independent Socialist paper 'HAAGSCH
DAGBLAD' reveals that the new Minister for Overseas Territories,
Mr. Sassen, the Christian Historic Union, and the Liberals, made
Dr. van Mook's resignation their primary condition for joining the
Cabinet. 'Dr. Beel's appointment in replacing Van Mook is nothing
less than horse trading' the paper adds. 'This Cabinet has been
born in insincerity and since we have no assurance that such horse
trading will not be conducted again, we are extremely worried
about the future.' The paper adds that since it has become known
that a number of high officials in Batavia have already expressed
their desire to leave when Dr. van Mook leaves, his successor Dr.

Beel is now engaging a number of experts in The Hague to accompany
him to Batavia.

4. There was no editorial comment in the two Dutch Progressive
Catholic Dailies 'DE TIJD' and HET BINNENHOF' but the Conservative
Catholic 'DE MAASBODE' definitely expressed satisfaction.

'Although Dr. van Mook clearly demonstrated his love for
Indonesia, his sympathy towards Holland has always been
conspicuous by its absence. We cannot be sorry that the Lt.

Governor General is leaving the stage, and his departure was
obviously imperative after what has recently happened. We have
never joined in the rumours that the Liberals and the Christian
Historics demanded his resignation as a condition for their co-
operation in the Cabinet. We do not want to refer this time to his
insulting habit of presenting The Hague with accomplished facts.

Neither do we intend to remind readers of his immediate
surroundings which only strengthen his stubborn attitude. We
merely wish to point out that Van Mook's policy was dangerous, in
so far as it threatened to disrupt the historic ties between
Holland and Indonesia. Van Mook and his henchmen were only
interested in Indonesia; the future of Holland left them stone
cold. Since all understanding for the Dutch point of view is
absent from Van Mook's ideas, he is unsuitable for the task which
he has to fulfil in these decisive times.' The Conservative paper
'TROUW, reminds its readers that the Conservatives have never had
much sympathy for the departing Governor General. His attitude
towards the Republic has been fatal. A point in his favour,
however, is the Federalist idea, for which he was entirely
responsible. The paper merely 'hopes' that Dr. van Mook's
departure will be an improvement but adds that there is little
reason for confidence in the appointment of Dr. Beel. 'The party
of Labour and the Catholics will undoubtedly reopen their battle
for policy' TROUW bitterly adds.

5. One unofficial theory I have heard for his resignation, is that
the Beel Government was collectively resentful of Van Mook's
independent activities in Indonesia but whenever the question of
Van Mook's removal was raised by the Minister for Overseas
Territories, Mr. Jonkman, it was shelved owing to the latter's
unpopularity with the rest of the Cabinet. When the new Government
was formed after the elections, Professor Romme, leader of the
Catholic Parliamentary party, Mr Sassen, the present Minister for
Overseas Territories, and Mr. Tilanus, leader of the Christian
Historical party (according to this report) wishing to ensure that
policy for Indonesia was directed from The Hague, pledged their
support only on condition that Dr. van Mook resigned.

6. It is as yet not possible to sift fact from rumour or
conjecture, but there are fairly good grounds for supposing that
the immediate reason for his resignation was because he could not
agree with the Netherlands Government's intention of instituting a
Federal Interim Government in Indonesia, at the earliest possible
moment. It would appear that he envisaged a more gradual process.

1 Dispatched on 14 October.

[AA:A4231/2, 1948 THE HAGUE]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top