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188 McIntyre to Burton

Minute CANBERRA, 9 March 1948


The Foreign Minister of the new Siamese Government has addressed a
Note to the Australian Consulate-General in the terms of the
attached telegram B36. The Note contains an undertaking that the
Siamese Government 'will continue to observe with care all its
treaty and other obligations', and looks forward to close and
cordial co-operation between Siam and Australia.

2. Identical Notes have been addressed by the Siamese Government
to representatives in Bangkok of other foreign Governments. A
number of these representatives have already made a formal
acknowledgment in the terms set forth in telegram B36. The
remainder are expected to do so, if they have not done so already.

3. This acknowledgment of the Siamese Note constitutes formal
recognition, as normally required under international law, of a
regime which has come into power by other than constitutional
means. (Not only was the Dhamrong Government ousted by a
revolutionary coup, but the constitutional framework of government
in Siam was subsequently altered).

4. No advantage is to be gained by Australia in withholding an
acknowledgment of the Siamese Note. The Siamese Government
promises to honour the peace treaty. Under that treaty it
undertook 'the payment to the Government of Australia of such
compensation for loss or damage suffered in respect ... of the
property rights and interests of all kinds in Siam of the
Government of Australia and of Australians whether held by them
individually or as members of firms, partnerships or companies ...

as appears reasonable and adequate to the Government of Australia
or to a Board, Committee or Commission approved by the Government
of Australia'. It also undertook to pay reasonable compensation to
Australian citizens 'for any loss or injury sustained by them
either as a result of their detention or internment (by the
Government of Siam), and to the dependents of any such Australians
whose death was occasioned by the acts of the Government of Siam
or their agents of subjects'. Australia is a member of the Claims
Committee set up to work out an claims for compensation in respect
of property and 'personal prejudice'. The Claims Committee is
still working on this task, and expects soon to be in a position
to present a claim to the Siamese Government. In the meantime the
Siamese Government merely repeats the undertaking of its
predecessor to pay the claims when they are presented. No question
of reparations or other outstanding issues from the peace treaty
are involved. On the other hand there are positive arguments in
favour of granting recognition without further delay:

(a) Australia has no longer any reason to treat Siam as anything
other than a friendly country. Our policy in general has been to
cultivate the friendship of the peoples of South East Asia and to
encourage them to adopt the practices of democracy. Of all
countries in the area none has shown more zeal than Siam in trying
to learn at least the forms of democracy.

(b) The new Government has come into power as a result of
elections which are a reasonable facsimile of democratic elections
and has just secured a solid vote of confidence in Parliament.

(c) To ignore the Note, particularly when all other countries
concerned are expected to acknowledge it, would look unnecessarily
pointed and would be regarded by the Siamese as a gratuitous

(d) Eastman will shortly have to have formal dealings with the
Government of Siam in connection with the compensation claims.

I feel strongly that a telegram on the lines of the attached be
sent to Bangkok. [1]

1 The draft telegram instructed Eastman, upon his return from
London, to acknowledge the note in terms similar to that used by
other representatives. But Burton returned McIntyre's memorandum
with the annotation: 'Seen:-I will send teleg[ram]'.

[AA:A1838/283, 451/3/1/1, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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