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237 Memorandum from Gilchrist to Watt

Jakarta, 25 August 1952

Indonesia and the Colombo Plan

The Foreign Minister, Mr. Mukarto,1 told me on 22nd August (at a British Embassy dinner in honour of Mr. Malcolm Macdonald) that–

(a) he had submitted to Cabinet a proposal for Indonesian participation in the Colombo Plan;

(b) he personally was very much in favour of such participation;

(c) he had been lobbying (he used exactly that word) various members of Parliament to get Parliamentary support for participation;

(d) he thought that a majority of Parliamentary members now favoured such participation;

(e) he could not say when Cabinet would take a decision or put the matter before Parliament.

2. Mukarto said this in reply to my question 'Is there likely to be a decision by the Government soon regarding Indonesian participation in the Colombo Plan?' I subsequently mentioned that an opinion widely held in the diplomatic corps was that, if Indonesia decided to participate, the decision to do so would be timed by some 'balancing' announcement such as the appointment of Ambassadors to Peking or Moscow. He laughed and merely said, 'Is that so?'

3. Comment

(a) There seems no reason to doubt the accuracy of Mukarto's statements;

(b) If Indonesia's participation is subsequently announced, it will do great harm if Australian official or unofficial commentators start describing it as 'a victory for the West', a 'new link in the anti-Communist front', or 'a tribute to British and Australian diplomatic efforts'. Now is the time to brief Radio Australia on this, not afterwards (also responsible pressmen). Any comment on Indonesian participation should be brief, non-political, and modest.

[NAA: A l l 604, 704/2/2]

1 Notowidigdo Mukarto.

Last Updated: 10 January 2017
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