756D.00/3–1451: Telegram

The Ambassador in Indonesia ( Cochran ) to the Secretary of State


1248. Visited President Sukarno1 morning 14th his request. President stated departing 22nd for tour East Sumatra to assist government [Page 614] officials there achieve better law and order. He said outlaw bands recently encountered there as well west Java included Dutchmen. He feels Netherlands interest still endeavoring sabotage Indonesian Government. I expressed my concern over deterioration security. I cited recent murder US citizen M. B. Jones and referred unhappiness my government over failure Indonesian Government apprehend and punish murderers of Kennedy and Doyle. I recited difficulties American merchant shipping in Indonesian ports result pilferage and lack of police protection. President promised consult with Sultan of Jogja2 thereon.

I expressed hope President would utilize forthcoming and future tours to lead Indonesian people toward respect of government and rehabilitation country through cooperation and hard work. I reminded President of my observation made to him at Jogja [garbled group] in 1948 that it was within his power lead youth, labor and military of Indonesia either toward right or left. I said more convinced than ever that it devolves upon himself and Vice President Hatta3 through their tours and statements and general leadership to provide guidance required to preserve for Indonesia sovereignty achieved with such great difficulty. I said thought situation slipping away from old group through indecision and lack of courage [garbled group].

Sukarno assured me he would make every effort strengthen forces of law and order. He expressed bitter regret that his “stupid political leaders” did not contribute more helpfully toward this end. I said could not speak on local politics but did feel Indonesian State was not being built-up and administered with either force or political sagacity which I had originally been inclined to expect. I said I had assured my government that once sovereignty was transferred and Indonesians had full responsibility for their country they would demonstrate courage and efficiency in cleaning up bandits and making Indonesia safe democratic place in which to live.

Sukarno told me in strictest confidence he anticipates political crisis shortly after Parliament convenes March 15. He said press had wrongly stated he would address Parliament opening session with speech on national budget. He said might talk on budget at later date. Said first business of Parliament would be to debate Hadikusumo4 motion on abolition of local councils. Second matter would probably be turnover tax imposed by Ministry Finance. He thought chances were about even on opposition defeating government on either question. He said if turnover tax condemned by Parliament [Page 615] Finance Minister Sjafruddin would most likely carry out his threat resignation Parliament would probably vote no confidence. In event government falls President contemplates calling on Masjumi and PNI jointly to form government. Said would depend upon 2 parties as to which would provide Prime Minister. Said he had discussed this procedure 3 days ago with PNI leader Sidik.5 Sukarno wanted assure me participation by PNI in government would not mean lessening of friendly attitude Indonesian Government toward US. Said he had expressly questioned PNI leader in above-mentioned interview whether his party would be for US or Communism if it shared in Government. Said response was definitely in favor US. Sidik reminded Sukarno his group had helped put down Communist rebellion 1948. Insisted, however, that if his party is now in government it would likewise want campaign against such elements now threatening peace of Indonesia. Sukarno said Sidik made reservation that friendship for US should not be proclaimed loudly but be definitely understood and demonstrated by acts. I said I had little contact with PNI leaders but had been led believe trend of government might be leftward if PNI participated therein. Sukarno insisted US would have nothing to worry about on this point. Sukarno urged necessity of change from inactive and indecisive policy being followed by Natsir Government.

I expressed concern over what appeared to me to be growing inclination of Indonesians to mistrust US and hesitate to accept in good faith assistance which we had offered. Sukarno blamed irresponsible Indonesian press principally for any unfriendly attitude toward US that I may have sensed. He was bitter over recent press attacks upon himself. He said he knew press reports to effect I had endeavored influence Natsir remove Assaat6 from his Cabinet were absolutely false. He said Assaat had written Natsir various occasions requesting be relieved.

Sukarno said he had started recent trip to Sukabumi with some question in his mind as to what his reception would be following critical press articles. He said he found enthusiasm and loyalty even greater than he could possibly have hoped for. He said it gave him renewed courage to travel through troubled areas of Archipelago and [apparent omission] unification of his people. He regretted, however, that Djakarta press accepted statement of one SOBSI trouble maker to effect Sukarno’s visit had incited unrest rather than helped situation in West Java.

I sympathized with President in turn on press campaign and said I hoped he would not think there was any lessening of interest on [Page 616] part US and my Embassy to help Indonesia to greatest extent possible. I cited, however, failure Indonesian Government respond to Melby mission last summer7 and more recent delay in accepting or even answering our proposals under Fulbright arrangement and Point IV program. When I explained these matters Sukarno promised take up at once with Minister of Education8 possibility getting in some American teachers. When Sukarno remarked US teachers much more expensive than either Netherlands or most other foreigners, I explained we were willing pay their salaries. He thought concern of his officials might come therefor from fear of criticism of propaganda effort on part US if teachers known to be provided at US Government expense. He asked if arrangement could not be made whereby Indonesian Government would pay salaries considered reasonable for Netherlands teachers and leave any balance to be made up by US. I suggested Minister of Education approach us on this subject if interested. Sukarno insisted Indonesia still desires our friendship and our support, provided no great publicity or US flag-waving involved and provided sympathetic Americans in modest numbers participate in aid programs. He still favored policy he had frequently mentioned to me of “more books but not agents”.

In answering question whether today’s ANETA report correct that Indonesian Government had agreed opening 4 Communist Chinese consular offices in Indonesia at Djakarta, Medan, Makassar and Bandjermasin, Sukarno confirmed this. He said his officials aware troubles being incited by Chinese Government representatives here but have not been able produce definite proof and had no choice but permit opening offices in question following long delay already involved.

I asked if inclusion PNI in government would mean dissolution union with Netherlands. He said PNI definitely favors breaking of union but he still uncertain whether Parliament would decide by majority in favor such action. He felt, however, that following Netherlands failure last December to agree on transfer sovereignty over Irian, anti-Netherlands and antiunion sentiment has definitely grown and is now not only sentiment of PNI and other strong nationalists but of most of country in general. He said acquisition of Irian would do much to consolidate country, relieve growing antagonism toward Dutch and facilitate establishing better unity with consequent improvement in law and order. He said he understood US problems but still hoped we could take more positive stand in favor Indonesian position in Irian.

  1. Dr. Ahmed Sukarno.
  2. Hamengku Buwono IX.
  3. Dr. Mohammad Hatta.
  4. S. Hadikusumo, parliamentary leader of the PNI.
  5. Sidik Djojosukarto, Chairman of the PNI.
  6. Assaat, Minister of the Interior.
  7. The reference is to the Melby–Erskine Mission. For documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. vi, pp. 1090 ff.
  8. Dr. Bahder Djohan.