756D.00/11–2453: Telegram

No. 256
The Ambassador in Indonesia (Cumming) to the Department of State


525. Foreign Minister said he wished take advantage my call on him this morning on other matter to clarify what he called “misconceptions” on part of number of foreign governments and especially their diplomatic representatives in Djakarta of attitude of Indonesian Government towards Communism. His manner was earnest and frank although I could detect a certain defensiveness on his part which showed itself in a repetition of a number of statements as if he were most anxious that I believe what he said.

He commenced by saying that while some Moslems could for reasons unknown to him reconcile their religious faith with the anti-God dogma of Communists, he himself was unable to do so; he wanted me to know that although he might not at all times be as devout a Moslem as he should be, his faith in God was complete and a guarantee against any personal leaning on his part toward Communism.

He said it was true that government was willing accept Communist Party support in Parliament: “No parliamentarian could refuse to accept a vote from any source;” but that government had sufficient votes to carry its measure without addition of Communist votes (note discrepancy between this statement and that of Prime Minister Ali last paragraph my telegram 453, November 2).1

He said he could assure me that government of the PNI was well aware through intelligence sources of strategy of Communist Party to infiltrate government and to maneuver government if possible into position where Communist vote was essential to continue in office; that government was equally aware of strategy of Masjumi and PSI to do everything including, if necessary, participation in Communist plots to bring about government’s downfall. But he said government of PNI had its own strategy designed circumvent these plans. He did not elucidate.

To illustrate government’s preoccupation with Communist danger he said that conversations had already taken place with [Page 402] British officials in Sarawak to prevent Communists crossing border between Kalimantan (Borneo) and Sarawak; that conversations had already taken place with Malayan authorities with regard to similar arrangements, and he had raised question again with Malcolm MacDonald2 during his recent visit to Djakarta. He also mentioned Australia but I did not understand whether he said similar conversations had taken place or were contemplated with Australian authorities on same subject. (I have no confirmation of foregoing statements from any other source and will not attempt verify locally. Would appreciate any information Department has on subject.)3

Sunario said government was also concerned with Chinese problem; Chinese even though long resident in Indonesia and in former Dutch East Indies had never been truly loyal to local government. He said that while government especially concerned with Communist infiltration and trying formulate plans to meet this situation, its principal concern was not with whether Chinese were Communists or Nationalists, but whether they were subversive of government of the country in which they resided.

With regard to Indochina he said that Indonesian Government had naturally disliked French colonialism and French “delays” in promising real independence to Associated States but that his government equally understood French and Associated States were fighting Communism; that if Communists were successful in Indochina, Malaya would be next and “Indonesia soon after.”

Sunario concluded by reference to President Sukarno’s recent speech (mytel 487, November 11)4 and anticipated a question I had in mind to put to him by saying that the President’s reference to “extreme Communists” meant Communists who were actively attempting overthrow government as contrasted with rank and file of party followers. He reverted to government evidence of Dutch support of Darul Islam and criticized his fellow Moslems of the Masjumi party which he said was slowly drifting towards extremist position of the Darul Islam. “The Government”, he said, “will prevent any extremists taking over under an Indonesian Mossadeq.”

[Page 403]

I am reporting this conversation at length because it is first time the Foreign Minister has so fully unburdened himself to me and because he gave me to understand that what he was saying had been discussed with and approved by Prime Minister and President.

  1. Not printed. The paragraph in question reads as follows:

    “Ali comments to me on the subject of his government’s association with Commies might be summarized: ‘We are not Communists but they have the votes we need.’ I think he realizes he playing with fire; whether all of his associates are as sophisticated is doubtful.” (756D.13/11–253)

  2. British Commissioner General in Southeast Asia.
  3. On Dec. 1 the Department informed the Embassy of talks in August 1952 between Indonesian and Sarawak officials concerning agreed joint measures to combat Communist terrorism. It also referred to a statement made in April 1953 by Sunario concerning Indonesia’s interest in political developments, including the increasing strength of the Communist movement, in Malaya. (Telegram 443; 756D.00/11–2453)
  4. Telegram 487 reported on a speech made on Nov. 10 by President Sukarno in Solo in which he called for national discipline and criticized the extremists in Darul Islam and the Indonesian Communist movement. The speech was characterized as the President’s most forthright anti-Communist statement in some time and his first since the Ali government came into office. (756D.00/11–1153)