16. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Jones) to Acting Secretary of State Herter0

SUBJECT

  • Indonesian Developments

There follows a brief summary of the most recent Indonesian developments, with particular reference to the activities of the regional dissidents.

1)
A series of mass meetings by the regional dissidents in Central Sumatra has culminated in the issuance on February 10 of “The Charter of the Struggle to Save the State”. Speaking for the dissidents over the Padang Radio, Lt. Col. Hussein reiterated the long-standing grievances of the regionalists against the Central Government and presented the following demands to President Sukarno:
(a)
That the Djuanda Cabinet return its mandate within five days.
(b)
That former Vice President Hatta and the Sultan of Jogjakarta be appointed to form a “National Business Cabinet”, composed of honest and respected leaders and free from “atheistic elements”, to remain in office until the next general elections scheduled, in principle, for 1959.
(c)
That Sukarno resume his constitutional status and rescind his unconstitutional actions of last year (i.e. eliminate the Djuanda Cabinet, the declaration of the State of War, and the National Council).
2)
The “or else” portion of the regionalists’ demands is not clear. Hussein stated simply that if their demands were not met, the dissidents would “take action according to our own policy” and would “consider ourselves free from the duty of obedience to Dr. Sukarno as Chief of State.” No mention was made of any plan to establish a rival Indonesian government in Sumatra.
3)
Following the Padang broadcast, the Djakarta Radio on February 11 announced a Cabinet decision rejection the regionalists’ demands and dishonorably discharging four of the rebel colonels (Simbolon, Hussein, Djambek and Lubis) from military service. Prime Minister Djuanda called for firm but patient action by the Government in facing this grave danger to national unity posed by the regionalists’ activities. A statement by Chief of Staff Nasution tended to implicate the Central Sumatra regional movement in the assassination attempt on Sukarno last November since the Padang group is presently harboring Lt. Col. [Page 36]Lubis who has been named by Army Headquarters as the ringleader in the plot against the President.
4)
President Sukarno is expected to return to Djakarta from Japan this week-end, several days earlier than originally planned. According to press reports from Japan, Sukarno has announced his intention to call a special conference to study the demands of the dissidents.

Comment

Assuming no volte-face on the parts of Sukarno and Nasution, the key to resolving the regional problem appears to lie in the hands of such moderates as Hatta, the Sultan of Jogjakarta and certain Nationalist and Moslem party leaders. If these moderate leaders, particularly Hatta, should assume a more forceful role in bringing to bear what pressures they can on Sukarno to compromise his position, at the same time attempting to hold in check the more irrepressible regional elements, then an equitable and peaceful solution might eventually be found. While civil war does not appear to be imminent, an effort by the dissidents to establish a rival Indonesian government in Sumatra could lead to an attempt by the Central Government to force a solution by arms.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 656.56D13/2–1258. Confidential. Drafted by Robert H. Wenzel of SPA and sent through Arthur Richards.