333. Telegram From President Kennedy to Prime Minister Macmillan 0

CAP 63419. I am quite concerned that hopefully successful Manila summit will be torpedoed unless 31 August date for Malaysia can be postponed briefly to give Sukarno a fig leaf.1 If in fact the Tunku is willing, and if there is a good chance Sukarno can be bought this cheaply, we would urge you give this an urgent look. I well realize that kowtowing to Sukarno is a risky enterprise, but a little give now may be worth the risk, especially if the likely alternative is a further step-up of subversive pressures. This is your show, but I feel we ought to place our worries frankly before you.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 3 MALAYSIA. Secret; Operational Immediate. Repeated to the Department of State for Harriman and Hilsman. The source text is the Department of State copy. There is no time of transmission on the source text; the telegram was received in the Department of State at 7:40 p.m.
  2. Macmillan responded on August 4 that he did not believe Sukarno could be bought off with a fig-leaf; “he would need something much bigger to cover him effectively.” Macmillan thought that delay might be an attractive face-saver only if one was dealing with a man of reason and good faith. Furthermore, it posed considerable difficulties after such painstaking preparations. Macmillan thought Sukarno wanted to sow confusion and suggested that Tunku, who was “battling hard” for a compromise, should be allowed to “play his hand in Manila,” (Telegram 042129Z from the White House to Department of State; ibid.)
  3. At the end of the Manila summit, the three Asian leaders announced that the establishment of the Federation of Malaysia was being delayed until the U.N. Secretary-General could send teams to Sarawak and North Borneo to determine whether recent elections had properly taken into account the question of incorporation into Malaysia.