51. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Indonesia 1


A. Assessment of Tokyo Maphilindo Summit:

In retrospect, Dept sees Tokyo summit as having produced very mixed result. Parties made no progress in halting military confrontation (immediate result, in fact, may be to intensify it dangerously) or otherwise bridging gap between Indo and Malaysian positions. Tokyo [Page 113]atmosphere also failed produce hoped-for diminution of mutual distrust and antipathy between Indo and Malaysian leadership. Instead, it sharpened them.
On other hand, summit did result in several potentially significant gains. While parties scarcely touched on thorny problem of political settlement—particularly Indo demand for Borneo reascertainment—they did reach agreement in principle on machinery to bring about political settlement (Afro-Asian conciliation commission) and on steps to set up machinery, i.e., further contacts between FonMins followed by another summit. This achievement admittedly a tenuous one, however, since Malaysians accepted commission proposal reluctantly and with little real faith in it.
Further achievement was clear emergence Macapagal and Lopez as genuinely impartial third party in eyes Indos and Malaysians. Both delegations indicated publicly and privately their faith in Phil bona fides. This achievement, however, somewhat clouded by Phil exasperation at Malaysians for their rigid position at summit and their “evasive” handling Phil Sabah claim in concurrent bilateral talks (Tokyo’s 3867).2

B. Reasons for Impasse:

Controversy over relationship of guerrilla withdrawals to political settlement was crux of difficulty. Malaysian attitude throughout was one of injured righteousness which, although justified, tended to foreclose chances real progress. Understandably they concentrated almost exclusively on short-term goal of getting Indo forces off their soil and halting other forms confrontation. They refused recognize any direct connection between this objective and political settlement sought by Indos, seeing latter as Indo-contrived artificial issue to be disposed of after confrontation terminated. They could recognize hypothetical Sukarno need for face-saving device if he honestly wanted end confrontation, but they rejected basic premise that he wanted do so. In their view, what Sukarno wanted at most was brief pause to enable him prepare for renewed onslaught. This deep mistrust Indo motives led them to insist that elaborate minuet of verified withdrawal through designated checkpoints be carried to conclusion even after it had become clear that pressure of time was making it no more than farce; it prevented them from making any effort exploit Sukarno personality traits to their advantage as suggested in Djakarta’s 2506;3 and, in final analysis, it kept them from making real test Sukarno intentions by [Page 114]failing offer him course of action which, in context his own prestige and his internal situation, he could reasonably be expected accept.
Contributing to impasse reached during final June 20 summit session was fact that Malaysian position throughout preceding week had been anything but clear and had left others unprepared for final rigidity. For example, during prolonged wrangle over checkpoints Malaysians made at least one concession—agreeing to first FonMin meeting before beginning of withdrawal—which suggested greater flexibility on Malaysian side than ultimately demonstrated. In this context, both US and UK observers noted signs of tension within Malaysian delegation, with Ghazali and other hard-liners ranged against others who seemed to favor more flexible position.
Indos contributed their bit to final impasse by poisoning already tense atmosphere with arrogant and meretricious press release June 14 (Tokyo’s 3732),4 which hit Malaysians hard and sparked sporadic crossfire of public statements during rest of meeting. Aside from this, however, Indos handled selves fairly well and managed convey general impression they were genuinely seeking way out. (Malaysian EmbOff, however, told Dept that June 19 attack in Sarawak by guerrillas crossing from Indo had completely destroyed Malaysian hopes that Indos were sincere in their presummit undertakings.)
As emphasized by Lopez (Tokyo’s 3867), final and probably conclusive reason for impasse was that time ran out before real effort could be made to bridge gap between positions taken by Indos and Malaysians at June 20 afternoon session. Lopez expressed personal belief that, had he and Macapagal been given day or two to work on both sides, they could have hammered out acceptable compromise linking withdrawals to commission proposal. Alternately, had Malaysians made clear to Macapagal earlier in week that they intended demand end to confrontation before activation commission, Macapagal might have been able work out something. (Fact that they did not do so reinforces our suspicion that Malaysians did not actually decide on their position until last minute.)

C. Future Prospects:

Most immediate hazard is that Indos will respond to summit failure by promptly stepping up border warfare in Borneo and terrorism on mainland, reasoning that lull in hostilities in month preceding summit had made Malaysians overconfident and that what they now need is period of softening up before next round negotiations. (Press reports of major clash in Borneo this week suggests this has already begun.) British and Malaysians may respond with cross-border operations. [Page 115]Quite apart from obvious danger of escalation hostilities, Indo step up in military confrontation likely be taken by Malaysians as confirming their belief Indos have no intention seeking real settlement, thereby further dimming chances for negotiated settlement.
Since Malaysians have long had their eyes on UN and their initial position at Tokyo was to take issue to Security Council, there will undoubtedly be strong move in Kuala Lumpur to go to SC now, either in response increased Indo military activity or as result summit failure itself.
If above two obstacles to further negotiations can be surmounted—and chances not too promising—prospects for peaceful settlement might improve substantially now that device for settlement has been surfaced in Macapagal’s commission proposal. While commission at first glance may seem little more than gimmick, it could prove good deal more in practice. Phils do not appear to see commission as quasi-judicial body, taking evidence and retiring from scene to draw up recommendations in isolation. Instead, it would operate as genuine conciliatory body, working out its recommendations through process of consultation and negotiations with both parties. It could, in effect, operate in same manner as did Lopez in hammering out May 27 summit agreement but with much greater authority. Commission could also play highly useful role in inducing both sides to exercise restraint while it seized with issue and could serve as channel of appeal by either side against mistreatment by other during this period. Moreover, commission would seem precisely that sort of device which Sukarno likely find most palatable as pill-sweetener, in that he could (a) make great point of bowing to its will as munificent contribution to Afro-Asian unity and (b) avoid giving any appearance giving in directly to “neo-colonialist” Malaysians.

Would appreciate post comments foregoing analysis.5

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 3 MAPHILINDO. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Ingraham, cleared by Cuthell, Green, and Thomas M. Judd, Officer in Charge of United Kingdom Affairs, and cleared by Bundy. Also sent to Manila, Kuala Lumpur, London, and Canberra, and repeated to Tokyo, Bangkok, CINCPAC for POLAD, and USUN.
  2. Dated June 20. (Ibid.)
  3. Dated June 4. (Ibid.)
  4. The press release is summarized in telegram 3732 from Tokyo, June 14. (Ibid.)
  5. In telegram 21 from Djakarta, July 2, the Embassy suggested that Indonesian policy was aimed at a negotiated settlement as close as possible to its terms and without a withdrawal of its guerrillas. (Ibid.) In telegram 1317 from Kuala Lumpur, June 27, the Embassy suggested that Malaysia had accepted the commission proposal reluctantly and would only implement it if Indonesian military confrontation ceased. The Embassy did not accept that Malaysia was responsible for the impasse at the summit and suggested that Malaysia viewed withdrawal of Indonesia forces seriously. (Ibid.) In telegram 28 from Manila, July 4, the Embassy suggested that although it agreed with the assessment of what happened and why, the estimate of future prospects was wrong in certain respects. The Embassy suggested continued efforts at urging moderation, caution towards more summit or ministerial meetings, not becoming too closely identified with the Afro-Asian Commission, resolving the Philippine claim to Sabah with Malaysia first, and encouraging Malaysia to deal with the Borneo guerrillas on their own rather than relying completely on the British. (Ibid.)