57. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • President’s Second Meeting with the Prime Minister of Malaysia2

PARTICIPANTS

  • Tunku Abdul Rahman, Prime Minister of Malaysia
  • Dato Ong Yoke Lin, Ambassador of Malaysia
  • Dato Muhammed Ghazali bin Shafie, Permanent Secretary for External Affairs
  • The President
  • William P. Bundy, Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs
  • James D. Bell, American Ambassador to Malaysia
  • R.W. Komer, the White House

The President greeted the Tunku warmly and asked him if he approved the communique. The President and the Tunku each read the draft communique3 after which each expressed approval.

The President then told the Tunku that he hoped he returned to Malaysia with a clear sense of our support and admiration for him and for his country. The Tunku expressed his appreciation and thanks for all the kindness shown him on this visit.

The President reminded the Tunku of their conversation of July 22 about U.S. policy and said he hoped he understood our views. We thought it wise to be careful not to antagonize Sukarno unnecessarily. We applauded the Tunku’s restraint and urged him to continue to play his statesmanlike role. Patience and restraint were important; “if we can be patient enough, the other fellow will make the errors”. The Tunku nodded assent and indicated that he agreed with the President’s position. The President then expressed his hope that Malaysia could [Page 127]solve its troubles with the Philippines. Dissension between Malaysia and the Philippines was only “water on the paddle of the Indonesian extremists.”

We looked forward, the President indicated, to further talks in regard to Malaysia’s desire for credits and military training. We would be glad to have the Malaysian Chief of Staff come here or to talk with other Malaysian defense people on this matter.

On the question of relations with the Philippines, the Tunku said, the Filipino attitude was disappointing. When he and Macapagal had met in Cambodia, the Tunku had asked the latter if there were any problems and suggested that these could easily be resolved. He was willing to let the Filipino claim go to a bilateral group, but the Filipinos didn’t seem much interested in better relations. As the Tunku put it, “they were with us in the ASA but now they seem to take sides with Sukarno.” This was a great disappointment. The Filipinos were unlike the Thais who had been with Malaysia from the beginning.

The President asked the Tunku about the riots in Singapore, saying that we had our own problems in New York. He hoped the Tunku was more successful than he had been in stopping this sort of trouble. The Prime Minister replied that the situation in Singapore was still tense. There had been three more deaths but the situation seemed to be quieting down. The President hoped the Tunku wouldn’t have to cut his visit short and go back early. The Tunku said he was considering this but hoped to be able to go on to Canada.

As the meeting ended the Tunku invited the President to visit Malaysia at some early and convenient time.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Malaysia, Vol. II. Secret. Drafted by Komer.
  2. Johnson and Tunku Abdul Rahman met alone on July 22. No record of their conversation was made, but for a second-hand account of their meeting, see Document 265. In a memorandum to the President, July 23, Komer suggested that this meeting “seemed free of knotty problems.” Komer thought that the Tunku’s visit had been smooth, his mood was good, he was pleased with overt signs of U.S. support, but Komer feared that the Prime Minister was using his Washington visit as a platform for “tough anti-Indo talk.” Komer suggested the problem was that the Tunku might get “too-cocky towards Sukarno because he thinks he’s got us in his hip pocket.” Komer suggested that the President emphasize to the Tunku the need for care and restraint in relations with Sukarno—“let the other guy make the mistakes”—lowering the rhetoric, mending fences with the Philippines, and not to let the Tunku think he has a “blank check” for U.S. credit sales and training. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Robert W. Komer, Malaysia, Dec. 63–Mar 66)
  3. Printed in American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1964, pp. 899–900.