Proud to Dunk




Subject: Conversation with the Lieutenant Governor General of the Netherlands Indies-Dr. Van Mook I met Dr. Van Mook on Thursday last at 12 noon, and obtained from him the following information which I understand your Department is interested in:

1. Indonesian Independence Movement:

While the Netherlands Government are necessarily concerned at the expression of this Movement in Batavia, their only information indicates:

(a) That the Movement in its more radical form is limited to the main cities of Batavia and Sourabaya which ‘had always been centres of unrest’.

(b) Up until the time that I saw Dr. Van Mook, they had not received any official reports of demonstrations of more than 250 people which indicates that it was not a mass movement of the population.

(c) Any information they have got from the country districts, and in particular Bandoeng, indicates that those areas are quiet and they do not expect the same trouble. He also understands the Japanese have been strictly correct in their attitude and have forbidden these demonstrations.

(d) I mentioned to him the question of a future flag for Indonesia and he said that the Indonesian national flag would not be recognised in its present form, but he was himself thinking along the lines of some flag similar to that adopted by the States of the British Commonwealth-that is, a local flag with perhaps the Dutch symbol in canton.

2. War Criminals:

The Netherlands Government proposes to arrest Soekarno and one other (whose name I cannot recall) as war criminals, but Van Mook does not expect that any other arrests will be made. Soekarno, Van Mook considers, has prejudiced himself by his action in going to Singapore on the 8th August and returning on the 14th August, after which he made a public declaration in support of the Japanese. Van Mook considered that had Soekarno maintained his attitude of leader of the Independence Movement but disassociated himself from the Japanese in the closing stages of the war then he might have had some justification for his claim that he had only used the Japanese as an instrument in the cause of Indonesian Nationalism.

3. Foreign Representation in Java:

Van Mook stated that he had asked the United States Government to appoint Dr. Foote as U.S. Consul General [1] although they had proposed a new appointment on the grounds of Dr. Foote’s age. He considered that it was important, where possible, for the previous official representatives to be appointed for a short term as they were known to many of the officials and commercial firms, and also knew their way about the country.

He stated that Mr. Walsh, the former British Consul General ‘was one of those former Consular representatives whom he was not going to ask for’.

I mentioned the question of Mr. Peterson’s appointment and he considered it would be desirable for the reasons given in the case of the United States for him (Mr. Peterson) to return to Java as soon as possible as Trade Commissioner. He considered that the office should as soon as possible be raised to the status of Consul General but he did not think that Mr. Peterson would be quite up to Consular General standard. He said that the Netherlands officials were always friendly disposed to Mr.

Peterson and would welcome his return during the interim period before a Consulate General was set up.

4. Status of Indonesians in Australia:

Dr. Van Mook said that he had explored this matter with the Australian authorities and understood that they did not wish the Indonesians in this Country to remain. He considered that most of them, apart from any embarrassing political opinions which they might have, are of the coolie class and therefore he could quite understand that the Australian Government would not welcome them permanently in the Country. As soon as shipping was available he proposed to arrange for their repatriation to those parts of the Indies from whence they had come.

A number of these Indonesians considered that they could exercise considerable influence in their own districts on their return by reason of their protracted stay in Australia, and their association with Australian political groups. He, however, did not consider that this influence would be very significant as he thought that they would not be welcome by the people who had suffered so much and were so short of necessities. The reaction in fact that he expected was that the people would consider they had done extremely well for themselves out of the war.

5. Rehabilitation:

Dr. Van Mook considered that the people coming from Holland and the number of released internees would be sufficient to enable them to look after rehabilitation on their own. He was quite emphatic that U.N.R.R.A. would not operate in the Netherlands Indies.

6. Civil Administration:

Only the senior officers of each District would be militarised.

The others would all be civilians, and it was his intention to switch over to a completely Civil Administration as soon as possible.

He explained that there might have been some difficulty in the event of the Governor General of the Indies not being released as he (Van Mook) would then have been head of the Government, and it might not have been acceptable to the Dutch for the Head of the Government to have been subordinate to an Allied Command. As the Governor General, however, was now the titular head of the Government and was remaining in London for some time, this problem would not arise and he (again, Van Mook) would be in effect head of the Civil Administration, responsible to Mountbatten. [2] He would not, however, become militarised.

With the released internees and the people from Holland he expected that they would have sufficient officers to handle administration, although there would be difficulties in the out- lying areas for some time.

Medical opinion from Java on the condition of the internees indicated that a large number of them were fitted and were eager to start work immediately in their old positions. The medical authorities, however, considered that while it would be desirable for them to go back to work so that they could readily adjust themselves to normal life and get a new interest, it was most unlikely that they would be able to continue working for any great length of time (possibly three months).

No other detailed discussions took place, and a talk on Trade Relations was limited to pious declarations of close collaboration in the future.

No reference was made to any of the anti-Dutch feeling which had been expressed, particularly in the Sydney Press.

I got the impression throughout the interview that he was being fairly frank on most of these problems, but he necessarily made reservations throughout the conversation owing to the inadequacy of their information from Java.

He is proposing to land with the occupying Forces on October 4th and as many as possible of the Netherlands officials here will be flown in during that week. He did not consider it was necessary for an Australian representative to go over in the first week, but considered it would be desirable for him to arrive as soon as possible after that.

The rest of the conversation was limited to general expressions of good will and thanks for the work that F.E.L.O. had done over the last three years.



1 Appointed in June.

2 The Governor General was A. W. L. Tjarda van Starkenborgh Stachouwer. Following his release from Japanese internment, he returned to the Netherlands where he advocated a ‘hard-line’ solution in the N.E.I. Under the British-Dutch Civil Affairs Agreement, which came into force on 24 August, Van Mook as head of NICA was subordinated to the Supreme Commander, SEAC, until such time as lawful civil government had been restored.


[AA : A1838/2, 383/2/1/2, i]