Ball to Burton

Cablegram 7 BATAVIA, 12 November 1945


I have not yet received any acknowledgement or instructions consequent on my previous six telegrams.

As suggested in my earlier telegram [1], 10th November has been the important day here. Soekarno is appealing to me to secure Australia’s protest against the British policy in Sourabaya. I tried to quieten him by saying that I will inform my Government. I am convinced that the British were very reluctant to use force [2], but I am not convinced that their forceful measures were properly timed. Soekarno is losing hope of American or British initiative to secure United Nations action and consequently anxious to secure Australian initiative. Australia is still the most popular nation among the Indonesians.

I venture to suggest that a policy along the following lines holds the only hope of success. Firstly, the immediate establishment of United Nations enquiry Commission. Secondly, a settlement in which the following principles are accepted. Self Government for Indonesia by Indonesians based on agreement between the Indonesians and the United Nations Council. This agreement to provide- (A) Acceptance by the Indonesian Government of United Nations technical advisers, most of these advisers to be Dutch owing to their special knowledge of this area.

(B) Rule of law protecting basic human rights in Indonesia.

(C) United Nations plan for defence of this area.

(D) Equal opportunities for all nations economic opportunities.

This suggestion may seem idealistic, but its essence is to establish Indonesian administration on a treaty basis. This independence will satisfy the Indonesians. The treaty will protect other nations. So many tanks have passed through the streets to- day that it may be possible to suppress the present violence by superior British and Dutch force, since Indonesians strangely blend timidity and fanaticism. Yet I am convinced that successful present settlement by force, even if possible, which is doubtful, will later produce immeasurable troubles in East Asia and for Australia. Hence I reiterate the immediate need for United Nations action. If supported by your instructions, I may be able to do helpful conciliation here since Australia’s reputation is so high with Indonesians and since Britain so anxious to conciliate Australia’s viewpoint. But in the absence of instructions, I feel that I need be very careful. Please instruct.

Please send first opportunity one packet of official letter-head paper. Also appropriate supply of envelopes.


1 Document 376.

2 A reference to the air and naval bombardment of Indonesian guerrilla positions by British forces at the ‘battle’ of Sourabaya. This followed the lack of response by the Indonesians to Christison’s ultimatum of 31 October. See Document 377, note 2.


[AA : A1838/2, 401/1/2/1]