Dr (h.c.) Johan B P Maramis: GLIMPSES OF MY DIPLOMATIC CAREER
On 31 December1964 our Permanent Representative to UN, Ambassador L.N. Palar conveyed to the Secretary General U Thant and the President of the General Assembly Ambassador Quaison Sakey of Ghana, the contents of President Sukarno’s statement on that date to the effect that Indonesia would withdraw from the United Nations if neo-colonist Malaysia be seated in the Security Council.
We, the staff of the Indonesian Mission to the United Nations. Had an emergency staff meeting that evening on New Year’s Eve at Ambassador Palar’s residence. With a heavy heart we came to the conclusion that Mr. Palar should that same evening inform the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary General of Indonesia’s decision to withdraw from the United Nations.
On 7 January 1965, after Malaysia officially took the seat as member of the Security Council, Indonesia withdrew from the United Nations. Indonesia considered its action might become a catalyst to reform and retool the United Nations in spirit and deed since in Indonesia’s view the decline of the United Nations as an international body for collective security and harmonious co-operation had become irrevocable. Indonesia further stated that the dispute with Malaysia should be viewed in the wider context of the conflict with reference to the struggle that was being waged between the new forces and the old established ones in that region.
As early as in 1960 in his address before the United Nations on 30 September President Sukarno had reminded the United Nations of its shortcomings both politically and organizationally and the need for retooling. The membership of Malaysia in the Security Council was just the further proof of this international body being manipulated by colonial and neo-colonial powers.
On 20 January 1965 First Deputy Prime Minister and concurrently Minister of Foreign Affairs Subandrio addressed a letter to the Secretary General explaining further the reasons for Indonesian withdrawal from the United Nations by stating among others that Malaysia was rejected by two of three signatories to the Manila Agreement and was merely a tool of the British neo-colonialism and pushed by manipulations and pressures of colonial powers to occupy a seat in the Security Council and questioned Malaysia’s ability to contribute towards the maintenance of peace and security in the world. He assured that Indonesia still upholds the lofty principle of international co-operation enshrined in the U.N. Charter while not being a member of the United Nations itself. He further stated that Indonesia decided at this stage and under the present circumstances to withdraw from the United Nations and also from the specialized agencies such as FAO, UNICEF and UNESCO.
He informed that due to technical reasons the Indonesian Permanent Mission would only be closed on 1 March 1965.
The Representative of Malaysia on 22 January 1965 replied that Indonesia had announced its policy of a military and economic “confrontation” and continually expressed its policy to crush Malaysia.
He also referred to an understanding reached in 1961 that the seat on the Security Council falling vacant on 31 December 1963 should be divided between Czechoslovakia and Malaysia and that it was also agreed that at the time that Czechoslovakia would occupy the seat for the first year Malaysia would be elected for the remainder of the term. He recalled that Malaysia had for a longer period than Indonesia contributed troops to the United Nations operation in the Congo which symbolized Malaysia’s responsibility.
The Secretary General on 26 February 1965 addressed a communication to the First Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Subandrio acknowledging Indonesia’s decision at this stage and under the present circumstances to withdraw from the United Nations and noted also Indonesia’s assurances still to uphold the lofty principles of international co-operation. He further stated that arrangements had been made that the Indonesian Mission in New York maintained its official status until 1 March 1965. He also expressed the profound regret which was widely felt that Indonesia had found it necessary to withdraw and earnestly hoped that Indonesia in due time would resume full co-operation with the United Nations.
I left New York on 28 February 1965 to avoid observing the lowering of our flag and the removal of Indonesia’s nameplate which constituted the deletion of our name from the UN membership on 1 March 1965. This event was the saddest experience in my diplomatic career.
On 3 September 1964 Malaysia asked for an urgent meeting of the Security Council charging that during the midnight hours of Wednesday 2 September, an Indonesian aircraft had flown over South Malaysia, dropping a group of some 30 heavily armed paratroopers. Some had been captured and a large quantity of arms and ammunition recovered. Malaysia regarded Indonesia’s act as a blatant and inexcusable aggression involving a threat to international peace and security in the region.
On 9 September the Council decided to include the item in its agenda and invited the representatives of Malaysia, Indonesia and later the Philippines to participate without a vote in the discussions.
I was present during the debate in the Security Council when the representative of Malaysia exhibited machine guns on the table that were allegedly captured from Indonesian soldiers. The Indonesian representative Sudjarwo Tjondronegoro in his right of reply countered that it was no proof that the weapons originated from Indonesian soldiers since weapons had no nationality and could be bought in the markets. The representative of Malaysia stated that when the plan for the formation of Malaysia was first announced Indonesia and the Philippines had raised doubts about the observance of self-determination. In order to remove those doubts Malaysia had joined the two countries in requesting the Secretary General to ascertain the wishes of the people in the two North Borneo territories. After close examination of the situation on the spot, the Secretary General had given as conclusion based on the findings of the United Nation Mission that there was no doubt about the wishes of a sizable majority of the people of these territories were in favour of joining the federation of Malaysia.
Maphilindo concept and Manila Declaration.
The President of the Philippines, Macapagal had initiated several failed attempts to initiate negotiations for a solution for its claim to Sabah. It also shared the idea of co-operating to form a free and independent Malaysia not primarily as a British-Malayan project but rather as a Southeast Asian project.
President Macapagal introduced the concept of Maphalindo a loose association between Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia. A preparatory ministerial meeting in Manila of the three countries was held in June 1963 and was followed by the Summit Conference of the three Heads of Governments from 30 July to 5 August 1963. The Conference produced the Manila Accord, the Joint Statement and the solemn Manila Declaration in which the principles for Maphilindo were set forth. The agreed intention was to express the idea that the Federation of Malaysia should possess an Southeast Asian label.
Maphilindo represents the strengthening of a free Southeast Asia, the development of self-reliance, freedom and independence, the responsibility for the maintenance of stability and security in the region. As far as the question of Malaysia was concerned, the Manila agreements provided that the establishment of the Federation, originally planned for 31 August might be postponed pending the result of the agreed upon reassessment of the wishes of the people of Sabah and Serawak.
Without waiting for the result of the UN reassessment, Malaysia on 29 August declared that the Federation of Malaysia would be proclaimed on 16 September 1963. Malaysia contended that it had agreed with Macapagal’s suggestions for further talks, provided its territorial integrity and sovereignty was respected. Before any preparation could be made on the morning of 17 August an Indonesian attack took place involving an invasion-like landing on the shores of South Malaysia. The Indonesian representative argued that it would be an irony to describe the act of the Indonesian volunteers in the cause of freedom against neo-colonialism as aggression. He further stated that it should be clear that Malaysia had not realized that the Indonesian policy of confrontation was a consequence and not the cause of the Malaysian conflict. The Philippine’s delegate said that the Manila Agreement sponsored by President Macapagal was in fact a blue print for peace and prosperity. In Tokyo President Macapagal suggested the establishment of an African-Asian conciliation commission. Indonesia accepted the proposal while Malaysia’s acceptance was subject to condition that the Indonesian troops should first be withdrawn. On 15 September the representative of Norway submitted a draft resolution that was rejected by Indonesia while arguing that the draft resolution would impose on Indonesia the acceptance of an entity that did not exist, as Indonesia could not recognize a British sponsored Malaysia. On 17 September the Security Council voted on the Norwegian draft resolution that was rejected owing to the negative vote of Russia a permanent member of the Council.
During 1965, Malaysia submitted several complaints to the Security Council containing charges about aggressive acts by Indonesia and a military build-up by Indonesia along the border of Borneo. In 7 January and 28 January1965 Malaysia complained that Indonesia’s military build-up had continued unabated. In two subsequent communications dated 6 March and 28 May Malaysia drew the attention of the Council to a further series of incursions and other acts of aggression that it charged were perpetrated by Indonesia against the territorial integrity of Malaysia.
End of confrontation policy
It may be recalled that meanwhile the political situation in Indonesia had dramatically changed and several attemps were made since the end of May 1966 to start the reconciliation process. A new Government (the Gotong Royong cabinet) had been installed headed by General Soeharto. On 11 August 1966 Foreign Minister Adam Malik signed a Reconciliation agreement with the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign affairs Minister of Malaysia Tun Razak thereby ending the confrontation policy. The agreement on the restoration of relations was the result of negotiations between Foreign Minister Adam Malik and Tun Razak in Bangkok on May 29 1966 that was referred to as the Bangkok agreement.
General Soeharto in his policy statement regarding the Malaysian issue stated that the settlement of the conflict had not altered the basis and implementations of Indonesian foreign policy. It was now possible to escalate foreign policy activities towards the establishment of close and mutually beneficial co-operative relations among Southeast Asian countries.
Return to the United Nations
On 19 September 1966 the Indonesian Ambassador to the United States L.N. Palar transmitted the following message to the Secretary General of the United Nations: With reference to the letter of 20 January from the deputy Prime Minister and Foreign of Indonesia and to your letter of 26 February 1965. In answer thereto, I hereby have the honour upon instruction of my Government to inform you that my Government has decided to resume full co-operation with the United Nations and to resume participation in its activities starting with the twenty-first session of the General Assembly.
A delegation headed by the Foreign Minister will arrive to attend the Assembly. I was fortunate to have been included in the delegation. It was a great feeling to be back.
On 22 September 1966 a Delegation headed by Adam Malik a member of the Presidium for political Affairs and Minister for Foreign Affairs conferred with the Secretary General and me and reiterated the decision of the Government of Indonesia to resume full participation in the activities of the United Nations as stated in the telegram of 19 September 1966. The President of the General Assembly Ambassador Abdul Rahman Pazhwak recounted the background behind Indonesia’s decision to withdraw from the United Nations.
The President stated that it would be assumed that it is the will of the membership that Indonesia should meet in full its budgetary obligation. “Unless I hear any objection I assume that it is the will of the membership that Indonesia would resume full activities of the Untied Nations and the Secretary General may proceed in the manner I have outlined. There being no objection, I invite the members of the Indonesian Delegation to take their seats in the General Assembly”.
“Since the first day of this Assembly last Tuesday several representatives have referred to my country’s resumption of activities in the United Nations and have expressed their warm welcome to my Government and Delegation. Permit me Mr. President to thank you for your words of welcome and for your co-operation in smoothen the way for our return to the United Nations. I wish also to express the gratitude of my delegation for the statements of the same nature by representatives. My delegation is indeed deeply moved by their expression of confidence and looks forward with enthusiasm to co-operation and collaboration with all delegations. Finally may I thank you Mr. Secretary General for your assistance and the Secretariat for your advice and co-operation in making our reparticipation a smooth and happy one”.
Thus another dramatic episode in Indonesia’s history has come to an end.