|The Indonesian Government's Secret Contingency Planning
On Tuesday July 20, the Sydney Morning Herald revealed the contents of the a secret Indonesian government document that had been leaked from East Timor. The document was written on July 3 by the Assistant Coordinating Minister, H.F. Garnadi, and addressed to the Coordinating Minister for Politics and Security, Gen. Feisal Tandjung. Garnadi is a member of the Politics and Security Team within the government's task force in East Timor appointed by Habibie in May to oversee the handling of the UN-administered consultation. As a document from an assistant minister, it does not reflect official government policy. However, it does represent the contemplations of a senior official on what official policy should be.
Garnadi wrote the document to urge the central government in Jakarta to think about how to respond to a victory of the pro-independence side in the UN-administered popular consultation. He suggested developing a contingency plan to evacuate Indonesian civil servants, Indonesian military personnel, and East Timorese who support Indonesia. He noted that the government might wish, in the process of the evacuation, to "destroy vital facilities and objects." He also noted that the pro-Indonesia militias might wage a war on independent East Timor.
What is particularly interesting about the document is the pessimistic tone. Garnadi wrote that the government believed the pro-Indonesia side had become the dominant force in East Timor in the early months of this year. The government was thus optimistic when the agreement was signed on May 5 that the East Timorese would vote for autonomy rather than independence. Garnadi wrote that the task force officials were now not so confident in winning the popular consultation -- thus the need for contingency planning in case of defeat.
The document reflects the perspective of a colonial power that finds it impossible to admit to its own crimes. Garnadi believes that most East Timorese favor independence but he searches for causes other than Indonesia's 24 years of brutality: UNAMET is blamed for supporting the pro-independence forces, the pro-independence forces are blamed for terrorizing the population, the NGOs are blamed for distributing food and medicine to refugees and thereby winning them over to the pro-independence side. The world of Indonesian officialdom appears to view the East Timorese as the Suharto regime viewed Indonesians: as a "floating mass" -- a herd of unthinking beasts who can be easily directed with enough carrots and sticks. If that "floating mass" is supporting independence, it must be, Garnadi believes, due to the wily machinations of some outside force.
The Indonesian government has denied that this document is authentic. However, there is no reason to believe that it is a forgery. There are many East Timorese working in the Indonesian government in East Timor, including in the military, and they have been routinely leaking documents. The Indonesian government is, after all, a Third World government that lacks sophisticated security mechanisms. The East Timorese hardly have any inclination to forge documents when there are so many authentic ones within their grasp. Besides, none of the documents that have been leaked are extraordinarily damaging to the government; for instance, the East Timorese have not been able to get a hold of the main document detailing the government's program to finance and arm the militias. If the East Timorese were to go to the great lengths necessary to create a forged document, one would expect that they would go for a knockout blow rather than so many glancing shots. This particular document can be assumed authentic simply from the language which is an Indonesian bureaucratese that is hard to imitate -- any normal person would find it hard to write such weirdly ungrammatical prose.
The report of the Politics and Security Team in Dili (translation of Memo Number: M.53/Tim P4-OKTT/7/1999)