Thursday, January 29, 2009

Part II: British Foreign Office/CIA/MI6 and 'The Fall Of Sukarno'

Hantu Laut

The birth of Malaysia was not without intrigue, espionage, psychological war, military intelligence and counter-intelligence. Sukarno had suddenly become the most dangerous man in the region. A crazy expansionist that needed to be checked, removed or liquidated.

Sukarno withdrew Indonesia from the United Nations as protest to the UN Security Council's recognition of Malaysia and threatened to form an alternative world body, the Conference of New Emerging Forces (CONEFO)

On 10 March 1965 Indonesian saboteurs bombed the MacDonald House in Singapore, killing 3 and injuring 33.

In the early stage of confrontation British and Commonwealth forces were not allowed to cross the border to pursue the enemy.Prior to the Singapore bombing in April 1964, the British government gave permission for its troops to cross the border into Kalimantan up to 3000 yards. In January 1965 the order was extended to attack up to 10,000 yards.British and Malaysian military intelligence also secretly gave aid to rebel groups in Indonesia, in Sulawesi and the restive province of Aceh in Sumatra, as way to weaken Sukarno's military confrontation campaign and destabilised his government.

The British were alarmed by Sukarno incorrigibility and possibility of a full-blown military adventurism.Something had to be done to get him out of the way.

Earlier, in 1962, it has been claimed that a CIA memo indicated that British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and US President John F.Kennedy alarmed by Sukarno's confrontation and the possibility of it spreading elsewhere in the region have agreed to 'liquidate' Sukarno.The plan was never carried out.John F.Kennedy was assassinated on 22 November 1963.

In a series of exposes by Paul Lashmar and Oliver James of the Independent newspaper of the involvement of the Foreign Office's IRD (Information Research Department) and Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) exposed that the decision to unseat Sukarno was decided by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and then executed under Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

To weaken the Sukarno regime the Foreign Office coordinated what it called 'psyops' (psychological operations) together with the military to spread 'black propaganda' casting bad light on the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), Chinese Indonesians and Sukarno.

Coordinated by the British High Commission in Singapore the propaganda machinery brought in the mass media, the BBC, Associated Press (AP) and the New York Times all filed sexed-up and embellished reports on the crisis in Indonesia.The manipulations by the Foreign Office's IRD included a report by BBC of the communists plan to slaughter the citizens of Jakarta.The false report was based solely on forgery planted by Norman Reddaway, a propaganda expert with the IRD.

Sukarno who fought the Dutch for independence of his country succeeded in declaring independence in 1945 and was appointed president.Although, outwardly he appeared a strong leader, Sukarno were actually weak and inexperience, easily influenced by people around him and lacked the administrative skill to run a nation.His management of the nation's economy was a total disaster. Bad economic planning resulted in failure to lift its citizens out of severe poverty and brought widespread famine and starvation.

Sukarno knowledge and understanding of economic problems was minimal and apparently below the level expected of a moderately intelligent high school student.He, himself, had admitted and said "I am not an economist, I am a revolutionary".

As far as Sukarno cared, his ministers were there to provide the President with funds for both his public and private use.A special budget was set aside for his expenditure on his overseas trips, his mistresses, his wives, girl friends and his other worldly pleasures.Sukarno also had a weakness for beautiful women and sought them out everywhere he went.To take advantage of him, some world leaders pandered to his licentiousness and provided him with what he desired.

Dewi Sukarno

When she was younger.

Sukarno officially married eight wives and the youngest was Dewi Sukarno, formerly Noko Nemoto, a young and beautiful Japanese girl he met on his visit to Japan.She met Sukarno when she was only 19 and was an art student and an entertainer.She had one daughter with Sukarno.

The Western powers, particularly the US increased their aid to Indonesia hoping the country would recover from its economic woes.The American only came to realise later how large sum of the money was squandered on Sukarno's project of "Crush Malaysia" campaign.When the US condemned his anti-Malaysia stance Sukarno blew his top and told the American to keep their money and told the US Ambassador "Go to hell with your aid".A month later he coined a new slogan "Banting Stir Untuk Berdiri Diatas Kaki Sendiri"(Turn the wheel around and stand on your own feet). By then the economy was in shambles.

The country was in default of foreign debt estimated at $2.4 billion.Foreign exchange earnings were unlikely to cover one month of import, tax collection was declining and uncontrolled government expenditure added to the already precarious economic situation.The greatest beneficiary of this economic disintegration was the Communists party.

The PKI (Parti Komunis Indonesia) which had a moderate support in 1950 had grown to almost 3 million members by 1965 and with its other auxiliary organisations the party have added another 20 million supporters.Its leader Ahmad Aidit said that if elections were held there and then the PKI would have captured more than 50% of the votes.The PKI had become the largest political party in Indonesia and the third largest communist party in the world after China and the Soviet Union and Sukarno's open patronage was well known and one that would eventually lead to his downfall.

The fateful day came on 30 September 1965.

At around 3:15 A.M. on October 1, seven groups of troops in trucks and buses comprising soldiers from the Tjakrabirawa (Presidential Guard) the Diponegoro (Central Java) and Brawijaya (East Java) Divisions, left the movement's base at Lubang Buaya, just south of Jakarta to kidnap seven generals, all members of the Army General Staff. Three of the intended victims, (Lieutenant General Ahmad Yani, Major General M.T.Haryono and Brigadier General D.I.Panjaitan) were killed at their homes, while three more (Major General Soeprapto, Major General S.Perman and Brigadier General Sutoyo) were taken alive. Meanwhile, the main target, Armed Forces Chief of Staff, General Abdul Harris Nasution managed to escape the kidnap attempt by jumping over a wall into the Iraqi embassy garden, but his Aide-de-camp, First Lieutenant Pierre Tendean, was captured by mistake after being mistaken for Nasution in the dark. Nasution's five-year old daughter, Ade Irma Suryani Nasution, was shot and died on 6 October. The generals and the bodies of their dead colleagues were taken to a place known as Lubang Buaya near the Halim Perdanakusumah Air Force Base where those still alive were shot, and the bodies of all the victims were thrown down a disused well.

At 5.30AM, General Suharto was woken up by his neighbor and told of the disappearances of the generals and the shootings at their homes. He went to KOSTRAD HQ and tried to contact other senior officers. He managed to contact the Naval and Police commanders, but was unable to contact the Air Force Commander. He then took command of the Army and issued orders confining all troops to barracks.

Due to poor planning, the coup leaders had failed to provide provisions for the troops on Lapangan Merdeka, who were becoming hot and thirsty. They were under the impression that they were guarding the president in the palace. Over the course of the afternoon, Suharto persuaded both battalions to give up without a fight, first the Brawijaya troops, who came to Kostrad HQ, then the Diponegoro troops, who withdrew to Halim. His troops gave Untung's forces inside the radio station an ultimatum and they also withdrew. By 7PM Suharto was in control of all the installations previously held by the 30 September Movement's forces. At 9PM he announced over the radio that he was now in command of the Army and that he would destroy the counter-revolutionary forces and save Sukarno. He then issued another ultimatum, this time to the troops at Halim. Later that evening, Sukarno left Halim and arrived in Bogor, where there was another presidential palace. Most of the rebel troops fled, and after a minor battle in the early hours of October 2, the Army regained control of Hali, Aidit flew to Yogyakarta and Dani to Madiun before the soldiers arrived (Wikipedia)

Aidit was shot in Yogyakarta by pro-government forces led by General Suharto. General Omar Dani and Foreign Minister Subandrio, both communist sympathisers, were jailed and eventually sentence to death for treason.

Below is an extract from Times magazine:

When Indonesia's Communists attempted a coup in September of 1965, General Omar Dani was commander of his country's MIG-equipped air force. As a Communist sympathizer, he allowed Halim Airbase near Djakarta to be used as headquarters and staging area for the plot; in turn, he was promised that he would eventually become chief of state. But the plot was smashed by the Indonesian army, and Dani, along with Foreign Minister Subandrio and other top government officials, was put in jail on charges of treason. Subandrio was tried by a military court and sentenced to death in October. On the day before Christmas, Dani got his: after three weeks of testimony before another military court, he too was sentenced to death.

As in the Subandrio trial, much of the evidence against Dani suggested that President Sukarno himself had known about, condoned, and even taken part in the attempted coup. Dani's trial, like Subandrio's, brought renewed demands from Indonesia's anti-Communist professional and student associations that Sukarno himself be removed from his position as President and brought to court. The father of his country, however, seemed unfazed.

Last week, in a brief ceremony at his summer palace in the mountain resort of Bogor, Sukarno calmly swore in one of his old leftist cronies, Suwito Kusumowidagdo, as Ambassador to the U.S. The appointment hardly pleased the military regime, which now claims most of the power in Indonesia, and it raised eyebrows in Washington. The Bung's only answer was a sentence of advice to his new ambassador: "Tell them that Sukarno is still President of Indonesia and that he is the man who sent you there."

Suharto immediately blamed the PKI as the masterminds of the attempted coup.The army with the help of the locals went on a rampage to kill suspected communist.There were widespread purging of communists and their sympathisers.It was reported that almost a million suspected communists had been killed.

Sukarno was stripped of his presidential title on 12 March 1967 and remained under house arrest until his death at age 69 in 1970. Suharto was appointed President.

The American and British propaganda machines had, somehow, helped to destabilise Sukarno and the PKI.Although, such clandestine operations were seldom admitted by the US administration, the CIA had been active in many parts of the world to bring down leaders not favoured by the US or deemed as threat to world peace.

The confrontation stopped under Suharto.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very refreshing but eerie.
I recalled one morning when I was merely 12 years old, before the break of dawn, I heard the drone of aircraft above my home at Tanjung Aru, Jesselton. It was flying very low. We are still under the British Rule then.
It was reported in the North Borneo Times later that an Indonesian Military aircraft had intruded and left without challenge. In Tawau they managed to drop some propaganda leaflets which I barely remember its content but the nude pictures of western woman that went with it still linger fresh in my mind hehe..
Well, we have survived this far from being invaded by any neighbour Countries, considering how fragile were we from that time and even until now...