Dr. Hubertus J. Van Mook, Acting Governor General of The Netherlands Indies, exchanged toasts in Batavia last week with the "Prime Minister" of the rebel Indonesian Republic, though Dutch officers still walked out of British parties whenever Republican Army leaders appeared. The civilian amenities held more significance than the military discourtesy.
Van Mook's banquet for Prime Minister Sutan Sjharir celebrated the signing of a truce designed to limit, and eventually to halt hostilities in the Indonesian Republic (Java and Sumatra). It also symbolized Dutch recognition that Empire days were ended by fiery "President" Soekarno's revolution. Handsome, fezzed Soekarno (he has no first name) remained aloof from both negotiations and banquets; he would be free to repudiate Sjahrir should the Premier concede too much.
Indies "U.S.A." When negotiations collapsed in Java last June, old-line Dutch imperialists went down with them. Van Mook called leaders of outlying Indonesian islands to a conference at Malino in the Celebes, proposed and got approved a semi-autonomous "United States of Indonesia." At the same time, the Dutch Parliament established a special commission to deal with the Indonesian Republic, named Holland's brilliant ex-Premier Willem Schermerhorn as its chairman. Schermerhorn will now negotiate with the Indonesians on 1) the degree of autonomy to be granted the Republic; 2) the territory to be included in the Republic's area.
"Always a Chance." With the British slated to pull out their 20,000 "peace police" troops Nov. 30, and with 90,000 Dutch troops in the islands and more coming, the Indonesians were ready to negotiate. Soekarno had won much already now he might yield on complete, immediate independence in exchange for inclusion of disputed Sumatra in the Republic.
No matter how the details were worked out, both Holland and Indonesia (and Britain, because she wants a peaceful India and Asia) would gain from settlement. Said pragmatic Dutchmen: "We are politically losing Java and Sumatra, but there is always a chance for Dutch private enterprise in Indonesia."