INDONESIA: Who Suffers?

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Indonesia's economic crisis grew daily more acute. In Central Java, hungry peasants were reported eating field mice. President Sukarno lingered on, neither ruling nor resting, though the government announced that he was leaving any minute for a vacation tour which would range from Tokyo to Cairo. But government officials were working to stop the forcible seizure of Dutch properties by workers inflamed with nationalist fervor at The Netherlands' refusal to discuss the question of West Irian (Netherlands New Guinea). In East Java, Indonesian army officers confronted a mob that had surrounded the home of a Dutch estate manager. "Are you brave, very brave?" asked one officer. "Yes, yes!" yelled the workers, apparently in the belief that the army would help them sack the Dutch estate. "All right, then," said the officer, "let's all invade West Irian." Shamefacedly, the embarrassed workers shuffled away.

Dutch estates, the government insisted, had been neither appropriated nor nationalized, but taken into "protective custody." Premier Djuanda declared that the Dutch have two choices: 1) surrender West Irian and resume normal relations with Indonesia; 2) hold West Irian and have their "entire interests in Indonesia liquidated."

Late Word. Ever since Sukarno touched off his expel-the-Dutch campaign, Indonesian moderates had been waiting hopefully for some word from quiet, capable Dr. Mohammed Hatta. First elected Vice President in 1945, Hatta is Indonesia's best-known politician after Sukarno, is regarded by many Indonesians as a much more stable and responsible statesman. He resigned 13 months ago in disgust at the President's insistence on including Communists in his Cabinet, has since rejected all overtures to come back into the government.

Last week, in an open letter that made headlines in every newspaper in Indonesia, Hatta made it perfectly clear that he, too, felt the Dutch must go. But he had nothing but scorn for Sukarno's tactics. Sukarno's policy of dramatics-and-damn-the-consequences was arbitrary, unrealistic and unnecessary. "If people are now forced to starve temporarily, it is the result of crazy steps organized by hot bloods who have done no clear-cut planning. It is not the Indonesian people who should suffer because of the stubbornness of the Dutch government, but the Dutch people, including those who have vested economic interests in Indonesia."

On Cue. Hatta pointedly underscored what every informed Indonesian knew already: that the country has almost no navy or air force and could not possibly take Netherlands New Guinea forcibly no matter how belligerently Sukarno & Co. may sound off in Djakarta. "Our youth." said Hatta, "should not be asked to swim across the ocean to get West Irian. It is not through war that we will get back West Irian but by peaceful ways and means."

As if on cue. Indonesian officials in Djakarta announced that because the U.S. had delayed so long in answering their request for arms, they may send a mission to Eastern Europe to see if they can buy Communist arms to beef up their obsolete arsenal.

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