Peace: the sooner the better
The Straits Times, May 2, 1966

Excerpt of the interview with Suharto

Question: Are you in complete agreement on the unconditional recognition of Singapore?
Answer: Yes, I am. Our recognition of Singapore will be unconditional because we have observed and appreciated Singapore's will to be fully independent.

Question: What are your views on the British bases in Singapore? Have you read Mr. Lee Kuan Yew's statements in the past week in London? Would you agree with Mr. Lee's views and the time limit suggested (about 10 years) for the bases to be withdrawn?
Answer: I think the British intend to keep their bases in Singapore and I consider this a threat to Indonesia. But I am also convinced that Singapore, as a good neighbour will be in a position to remove all obstacles which may lead to a misunderstanding. We regard Mr. Lee's statement of 10 years for the continuation of the base in Singapore, as important, because Singapore and Indonesia will have to decide the future hand-in-hand. I respect Mr. Lee's views and ideas and I do not believe he will permit anything to happen that will harm our good neighbour policy. Mr. Lee knows that Indonesia has no territorial ambitions. Our only worry is to see that the bases in Singapore will not be used to threaten Indonesia's position.

Question: Mr. Lee has assured Tengku Abdul Rahman that Singapore would never do anything to jeopardise the security of Malaysia. His Deputy Premier, Dr. Toh Chin Chye, has also given the same assurance in the Singapore parliament. What is your comment on these assurances of the Singapore leaders to the Malaysian government?
Answer: The leaders of Singapore have the right to express their views to other countries. It is their prerogative and I do not wish to comment.

Question: In Jakarta, about two weeks ago, when you installed Gen. Umar Wirahadittusumah, you said that Indonesia could accept Malaysia provided the people of Borneo really wanted it. Could you please clarify this? Do you specifically mean there must be a referendum?
Answer: The question of a referendum or the type of referendum must conform to the wishes of the people of Sabah and Sarawak. It can be agreed upon the principle of "mushawara" (friendly consultations) so long as it reflects the wishes of the people in a democratic way.

We want to end it today, if not tomorrow

Question: If there is a genuine desire to reach a peaceful settlement with Malaysia, is it not possible to stop the shooting war for the duration of the peace talks?
Answer: There should be no pre-conditions to peace talks. There is no shooting war. There has been no declaration of war. Our forces are merely there in response to the call of the people for help. All the shooting that had occurred there had stemmed from the British troops violating certain areas. If, as you say, there has been little or no shooting in the past week, then it is possible that the British troops have not been indulging in violations of late.

Question: Do you think the chances of a peaceful settlement with Malaysia today are better than before the Sept 30 coup?
Answer: It (a peaceful solution) will depend on both sides, but I hope the sooner the better.

Question: The PKI recently attempted to take over Indonesia. The Malayan Communist Party fought for 12 years to capture Malaya. Indonesia and Malaysia are almost in the same boat. Do you think Indonesia and Malaysia should co-operate to thwart any future Communist designs?
Answer: The Communist problem is the primary concern of every Government in this region, but each country has to tacke it in its own way.

Question: How would Indonesia view a Communist Singapore or Malaysia?
Answer: I don't care who controls Singapore or Malaysia so long as they do not pose a threat to Indonesia. But, if a threat should exist, then we should not tolerate such situation.

Question: Tengku Abdul Rahman and Tun Razak both expressed doubts as to whether the new administration in Jakarta is firmly in control of Indonesia. They are afraid that any agreement reached in peace talks might be vetoed. Would you care to comment on this?
Answer: We should not depend on the views of Tengku Abdul Rahman and Tun Razak on this point to reach a settlement. They are not supposed to know our problems. We know our problems best.

Question: Is a referendum in Sabah and Sarawak, the only demand that Indonesia will make for a peaceful settlement with Malaysia?
Answer: I have told you we have no territorial ambitions in the territories whatsoever. We will not indulge in any activities in contradiction to the philosophy of pantjasila. Our main concern is to give help to the people in their struggle for their rights for democratic self-determination in keeping with the stipulations contained in the Manila agreement. Therefore, Indonesia's confrontation cannot be taken to mean territorial ambition of an intention to be hostile to the peoples of Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak.

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