Fri, 14 Oct 1994

Moerdiono defends `white book' on abortive coup

JAKARTA (JP): Minister/State Secretary Moerdiono conceded yesterday that the new white paper on the 1965 abortive communist plot was based largely on court testimony without involving figures who made the history.

Moerdiono said a few years ago the government made the draft of the "white book" available to several "competent" figures for their comments. "But, frankly, none of them has responded to date," he told journalists.

The book Gerakan 30 September -- Pemberontakan Partai Komunis Indonesia, Latar Belakang, Aksi dan Penumpasannya (The September 30 Movement - the Rebellion of the Indonesian Communist Party, Background, Action and its Crushing) was published by the state secretariat early this month.

The book is intended as the official account of the events surrounding the Sept. 30 coup attempt by the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). The most debated part is its suggestion that President Sukarno defended the PKI in the coup's aftermath to the point of trying to absolve it of any guilt.

Advocates say the book should have explicitly linked Sukarno to the coup attempt that led to his downfall. Sukarno himself at one point said that the rebellion was a power struggle within the Army.

Critics say that although the book boasts an impressive list of reference documents, it lacks the accounts of those who witnessed and experienced the rebellion. Numerous top PKI leaders were court martialled, jail or executed.

Moerdiono defended his team of experts for not interviewing the history-makers to enrich the book, saying that it was difficult to find truly objective observers.

"I was one of those who witnessed the birth of the New Order government (under President Soeharto). I know many of us followed events from one side only while things changed rapidly," he said.


He argued that the book's data taken from trial proceedings was of unquestionable authenticity because it was cross-checked with testimonies of different people.

Interviews with those involved in the event would give incomplete data because none of them followed every development in the fast changing 1960s, he said.

"Only few people have a thorough knowledge about the events and they may give different accounts if interviewed," he said. He added that the 30 years that have elapsed since the coup allowed the writers to do their job more objectively.

The 173-page book, supported by 114 more pages of official documents, took four years to write and was published on Oct. 1 to coincide with the Pancasila Sanctity Day commemorated in remembrance of the tragedy.

Responding to whether the government would revise the book if new reliable data became available, Moerdiono said he would not even think of any revisions at the moment.

"I'm responsible for launching the book for the public and I have no doubt about its contents," he said.

Moerdiono said the government had dissolved a team formed to find the missing Surat Perintah 11 Maret (Supersemar) because the deadline had passed and they were unable to trace the letter from President Sukarno to then army chief of staff Lt. Gen. Soeharto, the incumbent president, the contents of which are still disputed.

The government says the letter contained a transfer of power order from Sukarno to Soeharto but another version says it was only Sukarno's order for Soeharto to crush the PKI.

"We cannot look for it forever," Moerdiono said. He then called on those who know its whereabouts to refer it to the government. (pan)