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Southeast Asia and New Zealand : a History of Regional and Bilateral Relations.
 9789812305473, 9812305475

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Reproduced from Southeast Asia and New Zealand: A History of Regional and Bilateral Relations, edited by Anthony L. Smith (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2005). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

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The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) was established as an autonomous organization in 1968. It is a regional centre dedicated to the study of socio-political, security and economic trends and developments in Southeast Asia and its wider geostrategic and economic environment. The Institute’s research programmes are the Regional Economic Studies (RES, including ASEAN and APEC), Regional Strategic and Political Studies (RSPS), and Regional Social and Cultural Studies (RSCS). ISEAS Publications, an established academic press, has issued more than 1,000 books and journals. It is the largest scholarly publisher of research about Southeast Asia from within the region. ISEAS Publications works with many other academic and trade publishers and distributors to disseminate important research and analyses from and about Southeast Asia to the rest of the world.

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Contents First published in Singapore in 2005 by Institute of Southeast Asian Studies 30 Heng Mui Keng Terrace Pasir Panjang Singapore 119614 E-mail: [email protected] Website: http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg First published in New Zealand in 2005 by New Zealand Institute of International Affairs in association with Victoria University Press Victoria University of Wellington PO Box 600 Wellington, New Zealand Website: http://www.vuw.ac.nz/vup

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise,without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. © 2005 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore The responsibility for facts and opinions in this publication rests exclusively with the editor and contributors and their interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views or the policy of the Insititute or its supporters. ISEAS Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data Southeast Asia and New Zealand : a history of regional and bilateral relations / edited by Anthony Smith. 1. Asia, Southeastern—Foreign relations—New Zealand. 2. New Zealand—Foreign relations—Asia, Southeastern. 3. Asia, Southeastern—Foreign economic relations—New Zealand. 4. New Zealand—Foreign economic relations—Asia, Southeastern. I. Smith, Anthony L. DS525.9 N45S72 2005 ISBN 981-230-305-7 (ISEAS, Singapore) ISBN 0-86473-519-7 (Victoria University Press, New Zealand)

Typeset by International Typesetters Pte. Ltd. Printed in Singapore by Seng Lee Press Pte. Ltd.

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CONTENTS

Contributors Glossary Preface

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Introduction: The Emergence of New Zealand’s Relationship with Southeast Asia Anthony L. Smith

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1. The Defence Dimension Ian McGibbon

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2. Coming to Terms with the Regional Identity Jim Rolfe

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3. The Economic Relationship Gary R. Hawke

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4. The “Dilemma” of Recognition: New Zealand and Cambodia Anthony L. Smith

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5. Diplomacy, Peacekeeping, and Nation-Building: New Zealand and East Timor Stephen Hoadley

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6. Uneasy Partners: New Zealand and Indonesia Michael Green

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7. Growing Apart: New Zealand and Malaysia Mark G. Rolls

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8. Beyond the Rhetoric: New Zealand and Myanmar Guy Wilson-Roberts

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9. Warmth Without Depth: New Zealand and the Philippines Rhys Richards

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10. Palm and Pine: New Zealand and Singapore Gerald Hensley

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11. From an Alliance to a Broad Relationship: New Zealand and Thailand Anthony L. Smith

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12. In the Shadow of War: New Zealand and Vietnam Roberto Rabel

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CONTRIBUTORS

Michael Green was New Zealand’s Ambassador to Indonesia from 1997 to 2001, after which he was a Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Wellington for three years. He began a posting as High Commissioner in Fiji at the end of 2004. Gary Hawke is Professor of Economic History and Head of the School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He is also Chair of the Board of the New Zealand Committee of the Pacific Economic Co-operation Council (NZPECC). Gerald Hensley was a former New Zealand High Commissioner to Singapore. He also served as Permanent Head of the Prime Minister’s Department (1980 to 1987) and as Secretary of Defence (1991 to 1999). Stephen Hoadley is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Studies, University of Auckland. Ian McGibbon, general editor (war history) in the New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage’s History Group and managing editor of New Zealand International Review, has written extensively on New Zealand’s defence and foreign policies.

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Roberto Rabel is Director of the International Office, University of Otago and author of the forthcoming volume New Zealand and the Vietnam War: Politics and Diplomacy (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2005). Rhys Richards is a Pacific maritime historian, writing on Pacific arts and artifacts. Until he retired in 1999 he served with the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, including as High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands (1996–99) and as a diplomat in the first New Zealand Embassy in the Philippines (1972–75). Jim Rolfe is an Associate Professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Hawai’i. Mark G. Rolls is a Senior Lecturer in Asian politics in the Department of Political Science and Public Policy, University of Waikato. Anthony L. Smith is an Associate Research Professor at the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, Hawai’i and an Associate Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore. Guy Wilson-Roberts is a member of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific (CSCAP) New Zealand national committee and a former public servant.

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GLOSSARY

1RNZIR ADB ADAF AFP AFTA AMDA ANZAM ANZUK ANZUS APEC ARF ASA ASEAN ASEM ASPAC BFI BSPP CEP CER

1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment Asian Development Bank Asia Development Assistance Facility Armed Forces of the Philippines ASEAN Free Trade Area Anglo-Malayan Defence Arrangements Australia, New Zealand, Malaya Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom Australia, New Zealand, United States Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation ASEAN Regional Forum Association of Southeast Asia Association of Southeast Asian Nations Asia-Europe Meeting Asian and Pacific Council Bukidnon forest project Burma Socialist Programme Party Closer Economic Partnership Closer Economic Relations (between Australia and New Zealand)

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CHOGM CIET CPM CSR DA DK ECAFE ECOSOC EEC EU FALINTIL

FAO FEALAC FRETILIN

FPDA GATT GCKD GRUNK GSP HOM IADS ILO INTERFET Malphindo MAP

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Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting Committee for an Independent East Timor Communist Party of Malaya Commonwealth Strategic Reserve Defence Attaché Democratic Kampuchea Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East Economic and Social Council European Economic Community European Union Forças Armadas de Libertação Nacional de Timor Leste (Armed Forces of National Liberation of East Timor) Food and Agriculture Organization Forum for East Asia and Latin America Frente Revolucionária do Timor Leste Independente (Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor). Five-Power Defence Arrangements General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea Royal Government of National Union of Kampuchea Generalized System of Preferences Head of Mission Integrated Air Defence System International Labour Organization International Force East Timor Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia Military Assistance Programme

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MFA MFAT MFN MOU MP NAFTA NAM NEI NGO NLD NUP NVA NZAID NZDF NZFAR NZFATR NZHC NZPD ODA OPM PAFTAD PAP PAVN PBEC PECC PKI PM PMC

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Minister for Foreign Affairs New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Most-Favoured Nation Memorandum of Understanding Member of Parliament New Zealand Australian Free Trade Agreement (later also North American Free Trade Area) Non-Aligned Movement Netherlands East Indies non-governmental organization National League for Democracy (Myanmar) National Unity Party (Myanmar) North Vietnamese Army New Zealand’s International Aid and Development Agency New Zealand Defence Force New Zealand Foreign Affairs Review New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade Review New Zealand High Commission New Zealand Parliamentary Debates official development assistance Free Papua Organisation The Pacific Trade and Development Conference Peoples’ Action Party (Singapore) People’s Army of Vietnam Pacific Basin Economic Council Pacific Economic Co-operation Council Indonesian Communist Party Prime Minister Post-Ministerial Conference (ASEAN)

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PRC RAF RNZAF RNZN RUSI RVN SAS SD SEACDT SEATO SFA SLORC SOC SPDC SSEA Tatmadaw TIPP TradeNZ UDT UMNO UNAMET UNDP UNGA UNMISET UNTAET UNTAC WTO

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People’s Republic of China Royal Air Force Royal New Zealand Air Force Royal New Zealand Navy Republic of the United States of Indonesia Republic of Vietnam Special Air Service Secretary of Defence South-East Asian Collective Defence Treaty (Manila Pact) South-East Asia Treaty Organization Secretary of Foreign Affairs State Law and Order Restoration Council (Myanmar) State of Cambodia State Peace and Development Council South and Southeast Asia Division, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade armed forces, Myanmar Trade and Investment Promotion Program Trade New Zealand União Democrática Timorense (Timorese Democratic Union) United Malays National Organisation United Nations Mission in East Timor United Nations Development Programme United Nations General Assembly United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor United Nations Transitional Authority United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia World Trade Organization

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PREFACE

I would like to acknowledge the strong support that this project has received from the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs (NZIIA), especially its former research committee chair, Bruce Brown, who played a leading role in guiding this project through. I am grateful too for the support given to this volume by the Institute’s Director, Brian Lynch, and the current research committee chair, Associate Professor Rod Alley. I would also like to thank Historical Research Grants Advisory Group of the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), particularly its successive chairs, Ian Kennedy and James Kember, for the necessary funding for aspects of this project. Appreciation also goes to John Mills at MFAT for his efforts in locating primary archives for the authors in this volume. Thanks also go to Triena Ong, Head of the Publications Unit at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, for the publication of this project. The various authors that have contributed to this volume have done so in their personal capacities. The views expressed in each chapter are the personal judgements of the authors, and, in the case of those in government employment, do not represent any official government views. The chapters in this volume are written from New Zealand’s point of view. Most chapters have made extensive use of archival files kept by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Unless otherwise noted, file numbers found in the notation refer to these archives. It

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should be noted that MFAT has undergone several name changes over the years: Department of External Affairs, 1949 to 1969; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1970 to 1987; Ministry of External Relations and Trade, 1988 to 1991; and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 1992 to the present time. All figures given in this volume are in New Zealand dollars unless otherwise stated. Some earlier figures are given in New Zealand pounds as New Zealand did not adopt the decimal currency system until 10 July 1967. Anthony L. Smith

Reproduced from Southeast Asia and New Zealand: A History of Regional and Bilateral Relations, edited by Anthony L. Smith (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2005). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg > Southeast Asia 1 Introduction: The Emergence of New Zealand’s Relationship with

INTRODUCTION: THE EMERGENCE OF NEW ZEALAND’S RELATIONSHIP WITH SOUTHEAST ASIA A N T H O N Y

L.

S M I T H

New Zealand’s relationship with Southeast Asia has evolved significantly since the end of World War II (WWII). With the exception of New Zealand and Australian pressure on Great Britain to shore up the Singapore base prior to WWII New Zealand did not have interests in Southeast Asia beyond the continuation of British power in the region. The end of the War in the Pacific dragged New Zealand into a relationship with the countries of Southeast Asia. This interest was based on meeting future threats that might come through a weak and unstable Southeast Asia. In the 1950s a New Zealand Minister of External Affairs, T.C. Webb, characterized Southeast Asia as “like so many stepping stones leading down to Australia and New Zealand”.1 Asia as a whole appeared to be a large threatening continent, in which communism was taking hold. Furthermore, New Zealand’s policy-makers believed the Southeast

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Asian region was being destabilized through external subversion as part of a Cold War confrontation with China and the Soviet Union. Thus, in the immediate post-war decades, New Zealand foreign policy in Southeast Asia was concerned with security in Southeast Asia. The stability of struggling regimes throughout the region was of grave concern throughout the first half of the Cold War. Wellington went along with a two-pronged plan formulated by the western allies to promote regional stability. First, New Zealand’s contribution to the Colombo Plan, initially designed to channel aid to commonwealth Asia and later to much of non-communist Asia, assisted with developmental aid projects in South and Southeast Asia in order to provide social cohesion and economic security for the emerging post-colonial nations. In 1951, F.W. Doidge, Minister of External Affairs, observed that giving aid to the wider region emerged from New Zealand’s desire to “stem the tide of Communism”.2 While force had been necessary in some contexts (like Korea), Doidge argued, helping the “teeming masses” out of their poverty was a better means to check communism in the long term. Secondly, New Zealand signed an array of regional defence arrangements including the Canberra Pact with Australia, the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve, ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, United States) and the South-East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). New Zealand’s military strategy in Southeast Asia did mean contact with the countries of Southeast Asia, but was primarily concerned with maintaining Britain and the United States in the region to guarantee the security buffer. Thus, due to Cold War concerns, New Zealand’s initial post-war contact with Southeast Asia became embedded in a framework of collective security and official development assistance. Although Wellington saw domestic resilience within each country as more useful than foreign military intervention, New Zealand did participate in various military campaigns in Southeast Asia. New Zealand armed forces took part in the Malayan Emergency, the Borneo Confrontation and the Vietnam War, as well as having garrison troops in Singapore and briefly in Thailand. This was all part of New Zealand’s “forward defence” regional security strategy, or the strategy to meet, and attempt to curb, any threat from the north. The notion of “forward defence” was dropped in the 1970s with

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the winding up of the Vietnam War. Changes in New Zealand, and in the wider region, prompted dramatic change at this time. The Vietnam War was not only unpopular in certain quarters in New Zealand, but it ended the bipartisan consensus on foreign policy. The Kirk/Rowling Labour Government (1972–75) paved the way for changes in New Zealand’s relations with Asia. Kirk, as part of his “moral” foreign policy (as he characterized it), protested against the American “rolling thunder” bombing operations in North Vietnam, established diplomatic recognition with Hanoi, removed the trade embargo on North Vietnam, and scaled down New Zealand’s commitment to South Vietnam. Recognition of China, in 1972, was also indicative of New Zealand’s altered perceptions of that country. New Zealand also sought to broaden its ties with the countries of Southeast Asia. The Kirk administration explored means of finding new avenues to engage with Southeast Asia through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to replace the moribund SEATO. Wellington saw ASEAN as far more appropriate to local conditions than the old alliance arrangements. As noted in many documents and statements on Southeast Asia, since this time New Zealand has looked at ways to “broaden” relationships, while the intimacy of military arrangements was in decline. However, Cold War politics would intrude again on New Zealand’s relations with Southeast Asia. In 1978 the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia and installed a puppet government. For more than a decade, the Cambodian issue, as it became known, was central to ASEAN’s agenda. ASEAN, notably through Thai officials, lobbied New Zealand not to recognize the Vietnamese-installed government. With the withdrawal of Vietnamese forces from Cambodia, the Cold War in Southeast Asia was over and strategic competition within the region was largely subdued. Modern security threats in Southeast Asia, from Wellington’s point of view, revolve around transnational problems such as drug smuggling and defeating the terrorist threat. New Zealand’s relations with Southeast Asia have assumed an important trade element, with large increases in the last few decades. The reality of New Zealand’s post-war trade dependence became particularly apparent when Britain attempted to join the European Economic Community (EEC). New Zealand needed to look elsewhere for new

Anthony L. Smith

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trading markets. Although Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the United States are more important markets, a number of the Southeast Asian countries featured in this survey were identified by New Zealand officials as markets for New Zealand goods. This trade relationship has largely consisted of New Zealand exports of dairy products and other foodstuffs to Southeast Asia and the importation of petroleum and semi and highly processed goods from the region. While the aid relationship has been winnowed down since the end of the Cold War, thus marking the end of a powerful imperative for the programme, New Zealand continues to maintain a healthy aid relationship with a number of Southeast Asian countries. * * * As the chapters in this volume demonstrate, each bilateral relationship has quite different characteristics. In fact, this volume goes beyond the tendency to lump Southeast Asia together as a single entity by disaggregating individual bilateral relationships. Nonetheless, some themes do emerge from the text. First of all, a number of the relationships investigated here, the authors conclude, have declined in their overall significance. Taken as a whole, New Zealand cannot claim to have greater intimacy with Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand than it did during the various crises of the Cold War. Relationships, as the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade stress, have become more multifaceted. Where once they often revolved around defence and aid, ties have grown to include strong diplomatic and commercial elements — which grew as the other elements declined. Second, the decline of Western security arrangements in Southeast Asia, and in some cases New Zealand’s direct security role in Southeast Asia, did not remove the importance of the region for New Zealand. From the 1970s New Zealand realized the centrality of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in terms of Southeast Asia’s security. The importance of ASEAN to New Zealand is reflected in Wellington’s decision to support ASEAN wishes in the controversial cases of East Timor and Cambodia. Despite the generally pacific nature of Southeast

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Asia’s strategic environment it remains the case that Southeast Asia is still of prime strategic importance to New Zealand. New Zealand trade is dependent on shipping that passes through this region. The war on terrorism adds a new dimension to regional security. Other transnational threats, notably drug smuggling, are also of concern to New Zealand policy-makers. Third, since New Zealand first took notice of Southeast Asia after WWII, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia were viewed by New Zealand officials as the most important countries in Southeast Asia from New Zealand’s standpoint. Numerous documents mention this priority. This has remained the case into contemporary times. Singapore and Malaysia are New Zealand’s most important trading partners in Southeast Asia, and New Zealand, through the Five-Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) maintains an active alliance with these countries. Indonesia’s sheer size and importance to the stability of Southeast Asia mean that it too remains high on New Zealand’s radar screen, even if contact with this country is somewhat less than Singapore and Malaysia. Emerging concerns about terrorism in the region also centre largely on these three countries, although this has also become an issue for the Philippines and Thailand. Fourth, although New Zealand aid originally aimed at improving stability in Southeast Asia, especially to check communism, the end of the Cold War did not mean an end to New Zealand’s aid programme. Secondary motives of establishing goodwill in an important region and even altruism have seen programmes continue. New Zealand aid is still largely channelled into regions and sectors that were established decades ago, such as, for example, northeast Thailand and the southern Philippines. Fifth, Southeast Asia has been established as an important nontraditional marketplace for New Zealand goods and services. New Zealand officials identified the importance of Southeast Asia as an export destination in the 1960s and worked hard to gain market access for New Zealand products, knowing full well that New Zealand’s dependence on the British market was coming to an end. Even with the Asian Financial Crisis, New Zealand’s trade with Southeast Asia has continued to grow.

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Although scholars have written on aspects of the New Zealand relationship with Southeast Asia, in the form of analyses of functional issues or country relationships, this book is the first systematic account. In contrast to a voluminous amount of material on Australia’s relations with Southeast Asia, the New Zealand role in the nearest Asian region to its north has not received a great deal of scholarly attention, and yet the importance of Southeast Asia to New Zealand should not be overlooked. This book is divided into twelve chapters. The first three chapters cover the themes of defence, regional organization, and trade and commerce. The remaining nine chapters each feature the bilateral relationships with New Zealand’s principal partners in Southeast Asia. Due to lack of bilateral contact, Brunei and Laos are not afforded separate chapters, although Laos does feature marginally in the chapter on New Zealand’s relations with Thailand. Although there is no New Zealand resident official representation in Cambodia and Myanmar, both represent important diplomatic episodes that cannot be left out in considering New Zealand’s role in Southeast Asia. East Timor, although not a member of ASEAN, aspires to be considered part of the Southeast Asian region, and is included in this study. Furthermore, diplomatic issues surrounding East Timor have played a major role in relations with Indonesia and the wider ASEAN region. NOTES 1. New Zealand Parliamentary Debates, vol. 303, 1954, in New Zealand Foreign Policy: Statements and Documents, 1943–1957 (Wellington, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1972), p. 350. 2. New Zealand External Affairs Review, vol. I, no. 1 (April 1951), p. 18.

Reproduced from Southeast Asia and New Zealand: A History of Regional and Bilateral Relations, edited by Anthony L. Smith (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2005). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at 7 1. The Defence Dimension < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

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THE DEFENCE DIMENSION I A N

M C G I B B O N

Introduction During the course of the twentieth century New Zealand’s defence relationship with Southeast Asia varied considerably in form and importance. From a situation of being virtually ignored, the region moved for a time to the centre of New Zealand’s defence effort before again becoming relatively insignificant. Both perceptions and realities depended on a colonial status shared at first by both New Zealand and most territories of the region and from which they all eventually moved to independence. For the first half of the century Southeast Asia, so far as New Zealand gave it any attention at all, was a means to an end. New Zealanders perceived the region through the lens of imperial security. The various territories, mainly under the sway of Western powers, aroused no sense of threat. Nonetheless Southeast Asia came to occupy a key position in New Zealand defence preparations. It did so because of its importance to imperial strategy for the protection of Australia, New Zealand, and other British territories in the Pacific. Later, the region was seen as a barrier to the southward movement of forces potentially hostile to Australia and

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New Zealand, an area in which a national defence effort was demanded. Southeast Asia seemed potentially threatening because of the perceived danger that it might succumb to these forces or join them. In the latter stages of the century New Zealand engaged with Southeast Asia in its own right. It was a very different region, composed of independent countries that emerged from the wave of decolonization that reshaped the post–World War II world. There was a change of attitude from seeing Asia as a threat — a perception of the region that was generally pessimistic and unfavourable, focusing on the poverty and susceptibility to outside influences of the local populations — to one of economic opportunity. But as the century ended the rise of Muslim extremist movements began to cause a new concern, presenting a threat that clearly could not be met merely by resort to traditional military responses.

Singapore Strategy Southeast Asia first aroused New Zealand’s security attention after World War I. The focus was narrow, for it encompassed little more than the island of Singapore at first, though eventually the security of Singapore demanded a widening of the scope of British defence planning to encompass the surrounding territories, especially on the Malayan peninsula. Singapore became of importance because of the evolution of British strategy to deal with the potential threat posed by Japan, the world’s third largest naval power by 1920. Exerting British power in the Pacific region demanded the creation of a major naval base at which the fleet could concentrate. Facilities capable of handling the latest battleships were needed, and had to be protected from a pre-emptive Japanese attack. Strategically located Singapore, once described by a British politician as the “Clapham Junction” of the Pacific,1 was chosen as the site of this base. Work began on it in 1923 but was delayed by changes of government in the United Kingdom.2 Fully accepting the basic tenets of this British strategy and anxious to encourage progress with the project, New Zealand contributed £1 million towards the construction of the base between 1927 and 1935. It was in the context of the Singapore strategy that the idea of New Zealand troops operating in the region was first mooted. In 1933 New

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Zealand’s military authorities urged the government to consider raising an infantry battalion and an artillery battery for peacetime service in the Far East with a view to bolstering the defence of the base. Because of Singapore’s unsuitable climatic conditions and lack of facilities for training such units as part of a bigger force, they proposed that these troops be stationed in India, where the British had a large military establishment. From this relatively close location, they could be rapidly transferred to the base in an emergency. Although the idea was endorsed by a conference of naval commanders in the region at Singapore in early 1934, nothing came of it. (Another three decades would pass before a New Zealand force of this composition was deployed in the region.)3 Despite the importance of the Singapore Base to New Zealand’s security, New Zealand did not play a major role in the region during World War II. It made its main contribution to the Commonwealth war effort in the Mediterranean theatre. Not until 1941 were New Zealand personnel sent to Southeast Asia, about 400 in all. The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) sent an aerodrome construction squadron, which built a few airfields in southern Malaya, the need to defend the peninsula to protect the base having belatedly been recognized. A newly formed fighter unit, 488 Squadron, followed, but it was still working up when the Japanese struck on 8 December 1941. Fighting a far more numerous enemy equipped with aircraft that outclassed their obsolescent Brewster Buffaloes, the New Zealand pilots faced an impossible task. Other of their countrymen served in Royal Air Force (RAF) squadrons fighting alongside them.4 The Singapore strategy failed miserably. Far from being able to send most of the main British battlefleet, as earlier envisaged, Britain had in the end been able to spare only the battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battlecruiser HMS Repulse. Comprising Force Z, they had arrived in Singapore on 4 December 1941 in a blaze of publicity in the forlorn hope that Japan might be deterred from going to war. As planned, the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) light cruiser HMNZS Achilles set off for Singapore to join the force, but events overtook this intention. Operating from bases in Indochina, Japanese bombers destroyed the British ships off the Malayan coast on 10 December, a disaster that cast a pall over the whole Commonwealth.

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Worse was to follow. Japanese forces that had landed in southern Thailand and northern Malaya on 8 December drove southwards, forcing their opponents back on to Singapore Island. The surrender of the 130,000 Commonwealth and imperial troops on the island on 15 February 1942 provided an ignominious end to the much vaunted Singapore strategy. Following the fall of Singapore, New Zealand’s war effort in Southeast Asia was very limited. A few New Zealanders, resident in Malaya before the war, remained in the country with stay-behind parties that organized a guerrilla effort against the occupiers. Others served in the RAF in Burma. A few score army engineers would also be involved in this theatre. In the later stages of the war New Zealand Fleet Air Arm pilots and seamen serving in the Royal Navy took part in operations against Japanese targets in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) and Singapore. There was also some minor New Zealand involvement in covert operations in Borneo at the end of the war.

Cold War Approach New Zealand’s relative wartime aloofness from Southeast Asia was replicated in the first decade after World War II: with its defence policy focused on the Middle East, Southeast Asia received only limited attention. The strategic situation in the immediate post-war period encouraged this approach. The outcome of the Pacific War had left the United States supreme in the Pacific region. Not only was it in control of the former enemy’s territory and ensconced in a myriad of bases in the Pacific but also its fleet now surpassed those of all other naval powers combined. As the Pacific War had demonstrated, sea power was the key to the security of the South Pacific, and US naval predominance seemed reassuringly unchallengeable, at least in the next two or three decades. The Japanese navy had ceased to exist, and no Asian state possessed more than a rudimentary navy. For the time being Wellington perceived no threat from Southeast Asia. Even though occupying it all for nearly four years, Japan had not been able to inflict any damage on New Zealand because, ultimately, its sea power proved insufficient. Now the British, French, Dutch, and

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Portuguese were moving back into the region, reasserting control of their territories, albeit with varying degrees of success. New Zealand drew reassurance from this European presence. For a time, it placed importance in the restoration of British control of the Singapore naval base, but the context had changed substantially from that existing before 1939. Singapore no longer figured as the key element in an imperial defence strategy. The international situation in the immediate post-war years continued to be dominated by European politics. The confrontation that developed between the Soviet Union and its former allies aroused concern in Wellington, as in other Western capitals. This emerging Cold War seemed to demand the readying of forces to meet the danger that it would break out into a “hot war”. In these circumstances New Zealand agreed to make available most of its defence resources for a Commonwealth defence effort in the Middle East in the event of outright war with the Soviet Union — in effect a re-run of its World War II effort, on a larger scale. This would involve an augmented infantry division, ten air force squadrons and such warships as could be spared. To ensure that New Zealand’s division could be made available within three months of the outbreak of war, the government introduced compulsory military training after a referendum in September 1949 had endorsed the idea. Preparation of “3NZEF” began in early 1950. Although of secondary importance in this scheme of things, Southeast Asia did not escape attention completely. Australia jibbed at following New Zealand’s lead in making a firm commitment to assist in the Middle East. Canberra insisted on the preparation of contingency plans to meet the possibility of threats developing in both the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The divergence in approach reflected Australia’s greater flexibility given its greater resources, its wartime experience in Malaya, where it had suffered substantial casualties, and Borneo, and the fact that it had suffered physical damage at the hands of an Asian enemy, in the form of more than a hundred Japanese air raids on Australian territory. New Zealand went along with Australian plans to ensure that appropriate defence measures were taken in the region to the north of the two countries. In 1944, in Canberra, it had entered an agreement

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with Australia that had envisaged a “regional zone of defence”. This would encompass “the arc of islands North and North East of Australia, to Western Samoa and the Cook Islands”.5 Although the “Anzaxis” (as a British diplomat later dubbed it)6 did not really get off the ground, the zone of defence re-emerged in the late 1940s in the guise of Commonwealth defence planning for the region. Staff-level discussions in Melbourne in 1949 led to the development of a contingency planning arrangement known as ANZAM — derived from Australia, New Zealand, Malaya — that covered the eastern Indian Ocean, Malaya, Indonesia, and an area in the South Pacific covering all New Zealand’s island territories and Western Samoa. New Zealand participated, though without enthusiasm. In particular Australian dominance of the resulting planning arrangements did not appeal to the government. Wellington made clear that its commitment to the Middle East took priority. In any case ANZAM planning was confined, for the time being, to the defence of sea communications in the area. At this stage the defence of Malaya remained a British responsibility.7 Despite the Middle East focus of its defence policy, New Zealand’s first post-war military deployment was to the Southeast Asian region. It was precipitated by communist successes in the Chinese Civil War. As communist forces swept south in 1949, fears grew about the security of the British colony of Hong Kong. To assist in maintaining communications between Hong Kong and Singapore, New Zealand dispatched half a flight of 41 Squadron to operate with the RAF from a base in Singapore; it also offered to make available up to three frigates for a Commonwealth effort should open hostilities break out with the communist forces. The Dakota transport aircraft of 41 Squadron became involved in hostilities — though not in defence of Hong Kong. In the late 1940s British control of Malaya had been challenged by the Chinese dominated Malayan Communist Party, whose military wing was based on the Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army, the guerrilla forces that had operated in the Malayan jungles with British support during the 1941–45 Japanese occupation. Even before the New Zealand airmen arrived in Singapore, an emergency had been declared in Malaya. Counter-insurgency operations had begun against the “Communist

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Terrorists” (or “CTs” to use the jargon of the day) in 1948. As a secondary task to their Hong Kong–Singapore run, 41 Squadron’s Dakotas flew more than 200 supply dropping missions to British units pursuing the CTs. They continued this work until the flight was withdrawn to New Zealand in late 1951. While deployed with the British Far East Fleet ostensibly to take part in post-armistice operations with the UN Command in Korea, New Zealand frigates also played a minor role in the Emergency operations. The frigate HMNZS Pukaki bombarded suspected guerrilla camps on several occasions. About 40 New Zealanders also chased the CTs in the jungle. Seconded to the Fiji forces, they were serving in a Fijian battalion — one was its commander — that was deployed in Malaya from 1951 to 1956.

Forward Defence These Malayan Emergency operations foreshadowed a much greater level of New Zealand political and military involvement in Southeast Asia. As previously, outside influences and developments provided the main impetus to this development. Foremost among these was decolonization, which reshaped the post-war world. Because the newly independent states were often unstable and lacking resources, the process seemed to heighten the perceived danger posed by the Cold War, rendering the region more susceptible to communist penetration. It would in due course change completely the context in which New Zealand approached the region, and would, in the case of Indochina, draw New Zealand into a war in which nationalism and communism had become inextricably entwined. From the mid-1950s, therefore, Southeast Asia assumed much greater importance in New Zealand’s defence planning. For two decades “forward defence in Asia” would be the basis of New Zealand’s approach. New Zealand established a presence in the region that would persist long after security concerns had been allayed. There were several reasons. Changes in the strategic outlook led to a retraction of New Zealand’s focus of interest from the Middle East to nearer home. Outright war between the Soviet Union and the Western allies seemed to have become less likely as the “balance of terror” lessened the danger of a direct confrontation, even if the contest remained the

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key element in the overall strategic situation. Limited war outside the main area of Cold War confrontation, in Europe, now seemed more possible. New Zealanders accepted the prevailing wisdom that the communist threat was being directed from Moscow — a perception that was reinforced by the alliance between China and Soviet Union in February 1950. The dramatic intervention of elements of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in the Korean War in 1950, albeit in the guise of volunteers, aroused concern that such action might be replicated in the Southeast Asian region, perhaps in the war being fought in Indochina between French colonial forces and the nationalist-communist Viet Minh. New Zealand was also influenced by a growing perception of the importance of Malaya in Commonwealth strategy. In 1950 the peninsula’s defence had not seemed important in a global war situation, then the worst case scenario. Within two years Australian insistence changed the picture, along with recognition of Malaya’s importance to Commonwealth financial security because of the dollar earning rubber and tin that it provided. By December 1954 British authorities were describing Malaya as essential to the British strategic position in the Far East and “vital to the security of Australia and New Zealand”.8 Within ten years New Zealand politicians were talking in terms of the region presenting a threat to their country’s physical security. “It is a very sobering exercise”, Minister of Defence Dean Eyre noted in 1964: to take up a globe of the world, and to look at South East Asia, perhaps from the Chinese Communist point of view, and to see that the Malay Peninsula points like a finger in our direction with Indonesia and Australia as convenient stepping stones on the way.9

Finally, the state of Southeast Asia itself enhanced concern. Negative perceptions prevailed. With its poverty stricken and resentful peoples, the region seemed vulnerable to the “dark, turgid, dangerous flood” of communism.10 External Affairs official Frank Corner cautioned against involvement in the region in July 1953. “We stand only to lose in South East Asia”, he argued. “The more we are known the more we shall be disliked — for our prosperity, for our racial exclusiveness (we are worse than the Australians), for being white.”11 A pessimistic Secretary of External Affairs Alister McIntosh saw no way the Western powers could

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resist the tide of communism in the region. How were New Zealand and the other Western powers to respond to Southeast Asian nationalism with communists lurking in the wings ready to pounce on newly freed dependencies? There were fears in Wellington, as elsewhere, that a domino effect would lead to all of Southeast Asia falling under communist sway. This would not necessarily result in a direct threat to Australia or New Zealand — sea power was the key, and the United States remained supreme — but neither country would be comfortable in such a situation. And the effect on Japan would be serious; cut off from this area as a focus for its commerce, it might be induced to throw in its lot with the communists. The problems of developing a response to the situation in Southeast Asia drew New Zealand into defence planning for the region, and led to a shift of commitment. There were three main arenas. One was provided by staff level discussions that attempted to develop a strategy for the region in the early 1950s. Although at first a British-French-American initiative prompted by the deteriorating French position in Indochina, they would eventually include Australian and New Zealand officers as well. A Five-Power Staff Agency was established in 1953 to prepare a Western response to the developing situation. For these planners considering the possibility of a limited war with China, perhaps after it intervened in Indochina, the huge reservoirs of Chinese manpower posed a major problem. Serious disagreements quickly arose between the British and Americans as to what should be done. Essentially the British favoured concentrating on the defence of Malaya. The imbalance in the two sides’ forces, they argued, would prevent formation of a secure line anywhere except on the narrow Malayan peninsula. Forces moving forward from Malaya into southern Thailand could seize positions in the narrowest portion of the peninsula at Songkla and deny Malaya to the enemy, who unlike the Japanese in 1941 would not enjoy local naval superiority to allow outflanking amphibious attacks. Korea, after all, provided an example of how a more numerous enemy could be held on a narrow peninsula by applying superior naval and air power. To British dismay, however, the Americans were reluctant to accept the implications of

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such a strategy — the relinquishment of the rest of Southeast Asia. They were more inclined to think in terms of using nuclear weapons to halt a Chinese advance well to the north of Malaya. The divergence between British and American approaches presented big problems for New Zealand. Although still emotionally and practically orientated towards Britain, it had nonetheless, by signing the ANZUS Treaty, entered an alliance with the United States without the comforting presence of the British in 1951. The potential existed for a divergence that would force a choice between the two, a situation that created nightmares in Wellington. New Zealand diplomats and soldiers in consequence always strove to reconcile and harmonize commitments and to encourage the resolution of differences in its major allies’ positions. A second planning arena was provided by ANZAM, which had assumed greater importance in the mid-1950s. From 1953 it concerned itself with the defence of Malaya, previously a UK responsibility, and was envisaged as providing a command structure in the event of war. ANZAM planning focused on the seemingly necessary pre-emptive move into Thailand to seize the so-called Songkla Line. Such an approach demanded that forces to undertake such an operation be available in Malaya immediately trouble arose. To meet this need the British proposed establishing a strategic reserve in the peninsula and preparing rapidly to reinforce it. Pointing to the lessening importance of the Middle East commitment in the new strategic situation, they suggested that New Zealand aim to send its air (and later land) forces to Southeast Asia, rather than the Middle East. The wider security framework that emerged for the region in 1954 provided a third, and ultimately more important, arena. The losing battle being fought by the French in Indochina provided the catalyst. In this struggle New Zealand had staked its colours in 1952 by sending surplus arms and ammunition, including 13,000 rifles, to the French. It accepted the premise that communist success in Vietnam would weaken the Western position both generally in the wider Cold War and specifically in Southeast Asia. But French efforts to reassert control over northern Vietnam proved insufficient against a determined foe. When the Viet Minh surrounded a substantial French force at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the Western

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Allies faced a major crisis. American diplomatic efforts to find a basis for an Allied intervention failed, and the French suffered a heavy defeat. By the time the beleaguered French troops capitulated on 7 May, talks were underway in Geneva on a settlement. These left Vietnam effectively partitioned between a Viet Minh state in the north, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and a non-communist regime set up by the departing French in the south, the Republic of Vietnam. The agreement also included provision for a vote on reunification in 1955 — a step the United States, the power that became the main backer of the southern regime, failed to endorse and one that would not be taken. To bolster the non-communist position the United States subsequently promoted a regional security arrangement. A conference in Manila on 8 September 1954, in which New Zealand participated, concluded the South-East Asian Collective Defence Treaty (or Manila Treaty as it was termed). New Zealand for the first time entered an alliance with Asian states. Thailand, the Philippines, and (somewhat incongruously) Pakistan joined the Five-Power Staff Agency countries — Britain, the United States, France, Australia, and New Zealand — in the new arrangement. A protocol to the treaty extended its application to Cambodia, Laos, and the “free territory under the jurisdiction of the State of Vietnam” (South Vietnam). In the event of external aggression (only communist in the case of the United States) these Indochinese states could seek assistance from the treaty parties. New Zealand’s security perimeter had, in consequence, been shifted forward from Songkla to the Mekong River. A planning organization soon emerged to give substance to this new alliance. The South-East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), formed in 1955, had its headquarters in Bangkok. Two years later a SEATO Military Planning Office was established. New Zealand sent two officers to join this 20-strong team, which was soon planning for a variety of contingencies. For New Zealand these developments demanded a major change of approach — and mindset. They now had to deal with Asians directly, albeit in a multilateral framework. But they remained suspicious at first, concerned by the possibility of top secret plans being compromised.

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Inner circle planning by the former Five-Power Staff Agency powers seemed essential, in Wellington’s view. The government recognized the need for diplomatic representation in the region. In 1955 a New Zealand Commissioner in Southeast Asia was appointed. Significantly the post went to Foss Shanahan, the pre-eminent New Zealand defence official. He established himself in Singapore, but also served as New Zealand’s representative on the SEATO Council. During 1955 New Zealand completed the shift of its commitment from the Middle East to Southeast Asia. Henceforth it would plan to send its division to Malaya should a major emergency arise. It also agreed to make available full-time forces for the British Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve. A specially formed 133 man Special Air Service (SAS) company arrived in Malaya late in 1955. An RNZN frigate was attached to the British Far East naval forces stationed in Singapore. The RNZAF redeployed half of 41 Squadron to Tengah in Singapore. An air combat squadron, the Venom fighter bomber-equipped 14 Squadron, was stationed there as well. These commitments portended a great increase in New Zealand familiarity with the Southeast Asian region. At first New Zealand and Australia considered SEATO to be of secondary importance, given their continuing belief (based on the 1952–54 staff discussions) that only Malaya was defensible against conventional attack involving Chinese forces (the worst case scenario). They were shocked, therefore, when Washington during 1955 made clear that the United States would not become involved in planning for the defence of Malaya alone; security planning would need to encompass the whole region. In these circumstances New Zealand accepted that it could not confine its attention to Malaya alone. The forces that it had made available for the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve could, it recognized, also meet its requirement to make force declarations for proposed SEATO operations. Hence the contribution in Malaya, though provided in a relatively narrow context, became the means of meeting New Zealand’s wider commitments, a convenient arrangement for a small country with limited resources.12 New Zealand altered the composition of its forces in Malaya in 1957. The SAS company was withdrawn and a regular infantry unit, 1st Battalion, New Zealand Regiment, replaced it. Forming part of 28

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Commonwealth Brigade, it was stationed at Terendak Military Camp, which New Zealand had joined Australia and Britain in constructing. Costs were apportioned on a pro rata basis, with New Zealand’s share amounting to £1 million — akin to the investment it made in the Singapore Naval Base earlier in the century. All the forces in the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve were involved, as a secondary task, in the mopping up operations of the Malayan Emergency, which finally ended in 1960. The battalion entered the jungle to hunt CTs, while 14 Squadron’s Venoms mounted 115 strike missions against them between 1955 and 1958. The twin-engined Canberra bombers of 75 Squadron, which replaced 14 Squadron at Tengah in 1958, were also later used on bombing missions. Back in the region after a four year absence, 41 Squadron resumed supply-dropping operations. Fifteen New Zealand soldiers and airmen lost their lives during this period, mainly as a result of accidents. Even as they took part in these later Emergency operations, the context of New Zealand involvement in the region was changing. In 1957 decolonization reached the peninsula. With the formation of the Federation of Malaya, a political dimension was added to the military commitment. The British and Malayan governments had addressed the terms on which Commonwealth forces remained in Malaya after independence, and New Zealand formally associated itself with the Anglo-Malayan Defence Agreement in 1959. In that year Singapore also became independent. From this time any deployment of Commonwealth Strategic Reserve forces in support of SEATO operations elsewhere in the region would depend on the attitudes of both Singaporean and Malayan governments (the latter the more so because of the presence of the ground forces at Terendak). Neither of the new states was a member of SEATO, and the Malaysian government at least made clear its lack of enthusiasm for the organization. It became apparent that problems might arise sooner rather than later. As the insurgency situation in Malaya improved in the late 1960s that in Indochina was worsening. Initially attention focused on Laos, where a crisis in 1959 raised the possibility of a SEATO intervention. In the event, no action was taken, an outcome that was welcomed by the Labour government in Wellington. Prime Minister Walter Nash had

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been conspicuously unenthusiastic about a SEATO deployment in the murky Laotian political conditions, and had argued strongly in favour of a compromise.13 Laos remained a problem. In May 1962, New Zealand made its first deployment of forces under SEATO auspices, when it sent a 30-man SAS detachment and two transport aircraft to Thailand in response to the situation in Laos. Although they were soon withdrawn, New Zealand military personnel returned to northeast Thailand two years later. A team of military engineers assisted British and Australian sappers to construct a military airfield near Mukdahan, a project that was completed in 1965. From 1966 another New Zealand sapper detachment constructed a 145km. feeder road as a Colombo Plan project. Two men lost their lives in accidents before its completion in December 1971.14 But the situation in Laos paled in comparison to that developing in South Vietnam. The regime there, led by President Ngo Dinh Diem, found itself under severe challenge as a result of the decision by the rulers of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi, in 1959, to seek reunification by force. Directed and supported from the north, insurgents in South Vietnam — the Viet Cong — soon had the southern state under pressure. American support, in the form of advisers and equipment, began to flow into the country. Washington looked to SEATO allies to assist as well. New Zealand sent a civilian medical team to South Vietnam in 1963, but was soon under pressure to do more. At a SEATO meeting in April 1963 American Secretary of State Dean Rusk urged Keith Holyoake, who had replaced Nash as Prime Minister in December 1960 following the National Party’s win in a general election, to give “prayerful Presbyterian consideration” to the possibility of a further, military commitment.15 Although the government subsequently agreed in principle to provide a non-combatant unit, political instability in South Vietnam led to a long delay. Not until mid-1964 would a 25-man Engineer Detachment deploy there. Charged with carrying out civic reconstruction tasks, the sappers built bridges, repaired roads and constructed market places in Binh Duong province.16 The attitude of Holyoake’s government to the situation in South Vietnam remained ambivalent. Although accepting the premises on

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which the Americans acted, it was doubtful about the likelihood of success, especially in light of the South Vietnamese government’s political weakness. This was emphasized by the coup that overthrew Diem in November 1963, and the subsequent difficulty of establishing a viable administration. But New Zealand’s reluctance to become involved was also influenced by the situation in Malaya, by the British refusal to make any commitments in South Vietnam, and by the limited resources available to make any form of contribution. There was a feeling in Wellington that New Zealand could best make its contribution to the common effort in the region in the Malayan context, where the situation had again become problematic. The establishment of Malaysia in 1963 had brought new problems. Opposed to this development, Indonesia’s President Sukarno instituted a policy of Konfrontasi — a low-level conflict that, nevertheless, assumed more menacing proportions when Indonesian military personnel landed in the Malayan peninsula in late August 1964. New Zealand, Australian, and British troops became involved in the operations as the situation seemed to be heading towards outright conflict with Indonesia. Apart from providing transport assistance, the RNZAF prepared for contingencies. From 1962, with the return to New Zealand of 75 Squadron, it had not maintained a combat squadron at Tengah, intending instead to deploy one to the region as and when the situation demanded. In September 1964, 14 Squadron’s Canberra bombers flew to Tengah. From the following March they were based at Butterworth in Malaysia, where they would remain until withdrawn to Ohakea in 1966. The Anglo-Malaysian Defence Agreement, with which New Zealand was associated, provided the legal basis for Commonwealth involvement in this conflict. New Zealand troops initially took over areas to allow Malaysian units to concentrate on dealing with Indonesian intruders but later became involved in the operations too. Indonesian infiltration into Malaysian territory in Borneo led to the deployment of the battalions from the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve, 1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (1RNZIR) (as the battalion had been redesignated in 1962) among them. An SAS detachment was also deployed. These troops took part in anti-infiltration operations, in the course of which they made incursions into Indonesian territory.

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Two RNZN crews were provided to man minesweepers which patrolled waters around Malaysian Borneo. But the operations were always low key, and there were no New Zealand fatalities.17 These actions presented a dilemma for Australia in particular: committed to the preservation of Malaysia, it was always anxious to avoid permanent alienation of Indonesia as well. New Zealand was sensitive to this Australian concern. It seemed for a time, however, that relations with Indonesia might degenerate into open war. The growth of communist strength in Indonesia boded ill for the future, offering the spectre of communist penetration behind the front established, however tenuously, in Indochina. So worrying was the prospect that planning for possible war with Indonesia intensified; had it been implemented 14 Squadron’s Canberra bombers would have penetrated Indonesian air space to bomb airfields and other targets. In the event, fears were soon eased by dramatic developments in Indonesia. When left-wing elements attempted a coup, they were quickly defeated by the army; the ensuing bloody suppression of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) destroyed them as a political force in Indonesia. In the new order real power lay with the Indonesian armed forces. Major General Suharto, who superseded Sukarno as leader, moved to end the Confrontation in 1966. These developments soon affected New Zealand’s stance in the other, much bloodier contest proceeding in the region — the Vietnam War. Already, in 1965, New Zealand had reluctantly agreed to send a combat unit, 161 Battery Royal New Zealand Artillery, to South Vietnam. This was a token of its support for the considerable commitment that the United States had decided to make to ensure that the South Vietnamese government did not succumb. Subsequent pressure for an increased contribution had been resisted, the commitment of 1RNZIR in Borneo being advanced as a reason for New Zealand’s inability to do more. With the end of Confrontation, however, 1RNZIR and the SAS had been withdrawn from Borneo, and the former had resumed its Commonwealth Strategic Reserve role at Terendak. American calls for the use of these resources in Vietnam became more difficult to reject. Early in 1967, largely to keep in step with Australia, New Zealand agreed to increase its effort. One of 1RNZIR’s infantry companies would

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deploy to South Vietnam.18 Malaysia consented to the use of forces stationed in its country in this fashion, and Singapore did not object to the company transiting through the base at Changi. V Company, as it was designated, was attached to an Australian battalion in the 1st Australian Task Force at Nui Dat, in Phuoc Tuy province southeast of Saigon. Renewed American pressure for greater efforts by allies led to the commitment of another company, W Company, later in the year, as a result of which an Anzac battalion was formed in March 1968. This development effectively reduced the rump of 1RNZIR in Terendak to a training depot to support the companies in South Vietnam. Apart from the artillery and infantry units, New Zealand also sent a services medical team and an SAS detachment to South Vietnam in 1967 and 1968 respectively, as well as a number of forward air controllers. At its peak V Force comprised 543 men and women. This state of affairs persisted until early 1970, when W Company was withdrawn. V Company departed the following year along with 161 Battery. With the withdrawal of these units by the Holyoake government New Zealand’s military involvement was reduced to non-combatant assistance in the form of two army training teams. These were withdrawn by Norman Kirk’s third Labour government immediately after it took office in December 1972. Kirk’s action brought to an end a military effort that had cost New Zealand 37 lives.

Mutual Assistance Forward defence had two elements — to keep communism at a distance from the South Pacific and to ensure the continued presence of New Zealand’s two great power allies, Britain and the United States, in the region. Whereas in 1965 both elements were firmly in place, within five years a very different outlook had emerged. New Zealand was forced to adjust its defence stance in Southeast Asia to major changes in the strategic picture and political situation. The first of these changes greatly affected the framework within which New Zealand operated within the region. New Zealand policy-makers had long been conscious that British interest in Southeast Asia could be expected to decline, especially with the end of Confrontation and the

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apparent growth in stability of the political situation in Malaysia and in Singapore, which had split away from the federation in 1965. In 1967 Keith Holyoake had been shocked to learn of British plans to reduce the British presence substantially by 1971, and to withdraw altogether by 1975. He pressed “with all the force at my command” for a rethink, but to no avail. Indeed, under further financial pressure, British plans soon accelerated with the date for total withdrawal from Malaysia and Singapore being brought forward to the end of 1971.19 The prospect of British withdrawal had major implications for New Zealand, whose military effort had traditionally been made within a British framework, a cost effective approach for a small country with limited resources. The commitment in Malaysia had, moreover, facilitated New Zealand’s involvement in SEATO. Australia and New Zealand were forced to consider their approach once the British left. Could they afford to stay in the region in their own right? In addressing this issue Australia and New Zealand improved their relationship, which had often been characterized by competition, suspicion and antipathy in peacetime in the past. In September 1968, the two governments decided to maintain their presence in Southeast Asia at least until the end of 1971. Five months later they indicated that it would continue even after that date. New Zealand would “play a part in the search for regional security and stability in Southeast Asia and the Pacific” even without the British, Holyoake declared.20 Under the new arrangements New Zealand’s battalion would move south from Terendak to Singapore. In the event, a change of government in London in 1970 delayed the British withdrawal, at least temporarily. Edward Heath’s new Conservative government in the United Kingdom resolved to maintain a presence in the region, though at a level akin to that of the two South Pacific powers. An ANZUK Force would be formed to replace the old Commonwealth Strategic Reserve, with each power providing an infantry battalion for 28 ANZUK Brigade, as 28 Commonwealth Brigade was redesignated. This brigade would be based in Singapore. Negotiations followed to replace the Anglo-Malayan Defence Arrangements with an instrument better reflecting the new situation. The Five-Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), which came into effect

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on 1 November 1971, comprised an exchange of letters among Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore, rather than a treaty in a formal sense. Malaysia and Singapore were responsible for their own defence, but the powers agreed to consult together should a threat develop to either of them “for the purpose of deciding what measures should be taken jointly or separately”. The letters provided a basis for the continued stationing of the three outside powers’ forces in Malaysia or Singapore and for exercises between the forces of the five powers. A Joint Consultative Council and an Air Defence Council provided coordination. The latter oversaw the Integrated Air Defence System (IADS), which was commanded by an Australian officer. Two New Zealand officers were made available to help staff this organization. Even as the Commonwealth partners adjusted their position in Malaysia-Singapore, a political temblor undermined the foundations of New Zealand’s policy of forward defence in Southeast Asia. In the late 1960s the Anzac powers had had to come to terms with evidence that the United States intended to cut its losses in Vietnam. Following the dramatic communist Tet offensive of early 1968, a failure of will became evident. Although this onslaught had been defeated, it had undermined American commitment to continuing the struggle. By the end of 1968 Americans had elected a new President committed to disengaging the United States from the conflict and the process of withdrawing American forces was under way. Under President Richard Nixon the emphasis changed to “Vietnamization” of the war, in effect providing a basis for American withdrawal. This process was drawn out, however, and would involve a controversial incursion into Cambodia against communist sanctuaries there that destabilized that country and opened the way for communist insurgents, the Khmer Rouge, to put the regime in Phnom Penh in jeopardy. Against this worrying background Nixon, in a speech at Guam in 1969, foreshadowed a new American approach in the region — and indeed elsewhere. The Nixon (or Guam) Doctrine demanded self-help on the part of American allies. New Zealand and other powers were still adjusting to this new situation when Nixon surprised the world by initiating a rapprochement with China, the power against which forward defence measures were ostensibly aimed. China, for its part,

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was receptive: its relations with the Soviet Union had deteriorated to a point where armed clashes had occurred along disputed parts of the Soviet-Chinese border. When Nixon, in 1972, went to China to meet with Mao Tse-tung, the writing was on the wall for SEATO. It was wound up in 1975, though the Manila Treaty itself was not renounced, mainly because of Thailand’s desire not to cut the formal security link with the United States that it represented. The impact of British and American policy changes was reinforced by developments in the region itself. Fears about the impact of a communist victory in Vietnam were not realized. Although Cambodia fell to a communist insurgent movement, the other dominoes did not fall. In the ten years’ grace brought by Allied intervention in South Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia had stabilized their situations, leaving them better able to resist any southward flow of communist power or influence. But the course of events also demonstrated the lack of solidarity among the communist powers. China and Vietnam were soon locked in combat, while Cambodia, after lapsing into a horrific bloodletting, was invaded by Vietnamese forces. China and the Soviet Union remained at loggerheads. Although the Cold War continued to dominate international affairs, the position in Southeast Asia no longer seemed to London and Canberra to demand the same level of military commitment. This was reflected in the withdrawal of both British and Australian ground forces from Singapore in the early 1970s. New Zealand was left alone. New Zealand Force South East Asia came into being on 30 January 1974. It would remain in Singapore for another fifteen years, not finally being withdrawn until 1989. No longer forming part of a military strategy, the commitment was anachronistic. Its longevity derived in part from the cost of withdrawing the battalion and rehousing its personnel in New Zealand. But a useful diplomatic role was foreseen for the force in Singapore — and the possibility of service there was a useful recruitment lever for the army. The “demilitarized” situation in Southeast Asia reduced the significance, and dangers, of this continued presence in the region. The troops in Singapore provided a focus of continuing interest in the region. Their presence signalled New Zealand’s willingness to cooperate with Southeast Asian states in the development of their forces. Mutual

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assistance programmes provided the main contacts in the last quarter of the century. These covered a wide range of activities. With Indonesia, for example, New Zealand provided defence dental assistance. Singaporean gunners used the artillery range at Waiouru to practise with their 155 mm artillery pieces. Officers from the Thai, Malaysian, Singaporean, and Indonesian armed forces attended courses in New Zealand. New Zealand units also carried out exercises with their Southeast Asian counterparts. From time to time New Zealand units in transit to or from Singapore exercised with Indonesian forces. But the main focus of such activity remained Malaysia and Singapore, under the framework of the Five-Power Defence Arrangements. After 1972 RNZAF units took part in annual air defence exercises to test the IADS. Army exercises began in 1981. The five nations involved took turns to host these exercises, the United Kingdom doing so in Malaysia. New Zealand’s participation in these activities was assisted by the presence of its personnel in Singapore. From 1981 also New Zealand warships participated in annual naval exercises in the South China Sea hosted by either Malaysia or Singapore. During the final decades of the twentieth century Southeast Asia faded as an area of concern for New Zealand policy-makers. The emergence of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) — a grouping that eventually encompassed communist Vietnam — provided reassuring evidence of regional cooperation. With no sense of threat emanating from the region, New Zealand’s interest waned, though it continued to meet its FPDA obligations. Its attention focused closer to home, in the South Pacific, where worrying signs of instability had appeared. The end of the Cold War, and the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, further reduced apprehension about the situation in Southeast Asia. But humanitarian concerns ensured that New Zealand did not entirely turn its back on the region. Between 1991 and 1994 New Zealand military engineers took part in an important operation in Cambodia. A 20-strong team initially provided de-mining training and planning under the UN Advanced Mission in Cambodia. Later, in 1992–93, a more than three times larger group carried on this work under the UN Transitional Authority. The dangers were highlighted when one of the sapper teams engaged in a

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brief fire-fight with Khmer Rouge elements at Siem Riep. A number of communications personnel and naval monitors supplemented the New Zealand effort. From 1994 two officers served at the Cambodian Mine Action Centre. New Zealand expertise in neutralizing unexploded ordnance was also made available in Laos in 1997, with the contribution of two officers to a programme there.21 Before the end of the 1990s humanitarian concerns would draw New Zealand into another, much greater commitment. The catalyst was a crisis that arose in 1999 in East Timor, the former Portuguese colony that had been under de facto Indonesian control since 1976. Political changes in Indonesia following an economic crisis in 1997 and the subsequent overthrow of strongman Suharto unleashed a series of secessionist threats to the integrity of the Indonesian state, and left it briefly amenable to allowing the East Timorese the opportunity to reverse the hitherto seeming irreversible annexation. At a poll on 30 August 1999 East Timorese opted for independence — a decision that was followed by widespread loss of life and damage at the hands of rampaging militias encouraged by elements of the Indonesian armed forces. New Zealand had already deployed five officers to serve with the UN Mission in East Timor before the poll, though these personnel were eventually withdrawn as the security situation deteriorated. Prime Minister Jenny Shipley’s National-led coalition now readily agreed to participate in an Australian-led multilateral operation to provide security to the local inhabitants pending the assumption of control by a UN administration in 2000. This decision, which had bipartisan support in Parliament, would involve New Zealand’s biggest military commitment in Southeast Asia, involving all three services. The International Force East Timor (INTERFET), which eventually included forces of sixteen countries, began deploying in East Timor on 20 September 1999. The frigate HMNZS Te Kaha helped cover the insertion of the force as part of an international naval force near the island (and was later relieved by HMNZS Canterbury). The supply ship HMNZS Endeavour provided support. Among the forces that landed initially were a company sized New Zealand infantry unit and an SAS detachment. More troops followed, bringing the infantry to battalion group strength of more than 800 men and women. This unit was based on 1RNZIR.

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RNZAF transport aircraft played an important role in the deployment of New Zealand troops.22 In February the army personnel donned blue berets when control of the operation passed from INTERFET to the UN Transition Administration in East Timor. With some difficulty New Zealand kept a 600-strong force in East Timor until 2002, successive relief forces being raised and sent with considerable disruption to the army’s training programmes in New Zealand. The troops patrolled the frontier with Indonesian West Timor, occasionally becoming involved in minor clashes with dissident groups. In one incident a soldier was killed by hostile fire; three others died in accidents. New Zealand’s substantial, albeit transient, role in East Timor owed more to humanitarian concerns than to security anxieties. But even before it ended, new worries had emerged about potential threats emanating from the region, albeit at a sub-state level. The dangers posed by extremist Muslim groups were highlighted by the bombing of a nightclub in Bali in October 2002, an attack that took the lives of several New Zealanders and nearly a hundred Australians. The US-led War on Terrorism, although initially focused on the Middle East, brought the Southeast Asian region under renewed scrutiny in defence circles in Wellington. It was a threat that seemed to demand a political and intelligence response as much as a military effort. New Zealand had an interest in the efforts of the affected states of the region — the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia — to overcome this new challenge to their stability.

Conclusion New Zealand’s defence involvement in Southeast Asia during the last hundred years has been varied. Seen at first as an adjunct to the strategic plans of its great power ally, the region became in time the main focus of New Zealand’s defence policy, involving an attempt to prevent it falling under Soviet or Chinese domination. When later the threat faded, military activities continued in the region to buttress New Zealand’s diplomatic efforts until the withdrawal of New Zealand Force Southeast Asia. Finally peacekeeping drew New Zealand service men and women back into the region on temporary deployments. For more than three decades elements of the New Zealand armed forces were stationed

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permanently in the region. Although they spent more than a third of that time taking part in active operations in three separate, and differing, conflicts, the cost in terms of lives was not high — less than a hundred overall. But the longstanding defence effort highlighted New Zealand’s interest in the region, the hinterland to Australasia, and accustomed New Zealand service men and women to working with the forces of very different states in maintaining regional security. NOTES 1. I.C. McGibbon, Blue-water Rationale, the Naval Defence of New Zealand 1914–42 (Wellington: Historical Publications Branch, 1981), p. 97. 2. On the development of the Singapore strategy generally, see W. David McIntyre, The Rise and Fall of the Singapore Naval Base (London: Macmillan Press Ltd., 1979). 3. McGibbon, Blue-water Rationale, pp. 226–29. 4. On the RNZAF’s wartime role in Southeast Asia, see H.R. Dean, The Royal New Zealand Air Force in South-East Asia 1941–42 (Wellington: War History Branch, 1952). 5. Australian–New Zealand Agreement, 21 January 1944, in The Australian–New Zealand Agreement 1944, edited by Robin Kay (Wellington: Historical Publications Branch, 1972), p. 142. 6. Letter, McIntosh to Carl Berendsen, 3 February 1944, in Undiplomatic Dialogue, Letters between Carl Berendsen and Alister McIntosh 1943–1952, edited by Ian McGibbon (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1993), p. 61. 7. On the development of ANZAM and New Zealand’s attitude to it, see Ian McGibbon, New Zealand and the Korean War, Volume I: Politics and Diplomacy (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1992), pp. 32–33. 8. COS(54)394, 23 Dec 1954, Joint Services Organisation records, JSO45/2/1, New Zealand Defence Force HQ, Wellington. 9. Ian McGibbon, “Forward Defence: The Southeast Asian Commitment”, in New Zealand in World Affairs, Volume II 1957–1972, edited by Malcolm McKinnon (Wellington: New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, 1991), p. 12. 10. New Zealand Parliamentary Debates, vol. 283 (28 September 1949), pp. 2590– 600.

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11. Letter, Corner to Alister McIntosh, 13 July 1953, in Unofficial Channels, Letters between Alister McIntosh and George Laking, Frank Corner and Foss Shanahan, edited by Ian McGibbon (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1998), p. 145. 12. Ian McGibbon, “The Defence of New Zealand, 1945–1957”, in New Zealand in World Affairs, Vol I: 1945–1957, by Sir Alister McIntosh et al. (Wellington: New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, 1977), pp. 169–71. 13. McGibbon, “Forward Defence”, p. 25. 14. Ian McGibbon, Kiwi Sappers, The Corps of Royal New Zealand Engineers’ Century of Service (Auckland: Reed, 2002), pp. 135–36. 15. McGibbon, “Forward Defence”, p. 27. 16. McGibbon, Kiwi Sappers, p. 138. 17. McGibbon, “Forward Defence”, p. 23. 18. Ian McGibbon, “New Zealand’s Commitment of Infantry Companies in South Vietnam 1967”, in The Australian Army and the Vietnam War 1962–1972, edited by Peter Dennis and Jeffrey Grey (Canberra: Army History Unit, 2002), pp. 180–98. 19. McGibbon, “Forward Defence”, p. 32. 20. Ibid., p. 34. 21. McGibbon, Kiwi Sappers, p. 166. 22. John Crawford and Glyn Harper, Operation East Timor: The New Zealand Defence Force in East Timor 1999–2001 (Auckland: HarperCollins, 2001).

Reproduced from Southeast Asia and New Zealand: A History of Regional and Bilateral Relations, edited by Anthony L. Smith (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2005). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at 32 Jim Rolfe < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

2

COMING TO TERMS WITH THE REGIONAL IDENTITY J I M

R O L F E

Introduction New Zealand did not “discover” Southeast Asia (to the extent that one can speak of “Southeast Asia”) until well after the end of World War II and thus, did not have much to do with the region in any way before then.1 Indeed, there was early senior level scepticism about the region. In 1953 future Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Frank Corner (then External Affairs Officer in New Zealand’s High Commission in London), could write to the then Secretary, Alister McIntosh, that “we only stand to lose in South East Asia … our present limited interest in South East Asia, shown in our contribution to the Colombo Plan, has already cost us a good deal of money with doubtful benefit to us or the recipients”.2 Perhaps fortunately, Corner’s view did not prevail although it took some years before New Zealand was ready to embrace the region wholeheartedly. By 1970, New Zealand officials noted the policy “of active involvement in Asia [effectively Southeast Asia] … participating in a new move to develop regional groupings … [which

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was in its] early stages [and] widened the scope for us to influence Asian political thinking”.3 International organizations generally were themselves also the subject of some early scepticism. As early as 1947 New Zealand Ambassador to the United States, Carl Berendesen, noted the proliferation of “United Nations and other commissions, missions, committees, conferences and so forth. I think there is a serious risk of the whole thing getting quite out of hand”.4 That attitude has not been unusual over the years as New Zealand has attempted to balance the costs of participating in international and regional organizations with the benefits of that participation. In practice, New Zealand has always committed itself to international organizations reluctantly, continually worrying whether value for money would be gained by membership or whether attendance would merely perpetuate talk at the expense of substantive and beneficial action. This reluctance is curious when balanced with the knowledge that New Zealand has only limited ability to achieve its international ends unless it does work through international organizations. New Zealand’s relationships with Southeast Asia’s regional organizations may be considered in terms of two perhaps three distinct but overlapping phases. In the first phase Southeast Asian states were members of, or were subject to, organizations that had been established by the colonial and other first world powers and which did not necessarily relate directly to Southeast Asia as a discrete region. Southeast Asia (with the rest of Asia) was the object of regional organization and New Zealand’s relations with the organizations was as one of the first world organizers. The second phase started with the creation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1967. In the second phase, the countries of the region were central to the process of regionalization and New Zealand (with the other non-regional states) over time had to treat with ASEAN as at best an equal and often as a supplicant. A possible third phase is seen as New Zealand has joined with Australia since 1995 to deal as an Australasian economic sub-region with ASEAN’s economic equivalent, the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA). In this volume there are separate chapters on New Zealand’s trade and defence relations with Southeast Asia. In the first two decades from the end of World War II, New Zealand’s interest in the region and in regional

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organizations related primarily to defence and to development. Because defence is covered in more detail elsewhere, the relevant organizations are discussed here only briefly to give some context to the wider discussion of regional organizations.5

Southeast Asia as a Part of Pan-Regional Organization In the years immediately following World War II, Southeast Asia had only an indistinct identity separate from that of East or South Asia. To many in the first world, it was all Asia. As a result, regional organizations tended to be pan-Asian in their focus rather than based on a geographic sub-region. If the organizations were grouped at a level below that of the wider region, the division was more likely to be on ideological grounds than geographic proximity.

Development Assistance In 1950, (British) Commonwealth foreign ministers meeting in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), agreed that Asia’s developing countries could best be assisted through international cooperation to increase their levels of development. The vehicle for this was to be the Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic Development in South and South-east Asia, generally shortened to the Colombo Plan. Although there was an altruistic basis to this, the underlying premise was that communism in Asia could best be countered through “technical and economic assistance” rather than (or as well as) through military confrontation.6 Four of the countries/regions selected to receive early assistance: Indonesia, Burma (Myanmar), Malaya (Malaysia), and Indo-China (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia) are all in what is now ASEAN.7 New Zealand’s contribution was to be in the form of direct technical assistance because “we cannot, and will not, make any contribution at present in the nature of capital equipment or finance”.8 Ultimately, New Zealand contributed some capital aid (although grudgingly), sent technical experts to the region, helped establish agricultural colleges in Malaya and Thailand and took students from the Colombo Plan countries for training in New Zealand.9 Corner, then stationed in London, noted that “one of the most effective things we

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could do is to take more students from Malaya and other South East Asian countries into our universities”.10 New Zealand did just that. The English Language Institute at Victoria University in Wellington was established directly to complement the activities of New Zealand teachers working in Java and Sumatra.11 In an extension of the argument, Corner also noted that New Zealand universities were overcrowded and that New Zealand should “therefore work out an agreement with the universities that we will divert Colombo Plan money to them for the expansion of their teaching and residence facilities on condition that they take an agreed number of S. E. Asian students”.12 Hostels at New Zealand universities for foreign students were a direct result of the Colombo Plan commitments. New Zealand was active in the Colombo Plan until the 1960s after which the education and training projects supported by New Zealand became part of the bilateral aid programmes to the various countries and the institution itself began to be seen as “unfashionable”.13 New Zealand now gives support to the Colombo Plan Secretariat and, as a legacy of its earlier multilateral interest in the region, is a strong supporter of the Mekong Institute which is jointly funded with the governments of Thailand and Japan. The Institute has as its objectives an updated version of the original Colombo Plan role: “providing specialised training for key public and private sector personnel in the fields of economic and administrative reform, governance and poverty alleviation”.14 The transition from providing multilateral aid to the Colombo Plan to bilateral aid directed to individual countries was probably inevitable given the way New Zealand’s aid programme developed, but that is not to say that the Colombo Plan was irrelevant or unsuccessful. The importance of the Colombo Plan to New Zealand was not only the aid and technical assistance extended to the region, but also (perhaps more so) the discovery of Asia by New Zealand through the work of New Zealander technical experts in the region and through the presence of Asian students in New Zealand.15 The discovery of Southeast Asia by New Zealand and of New Zealand by Southeast Asia, started by the Colombo Plan, has continued to pay dividends for both.

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Defence Issues Military affairs in Southeast Asia concerned New Zealand in the 1950s and 1960s also. From the end of World War II, New Zealand joined Britain and Australia to ensure the defence and security of the British colonies and dependencies in Southeast Asia, now separately Brunei, Singapore and Malaysia. The three Commonwealth states organized first, from the early 1950s, as ANZAM (Australia, New Zealand, Malaya), between 1957 and 1971 in AMDA (the Anglo-Malayan Defence Arrangements), and finally from 1971 and continuing in the FPDA (Five-Power Defence Arrangements). Separately from its membership of these formal organizations, from 1955 New Zealand changed the focus of its defence commitment from the Middle East to Southeast Asia and committed forces to the Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve. The Strategic Reserve was primarily for use in general war, but New Zealand also saw the troops as being available for the defence of Malaya as part of a “Cold War front” in Southeast Asia.16 The purpose of all of these arrangements was to ensure that Commonwealth interests in the region were secured and that the colonies, later the partner states, remained free of military threat. Although New Zealand formally disavowed any specific or legal defence responsibility for the Southeast Asian states, New Zealand authorities understood that “the combined effect of our association with the AMDA and the PM’s statement [relating to the security of Malaysia] is at least as binding as our participation in the ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, United States) or SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organization) alliances”.17 New Zealand thus accepted a moral if not a legal obligation under the Commonwealth’s Southeast Asian defence organization. The relationships have developed over the years. Now, New Zealand continues its association with Singapore and Malaysia in the FPDA, although the relationship between the member states is one of equality rather than protector-protectee and the defence commitment is probably less important than the general military cooperation that still flourishes. ANZAM and the other Commonwealth military organizations were not concerned with any specific enemy; the overall security of the Commonwealth’s Southeast Asian interests was the focus of their interest.

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The South-East Asian Collective Defence Treaty, which spawned SEATO as its organizational representation, was directly connected with fears for “the freedom and integrity of the peoples of South-east Asia” and New Zealand was “prepared to take her share of responsibility in resisting aggression” from forces supported by Communist China or from China directly, and thus SEATO was “an expression of the united will to resist further aggression”.18 New Zealand was partnered with Australia, Britain, France, and the United States of America to support directly Pakistan (not a Southeast Asian state), the Philippines, and Thailand and indirectly, through a Protocol to the Treaty, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. SEATO had some value to New Zealand because it allowed regional defence to be carried out under the US military umbrella without too much effort on New Zealand’s part. That value, however, was qualified. SEATO, Corner asserted, “fusses about trivialities and churns out the most ridiculous amount of poorly written paper … and no doubt will keep on proliferating machinery and paper which may conceal the fact that it isn’t really doing anything practical”.19 As well as its military structure, SEATO developed a civil organization for political consultations and to discuss economic, cultural, educational, and labour activities. The civil machinery “was small and limited to consultative functions” but New Zealand “anxious to keep costs down and to avoid the cumbersome aspects of multilateralism, already considered it unnecessarily large”.20 SEATO drifted as an organization, became moribund, and was finally abandoned in 1977. Overall, New Zealand’s relationship with SEATO must be characterized as one of scepticism about its military value, reluctance to accept any costs, and (in any case) ignorance of the issues of most concern to its treaty partners. Although SEATO did not achieve any significant military ends, New Zealand’s participation (however reluctant and however marginal) did increase New Zealand’s awareness of Southeast Asia and of issues related to regional security, defence and development and should be seen as another step to New Zealand’s full recognition of the importance of the region. The regional defence organizations gave New Zealand an entrée into the geo-politics of the region. In the six decades since the end of World War II New Zealand has had a continuing role in the region’s defence organizations. That role has declined in importance since the early 1970s

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as the region has become more stable and economics and development have become central to security.

Southeast Asia’s Own Organization — ASEAN Until the mid-1960s, New Zealand was interested in Southeast Asia and its institutions primarily because her security interests drove her there, and those interests were linked to her relationships with the major allies Britain and the United States, rather than to any independent analysis of the region. Early attempts at indigenous regional institution building such as through the Malphindo (Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia) and ASA (Association of Southeast Asia) initiatives of the early and mid1960s did not capture any of New Zealand’s interest or energy because the institutions themselves were stillborn, the victims of bilateral tensions between the member states.21 The first regional organization of any significance was ASEAN, founded in 1967. It, like its immediate failed predecessors and like the Colombo Plan and SEATO before them, was formed in the wake of regional tensions. These included: the escalation of the war in Vietnam from 1965; the rise of Communist China and its support for local nationalist movements; and the abortive attempt between 1963 and 1966 by Indonesia, through the policy of konfrontasi (confrontation), to threaten the newly federated grouping of Malaya and Singapore which would form Malaysia. ASEAN was different in kind from the Colombo Plan or SEATO organizations. It was indigenous and its interests covered nearly the full spectrum of inter-state relationships.22 ASEAN was formed with the explicit aim of “bringing peace and economic, social and cultural development” to the region through voluntary processes of cooperation. 23 From the beginning the organization’s ambitions were high. The founding declaration claimed that “the Association represents the collective will of the nations of SouthEast Asia to bind themselves together in friendship and cooperation and, through joint efforts and sacrifices, secure for their peoples and for posterity the blessings of peace, freedom and prosperity”.24 New Zealand policy-makers have never used that kind of language to discuss its own approach to the world and did not immediately

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know what to make of this new grouping. In 1968 officials noted that “its aims and purposes have not yet become clear, but seem principally to be economic growth, social progress and cultural development”.25 Judgements were to develop. By 1970, ASEAN could “make an important contribution to long-term stability in the region and might in time become the most valuable of the regional organizations”.26 This was because “it was more homogeneous and national than ASPAC [the Asian and Pacific Council, a grouping of primarily East Asian states friendly to or allied with the United States] and … [the] incorporation of Indonesia gave the organization an aura of conviction … [and it gave a] context for the dispute between Malaysia and the Philippines to be defused if not fully resolved”.27 New Zealand at that stage had “never considered any form of … association with ASEAN … [because] new members even as observers might weaken its cohesion” but if there were to be a real move to widen the geographical area covered by ASEAN “we should no doubt re-examine our position”.28 Later, at ASEAN’s tenth anniversary in 1977, New Zealand noted that the organization’s survival was “something of an achievement” and that it prospered and played an increasingly important part in regional affairs particularly as “a forum for political consultation and co-operation amongst its members”.29 New Zealand noted that its assistance to ASEAN was “largely (but not entirely) because it saw a stable and peaceful Southeast Asia as important for its own security”.30 The other (and at that time subsidiary) reason for New Zealand’s assistance was because “the long-term potential for this market for both agricultural and manufactured products is an important factor underlying New Zealand’s wish to develop its economic relations”.31 As an indicator of New Zealand’s developing commercial attitude to the organization and its potential, in 1977 the ASEAN region was designated as one of two priority market areas for “in-depth promotional activity”.32 As well, the Deputy Prime Minister noted in 1977 that there could be scope for New Zealand to work with ASEAN through “investing or jointly establishing manufacturing or processing plants in ASEAN countries” to allow New Zealand to retain an interest in activities it could not do for itself but in which it wished to retain an interest.33 ASEAN itself took some years to develop an institutional and

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ideological base. In 1971 a Zone of Peace, Freedom, and Neutrality was declared for the region, and in 1976 the ASEAN governments adopted the Declaration of ASEAN Concord and the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. These agreements define how ASEAN wishes to be seen by the world: a region in which its members deal peaceably with each other and where force is renounced as a tool of international relations. Institutionally, a Secretary-General was first appointed in 1976 and also in that year the organization held its first Summit meeting of heads of state and government. In line with its institutional growth, ASEAN began a process of political growth. In 1974 it started a process of formal “dialogue partnerships” with regional (and later extra-regional) states. The dialogue meeting is a regular forum held approximately every 18 months for both sides to discuss the relationship and to consider how to consolidate and strengthen it. The dialogue relationship between ASEAN and New Zealand was established in 1975, when meetings were held between the various ASEAN Secretaries-General (the individual country foreign ministry heads of ASEAN divisions) and New Zealand officials.34 The dialogue took place “between officials in the ASEAN capitals, in Wellington and more informally at New York and other conference centres where there is seen to be benefit in coordination the New Zealand and ASEAN positions”.35 At the first New Zealand meeting, in July 1975, ASEAN requested assistance with development cooperation in five specific areas: animal husbandry; trade expansion and promotion; dental health; reforestation and pine forest development; and a survey of the end uses of timber.36 In turn, New Zealand proposed that it give assistance in the fields of seed technology and public administration. Each side expressed satisfaction at the progress achieved in the meeting.37 Dialogue meetings covered much more ground than trade and aid, important though these subjects were and are. Political matters were high on every agenda. In 1979, for example, at informal talks in New York, New Zealand discussed the situation in Cambodia with all the ASEAN foreign ministers. As a direct result New Zealand voted with the ASEAN countries in the United Nations on several related issues, a clear case of New Zealand considering the ASEAN position on sovereignty and non-intervention to be more important than the human rights

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record of the Khmer Rouge government in Cambodia.38 In 1983, at formal talks in Wellington, Cambodia (then known as Kampuchea) was again discussed, as were the international economy, trade relations between Australia and New Zealand, and New Zealand’s policies on overseas students, development assistance and trade, the last of which was the specific focus of a joint trade study group that met during the dialogue.39 Typically, the official record notes, “one of the highlights of the meeting was the recognition of the shared perceptions held by both sides on a number of regional and international issues. This enhanced the prospects for mutual understanding and cooperation”.40 On all of these issues, even if agreement was not reached, each side was able to learn the other’s position and understand the thinking and constraints relating to their approaches to the issues. As well as the continuing working-level dialogue relationship, New Zealand and ASEAN also meet formally in the Post-Ministerial Conferences held annually between foreign ministers following the ASEAN Annual Ministerial Meeting. These meetings are held at two levels. The first is a plenary session at which all the (in 2003) ten dialogue partners’ foreign ministers meet in so-called “10+10” meetings. The plenary session is followed by a “10+1” meeting in which the New Zealand foreign minister meets individually with the ASEAN counterparts. At these meetings ministers review contemporary political, security, economic, and development cooperation issues of interest to either side. The meetings are important as much because they occur at all as for their substance. They demonstrate that the relationship between ASEAN and New Zealand continues to be strong and that dialogue continues. Aid was the early and important issue in the relationship. Because ASEAN was a multistate grouping, aid was delivered using a model with which New Zealand was not familiar. Instead of the normal bilateral or multilateral (through international agencies) processes, New Zealand worked with ASEAN as an organization of independent but linked states. The regional nature of the projects meant “considerable planning and long-term phasing”, and “presented a challenging new avenue for transferring capital and technical assistance to developing countries”.41 Despite the challenges, by 1977 one of the five projects originally

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proposed in 1975 had been completed, three were well under way and one, in the field of dental health not started because of lack of a suitable scheme.42 Economic and other forms of assistance from New Zealand to ASEAN grew steadily over the years, although never becoming large. Since ASEAN’s expansion in the mid-1990s, economic cooperation has been based on the region’s own priorities outlined in the 1998 Hanoi Plan of Action. The basic principles of the economic programme are that it should “be of mutual benefit to the members of ASEAN and New Zealand, and it should focus on areas which are of special interest to both ASEAN countries and New Zealand”.43 The programme, managed by a Joint Management Committee, has a relatively narrow focus on science and technology, trade and the economy. In 2002–2003 the ASEAN aid programme (separate from a number of bilateral programmes with individual ASEAN member states) included projects designed to enhance ASEAN’s capacity as a regional grouping and aimed primarily at the smaller and newer ASEAN states.44 Projects included training for officials in policy analysis and technical skills, development of natural gas reticulation and distribution networks, English language skills training and the development of civil society networks within the region. The total annual expenditure on ASEAN projects by New Zealand is not large (some US$1.8 million in 2002), but it is narrowly targeted in an attempt to ensure that full value for money is obtained. (Compare this figure with the tens of millions of dollars of aid to the Colombo Plan discussed above.) A Joint Trade Study Group was formed in 1977, under the umbrella of the dialogue process, with the aim of promoting two-way trade. New Zealand officials saw this as a way for ASEAN to “to make requests for better access”.45 Often, though, New Zealand’s room for “manoeuvre in the present economic circumstances was limited”,46 and in any case many of the commodities that ASEAN wanted to gain access for were “in fact already free of licensing”.47 One solution was to explain “our licensing system and our generalized system of preferences to ASEAN officials and exporters”, which was done.48 Trade issues were later subsumed into the activities of the ASEAN–New Zealand Business Council and in 1984 a Secretariat was formed in Wellington to service the Business Council.

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A proposal for a Business Council had first been mooted in 1979 at the Fourth ASEAN–New Zealand dialogue but not then pursued. In the event New Zealand was the last of the dialogue partners to enter into a formal consultative relationship with the ASEAN Chambers of Commerce and Industry. This reflected New Zealand’s long-held cautious approach to international institutions and multilateral relationships and a desire to gain benefits without an elaborate superstructure. The Combined Business Council manages the Trade and Investment Promotion Program (TIPP) designed to develop sustainable commercial links and increase the awareness of the economic opportunities existing in each of their respective markets. The TIPP promotes ASEAN exports to New Zealand and New Zealand investment in the ASEAN region. Economic linkages, as shown by trade data, between ASEAN and New Zealand have developed steadily. In the late 1970s two-way trade between ASEAN and New Zealand was in the order of US$150 million. By the mid 1980s that had increased to about US$500 million and by 1993 was US$1.3 billion. In 2001, two-way trade was worth US$2.3 billion.49 In the period from 1985 to 2001 ASEAN has moved from taking 4.5 per cent of New Zealand’s exports by value to 9.3 per cent.50 In the same period ASEAN has moved from providing 6.8 per cent of New Zealand’s imports to some 8.7 per cent.51 ASEAN is clearly of increasing economic importance to New Zealand. By 1985, following the development of the institutional linkages and the maturing of the cooperatives programmes, New Zealand’s assessment of ASEAN was tentatively positive: “from cautious beginnings it has grown to be the most successful regional grouping of its kind”, but although New Zealand’s relations “are good”, they lacked “any great depth”.52 The main benefit for New Zealand was that ASEAN as an organization acted as a link which was “a useful adjunct to the bilateral relations” [with each of the ASEAN countries].53 The relationship with ASEAN itself “was institutionalized in a regular dialogue [but] … in no way compares in extent or depth with the bilateral relationships we have with each of the six”.54 In other words, ASEAN was a “limited economic grouping which accommodates divergent views by consensus and avoidance … [and which] lacks economic substance”.55 In the 1980s

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New Zealand had some way to go before it would develop a clear sense of Southeast Asia as a coherent region. In the political arena also, New Zealand took some time to grasp the central role that ASEAN would come to play in regional affairs. In 1987, although the Post Ministerial Conference was a “matter of ritual”, this was not important “so long as we made the right noises” and the links with ASEAN should not be downgraded “because the political and economic relationship provided a counter-balance while we are tip-toeing away from defence and security commitments” and in any case (presciently) “ASEAN in future could become a multilateral trading partner with whom we could do business”.56 Two years later in 1989, the verdict was still open: “ASEAN could perhaps fall apart or, alternatively, ASEAN could go from strength to strength with increased economic development”, but it “is definitely in New Zealand’s interests to do all we can to help it survive”.57 The conclusion was that “we must pay due attention to ASEAN ritual and carry on the minimum amount of cooperation necessary to retain dialogue status”.58 By the start of the 1990s however, perhaps as ASEAN’s economic and diplomatic strengths became more obvious, New Zealand’s views had changed. Officials decided that “we needed the ASEANs more than they needed us”59 and “although the concrete returns from the dialogue process are not high it underpins our bilateral relationships. Without the dialogues we would not have the same easy relations with, and access to, key decision makers in the region”.60 These positive views of ASEAN continued throughout the 1990s and by the early years of the twenty-first century ASEAN was expected to be “increasingly self-confident and assertive and working in a quiet but effective style of diplomacy and backed by weight of numbers”.61 The relationship with ASEAN had developed sufficiently by the mid-1990s so that New Zealand needed “to ensure that the relationship remains as relevant and constructive in ASEAN’s eyes as well as our own”.62 Despite the feeling that ASEAN activism “while generally welcome, is in several instances running counter to our interests [and] wishes”,63 New Zealand’s strategy was to “continue to position New Zealand in relation to ASEAN in such a way which reinforces our common interests … continue to demonstrate support to ASEAN’s economic stability …

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support ASEAN diplomacy in attempting to bring about positive change in Myanmar and Cambodia … and demonstrate in a positive way our interest in ASEAN security”.64 Even after the Asian economic crisis, which struck from early 1997, New Zealand remained supportive of the organization: “New Zealand is standing by its partners in the region during their present difficulties [and] removing tariff barriers [as a means of coping with the economic crisis] is ever more important”.65 Reinforcing the thought, New Zealand officials saw the Post Ministerial Conference as “an opportunity to stress the continuity of New Zealand’s economic engagement with the region despite the economic turmoil” [but the officials were] … “concerned that the ASEANs do not back away from their commitment to liberalise”.66 As well as noting the effects of the economic crisis, New Zealand officials also noted that ASEAN was turning into a two-tier organization with the introduction of new members and that this “detracted from the group’s cohesiveness” as the “collegial nature of the old ASEAN had disappeared”.67 Despite that, “pursuing our ambitions [with ASEAN] will require even closer dialogue … we should make the most of New Zealand’s contributions to Cambodia”.68 ASEAN is clearly now the pre-eminent regional organization and New Zealand gives it the attention due to it. That was not always the case and New Zealand hedged its bets with ASEAN until it could see that the organization would work and could work to New Zealand’s advantage. New Zealand’s relationships with ASEAN reached a plateau in the 1990s and, short of becoming a member, there is limited scope for increasing either the breadth or depth of the relationship in other than incremental ways, which is in any case ASEAN’s preferred way of progressing. In the future, as discussed further below, New Zealand is likely to further its relationship with ASEAN in partnership with Australia as part of an Australasian economic grouping.

Other Regional Institutions and Processes ASEAN is central to several pan-regional institutions that are important to New Zealand and to its relations with ASEAN. These institutions show how the focus of Southeast Asia’s institutional activity is developing from

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that based solely on the sub-region itself to a wider and more inclusive regionalism in which Southeast Asia, through ASEAN, is central. ASEAN Regional Forum

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) was developed in 1994 as an AsiaPacific region-wide meeting of foreign ministers, for consultation and dialogue on security and political issues. Although the Forum includes states from all across the wider Asia region, with Europe (through the European Union) represented as well, ASEAN’s concerns are central and ASEAN maintains its central coordinating and agenda setting roles by holding the chair or co-chair position in all activities. The ARF has an active programme of ministerial and official meetings and works on non-contentious and non-confrontational issues such as confidence building, preventive diplomacy and transnational crime. At first, New Zealand’s expectations for the ARF were not high (mirroring the views it had held of ASEAN itself until the 1980s). By 1998 the ARF had “continued to make good progress … faster and further than most expected. It has done the easy stuff well, the next steps will be more challenging”.69 Perhaps over-ambitiously, New Zealand has looked to the ARF to address the security implications of the regional economic downturn, the problems of nuclear testing in South Asia and the internal situations in Cambodia and Myanmar.70 None of these has been effectively dealt with by the ARF (or any other international organization) and New Zealand would like to see a greater emphasis on substantive achievements rather than only on dialogue and confidence building. The ARF is the only region-wide process dealing with security and political issues. As such, New Zealand supports it as “a valuable contribution to regional security” and also would support moves “towards greater involvement in the management of regional conflict”.71 Part of the move “towards greater involvement” could include the ARF acting as “a suitable multilateral forum for coordinating approaches” to terrorism; a move which New Zealand would welcome.72 Other ARF initiatives of interest to New Zealand include discussions of preventive diplomacy and of transnational crime, not only terrorism, but also piracy,

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the illegal trade in small arms, drug-trafficking, money laundering and cyber-crime. New Zealand is keenly aware though, that any change in focus or development of the ARF’s dialogue role needs to be “at a speed that other ARF members are comfortable with”.73 In what may eventually evolve as a supplement to the ARF, a meeting of defence ministers known as the Shangri-La Dialogue (after the name of the venue hotel in Singapore) was held in 2002 and again in 2003, with a similar grouping of states to that represented in the ARF present. The focus for the defence ministers was on terrorism and the ways that they could cooperate regionally to support each other against the terrorist threat. If pan-Asian multilateral cooperation in defence occurs it will be a first for the region outside alliance structures. New Zealand however did not attend the initial 2002 meeting of what could become a new regional organization, although it did attend in 2003. If the dialogue does become institutionalized New Zealand’s long-held reluctance to become involved in additional multilateral processes will be tested again, and again New Zealand is likely to have to become a participant. In the longer term there would seem to be room to merge the two groupings, which would solve New Zealand’s problem of deciding whether to participate. Asia-Europe Meetings

The major ASEAN states are participants in the biennial Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) of heads of government process which began in 1996 in an effort to link Asia and Europe more closely. Of the ten Asian states involved, seven are also members of ASEAN and thus ASEAN’s interests are central in this forum also. The other three Asian states (China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea) are in Northeast Asia and are the states that will likely join with ASEAN in the next decade to form a much wider East Asia free trade area. New Zealand has not been included in this process (and nor has Australia) but wishes to be. New Zealand keeps pushing for membership of the organization and raises the issue routinely at official meetings. However, “the key to movement on this issue … remains [Malaysia’s] Prime Minister Mahathir … We believe that any chance we might have of

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gaining some early concession would not be enhanced by more vigorous representation at this stage which [he] might feel compelled to resist, even publicly”.74 The ASEM countries have decided that enlargement should be conducted on the basis of consensus at the highest political levels, which effectively means that any country has a veto over membership, so it remains difficult to assess what Malaysia’s 2003 leadership change might mean for New Zealand’s chances of membership. New Zealand (with Australia) is perceived not to be “Asian enough” by some of the Asian participants to qualify as a member of the Asia side of the process and is clearly not a part of Europe.75 New Zealand still does not have membership of the ASEM meeting. New Zealand is unlikely to pursue membership of ASEM at the expense of closer links with ASEAN itself, however. Consensus on membership will clearly be difficult and New Zealand is likely to remain patient rather than assertive on the issue.

New Zealand Links with Australia to Develop Closer Ties with Southeast Asia: A Closer Economic Partnership In what may be a third phase of New Zealand’s relationship with Southeast Asia and its institutions, New Zealand has joined with Australia to develop the linkages between the Australasian economic grouping and its Southeast Asian counterpart groupings. The Closer Economic Relations (CER) partnership is the formal core of the economic relationship between Australia and New Zealand as is the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) the core of ASEAN economic initiatives. The rationale behind the joint approach by Australia and New Zealand is that the two countries form a more or less single trading economy through the CER relationship, that they have similar ambitions towards ASEAN and therefore, for trade and investment with ASEAN, a joint approach is sensible.76 Overall, the two sides have noted “the importance of continuing regional economic integration as a means to promote trade and investment flows”.77 A linkage with the aim of facilitating trade and investment flows between the two regions was first established in 1995 following informal talks between economic ministers. The intention was that that linkage

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should provide tangible benefits for regional businesses and enhance cooperation between the two free trade areas on the basis, from the Australian side, that they could do more working together than they could separately. A range of practical business-oriented activities was established with Australia and New Zealand working under their separate economic cooperation programmes. Since 1999 the CER and AFTA groupings have been exploring a “Closer Economic Partnership” (CEP) which has the long-term aim of achieving some form of greater regional integration and reduction in trade barriers.78 From New Zealand’s point of view this would benefit New Zealand businesses “operating in this dynamic region”.79 In 2002 ministers representing the two groupings established a “formal and structured approach to promoting trade, investment and regional economic integration between ASEAN and CER”.80 The ministers agreed that the target of a doubling of trade and investment between the regions by 2010 would ensure that “the CEP was ambitious and results oriented”.81 To ensure that this target would be implemented a work programme has been developed and a joint coordination and implementation group (the AFTA-CER CEP implementation and Coordination Group) established with a task of reporting regularly to senior officials.82 The work programme to achieve the CEP is wide ranging and includes examination of topics such as: technical barriers to trade and non-tariff barriers; customs cooperation, capacity building; trade and investment promotion and facilitation; standards and conformity assessment; electronic commerce; and the development of small and medium enterprises.83 An AFTA-CER Business Council has been established to ensure that the business community participates fully in the CEP’s activities and official deliberations. Perhaps in recognition that multilateral processes tend to develop at the speed of the most cautious partner, the CEP process allows that bilateral and other regional trade and economic initiatives can promote CEP goals and “AFTA-CEP countries which are ready to develop and implement such arrangements should do so”.84 These are not necessarily exciting topics, but they represent the way that New Zealand is developing its links with the region and its

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institutions while cooperating as part of another regional institution. In the medium to long term New Zealand could cooperate more overtly with Australia in developing political links with the region, although each country would have to see individual benefits from the joint approach.

Conclusion From the second half of the twentieth century New Zealand has steadily expanded its links with Southeast Asia. Despite this expansion though, New Zealand was at first reluctant to commit itself wholeheartedly to the various regional institutions and tended to see multilateral activity through the institutions as an adjunct to bilateral ties rather than as an alternative to them. By 1995 though, officials noted that “the growing influence of ASEAN on both security and economic spheres as well as the performance of some of its individual members (including their growing military capability) are now well established”.85 New Zealand would, as a result, need to compete more for ASEAN’s attention. This has been done through the “strengthening of bilateral relationships with key ASEAN members” as a way to preserve influence with the group.86 The wheel had turned completely. From ASEAN being a useful vehicle through which New Zealand could maintain bilateral links with important countries, the bilateral links have become the mechanism through which New Zealand maintained a relationship with the important ASEAN. Southeast Asian institutions as exemplified by ASEAN are just one part of the emerging wider regional multilateral architecture. New Zealand has recognized that the various components of the “institutional arrangements have merged with remarkable speed and impact” and that New Zealand “has to view these institutions as key vehicles for improving the regional trade and economic links on which with much of our economic prospects depends” [sic].87 The shape of the regional architecture is changing, however. New Zealand alone is unlikely to be able to make significant new initiatives in relation to ASEAN in the future. New Zealand does not have the capacity for that and New Zealand is not a major prize for Southeast Asia. That being the case, New Zealand has two choices. It can let the

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relationships continue as they may, making incremental gains and losses in the various areas of the relationships or it can attempt to work more closely with Australia to gather the advantages of “group strength” (as ASEAN has done) in pursuing specific goals. The second approach is more difficult, but it gives the opportunity of greater returns. However, as New Zealand has to make decisions as to how it will approach Southeast Asia, that region is itself changing. Regional identity came of age with the formation of ASEAN. In the early years of the twenty-first century it is possible that ASEAN itself will be subsumed economically and possibly politically in a wider East Asian grouping which will include Korea, Japan, and China with the ASEAN states and with a new set of regional organizations. If that happens, as it probably will in the longer term, New Zealand will have to think afresh its approach to the region. NOTES The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, US Pacific Command, the US Department of Defense, or the US government. 1. For earlier concepts of the region, see Amitav Acharya, The Quest for Identity: International Relations of Southeast Asia (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 2000), especially chapter one, “Imagining Southeast Asia”. 2. Ian McGibbon, ed., Unofficial Channels: Letters Between Alister McIntosh and Foss Shanahan, George Laking and Frank Corner 1946–1966 (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1999), p. 145. 3. “Parliamentary Tour of Asia 1970: Briefing Paper”, June 1970, PM 59/2/4/1. 4. Ian McGibbon, ed., Undiplomatic Dialogue: Letters Between Carl Berendsen and Alister McIntosh 1943–1952 (Wellington: Auckland University Press, 1993), p. 127. 5. I do not discuss the various UN bodies which deal with, or have dealt with, Southeast Asian issues. 6. F.W. Doidge in the House of Representatives, 12 July 1950, in Ministry of Foreign Affairs, New Zealand Foreign Policy: Statements and Documents 1943–1957 (Wellington: Government Printer, 1972), p. 210.

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7. Ibid., p. 211. 8. Ibid. 9. New Zealand’s Colombo Plan contribution was initially (in 2001 equivalent NZ$) some $12.8 million over three years from 1950. The government later considered a capital contribution of some $150 million. See Bryce Harland, “New Zealand and the Development of the Colombo Plan”, in The Colombo Plan at 50: A New Zealand Perspective (Wellington: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2001), pp. 8–9. 10. McGibbon, Unofficial Channels, p. 241. 11. Harland, “New Zealand and the Development of the Colombo Plan”, p. 10. 12. McGibbon, Unofficial Channels, p. 241. 13. John Ryan, cited in “An End to the Years of Emptiness”, The Colombo Plan at 50, p. 12. 14. http://web.kku.ac.th/~mekong/mainhtml/about_welcome.htm, accessed 20 December 2002. For a discussion of New Zealand and the Mekong Institute, see Grant Klinkum, “The Mekong Institute: An Aid Success Story”, New Zealand International Review, vol. XXVII, no. 5 (September/October 2002). 15. “Administration of New Zealand Foreign Policy 1950 to 1970”, Foreign Affairs Review, vol. XX, no. 4 (April 1970), p. 5. 16. I.C. McGibbon, “The Defence of New Zealand”, in New Zealand in World Affairs, Volume 1: 1945–1957 (Wellington: New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, 1977), p. 169. 17. Ministry of External Affairs, “Brief for the New Zealand Representative”, ANZAM Defence Committee, Canberra, October 1963, cited in Jim Rolfe, Anachronistic Past or Positive Future: New Zealand and the Five Power Defence Arrangements, CSS Working Paper 4/95 (Wellington: Centre for Strategic Studies, 1995), p. 6. 18. T.C. Webb, “Manila Conference on South-East Asian Collective Defence”, Extracts from the Opening Statement by the Honourable T.C. Webb, 6 September 1954, in New Zealand Foreign Policy, p. 362. 19. Letter, Frank Corner to Alister McIntosh, 12 March 1956, Unofficial Channels, p. 199. 20. Mark Pearson, Paper Tiger: New Zealand’s Part in SEATO 1954–1977 (Wellington: New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, 1989), p. 45.

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21. The Association of Southeast Asia was formed in 1961 between Malaya (now Malaysia), the Philippines, and Thailand and foundered in 1962 because of the Sabah territorial dispute between Malaysia and the Philippines and the proposal to incorporate the territory into the new Federation of Malaysia. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were not restored until 1966. The Philippines’ Malphindo initiative could not proceed for essentially the same reason. 22. Defence and security issues are not addressed by ASEAN. The organization originally included the antagonists of just a few years earlier as part of the original ASEAN-5 (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand). Since then it has added Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia to its members. 23. Rodolfo C. Severino Jr., “What ASEAN Is and What It Stands For”, ASEAN Faces the Future (Jakarta: ASEAN Secretariat, 2001), p. 13. 24. “The ASEAN Declaration”, Bangkok, 8 August 1967. 25. “Brief, Economic Organizations for Cooperation in Asia”, 15 August 1968, PM 59/2/4/1. 26. “Parliamentary Tour of Asia 1970: Briefing Paper”, June 1970, PM 59/2/4/1. 27. Ibid. 28. Ibid. 29. “The Association of South-East Asian Nations”, New Zealand Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 27, no. 3 (July–September 1977), pp. 74, 75. 30. Ibid., p. 77. 31. Ibid., p. 78. 32. “Deputy Prime Minister’s Speech on ASEAN”, New Zealand Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 27, no. 4 (October–December 1977), p. 37. 33. Ibid., p. 38. 34. This was the second such relationship to be formed after that with Australia in 1974. There are now ten dialogue partners. The formal relationship between ASEAN and each of its dialogue partners is very similar. 35. “The ASEAN–New Zealand Dialogue”, New Zealand Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 29, nos. 3 and 4 (July–December 1979), p. 33. 36. “ASEAN/New Zealand Cooperation”, New Zealand Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 25, no. 7 (July 1975), p. 4.

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37. Ibid. 38. “The ASEAN–New Zealand Dialogue”, p. 34. 39. “ASEAN-NZ Officials’ Dialogue”, New Zealand Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 33, no. 4 (October–December 1983), p. 25. 40. Joint press release, Ninth ASEAN–New Zealand Dialogue, Yogyakarta, 23–24 November 1988. http://www.aseansec.org/5839.htm, accessed 28 December 2002. 41. “New Zealand’s Development Assistance: Novel Aid Link with ASEAN”, New Zealand Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 27, no. 3 (July–September 1977), pp. 68–69. 42. Ibid. Of course, as well as the substantive elements of the projects, there is a high symbolic value to them and thus completion may be less important than their actual existence. 43. “ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Record, vol. 6, no. 3 (August 1997), p. 6. 44. For details see http://www.nzaid.govt.nz/programmes/global/asia/asean/asean. htm. 45. “New Zealand Trade and Economic Mission to ASEAN 16–31 March 1985: Ministerial Brief ”, February 1985, PM 59/2/4/1. 46. “The Association of South-East Asian Nations”, p. 79. 47. “Deputy Prime Minister’s Speech on ASEAN”, p. 37. 48. Ibid. 49. Data for 1970s and 1980s from “Ministerial Brief: New Zealand Trade and Economic Mission to ASEAN, 16–31 March 1985”, 59/434/10; and for 1993 and 2001 from www.aseansec.org/trade/viewbycountry.asp?cty=09, accessed 26 December 2002. 50. Data from www.mft.govt.nz/foreign/tead/greybook/2001dec/pdfdec01/ merchandiseexports.pdf, accessed 26 December 2002. 51. Data from www.mft.govt.nz/foreign/tead/greybook/2001dec/pdfdec01/ merchandiseimports.pdf, accessed 26 December 2002. 52. “New Zealand Trade and Economic Mission to ASEAN 16–31 March 1985: Ministerial Brief ”, February 1985, PM 59/2/4/1. 53. Ibid.

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54. Ibid. 55. Memorandum to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, “South and Southeast Asia HOM [Heads of Mission] Meeting Jakarta, 20–21 May 1987”, 28 May 1987, 440/1/5. 56. “South and Southeast Asia Heads of Mission Meeting, Jakarta, 20–21 May 1987: Record of Meeting”, 440/1/5. 57. File note, “ASEAN Solidarity: The Wake of a Cambodia Settlement”, 7 June 1989, 440/1/5. 58. Ibid. 59. File note, “S/SEA [South and Southeast Asia Division]: Regional Heads of Mission Meeting, Jakarta, 17–18 September 1990”, 440/1/5. 60. Memorandum to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 20 September 1990, 440/1/5. 61. “Strategic Framework 1998–2003”, 14 December 1997, 440/1/5. 62. “ASEAN: 1996 ARF/PMC. PMC Brief ”, 59/434/10. 63. “Regional Representation Reviews: South/Southeast Asia: Trends in Workload”, 29 April 1996, 440/1/5. 64. “Strategic Framework 1998–2003”, 14 December 1997, 440/1/5. 65. “ASEAN: ARF/PMC Manila 26–29 July 1998. Brief for Bilaterals”, 440/1/5. 66. “ASEAN: ARF/PMC Manila 26–29 July 1998. Brief for PMC”, 440/1/5. 67. Ibid. 68. “S/SEA Heads of Mission Meeting Discussion. Conclusion”, May 1998, 440/1/5. 69. “ASEAN: ARF/PMC Manila 26–29 July 1998”, 59/434/10. 70. Ibid. 71. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Regional Security Division, “ASEAN Regional Forum”, www.mft.govt.nz/foreign/rsd/arfintro.html, accessed 29 November 2002. 72. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, “Post Election Briefing to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade”, July 2002. www.mfat.govt.nz/about/postelectionbrief, accessed 8 December 2002.

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73. “ASEAN Regional Forum”. 74. Cable, Wellington to New Delhi U19080, “Asem: New Zealand Membership”, 10 September 1996, 440/1/5. 75. Michael Reiterer, “The Third Summit in Seoul: A Roadmap to Consolidate the Partnership between Asia and Europe”, European Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 6, no. 1 (Spring 2001), p. 26. 76. The joint approach is not used for other economic relationships such as Australia’s independent attempt to develop a free trade agreement with the United States, or New Zealand’s separate free trade agreement with Singapore. 77. Joint press statement, “The Seventh Consultation between the ASEAN Ministers and Ministers of the CER”, Brunei Darussalam, 14 September 2002. 78. Press release, Jim Sutton, “New Zealand to Build up Links with ASEAN Countries”, 19 September 2001. 79. Ibid. 80. Joint press statement, 14 September 2002. 81. Ibid. 82. For more detail on the programme, see Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, “AFTA-CER”, http://www.dfat.gov.au/cer_afta/index.html. 83. “Ministerial Declaration on the AFTA-CER Closer Economic Partnership”, Brunei Darussalam, 14 September 2002. 84. Ibid. 85. “Strategic Framework 1998–2003”, 14 December 1997, 440/1/5. 86. Ibid. 87. Ibid.

Reproduced from Southeast Asia and New Zealand: A History of Regional and Bilateral Relations, edited by Anthony L. Smith (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2005). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at 57 3. The Economic Relationship < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

3

THE ECONOMIC RELATIONSHIP G A R Y

R.

H A W K E

Introduction In 1950, Southeast Asia was still an exotic place for New Zealanders. It was to the north of Australia and was not on either of the two major routes of passenger ships between New Zealand and the United Kingdom. It had played a role in the war against Japan, not one to be remembered with great pride since there were no major New Zealand victories but only the rapid fall of the Singapore fortress and the loss of the battleships which were at the core of the naval guarantee. Young New Zealanders had played a minor role in the land and air battles through which territory was recovered in the Pacific, but they had been overshadowed by the United States. Southeast Asia had not been central anyway. It did subsequently emerge as one of the borderlands between the opposed camps in the Cold War. Southeast Asia was therefore at mid-century on the agenda of security concerns, but it was somewhat hidden, almost disreputable. By 2000, Southeast Asia was at the heart of an institution, the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) community, which was once described by a New Zealand Foreign Minister as New Zealand’s most

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important economic relationship. (He spoke rather loosely, and probably intended to exclude genuinely multilateral institutions like the World Trade Organization.) The gloss of East Asian economic success and the participation in it of Southeast Asia, had been somewhat reduced by the Asian crisis of 1997, and the confident rhetoric of the “Pacific century” which had been so prominent a few years earlier was muted. New Zealand was engaged in continual debate about its relationship with “Asia”, and participants often looked past Southeast Asia to the giants of China, Korea, and Japan. Some even looked to the potentially emerging India which still benefited from an old habit inherited from Britain of being identified with “Asia” even though it was marginal to the concept of “Asia Pacific” which had emerged in the second half of the twentieth century. Nevertheless, there was an enormous change in the half century. New Zealand’s economic relationship with Southeast Asia had changed from “insignificant” to “significant, albeit over-shadowed”.

Chronology The basic chronology of New Zealand’s economic relationship with Southeast Asia can be conceived as what is shown by a graph in which a variable creeps along the x-axis for a long time before beginning a rise which is tentative and interrupted rather than clear. This, as Graphs 1 to 4 show, is the essential pattern of trade flows with the region as a whole and with individual countries. It is also true of investment and other aspects of a modern economic relationship. But behind it lies a complex story of official and private interactions. And the official linkages tended to be ahead of the private. Not even the government, whether ministers or officials, had shown much interest before 1950. Peter Fraser, Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1940 to 1949, has a justified reputation for his internationalist outlook but his most recent biographers record his responses to Asia and Pacific only in terms of defence issues. Even in the Pacific, where Fraser was alert to history and to development issues, he saw the South Pacific Commission entirely in terms of research and coordination and when he toured the Pacific as Minister of Island Territories, it was not the economy but self-government versus colonial benevolence with which

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he was preoccupied.1 Fraser was prime minister rather than minister of finance, and he was a wartime leader facing an uncertain international future. It is therefore not surprising that he was so preoccupied. But it remained true of his successors too. Even in the 1960s, when trade diversification became a major element of economic policy, Southeast Asia was not prominent. The politician most associated with trade diversification was John Marshall, Prime Minister in 1972, and although he claimed in his memoirs that “[w]e were becoming aware of the great potential of South-East Asia, Japan and China as the future markets for our exports”, he was inclined to treat Asia as merely one element in a global survey of potential export markets, and to be interested in the exotic such as the religious restrictions facing meat exports in Singapore and Malaysia.2 When Robert Muldoon, Prime Minister from 1975 to 1984, looked back on the 1960s from the 1970s, despite his declared belief in the primacy of the economy, he tended to see Southeast Asia firstly in terms of checking communism, and secondly in terms of the congeniality of Singapore and Malaysia at Commonwealth meetings. He was right in claiming that New Zealand’s interest in Asia had been growing, but the particular example he gave, that New Zealand joined the Asian Development Bank (ADB), was far from conclusive.3 The government had to be persuaded that membership justified the foreign funds required for New Zealand’s subscription.4 Throughout these years, New Zealand’s official representation in Southeast Asia was focused on Bangkok and the South-East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). Defence issues dominated interest in the economy. The Vietnam War determined these relative priorities, and when in his reflections, historian Keith Sinclair offered the judgement that New Zealand had become far more involved in Southeast Asia than was warranted,5 it was about preoccupation with the Vietnam War to which he referred. (Whether he was reflecting that he personally had misallocated his efforts between Vietnam protest and more enduring social and intellectual trends is less clear.) Some officials were looking to Southeast Asia in the context of diversifying export markets in the 1960s,6 but it is from the mid1970s, that there is clear documentary evidence of official efforts to get recognition of the economic importance of South East Asia. Mervyn

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Norrish, later Secretary of Foreign Affairs, used a meeting of heads of mission in Singapore in 1975 for this purpose.7 Presumably, the withdrawal from Vietnam of the US and its allies created an opportunity to redirect attention. However, New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had built a core of officials who had some experience of Asia, and of Southeast Asia in particular, and they were soon promoting a deeper relationship. By the mid-1980s, the ministry was advocating New Zealand adaptation to an Asian-style approach to business relations with its emphasis on contacts and networking. The ministry favoured government support for association. It was also seeking a shift in emphasis away from exploratory research to establishment in markets and seeking government support for credit facilities. One may wonder about the lack of economic sophistication implicit in the way the ministry combined such advocacy with criticism of exporters for their unwillingness to take risks and their expectation that government would take risks for them, but tough-minded insistence on first-principles analysis of the role of government was still rare in the early-1980s, and the ministry was ahead of official opinion in recognizing what was needed to build an economic relationship in Southeast Asia.8 With the change of government in 1984 and with Mervyn Norrish leading the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there was a significant review in 1985 when a Heads of Mission meeting was held in Wellington, and the Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and senior officials were brought into the process.9 New Zealand’s interests in Asia were defined as a pro-Western alignment with no dominating power, and market access for New Zealand exports. The principal instruments identified were influential contacts in both public and private sectors, and economic cooperation. Although not explicitly discussed, the Ministry was adopting a meaning of “economic co-operation” which emerged from Asia and especially Japan. It involved discussion between officials and the private sector so that there was mutual understanding of political and business objectives, and no surprises even when goals conflicted and government actions were necessarily unpalatable to some private interests. These principles were carried into international economic relations, initially through business councils, the Pacific Basin Economic Council (PBEC) and the Pacific Economic Co-operation

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Conference (later Council; PECC) which are discussed further below. The same meaning of “economic cooperation” underlies the current inter-governmental organization of APEC — although English-speakers often assume that a standard dictionary is sufficient to understand the meaning of the words. The ministry was well ahead of others in being aware of what was happening in the Asia-Pacific region. New Zealand priorities were identified as North Asia, especially Japan but also China and South Korea, and Indonesia, while other Southeast Asian countries being seen to need only fine-tuning. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) which is discussed further below, was recognized as the most important regional grouping, but economic issues were judged to be mostly bilateral and not amenable to substantive discussion through the ASEAN dialogue process. The ministry argued that New Zealand should be less deferential in its approach and more explicit in its support of cooperation within ASEAN. It was already using opportunities to put such conclusions into action, advising a Trade and Economic mission in early 1985: There are however disturbing indications that in some areas of vital concern to New Zealand — particularly in dairy — opportunities to realize that potential may be thwarted by increasing protectionism among some of the ASEAN nations, in Indonesia especially. This Mission, then, may be regarded … as an opportunity to pursue New Zealand’s case on crucial access issues at the highest level.10

Thereafter, the contemporary ideas of economic relationships dominated Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) thinking about Southeast Asia. Official files from the 1960s and 1970s are a reminder of how much has changed in more recent decades. In interdepartmental committees in the earlier years, the foreign affairs officials usually had the advantage of knowing more. Diplomats used their access to information overseas and transmitted it to their colleagues in Wellington. In more recent years, the revolution in information and communication technology has largely removed this difference between the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and other parts of the public service. Early recognition was not, however, entirely confined to diplomats. The Pacific Trade and Development Conference (PAFTAD) emerged

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in 1968 as academics in Pacific Rim countries, especially Japan and Australia but including New Zealand, looked at the process of economic integration under way in Europe and wondered about the prospects of something similar in the Asia-Pacific Region. Within business communities, networking was emerging in business councils and from 1967 in the Pacific Basin Economic Council. The Pacific Basin was seeing not a European idea of “social partners” (or the “cultural diplomacy” of the Soviet world) but a “track II” concept of supplementing official diplomacy with personal contacts, especially among businesses but using academic researchers to conceptualize where business relations were leading, and securing compatibility with government thinking by drawing in officials in their private capacity. In 1980, this was formalized, but not institutionalized, in the emergence of PECC. (The initial emphasis on a sequence of conferences rather than a council, as reflected in the name change noted in the introduction, was part of the Asian antipathy to institutions and bureaucracies. The emphasis was always to be on relationships.11) The ministry’s emphasis on Asian business relations, contacts and networking in the early 1980s shows that it was alert to these developments. When he retired from politics, Brian Talboys, the former New Zealand Minister of Trade Negotiations, became the first chair of the New Zealand committee of PECC — and New Zealand business interests and academics were initial participants in these Asia-Pacific developments. They tended to be led by Japan, but Southeast Asia was always part of them.12 The New Zealand economic relationship with Southeast Asia nevertheless had something of a resemblance to the Pacific beachcombers of earlier years. There were individuals pursuing specific opportunities rather than a systematic and continual process, let alone an institutionalized one. But change was clearly under way by the mid-1980s.

ASEAN The basic chronology of New Zealand’s relationship with South East Asia is thus a narrative in which a defence relationship was transformed into a modern economic relationship. There is some parallelism with the development of ASEAN. It began from a concern with security, whether

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Singapore’s sense of itself as a Chinese outpost in a Malay world, or a shared concern about possible implications for the region of the Vietnam War. It gradually became an economic community. ASEAN was founded in 1967. New Zealand diplomats recognized the event, but ASEAN did not immediately loom large in their consciousness. When they prepared briefings for the visits of Members of Parliament (MPs) to the region in 1968, ASEAN was mentioned but it was not prominent. As MPs were encouraged to think about the establishment of relations in Southeast Asia, they were told about the existing excellent relations with Singapore and Malaysia rather than about ASEAN.13 Singapore and Malaysia were, of course, known to informed New Zealanders for their defence relationship with New Zealand. It may be that officials were tailoring their material to their audience, but there is nothing to suggest that even in the ministry, ASEAN was accorded much importance. New Zealand Members of Parliament about to travel to the region were told in 1970: For its part, New Zealand has felt that the main strength of ASEAN is that it has brought together a small group of countries whose interests were sufficiently closely identified to make it, politically at least, an effective subregional working association. An influx of new members, even if only at observer status, might weaken its cohesion. For this reason we have never seriously considered any form of New Zealand association with ASEAN. If, however, there was a real move to widen the geographical area covered by ASEAN, we should no doubt re-examine our position.14

The notion that “Southeast Asia” might encompass New Zealand — and presumably Australia — thus reached ministry papers very early and no doubt surfaced even earlier in informal conversations among New Zealand’s policy-makers. It was in the 1990s that a misinterpretation from which New Zealand Prime Minister, Jim Bolger, was reported to locate New Zealand in Asia caused great surprise in the New Zealand public. New Zealand is part of an Asia-Pacific region which emerged in the later twentieth century — indeed of several such emerging conceptualizations15 — but it is not easy to create any sense of “Asia” which includes New Zealand. Relations with Asia, especially economic relations, and within those topics, relations with Southeast Asia, were of increasing importance and membership of geographic regions were

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matters of parlour games and media space-filling rather than serious elements. In a general review in July 1970, New Zealand’s objective was defined as a wish that Asia should be “fairly stable”, free from outside interference, prosperous and with good governments. New Zealand’s role as a “good international citizen” clearly loomed larger than any specific New Zealand national interests, economic or otherwise. The instruments available to New Zealand were identified as defence relations, politics and aid. There was some economic content within those categories, and in a “Note on Economic Organisations for Co-operation in Asia”, ASEAN was listed in a lowly place. Some doubts were expressed about its cohesion. New Zealand would have been far from unusual in these judgements which were shared by many within Southeast Asia as well as those further afield. ASEAN did not arrive as a full-fledged economic institution. The Ministry’s contemporary material on bilateral relations attached much more significance to trade.16 By 1973, ASEAN was attracting more attention. The reasons why Indonesia was seen as important included its leading role in ASEAN.17 By the end of the decade, the heads of mission in the region were reporting to the minister: “Our earlier support for ASEAN itself has strengthened our relations with the five members and it is important to maintain this advantage.”18 When he came to write his reflections in 1981, Robert Muldoon, still prime minister at the time, continued his earlier particular interest in Singapore but he had become aware of the importance of ASEAN, writing that of “all the ASEAN countries, New Zealand has the most relaxed relationship with Singapore, but, I repeat, ASEAN today is a cohesive entity and we regard that as very important”.19 ASEAN grew in a Southeast Asian manner. The emphasis was on cooperation in the sense of exchanging information, developing agreement on objectives where possible, and providing peer support for individual efforts to achieve those objectives. The principal mechanism was simply dialogue, and the ASEAN process was a lengthy list of meetings of ministers and officials. Those concerned with security threats and political disagreements were most prominent, and even there, the meetings remained contributory to national decisions. Not surprisingly, New Zealand perceptions were that as far as economic relationships were

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concerned, ASEAN was distinctly subordinate to bilateral relations. When it came to look back on nearly twenty years of ASEAN in 1985, the Ministry observed: New Zealand has strongly supported ASEAN since its inception. This policy was based on the belief that the expansion and strengthening of closer political and economic relations among countries would reduce tensions and contribute to political stability in Southeast Asia. And, to the extent that ASEAN has encouraged economic development in the area, this has benefited New Zealand’s trade relations with individual member countries.20

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, there was questioning within the ministry over whether the significance of bilateral relationships was fully appreciated.21 In 1985, the debate was summarized by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs for the Minister as: Our bilateral links with individual members of ASEAN are more important than our relationship with the organization as such. But we will need to keep the relationship with the group in good repair because of the political clout that ASEAN can muster on international and regional issues.22

While this tended to be the conclusion of repeated deliberation within the ministry, the precise significance of ASEAN remained contested. ASEAN was developing its economic component, especially as the Vietnam War faded into history. Security and political issues remained prominent; absorbing Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar into regional processes and institutions guaranteed that, while the agenda of specific issues in the South China Sea remained lively. ASEAN was, however, developing its economic agenda. The pace was slow, as officials concentrated on reducing tariffs on goods trade between members with negotiations on all specific goods and a timetable which could be described as leisurely at best. New Zealanders were often led to reflect on the futility of the New Zealand Australian Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) relative to the later Closer Economic Relations (CER) agreement and wonder why ASEAN officials and ministers seemed intent on following the former model. Simple reflection on the importance of learning by doing in all human affairs might have provided sufficient answer. However despite the frustratingly slow pace, the direction was clear. The problem for New Zealand policy was in identifying when New Zealand interests were served by focusing on the region and when

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national capitals remained the appropriate point of contact. Both were always significant; the judgement required was about what should be pursued, where, and with what emphasis. There was therefore a set of delicate balancing acts. ASEAN was recognized as the most important regional grouping, but economic issues were mostly bilateral and the ASEAN dialogue process did not allow for substantive discussion of them. New Zealand’s economic interests were promoted by liberalization of ASEAN economies and there were good arguments that such liberalization was in the interests of ASEAN economies, but that was clearly going to be managed by those economies as they interacted in the ASEAN process even if the critical decisions were to be by national governments rather than any regional institution. It was in New Zealand’s interests then to offer support for regional economic integration even if pressing economic issues rested in specific capitals. New Zealanders had to learn about decision-making within ASEAN, the importance of non-interference in domestic affairs, and the delicate reconciliation of consensus with an unspoken primacy ceded to Indonesia. Frank discussion depended on relationships of trust and sensitivity to face. And all this could not be entirely detached from a political and media context in New Zealand which still thought in terms of charity towards Asian poverty, a battleground in an ideological battle that had little connection with Southeast Asian societies and cultures, and an area which would benefit from simple lessons in democracy and human rights. Thus in the mid-1980s, New Zealand trade interests were in part specific questions such as the appropriate rates of duty to be levied on Malaysian exports of pewterware or canned pineapples, access to New Zealand of Thai chicken products, New Zealand concern at Thai customs procedures, worries about Indonesian protectionism in areas like dairy products, or Philippine procedures on meat imports, or any of a multitude of specific product issues.23 There was also a deeper question of the appropriate tariff rates for Singaporean exports in general. International bodies decided on concessionary arrangement for “developing countries” but asked whether economies like Singapore (and South Korea and Taiwan) should not expect to “graduate” out of that status. ASEAN as a whole was concerned about Singapore graduation

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— it clearly had implications for the future of other ASEAN economies. In any case, Singapore was accustomed to taking account of Indonesian views on important issues, and whether “graduation” of some members would affect the relationships being built up in ASEAN was undoubtedly important. Furthermore, the New Zealand argument was essentially about the beneficial effects of liberalization in general; the economic argument was a macroeconomic one about the gains from reallocating resources outweighing the adjustment costs imposed on specific producers. Debates about pewterware, dairy products and generalized preferences could not be segmented. In addition, all the ASEAN members had complexities in their individual and joint policy positions. It was certainly thought in the early 1980s that they restrained their specific trade issues with New Zealand in appreciation of New Zealand understanding of their stance on a political question; it was not easy for them to secure international agreement that the principle of non-interference justified a preference for the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia over control imposed directly or indirectly by Vietnam.24 Even in the early 1980s, there were those within the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs who thought New Zealand could afford to be more assertive in its relationships with ASEAN and with ASEAN members.25 While there was no clear change in stance, there was some move towards a more explicit promotion of regional integration. New Zealand encouragement of ASEAN to be concerned with free trade became more explicit as there were various discussions around the possibility of linking CER with ASEAN initiatives. As ASEAN developed the idea of an ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) the concept of AFTACER was promoted beside it. The ministry supported a congress in March 1987 and facilitated the participation of Sir Frank Holmes, doyen of New Zealand economists and a participant in all New Zealand trade initiatives since the 1960s. Nevertheless, Indonesia succeeded in removing “free trade” and “common market” from the agenda of ASEAN Economic Ministers agenda and the official objective remained no more specific than a “preferential trade agreement”.26 The pace of economic change in ASEAN as a whole would be determined by ASEAN decisions, not by ready acquiescence in any outside programmes. There was then a certain disillusionment with ASEAN in the later

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1980s. After a Heads of Mission meeting in Jakarta in 1987, the summary statement of participants and the secretary’s formal advice to the minister both said that ASEAN: [L]acks economic substance … is of limited usefulness for pursuit of New Zealand interests. Nevertheless, because an institutional relationship with ASEAN is useful to us for broader reasons, we must pay attention to ASEAN ritual and carry on the minimum amount of practical cooperation necessary to retain “dialogue status”.27

The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), or “graduation” issue was identified as the principal reason that the ASEAN relationship had been derailed and New Zealand had had little success in impressing on ASEAN that the relationship had to be seen as a “two-way street”.28

Aid As noted earlier, the two earliest pillars of New Zealand’s relationship with Southeast Asia were defence and aid. The latter remained important as a wider economic relationship was built. The premier instrument was the Colombo Plan29 which can be traced back to a meeting of Commonwealth foreign ministers in Colombo, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) in 1950 at which it was decided to foster economic development in South and Southeast Asia. The notion of “development” was part of international post-war thinking — the World Bank began as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and development economics was the vogue subdiscipline in economics in the 1950s. Achievement of independence by India, Pakistan, Burma, and Ceylon in the late 1940s, and the clear prospect of independence in territories like Malaya in the 1950s, directed attention to development in South and Southeast Asia. The New Zealand government was initially cautious, not so much for lack of sympathy with the development objectives of the international community and the British Commonwealth, but because it was engaged in one of its frequent economy drives, and because economic policy was already being driven by ideas of “foreign exchange shortage”. Nevertheless, New Zealand was soon contributing to a cement factory, irrigation projects and a livestock research farm in Pakistan, a medical

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research institute and dairy industry equipment in India, a farming research station, technical and trade training schools and a dental nursing scheme in Ceylon, a milk collecting station in Nepal, a railway apprentices school in Cambodia, and a trade training school in Indonesia. In addition, early phases of the Colombo Plan included providing training in New Zealand for a number of trades and professions as well as travel by New Zealand experts to Asia. The Colombo Plan continued in later years to relate to South Asia as well as Southeast Asia. It always related to the region rather than, as might have been expected initially, to the Commonwealth and British dependencies. Regional identity outweighed imperial sentiment, perhaps an early example that the balance of influence had shifted to Asia itself. Over time, the public face of New Zealand’s Colombo Plan aid came to be the provision of education services in New Zealand to students from Southeast Asia, especially but not only Malaysia and Indonesia. The activity extended beyond the Colombo Plan and indeed beyond official aid in general as private students participated beside sponsored ones. In recent years, New Zealand travellers in Southeast Asia have frequently found warm welcomes from graduates of New Zealand universities, and alumni associations have found ready responses from former Colombo Plan students and other students who were keen to arrange study for their children in New Zealand. New Zealand has undoubtedly benefited from the relationships which were formed,30 but despite recognition of the value of these relationships, there has been no systematic study of the benefits and costs of the programmes as a whole, and in 2002–2003, the trend in policy thinking was towards redirecting aid towards poverty alleviation and so towards primary education in poor countries rather than to assisting tertiary students from Southeast Asia. Arguments that New Zealand should concern itself with its political and economic relationships rather than make a small addition to international poverty alleviation campaigns were by no means dead but did not prevail. The aid relationship between New Zealand and Southeast Asia was never solely concentrated on education. Indeed, from an ASEAN viewpoint, the emphasis was often more on afforestation projects in the

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Philippines and Indonesia, with assistance on agriculture, transport and tourism projects also being publicized.31 The purpose of New Zealand’s aid programme in Southeast Asia, taken as obvious in early years, was debated through the 1990s. Earning of goodwill was given pride of place in 1990,32 and was repeated in the middle of the decade, when it was observed that aid to ASEAN “helps facilitate dialogue at a reasonably senior level with a wide range of official, private sector and political contacts”.33 Various other rationalizations were sometimes advanced, including even notions of aid as a palliative for trade imbalances.34 But the discussion was usually more sophisticated and there were changes taking place. The complacent assumption that a rich New Zealand was benevolently helping less fortunate Asians was challenged by relative growth rates even if New Zealand remained wealthy compared with much of Southeast Asia and the rhetoric of decline to Third World status was overdone. New Zealand did not remain markedly wealthy relative to Singapore (or of course to specific regions and social groups in other ASEAN countries), and the role of grateful recipient of charity was becoming less acceptable everywhere. The whole idea of “aid” was less prominent internationally, and by the middle of the decade the approach of those involved in the programme was towards developing “activities under a spirit of partnership based on mutual benefits and shared interests” which permitted a more open consideration and recognition of New Zealand’s interests in planning programme activities.35 The main planning mechanism for the programme became an annual Joint Management Committee meeting involving both ASEAN and New Zealand officials. Sufficient mutual confidence was built up in this process to allow New Zealand to announce a formal intention to shift the focus of its aid to the Mekong Basin countries before their formal admission to ASEAN.36 Like much else, the shift from donor-aid to co-operative development was interrupted by the Asian Crisis of 1997.

The 1990s At the end of the 1980s, there was some apprehension about New Zealand’s relationship with Southeast Asia and with ASEAN and its

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members in particular. New Zealand was losing ground to other countries because it was seen as a useful but not important trading partner.37 New Zealand officials interpreted the ASEAN position at a ministerial meeting to be one of appreciation of co-operation efforts, but concern over how New Zealand was approaching the issue of “graduation” from developing country status and over the impact on aid schemes of the introduction of higher fees in New Zealand universities.38 Behind this lay appreciation that the ASEAN countries were growing fast. They were making their own way economically and they were becoming more assured about their place in the international community whether in economic affairs or more generally. Official reports came increasingly to record sentiments such as: “We are going to have to work hard at maintaining what we have — and even harder to take full advantage of the opportunities that are there. We need the region more than it needs us. Increasingly others are beating a path to its doors.”39 Urgency was created by the growth record of the region. At the meeting of regional heads of mission in Jakarta in September 1990, where this conclusion was formulated, the central subject was growth in Southeast Asia and how New Zealand could best take advantage of it. No substantial changes in diplomatic directions followed. The official ASEAN dialogue process was seen as an essential underpinning of bilateral economic relationships which gave access to key decision-makers. Personal contacts were the principal instrument, contacts which ranged from ministerial meetings to the work of business councils.40 In fact, the principal action in economic diplomacy, whether in relation to Southeast Asia or elsewhere, lay elsewhere. From 1986, the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was underway and followed the usual tortuous course of multilateral trade negotiations, made vastly more complicated by a widening agenda.41 The negotiations did not conclude until 1993, and the failure of what was billed as a mid-term review in Montreal in 1988 added to a general sense of urgency about economic diplomacy in the late 1980s. Correspondingly, the conclusion of the Uruguay Round and the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1993, gave a new optimism to international economic relations in the mid-1990s. New Zealand’s relations with Southeast Asia shared in these general experiences.

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Furthermore, in not unrelated developments, there were major changes in regional institutions. This chapter has already noted above the early moves towards regional Asia-Pacific institutions which resulted in PECC and its affiliated organizations in the 1980s. Although there had been enthusiasm for more formal inter-governmental relationships, it was not strong enough to overcome hesitations and doubts, and a track II institution was as much as could be achieved. In the climate of faltering negotiations in the Uruguay Round in the late 1980s, the Australian government launched another exploration of acquiescence in an official institution, and it found a positive response. The APEC process was the result, and trade and foreign ministers from Australia, New Zealand, the ASEAN economies, Japan, Korea, the United States, and Canada met for the first time in Canberra in 1989. They agreed to meet annually, and an early item of business was how to incorporate China into the institution. By ensuring that the members were economies rather than countries and making some other accommodations to political sensitivities, China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan became members — to be known as China, China–Hong Kong, and China-Taipei, respectively. APEC was raised to a new level of political significance when President Clinton, in addition to hosting the annual meeting of trade and foreign ministers, invited the leaders of member economies to meet at Blake Island near Seattle, and began the annual Economic Leaders’ Meeting. Political leaders discuss what interests them, but the focus of APEC remained economic integration, not least because China could accept Taiwanese participation in leaders’ meetings only in a context of economics and certainly not of security or political matters. At Bogor, the Economic Leaders’ Meeting adopted an objective of free trade and investment among member economies by 2010 for developed economies and 2020 for developing economies, members making self-identification of the category to which they belonged. From 1993, a regional organization promoted economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region, beside a newly invigorated muiltilateral trading system, focused on the World Trade Organization. While there were to be many trials and tribulations in securing the fruits of the Uruguay Round, and while APEC faced continual challenges, the context of New Zealand’s economic relationship with Southeast Asia was vastly different by 1993 from what it had been in 1989.

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This was reflected in an explicit statement of New Zealand’s trade policy in 1993.42 The New Zealand government accepted a formulation of trade policy in terms of four complementary tracks, unilateral, bilateral, regional, and multilateral. The multilateral was generally most important: some issues cannot be handled at other than a global level including some of particular importance to New Zealand such as the distorting effect of agricultural subsidies; a multilateral agreement obviously has greatest scope; and the World Trade Organization offered a potent disputes settlement regime through which small economies could contest policies in even the largest economy with some hope of success. The regional institution of most importance was APEC, which was taking an Asian path of agreed goals and discussion of issues and policies so as to strengthen commitment to those goals. While some saw a papering over of different views on the need for explicit agreements and monitoring mechanisms, others saw an alternative Asian path to economic integration. It was closely related to unilateral policy action. The economics of economic integration leaves no doubt that in most circumstances each economy can control its own destiny, but that conclusion is counter-intuitive to most politicians. APEC provided each government with some assurance that other governments would be acting in similar ways and so provide a political shelter for departures from the comfort zone of reciprocal agreements. New Zealand’s most important bilateral relationship was with Australia and there were important relationships with the United States, Europe, Japan, South Korea, and China, but relationships with ASEAN economies were not far behind in size and importance. ASEAN and Southeast Asia were therefore prominent in the new confidence of the mid-1990s. The policy statement declared: “Our relationship, which in early years had a heavy emphasis on development aid and defence, is rapidly evolving to include an increasingly important economic/trade dimension.”43 It also noted that exports to Malaysia were more than those to France, while exports to Thailand were about equal to exports to Italy. It was also expected that AFTA was likely to give ASEAN growth an additional boost.44 AFTA in fact proceeded more slowly than expected but an AFTA-CER dialogue was initiated in 1994–95.45 The most important business of the first half of the 1990s, however, was

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less dramatic. It was general facilitation of visits, promoting business to business links, and seeking trade access for specific New Zealand goods — all alongside the political agenda with its focus on East Timor.46 The operational plans of New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade posts in Southeast Asia became more detailed and precise. This owed most to changes in Ministry management in response to wider changes in public sector management in New Zealand, but there is also a sense in which the economic relationship between New Zealand and Southeast Asia became more substantial. Visits between New Zealand and the ASEAN countries were less the result of repeated efforts to open a dialogue and more the means for maintaining and thickening a relationship based on mutual economic interests. More emphasis was placed on the propagation of New Zealand’s image.47 Business was somewhat more specific. When a senior Malaysian official visited New Zealand in 1995, he did not seek general discussion about possibilities of trade between New Zealand and Malaysia but brought details of specific business opportunities and sought assistance in identifying individual New Zealand companies which could participate. The ministry disseminated the information and passed on replies from New Zealand companies.48 Such business was more often done through Trade New Zealand (TradeNZ) and indeed through the medium of business councils, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade would provide assistance when it could. The first CER/ASEAN business summit was held early in 1997,49 but meetings of ASEAN business and the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce and Industry date back to 1981. They were vehicles for business networking, for business follow-up to diplomatic explorations of trading opportunities, and for providing reassurance about CER and the durability of New Zealand’s change in trading stance in the 1980s.50 There was a great deal of continuity, but there was also change. In the operational plan of the mission in Singapore in 1993, one aim was to inform Singapore about New Zealand’s positions in APEC. It had been dropped by 1996. By then, Singapore was well informed about New Zealand diplomacy. In 1993, emphasis was placed on the objective of increasing awareness among Singaporeans of the potential for investment in New Zealand. Thinking in terms of an economic

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relationship much wider than trade in goods became conventional in the 1990s, and Singapore was distinctive in that it was a more likely source of investment than most Southeast Asian economies. By 1996, the objective emphasized was to increase awareness of New Zealanders about the potential of investment in Singapore. One could hope that foreign affairs thinking had really turned to economic integration rather than specific bilateral flows of investment, but it is more likely that Singaporeans were well aware of investment flows to New Zealand and that there was simply more need for information dissemination in the reverse direction.51 The general climate of economic diplomacy in 1996 was not one of complacency but there was a sense of satisfaction, albeit tinged with the anxiety which is almost invariant among diplomats. New Zealand had friendly relations with all Southeast Asian economies other than Myanmar. There was concern only that New Zealand was attracting less attention. The pride and assertiveness of an increasingly successful ASEAN was welcomed, but there were also some indications that ASEAN was becoming more Asia-centric which would not suit New Zealand interests. ASEAN had established more dialogue partners, including India, which meant that New Zealand loomed less significantly in the dialogue process. (Unless care were taken, it could even become for some a footnote to the dialogue with Australia.) New Zealand had to use all available instruments to exert influence, including the traditional tool of using aid to buy attention.52 An academic enquirer into New Zealand’s relationships with ASEAN communities reached more sceptical conclusions.53 Southeast Asian officials and members of the political community were more inclined to tell Professor Raj Vasil that New Zealand was missing opportunities. His informants were often unaware of the small size of New Zealand and even of the competing claims on New Zealand resources, both of which were major reasons why New Zealand could not have the presence in ASEAN economies they advocated. But then their misconceptions shows the limits of even such efforts at promoting mutual understanding as the ministry had put in place. The later 1990s were not characterized by a working out of the precise balance of criticism and appreciation. Rather, the Asian Crisis of 1997

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created a changed context for New Zealand’s economic relationship with Southeast Asia. The severity of the impact of the crisis was not immediately appreciated outside the immediate region, whether in New Zealand or otherwise. Those like the author who were at the PECC General Meeting in Santiago in 1997 thought that the response of even their trusted friends was excessive. The outburst of the then Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr Mahathir, against a malevolent West cutting the success of Southeast Asia back to a subordinate role, was indeed excessive and even embarrassing, especially for those Malaysians whose contributions to discussion of regional integration were undercut. But Mahathir was clearly engaged in a political campaign and speaking by radio and television to a domestic audience from an international stage — it was the negative informed economic assessments which puzzled many of PECC’s members. The cynical thought that Southeast Asians were ensuring that the theme of “Pacific Partnership” which characterized PECC’s first general meeting in Latin America did not take too much attention away from ASEAN economies. The APEC meeting in Vancouver which followed the PECC meeting caused lasting resentment among many Asians by not focusing on the crisis. It took time even for well-informed participants in regional institutions to realize the severity of the impact of exchange rate misalignments and ill-judged investment projects.54 In the distribution of the consequent losses, many Southeast Asians who participated in the same regional processes found themselves with liabilities denominated in foreign currencies which were crippling at new exchange rates. Cynicism was not justified; analysing the crisis and suggested lines of response challenged even the resources of the major international financial institutions. It is not surprising therefore the evaluations in the ministry at the end of 1997 did not show a complete change of direction. Rather, it is notable that despite the “business as usual” tone, the report had a prescient final section: “Risks to be managed: policy implications of the on-going Asian financial crisis, including on bilateral relations and Asian Financial Facility.”55 (A major debate internationally was about the role of the IMF and the case for a distinct Asian institution, here referred to as an “Asian Financial Facility”. At the time, US opposition and the simple difficulty of deciding how an Asian institution could behave any

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differently from the IMF prevented the idea from progressing. Over time, the desirability of more Asian influence on international decisions has gained ground.) It was expected that the ASEAN dialogue process in July 1998 would be dominated by the financial crisis and New Zealand’s objectives were clear. The country was committed to continued engagement, and to a considered response to what had happened in Asia. New Zealand would continue to redirect its aid towards the Mekong but would seek to ensure this was understood as a response to long-term relative needs and not to disregard of the impact of the crisis elsewhere. New Zealand would continue to advocate liberalization and resist protectionist impulses.56 In fact, New Zealand diplomacy had to give rather more attention to short term issues. As Indonesia in particular struggled to bring its public accounts in order, it had to cancel several development projects and diplomatic efforts were needed to ensure that New Zealand interests were not unnecessarily sacrificed.57 For several years after 1997, the optimism of the early 1990s was absent from New Zealand’s economic relationship with Southeast Asia. But there was no change of direction. The ministry’s assessment of 1996–2000 recognized that the importance of Indonesia to New Zealand continued to grow although East Timor was a focus of concern. It also recognized continued growth in the influence of ASEAN in both security and economic spheres. It concluded that New Zealand needed to compete more for attention and that strengthening bilateral relations with key members would help to preserve influence in the group.58 Notice the switch from the earlier emphasis that relations with ASEAN were a supplement to bilateral relationships. But there was certainly an essential continuity. There was still a sense in summaries of bilateral economic relationships that relationships were somewhat fragmentary. A review of relations with Brunei in 2000 made much of “friendly relations” and a number of high level visits but conceded that there were only a few students from Brunei in New Zealand tertiary institutions, and that although there were few trade problems there were some difficulties for New Zealand exporters of roofing tiles. (The major trade flows were of oil from Brunei and dairy and iron and steel products from New Zealand.)59 A visit by the Crown Prince

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in 2003 underlined the good relations — New Zealand was a convenient place in which the Crown Prince widened his experiences, and there were by then rather more Bruneian students at Otago and Auckland. The economic relationship with Indonesia was more substantial, but there was still an emphasis on aid and on the best use of official contacts — there was concern that they were mostly at the level of foreign and trade ministers, rather than head of government. Left implicit was any comparison of New Zealand–Indonesia relative to Australia-Indonesia. The New Zealand–Singapore relationship was different. There were 250 Singaporean students in New Zealand, substantial Singaporean investment and many high level visits. Thailand was in an intermediate position and Philippines somewhat closer to Indonesia. Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar were in a distinct category, more like the relationships with ASEAN economies of twenty years earlier.60 There had always for New Zealand been something of a temptation to think of ASEAN primarily in terms of Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia versus the rest.61 Singapore and Malaysia had the initial Commonwealth defence link, and Indonesia loomed large in those defence considerations. Later New Zealanders came to understand the ASEAN custom of deferring to Indonesia. But after 1997, there was within ASEAN a perceptible decline of Indonesia and rise of Thailand, not just as the obverse of Indonesia’s preoccupation with internal problems but also because Thailand was best placed to benefit from some aspects of the relative economic growth of China.62 Singapore was prepared to be more adventurous and while it was careful to maintain ASEAN institutions, it led the way in extending bilateral trade agreements. New Zealand was at the head of the queue for a “closer economic partnership” agreement. Singapore’s interest was at least substantially in a demonstration effect. A comparable agreement with an initially hesitant Australia was not far behind. New Zealand’s relationships had become more complex and varied, but still requiring a delicate balance of regional and bilateral interests.

Conclusion All of these developments primarily occupied diplomats, the business interests directly engaged, and a small interested community within

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New Zealand. The National Business Review and the Independent showed occasional interest in New Zealand’s economic relationship with Southeast Asia but otherwise the media seldom moved beyond the picturesque or sensational. Behind these matters of high policy, New Zealand businesses found sources of goods and services demanded in New Zealand, whether as inputs to domestic production or for final consumption, and they found markets for New Zealand production. The basic pattern was described at the Chronology section above and is shown in the graphs and table. New Zealand businesses, of course, were seldom concerned with the general pattern or aggregates; they focused on their particular business, a specific product line, an individual customs categorization or how the interpretation of the customs code of a particular country impacted on their business opportunities. Officials too were often concerned with specific issues rather than matters of high policy as they sought to assist firms to overcome specific barriers to their trade. There is therefore sometimes an appearance of a disjunction between high policy and the economic relationship as a whole and what the files reveal about the preoccupations of officials and businesses. But it is only a surface appearance; the aggregate relationship was built around a myriad of specific business and official interactions. New Zealand’s trade with ASEAN countries as shown in the graphs and tables reflected most features of its trade as a whole. Dairy exports were dominant, especially if casein is included instead of being treated — as is conventional in trade categorizations — as an industrial rather than agricultural product. Forestry products were also prominent, especially pulp and paper products, but logs grew in the 1990s as tariff differentials were reduced and as some ASEAN countries such as Vietnam used imported components to utilize market opportunities for processed wood products which became available to them. This development shows the way in which trade is affected by regulatory decisions — overseas more than in New Zealand — as well as by economic fundamentals. It also shows the way in which conventional thinking can be overtaken; promoting “value added” rather than “commodity” exports is deeply entrenched in New Zealand thinking but is by no-means self-evidently justified in the light of changes in the international economy. While the

617,765

AFTA

1,275,474

27 0 260,812 67 373,991 496 54,173 411,920 160,221 13,766

1995 19,799 39 201,126 4 406,740 650 59,665 328,704 188,868 34,599

1997

1,240,196

Note: Years ending in December. Source: Statistics New Zealand, Overseas Trade.

0 3 139,406 0 143,405 348 21,275 225,984 86,912 431

1990

Brunei Darussalam Cambodia Indonesia Laos Malaysia Burma Philippines Singapore Thailand Vietnam

Country of Origin

1,582,096

0 262 256,149 8 494,888 1,164 59,662 422,563 291,769 55,632

1998

1,964,984

48,956 676 271,728 38 606,811 1,076 61,285 531,221 392,313 50,880

1999

2,201,841

170 1,362 294,693 39 798,453 2,678 72,416 511,783 449,092 71,156

2000

Table 1: New Zealand Merchandise Trade Imports by AFTA (In NZ$ thousands, c.i.f.)

2,743,251

52,033 1,296 426,977 93 968,587 2,718 87,503 618,358 510,713 74,973

2001

2,743,092

145,117 1,075 430,678 48 845,640 1,733 92,563 595,045 557,979 73,213

2002

2,685,688

191,472 579 377,400 264 724,963 1,384 126,052 620,704 572,605 70,266

2003 (Estimate)

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892,856

AFTA

1,551,460

16,383 2,039 302,477 246 431,716 423 207,482 272,406 269,316 48,972

1995 10,201 1,541 344,644 52 510,149 3,440 339,273 333,954 266,565 55,986

1997

1,865,805

Note: Years ending in December. Source: Statistics New Zealand, Overseas Trade.

979 0 158,876 51 273,738 889 139,713 181,953 135,930 727

1990

Brunei Darussalam Cambodia Indonesia Laos Malaysia Burma Philippines Singapore Thailand Vietnam

Country of Destination

1,489,136

6,131 935 166,173 18 388,499 5,126 276,083 316,636 238,661 90,874

1998

1,696,287

4,067 337 241,979 68 427,856 7,490 274,350 382,227 248,646 109,266

1999

2,401,951

3,110 1,871 450,726 1,736 591,138 11,151 401,498 437,993 334,088 168,640

2000

Table 2: New Zealand Merchandise Trade Exports by AFTA (In NZ$ thousands, f.o.b.)

2,926,928

3,142 3,050 535,441 1,015 688,684 17,008 562,888 340,059 405,081 370,559

2001

2,316,632

3,212 564 431,564 251 582,483 16,601 465,428 338,371 349,473 128,685

2002

2,178,209

2,522 716 377,560 399 538,242 6,576 487,218 278,295 329,719 156,961

2003 (Estimate)

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commodity composition of trade with individual ASEAN economies varied, and while trade was affected by differences among the ASEAN economies in the timing of economic cycles or the relative impact of specific events such as the 1997 financial crisis, the graphs and tables show that there was a similarity about the broad trends of both exports to the major ASEAN economies and, with somewhat more variance, imports from the same economies. There was more variation in the smaller ASEAN economies, reflecting the price of oil in the case of Brunei, and random fluctuations in specific commodities and products in the case of the other small economies. The readily available disaggregated quantitative information remains that which describes trends in merchandise exports and imports. It is all too easy to treat it as complete, and even to concentrate on the relative size of the imports and exports of individual economies. It is unwise to do so. Service trade is important, and the trade between New Zealand and ASEAN in educational services and consultancy has increased. As is implicit in the discussion above of interactions between New Zealand and Singapore in the 1990s, investment flows can be as significant as trade. Merchandise trade, trade in services, and investment flows all become part of plurilateral and multilateral financial relations which join individual economies to the international economy; bilateral trade balances are literally economically irrelevant even though they often have political salience as individual businesses try to mobilize official efforts to assist their particular interests. Individual products, specific markets, and business issues are the building blocks of the economic relationship, not national topics in themselves. The relationship, however, changed markedly. From a thin appendage to an aid and defence relationship, it thickened into a substantial economic relationship involving trade, investment and a policy dialogue built on economic co-operation in a specific sense. From a specifically regional interest, it became part of a wider Asia-Pacific relationship without losing its distinctive characteristics by being put alongside relationships in Northeast Asia and into a trans-Pacific context. Despite a somewhat belated response, it accommodated the impact of the Asian Crisis. In 1981, a university Chancellor could see no challenges

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to London, Washington and Canberra as New Zealand’s principal diplomatic missions; by 2004 almost anyone in his position would recognize the places of Beijing, Seoul, and Tokyo — and Bangkok, Jakarta, and Singapore which were then dismissed.63 When the Labour government took office in 1999, there appeared to be diminished enthusiasm for Asian relationships. Unilateral liberalization lost support, and unilateralism was central to the Asian conception of APEC. There was another round of debate about the desirability of imports of the kind which was characerized aptly by Henry Lang in 1973: It would seem that the sweated Asian labour threatening to undermine the jobs of some sections of our labour force through cheap imports is something different altogether from the poor urban Asian man or woman producing industrial exports vital to his or her country’s economic advance.64

However, the post-1999 government did not reverse the stance of the previous government in generally facilitating international economic integration despite the change of rhetoric. Furthermore, while other international links were pursued as with “progressive” or “centre-left” political movements in Europe and Latin America, international economic integration ensured that New Zealand did not lose sight of Asia, including Southeast Asia. By 2003, the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, was castigating business for losing its focus on Asia, ignoring the example which business had been following. The New Zealand Asia 2000 Foundation was asked to organize a revival of emphasis on Asia, and it did so in a Seriously Asia initiative which consisted of a conference preceded by electronic and face-to-face discussion groups and followed by continuing community and official activities. It had many resemblances to the initiatives with which the Foundation was launched a decade earlier, although the political sponsorship was less direct until the Prime Minister demonstrated her personal leadership by the manner in which she participated in a symposium in Wellington in November 2003. While China’s remarkable resilience and growth was at centre stage, New Zealand’s economic relationship with Southeast Asia was again the subject of interest.

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NOTES The author would like to acknowledge the invaluable research assistance of Alastair Jardine in preparing this chapter. 1. Michael Bassett and Michael King, Tomorrow Comes the Song: A Life of Peter Fraser (Auckland: Penguin, 2000), pp. 120, 169, 203, 221, 225, 226, 238, 239, 281–83, 325–26. 2. John Marshall, Memoirs — Volume Two: 1960–1988 (Auckland: Collins, 1989), pp. 49, 52, 55, 58. It is unlikely that Marshall was unaware of the enormous difference in the place of Islam in Malaysia and Singapore; rather he probably knew that halal food is widely available in Singapore. 3. R.D. Muldoon, The Rise and Fall of a Young Turk (Wellington: A.H. & A.W. Reed, 1974), pp. 59–62, 100, 122, 167–68. 4. On the ADB, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs wrote to the PM on 9 July 1965 that New Zealand would “have to participate” and Henry Lang wrote to the Minister of Finance on 3 November 1965 that “it is difficult to see how membership of the ADB could be avoided without serious consequences for our relationship with Asian countries”. The hesitancy was purely financial, in terms of foreign currency, and it was overcome; furthermore, there was just as much lack of enthusiasm for contributing foreign currency to the International Development Association (IDA) arm of the Bretton Woods institutions (National Archives AAFD 811 Acc W 3738/960 121/6/3 part 1 and W3738/961 121/6/3, part 2). 5. Keith Sinclair, Halfway Round the Harbour, an Autobiography (Auckland: Penguin Books, 1993), p. 185. 6. The Department of Industries and Commerce published handbooks on how to export to Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand in June, 1964. They were very similar in nature to handbooks on Malaysia and Brunei published in April 1975. 7. Heads of Missions Meeting, Singapore, February–March 1975, 440/1/5. 8. Ministerial brief, Heads of Missions Meeting, Manila 1981, 440/1/5. 9. “Review of Relations with Asia”, Secretary to Minister, 28 May 1985, 440/1/5, vol. 4. 10. A brief for those on the New Zealand Trade and Economic Mission, 16–31 March 1985, Ministerial Brief for the New Zealand Trade and Economic Mission. 11. Similar sensitivity emerged later about “APEC”. “Asia Pacific Economic

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Co-operation” was characterized, probably first by Gareth Evans, Australian Minister of Foreign affairs, as four adjectives in search of a noun. This rather ignores the nature of “economic co-operation” as an Asian concept rather than a pair of words in the English language. It also ignores a corresponding origin of “Asia Pacific” as “Pacific Asia” in Japanese thinking. However, some participants always had in mind that eventually an institution would emerge and justify the label “community”. Resistance to institutionalization was compounded by the difficulty of translating into some languages such as Chinese, the intended sense of “community”. The distinction between an association of people and a body bound by an identified body of law — more or less gemeinschaft and gesellschaft — was not readily separated from “big family” versus social organization. Hence the compromise that the word “community”, with small case “c”, could be added to APEC but the upper case remained attached to “Co-operation”. 12. John Ravenhill, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC): The Construction of Pacific Rim Regionalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). Also, personal communications with the author by PECC participants, especially Narongchai and Hadi Soesastro. 13. Visits, New Zealand MPs to Southeast Asia, Singapore 1968, 59/2/4/1, part 6. 14 Brief on the parliamentary tour of Asia, July 1970, 59/2/4/1, part 7. 15. The Council for Security Co-operation in Asia Pacific, an unofficial body concerned with security issues such as are discussed officially at the ASEAN Regional Forum, includes South Asia but not Latin America in its sphere of interest. The Pacific Economic Co-operation Council and the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation community take Asia Pacific to be essentially the Pacific Rim. 16. 59/2/4/1, part 7. 17. Visits, New Zealand MPs to Southeast Asia, January 1973, 59/2/4/1, part 9. 18. The Head of Mission (HOM) report for the Minister, April 1979, 440/1/5, vol. 2. 19. Robert Muldoon, My Way (Wellington: A.H. & A.W. Reed, 1981), p. 97. 20. Ministerial brief for the New Zealand Trade and Economic Mission, 16–31 March 1985, 29/434/10, vol. 6. 21. Discussion paper to ASEAN Posts, 21 March 1981, 440/1/5. 22. Secretary of Foreign Affairs (SFA) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (MFA), 28 May 1985, 440/1/5, vol. 4.

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23. Ministerial brief: Trade and Economic Mission, 16–31 March 1985, 29/434/10, vol. 6. 24. Discussion paper to ASEAN Posts, 21 March 1981, 440/1/5. 25. HOM summary for Minister; HOM meeting (with trade commissioners), May–June 1983, 440/1/5, vol. 3. 26. “ASEAN Economic Co-operation”, [n.d.], 65/1/8. 27. SFA to MFA, June 1987, 440/1/5, vol. 5. 28. HOM missions, Jakarta, May 1987, 440/1/5, vol. 5. 29. Sir Frank Holmes, “New Zealand in the World Economy 1938–1956”, unpublished manuscript, circa late 1956 or early 1957. 30. Alumni associations have often found the reaction especially strong in Thailand, and although some commentators allow too little for Thai politeness, the particular value of aid in generating goodwill in Thailand has a long history. See, for example, HOM meeting, June 1989, 440/1/5, vol. 5. 31. Noordin Sopiee, Chew Lay See, and Lim Siang Jin, eds., ASEAN at the Crossroads (Kuala Lumpur: ISIS Malaysia, [n.d.: circa 1987]), pp. 233, 235–36, 247, 344, 349 (for afforestation), 305, 360, 386. 32. The covering letter of the HOM report to the Minister, from the Secretary; 28 September 1990, observed: “Our aid efforts over the years have given us a disproportionately high return in political goodwill.” 440/1/5, vol. 7. 33. ASEAN PMC Brief, July 1996. 34. Memorandum recommending that such a rationalization be dropped by John Claasen, for SFA, 18 July 1995, 434/12/4/2. 35. 434/12/4/2, vol. 9. 36. South and Southeast Asia (SSEA) Division Evaluations 1996–97, 440/1/5, vol. 13; also 434/12/4/2. 37. HOM meeting, June 1989, 440/1/5, vol. 5. In fact, New Zealand’s experience was not entirely unique as ASEAN was diversifying its trade and intraregional trade was growing. See D. Harley, “An Examination of New Zealand Exports to the ASEAN Countries”, Auckland University Working Papers in Economics, no. 90 (1991). See also T.D.C. Cullwick, Export Marketing Performance and Prospects for New Zealand Firms in ASEAN Markets (Wellington: Department of Business Administration, Victoria University of Wellington, 1982).

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38. 104/434/10. 39. From the covering letter of the HOM report, 28 September 1990, 440/1/5, vol. 7. The official report of the HOM meeting used almost the same phraseology. 40. HOM meeting, Jakarta, September 1990, 440/1/5, vol. 6; HOM meeting, Singapore, December 1992, 440/1/5, vol. 6. 41. G.R. Hawke, ed., Free Trade in the New Millenium (Wellington: New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, 1999). 42. New Zealand Trade Policy Implementation and Directions: A Multi Track Approach (Wellington: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, September 1993). 43. Ibid., p. 94. 44. Ibid., p. 94. 45. SSEA Division Evaluations 1994–95, 440/1/5, vol. 10. 46. SSEA Division Evaluations 1991–97, 440/1/5, vols. 6–17. 47. Operational plans, 440/1/5, vols. 6–11. 48. 434/12/4/2. 49. Independent, 14 March 1997, p. 19. 50. 434/12/2/3. 51. Singapore operational plans, 440/1/5, vols. 6–11. On New Zealand foreign investment, see Alan Bollard and Rolf Cremer, Succeeding in the World Economy — New Zealand Outward Direct Investment (Palmerston North: Dunmore Press for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, 1999) and R.D. Cremer and B. Ramasamy, Tigers in New Zealand? The Role of Asian Investment in the Economy (Wellington: Institute of Policy Studies and Asia 2000 Foundation of New Zealand, 1996). The possibility had long been recognized — see J.R. McComish, Investment in Indonesia — An Introductory Study (Palmerston North: Market Research Centre, Massey University, 1973) — but the flows became other than exiguous only in the 1990s. While investment projects were important to the investors involved, their macroeconomic significance was often misunderstood even by those influential in policy dialogues. Specific investments could bring new skills and capabilities of various kinds; otherwise, what was most important to New Zealand was the overall balance of savings and investment. The notion of a shortage of investment funds was misleading. 52. Brief on ASEAN: ARF/PMC, Jakarta, July 1996, 434/12/4/2.

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53. R.K. Vasil, New Zealand and ASEAN: A Critical Overview of the Relationship (Wellington: Institute of Policy Studies, 1995). 54. The problems which resulted from close relations between governments and business in some Asian countries had long been known — see M. McKinnon, Independence and Foreign Policy: New Zealand in the World since 1935 (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1993), p. 228 — but it gained new prominence after 1997 when there were remarkable changes in Indonesia as well as Thailand, South Korea, and other countries even if problems still exist. 55. SSEA Division Evaluations, July–December 1997, 440/1/5, vol. 17. 56. ASEAN: ARF/PMC Brief for PMC, 26–29 July 1998. 57. John McBeth, “Full-Court Press”, Far Eastern Economic Review, 16 October 1997. 58. Strategic Framework Document 1996–2000, “Other Asian Interests”, 440/1/5, vol. 11. 59. MFAT South/South East Asia Division Country Paper on Brunei Darussalam, February 2000. 60. MFAT South/South East Asia Division Country Paper on Indonesia, August 2001; Malaysia June 2001; Myanmar, April 2000; the Philippines, December 2001; Thailand, May 2001; and Vietnam, February 2002. 61. HOM meeting, Singapore, February–March 1975, 440/1/5. 62. Anthony L. Smith, “The AFTA-CER Linkage: Forging a New Direction in Relations with ASEAN”, New Zealand International Review, vol. 22, no. 5 (1997) p. 16. 63. The reference is to a university appointment process in which the author participated. 64. Henry Lang, “The Relationship between Economic and Foreign Policy”, New Zealand Foreign Affairs Review, August 1973, p. 19.

Reproduced from Southeast Asia and New Zealand: A History of Regional and Bilateral Relations, edited by Anthony L. Smith (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2005). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at 93 4. The “Dilemma” of Recognition: New Zealand and Cambodia> < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg

4

THE “DILEMMA” OF RECOGNITION: NEW ZEALAND AND CAMBODIA A N T H O N Y

L.

S M I T H

Introduction New Zealand’s relations with Cambodia1 have not been substantial — there has never been an embassy in Phnom Penh — but diplomatic recognition from 1978 to 1990 was one of the more controversial episodes in New Zealand’s diplomatic history. New Zealand acquiesced to the requests of both its ASEAN friends and China, and recognized, first of all, Khmer Rouge representation, and then a coalition that included the Khmer Rouge (including their occupancy of the UN seat). Subsequently, after the Paris Accords, New Zealand made a major contribution (by New Zealand standards) to the peacekeeping mission in Cambodia. Although New Zealand’s controversial recognition policy towards Cambodia in those years ran parallel to that adopted by the United States, the documentary evidence shows that it was Thai, and to a lesser

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extent Chinese, officials, who persuaded New Zealand to maintain its position — perhaps contrary to what many have assumed. In fact, there is no real evidence that Washington played any kind of leading role in convincing New Zealand to hold the line. But the decision to recognize the Khmer Rouge at the United Nations, and subsequently the resistance coalition, did not sit easily with a succession of New Zealand leaders. Robert Muldoon, while Prime Minister, expressed his displeasure directly to Thai officials over the ongoing role of the Khmer Rouge. The subsequent Lange Administration made more public its dislike of the Khmer Rouge factions within the coalition that it recognized at the UN table, and Foreign Minister Russell Marshall openly referred to the policy as a “dilemma”. Moreover, New Zealand decision-makers were of the opinion that the ongoing hostilities between Vietnam and the three Cambodian resistance groupings merely played into the hands of the Soviet Union — but they were unable to convince their counterparts in the United States, Thailand, and China. Furthermore, the New Zealand public could never understand a policy that appeared to recognize the Pol Pot regime in exile — a regime that, while in government, had been one of the most monstrous in history. Despite this unhappiness with ASEAN’s policy on Cambodia, there was never any serious contemplation of going against it. New Zealand would try to persuade ASEAN, but would always abide by ASEAN’s final decision — until the break finally came in 1990 during the Cambodian peace process. Even this late decision, a surprise to ASEAN, came at a time when the international environment had changed to the extent that ASEAN would not view New Zealand as fickle. Since 1990 New Zealand has been involved in the reconstruction of Cambodia, through a sizeable contribution of peacekeeping forces and development assistance. Cambodia, still managed through the embassy in Bangkok, no longer occupies anything like the attention it once did. There are few trade prospects and not much in the way of shared interests. Nonetheless, New Zealand continues a respectable aid programme in Cambodia. Perhaps it is seen by policy-makers as only fitting that New Zealand continues to help to rebuild a country after New Zealand’s minor involvement in the difficulties of its past.

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Prelude From the 1950s New Zealand had adopted a defence posture of “forward defence” whereby threats to New Zealand would be countered to the north, from where it was thought they might originate. New Zealand joined various alliances, ANZAM (Australia, New Zealand, Malaya) in 1949, ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, United States) in 1951, and, of some relevance to Cambodia, SEATO (South-East Asia Treaty Organization) in 1954. The Manila Pact (SEATO) that New Zealand signed with Australia, Britain, France, Thailand, the Philippines, and Pakistan, made mention, as a protocol, of the countries of Indochina. As it turned out, it was South Vietnam and Laos that gave immediate cause for concern among SEATO defence planners. New Zealand even rushed a small military force to northeast Thailand in May 1962 to counter a possible threat from communist forces in Laos. Cambodia, by contrast, seemed to enjoy some relative peace and stability under its leader, Prince Norodom Sihanouk — who has also played a prominent role in Cambodian politics in more recent times. Prince Sihanouk had established Cambodia as a neutral country during the turbulence in Southeast Asia, until he was overthrown in a coup by the corrupt and incompetent Lon Nol in March 1970. The Lon Nol regime aligned itself to the United States, which suited Washington’s goal of shutting Cambodia down as a staging post for the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). New Zealand, a combatant ally with the United States in the war in Vietnam at this stage, gave recognition to the Lon Nol government. However, Lon Nol’s increasingly unpopular regime was met by a growing resistance in the countryside. Prince Sihanouk urged Cambodians to oppose the government, and forged a common front with local communist leaders that would emerge as part of Pol Pot’s regime. Under Prince Sihanouk’s nominal leadership, the Royal Government of National Union of Kampuchea (GRUNK) brought together various dissident elements, and assumed power when Khmer Rouge cadre overran Phnom Penh in 1975. New Zealand gave its recognition to the new regime, which was soon to purge itself of Prince Sihanouk and embark on one of history’s worst genocides.

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Instability and civil war continued in Cambodia, Laos, and South Vietnam as the United States undertook a phased withdrawal from Vietnam in the early 1970s. The US decision to withdraw from Vietnam saw the effective demise of SEATO and sparked a major reorientation of Thai foreign policy. Thailand grew concerned that its Indochinese neighbours were experiencing upheaval that would ultimately see the establishment of communist regimes in the region, under the aegis of a united Vietnam. Thailand saw China as the counterbalancing force. Following the Khmer Rouge’s seizure of power in Cambodia in 1975, Thailand decided that it was in its interest to maintain diplomatic links with a Khmer Rouge, or Democratic Kampuchea (DK) regime — even through the Khmer Rouge had, while in insurgency supported a communist rebellion in Thailand and, while in government, routinely violated Thailand’s borders. Nonetheless, Thailand was instrumental in persuading its fellow ASEAN members to recognize the Royal Government of the National Union of Kampuchea in 1975. Thailand’s stance towards Cambodia would shape ASEAN’s view, and ultimately influence New Zealand’s foreign policy stance. New Zealand had very little contact with Thailand’s two eastern neighbours, Cambodia and Laos, even during the years when SEATO was operational (from 1954 to the early 1970s). Although Indochina, covered by SEATO through protocol, was the source of major concern for the organization, the winding down of the Vietnam War also sapped New Zealand’s interest levels. In 1973, New Zealand Prime Minister, Norman Kirk, instructed the New Zealand embassy in Bangkok, accredited to both Cambodia and Laos, that: “The period of New Zealand’s direct and active involvement in the affairs of Indochina has been ended.”2 This marked the official pronouncement of what had been the reality for some time. While there was little of national interest to New Zealand in Indochina with the dropping of the “forward defence” doctrine, the issue of Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia occupied a good deal of attention in Wellington. In December 1978 the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) invaded Cambodia to depose the regime of the Khmer Rouge — a regime that was responsible for the deaths of more than two million Cambodian citizens, and another two million refugees — and much of the

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world breathed a sigh of relief. Vietnam installed a puppet regime under Heng Samrin. The New Zealand Defence Attaché (DA) in Bangkok reported to Wellington that while the Khmer Rouge were the original provocateurs — referring to cross border raids on Vietnamese villages — it was difficult to assess why Vietnam had attacked, but he surmised that: Fear of an ultimately strong Chinese influence in Kampuchea may have augured for an early attempt to overthrow Pol Pot, and a simple misjudgement of the fragility of that regime may have led Hanoi to think that an advantageous change could be inexpensively achieved.3

Vietnam failed to completely dislodge the Khmer Rouge from western regions of Cambodia, where they soon found shelter on the Thai side of the border. Vietnam’s invasion, coupled with Hanoi’s obvious control over Laos, caused the Thais to have grave concerns that the Vietnamese would become a sub-regional hegemon and undermine, ultimately, Thailand’s security. For more than a decade, Thailand’s policy was to obtain outside support for its policies on Cambodia. The ASEAN grouping, with which New Zealand has close ties, took on Thailand’s foreign policy goal, which was that Cambodia should be kept out of Hanoi’s influence. Thailand, as part of its strategy to counter Vietnam’s invasion, urged its friends and allies to not only oppose the invasion but to give recognition to the previous rulers of Phnom Penh, namely the Khmer Rouge. Those countries wishing to block, as they perceived it, the expansion of the Soviet Union’s proxy, Vietnam, found themselves in the position of having to consider the possibility of recognizing the objectionable Khmer Rouge. New Zealand was one of those states. Its policy on the recognition of Cambodia was largely constructed in consultation with Thai officials and with the wishes of ASEAN firmly in mind. New Zealand also helped Thailand during this period by accepting 7,000 refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia from 1975–1989,4 many of them refugees from along the Thai border.

The Recognition Dilemma From the beginning of Vietnam’s incursion into Cambodia, New Zealand was advised by Thailand (bilaterally and through ASEAN), China, and

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the United States to support the recognition of DK credentials at the United Nations. Following the “ASEAN line” New Zealand supported the initial vote to recognize the credentials of the DK at the United Nations as the legitimate government of Cambodia. This and a number of subsequent resolutions in the General Assembly condemned the Vietnamese invasion and allowed the Khmer Rouge to continue to hold Cambodia’s seat at the United Nations. The DK had its credentials recognized in September 1979 by the Credentials Committee and then confirmed by a General Assembly Resolution 34/22 (71 for, 35 against and 34 abstentions). In supporting the ASEAN position New Zealand only ever offered up its support one year at a time, in the hope that this might provide some leverage with ASEAN. Yet New Zealand was asked to co-sponsor the resolution with ASEAN, and did so each year. New Zealand was also called upon to lobby votes from the Pacific Island States. For example, in 1981 Samoa had abstained from the vote, while the Solomons voted with Vietnam only to later inform the Secretariat they had intended to vote the other way. Wellington urged its posts in Apia and Honiara to convince their host governments to vote alongside New Zealand and ASEAN in the future.5 New Zealand never clarified its position with regards to its recognition of the DK. New Zealand had recognized the GRUNK government in 1975 and simply never revoked it. In terms of recognizing the Khmer Rouge, the New Zealand government made use of a legal gray area. While giving the impression to ASEAN leaders that New Zealand had not dropped recognition of the DK, the New Zealand government equally maintained that it was not giving recognition to Pol Pot. The vagaries of this policy were later to cause confusion for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the beginning of the Cambodian peace process. When Radio New Zealand asked Foreign Affairs Minister, Brian Talboys, why New Zealand had supported Pol Pot at the United Nations, Talboys openly admitted that New Zealand’s actions were in support of the ASEAN position.6 He added that the approval of the DK’s credentials was an expression of disapproval by ASEAN, New Zealand and the others supporters, at Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia. However, the decision remained controversial with many New Zealanders appalled by the

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genocidal nature of the Khmer Rouge while in power. The general public never did seem to understand the distinction being drawn. For example, in 1982, the foreign minister, Warren Cooper, wrote to a member of the public to explain New Zealand’s stand: “New Zealand voted against the proposal that the CGDK’s UN credentials be rejected. This is not, as you assert, supporting Pol Pot.”7 The documents show that scepticism over recognition of the Khmer Rouge was also shared by the Muldoon government — and the subsequent Lange government. New Zealand officials, including Robert Muldoon himself, constantly questioned recognition of the DK, not least of all because the Prime Minister was keenly aware that the move was domestically unpopular. However, the policy was not altered largely on the grounds that a defection from the “anti-invasion” camp would undermine ASEAN.8 In order to maintain a strategic buffer the Thai government began providing sanctuary and succour to those forces in opposition to the Vietnamese backed regime. While the Khmer Rouge was not the only opposition force, it was the most numerous and well armed. After taking heavy losses in the war against Vietnam, 40,000 armed Khmer Rouge cadre had arrived on the Thai border (together with refugees) in October 1979.9 The non-communist forces of ex–Prime Minister, Son Sann, and the forces of Prince Sihanouk — both of which New Zealand officials tried to pin some hope on — were also allowed by Thailand to operate around the border areas but were far weaker as military forces. Thailand, at first, strenuously denied that it was giving aid and assistance to the DK forces, but New Zealand knew otherwise. The New Zealand Defence Attaché, Captain McGibbon, reported in March 1980 that “there is no doubt that the Khmer Rouge retreat into Thailand at will, and it is highly probable that they also obtain arms and ammunition from Thailand”.10 Thai authorities only acknowledged their material support to New Zealand officials the following year.11 Captain McGibbon also confirmed Thailand’s dislike of the non-communist “Khmer Seri”,12 which were considered by the Thai authorities to be “bandits”. These right-wing forces had attacked Thai villages and expended a great deal of energy vying for control of the black market.

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New Zealand Urges Dialogue New Zealand’s ambivalence over the ASEAN position on Cambodia was revealed quite early on. In a letter (13 March 1980) to the American Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance, the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs, Brian Talboys, articulated New Zealand’s position on how the Cambodian crisis might be settled.13 He urged Vance to consider the normalization of US-Vietnamese relations, which Talboys saw as the basic starting point for any kind of peace deal. Talboys knew that Vance was secretly proposing the withdrawal of Thai support (and possibly Chinese support) for the Khmer Rouge, in return for the phased withdrawal of Vietnamese forces, but Talboys warned that unless America restored ties with Vietnam the “war is bound to go on”.14 Talboys also expressed concern about the composition of any post–Heng Samrin government, given that those formulating this agreement had opposed the installation of a government by external means — the idea of returning Prince Sihanouk had been floated. Vance’s peace plan did not work out, nor was New Zealand’s view on the normalization of relations given any consideration. New Zealand officials continued to believe, throughout the crisis, that a political settlement could only occur if the United States offered Vietnam the political and economic inducement to do so. New Zealand officials even encouraged the United States to renew ties with Vietnam at ANZUS meetings.15 With the trauma of the Vietnam War still fresh in the minds of the American public and government, New Zealand’s gentle urgings never made any impact. They do reveal the Muldoon administration’s uneasiness with the way in which the Cambodia crisis was handled, but this was not to alter New Zealand’s course of action. Thailand and Vietnam did actually conduct secret negotiations over Cambodia, which the New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok eventually found out about.16 This was the first hint that New Zealand officials got of the fragility of the agreement surrounding those who backed recognition of the Khmer Rouge, including within ASEAN. Beijing launched a diplomatic offensive to prevent it. New Zealand was informed by Chinese officials, on the eve of Vice Premier Li Xiannian’s visit to New Zealand (then ranked third in the Beijing government), that Vietnam’s policy

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was to divide the ASEAN coalition, and Li hoped that New Zealand would remain consistent and honour its commitment at the United Nations.17 In fact Li’s visit was largely about keeping New Zealand on course with regards to Cambodia. Chinese officials promulgated a line that their New Zealand counterparts found hard to accept: not only did they claim that Vietnam had invaded because the Khmer Rouge would not take Hanoi’s directives, but they maintained that accounts of Khmer Rouge massacres were largely trumped up. New Zealand was concerned that China’s hardline stance would ultimately prove counterproductive. It was Wellington’s opinion that the prolonging of the conflict would give the Soviet Union an even greater presence in the region. One New Zealand background paper outlined the concern that China’s policy of seeking to bleed Vietnam white would only serve to make Vietnam more dependent on the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was supplying US$1 billion a year in aid to Vietnam and in return had gained long-term access to air and port facilities.18 Another memo expressed disappointment with friends and allies over the issue: We have our reservations about the so-called hard line approach to Vietnam; it is unlikely to pave the way towards a lasting settlement. The Russians are the sole beneficiary of the situation — but the Chinese and the Americans do not seem to see it this way.19

As the Talboys letter to Vance also indicates, it was seen as desirable that Vietnam forge peaceful cooperation with ASEAN, but equally realized that both China and the Soviet Union would try to block any rapprochement. Regardless of the complications of great power interference, the chances of a Thai-Vietnamese deal were slim. Thai Foreign Minister Siddhi Sivetsila informed the New Zealand Ambassador in Bangkok that Hanoi could not be trusted at all, but also tellingly noted that DK troop numbers had swollen to 50,000 and were now well supplied and had melded into a disciplined military structure.20 For Thailand, this removed the incentive to negotiate. New Zealand sensed the same entrenchment from Vietnam when the New Zealand Ambassador to Bangkok visited Vietnam from 6 to 11 June 1980.21 The Director of the Asia III Section of the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry, Vu Tien, explained that it was impossible for Vietnamese troops to leave

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Cambodia as Khmer Rouge leader, Pol Pot, remained a threat to regional stability — together with his allies China, the United States, and their “staging post”, Thailand. Although ASEAN had appeared to the world to be unified on the issue of Cambodia, in fact Indonesia and Malaysia had been troubled by the policy — not least of all because China was seen as a greater threat. Any wavering in ASEAN, and its friends, was soon cut short by a Vietnamese political blunder. On 23 June 1980 a force of roughly 1,500 Vietnamese troops moved a few kilometres into Thailand, along the border towns of Mak Moon, Samet, and Nong Plue to prevent the repatriation of a large group of right-wing Cambodia forces. Instead they clashed with the Thai armed forces.22 The timing of the attack produced unwanted results for Vietnam. It became difficult for Vietnam to claim that they had no desire to interfere with Thai sovereignty. Furthermore, the ASEAN countries were due to hold their Annual Foreign Ministers Meeting in Kuala Lumpur on 25 June and the border incident had the effect of strengthening their resolve — Vietnam was roundly condemned by all ASEAN members.

The Muldoon Visit With ASEAN was now firmly behind Thailand’s line on Cambodia, Muldoon discovered when he visited the Thai Prime Minister, Prem Tinsulanond, and Air Vice Marshal Siddhi Sivetsila, the Thai Foreign Minister, in Bangkok in September 1980 that they were totally preoccupied with the issue. Muldoon did openly question the Cambodia policy in front of his two most important hosts. He complained to Prem and Siddhi that he could not reconcile the Chinese insistence that Vietnam should be “bled dry” with the notion of trying to achieve regional peace and stability. But Siddhi assured Muldoon that this strategy was working as it was costing the Soviet Union US$3 million a day for the Cambodian campaign and within three to five years Vietnam would have no choice but to admit they could not achieve victory. While reassuring Prem and Siddhi that New Zealand would give ASEAN “every support”, Muldoon stated that it was becoming increasingly difficult as the New Zealand public could not distinguish between support for DK

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credentials and “acquiescence about Pol Pot’s atrocities”.23 Both Thai leaders assured Muldoon that the DK had learned their “lessons”, that Pol Pot was unwell, and the Khmer Rouge was changing into a more moderate grouping. This overly generous assessment, repeated to New Zealand officials on many occasions, did not persuade Wellington, even though the New Zealand government ultimately went along with Thailand’s expressed wishes concerning recognition. But Muldoon was alarmed by the visit. Siddhi had told the New Zealand Prime Minister that “were the Vietnamese to withdraw the Heng Samrin Government would collapse and Democratic Kampuchean forces would take control of Government once again”. This was not what Muldoon wanted to hear. New Zealand made it quite clear to its allies that it was strongly against the possible return to power of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.24 The non-communist forces at the time were thought to number a modest 5,000 to 10,000 troops and were not serious contenders for the resumption of power. This put the New Zealand government in a quandary.

Retaining Recognition of the DK Within a mere twelve months of Vietnam’s initial invasion, it became clear to all involved that some of the countries who had supported the DK’s credentials at the UN General Assembly were having second thoughts, particularly with the growth of public criticism in a number of Western countries. Both Britain and Australia derecognized the DK, but ultimately New Zealand officials felt that any derecognition on their part would be viewed as support for the Heng Samrin regime by the Vietnamese. New Zealand officials were in the practice of publicly making a distinction between the DK and “Pol Pot”, although the behind the scenes reservations reveal that the distinction was always maintained within government circles (see the next paragraph). In spite of serious reservations, including those of the New Zealand Prime Minister himself, New Zealand did not in the end deviate from ASEAN’s position. In December 1979, with the British decision to derecognize the DK without recognizing Heng Samrin, Muldoon felt compelled to reiterate New Zealand’s position: “We have assured

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the Asean governments that we will consult closely with them on this issue. We are, therefore, not in a position to take the same action as Britain has done.”25 By early 1980, the issue in Australia had drawn widespread public and media opposition to the recognition of Pol Pot — a situation that grew even more drastic when the Australian Foreign Minister, Andrew Peacock, tendered his resignation over the Cambodian issue.26 With Australia reconsidering, this forced New Zealand to briefly relook at its own stance on the issue. But the Secretary of Foreign Affairs concluded that New Zealand would continue to recognize Pol Pot if that was ASEAN’s wish: Note that we would expect that New Zealand will support the ASEAN countries by maintaining its recognition of Pol Pot. We have not yet considered the question of derecognition and would prefer to take a lead on this from ASEAN — although we would have to reconsider our position (and to consult with ASEAN) should it appear likely that our close friends were proposing to alter their own positions.27

In July 1980 the New Zealand Secretary of Foreign Affairs visited Canberra partly to assess the Australian position, and partly to urge the Australians to at least maintain recognition for the UN General Assembly credentials vote of that year.28 New Zealand officials, despite their own misgivings, felt that any sign of weakness in the pro-ASEAN camp could be interpreted by the Vietnamese as a sign of weakness and strengthen Hanoi’s resolve. On 15 October 1980, however, the Fraser government, while stating that Australia still backed ASEAN, decided to derecognize the Khmer Rouge.29 The Australian policy announcement was used, as New Zealand had feared, as propaganda by the Vietnamese authorities to give their presence in Cambodia more legitimacy.

Thailand’s Charm Offensive In the wake of the Australian decision, and with growing public awareness of the nature of Khmer Rouge rule, New Zealand officials felt the force of public controversy over the recognition issue. Editorials of the major dailies, as well as a large number of letters from the public, give an indication of the opposition in the New Zealand community to their country’s policy on Cambodia. With this as a backdrop, Thailand

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proposed the idea of a visit from Siddhi, the Thai Foreign Minister. Siddhi visited Australia first, in early February, and spent much of his time there trying to defend ASEAN’s view of the Cambodian situation from a barrage of public and media criticism.30 Siddhi then visited New Zealand from 8 to 11 February 1981. The Bangkok embassy informed Wellington that the meeting would be solely about the Cambodian situation and the refugee burden. The Thais, Wellington was informed, now regarded New Zealand “as a solid supporter”.31 New Zealand officials were quite cautious about the possible negative impact of Siddhi’s visit, which threatened to raise the profile of the debate once again. Siddhi chose to confront this head on. Upon arrival he called a meeting with journalists in New Zealand for the sole purpose of justifying Thailand’s position (and therefore New Zealand’s position) on the Cambodian situation. Firstly, Siddhi noted the background to the conflict and explained that Thailand could not abide the invasion of a sovereign nation.32 Secondly, Siddhi explained that while Thailand had had no sympathy for the Khmer Rouge government when it was in power, it was not Vietnam’s right to intrude.33 He also reminded journalists that the DK had been recognized by the majority of countries at the UN General Assembly as the legitimate representatives of the Cambodian people. Finally Siddhi stated that Thailand had no wish to see the return to Phnom Penh of the “universally detested” Pol Pot regime.34 This time, talks between Talboys and Siddhi focused on the so-called “third force”, or the non-communist resistance forces opposing the Vietnamese.35 The Thais had worked with the Khmer Rouge as the only militarily credible force capable of resisting Vietnam, but now Siddhi claimed that the Thai government was actively trying to convince the Chinese to consider other options for the leadership of the resistance, including the removal of Pol Pot to an outside country. Siddhi told Talboys that the Chinese were not prepared to remove Pol Pot, but were financially supporting the non-communist resistance forces under Son Sann36 in an effort to dilute the Khmer Rouge’s military power, probably at Thailand’s encouragement.37 Talboys told Siddhi that New Zealand would like to see a united front of Cambodia resistance forces which removed the need for recognizing the DK, and in particular its leader, Pol Pot. New Zealand officials now felt that the Thais did want

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Pol Pot removed, and that Siddhi could now use the comments made in Wellington to bolster the cause for change against the more determined Chinese officials. Siddhi’s visit to New Zealand was followed by that of his Prime Minister, Prem Tinsulanond, from 28 to 31 August 1981, formally to discuss trade relations but also to broach once more the subject of Cambodia in the aftermath of the Australian announcement.38 In the Prime Minister’s brief from Foreign Affairs, Muldoon was advised to express New Zealand’s unwillingness to accept a united Cambodia resistance that was dominated by Pol Pot.39 Prem, when he arrived, in fact told Muldoon that there had been considerable progress in uniting the three resistance fronts and that all three would travel to Singapore on 2 September to establish a coalition government-in-exile,40 which was to come about following year. Muldoon made it clear that New Zealand — its government and its public — had no regard for the Khmer Rouge. The record of the meeting notes that: “Mr Muldoon then said that the one question at the heart of the political response to developments in Kampuchea was whether the Khmer Rouge was moving away from the extremism which characterized the pre-Vietnamese period and which was totally intolerable.”41 Incredibly, Prem replied that the Khmer Rouge had changed and were now “good men”. Muldoon, however, wanted significant development in the formation of a coalition so that he would be able to tell the New Zealand public that there was a “new leadership coming up in a few months” and that the New Zealand government would be able to stop supporting the DK at the United Nations. Again Wellington, despite privately articulated doubts, refused to de-recognize the DK after Thailand urged Wellington to continue its policy. New Zealand decision-makers still felt that the decision should be taken by ASEAN and that New Zealand would support the consensus after having made its objections known behind the scenes.

The Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (GCKD) Objections by the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and others had taken their toll on China and ASEAN, and this eventually expedited the decision to bring the three resistance forces together. A

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coalition of the three groupings, it had long been argued by New Zealand, would make it easier to offer ASEAN support at the United Nations. New Zealand’s Defence Attaché in Bangkok reported to Wellington that the Thais now realized that the DK’s previous record would never allow it to be acceptable to the world community and therefore a change in presentation was necessary.42 The problem for the ASEAN leaders was that the three resistance groups disliked the Vietnamese forces only slightly more than they disliked each other, and unity proved exceedingly difficult. An attempt at unity in New York, in July 1981, failed when the factions could not agree on the form of a coalition. A second attempt was made in September 1981 when the DK, the KPNLF, and Moulinaka,43 at a tripartite meeting hosted by Singapore, made a strong show of unity and even produced a joint statement. Thai officials remained pessimistic. In the dialogue sessions of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Singapore, from 17 to 18 June 1982, New Zealand officials were told that the KPNLF and Moulinaka “hate and distrust” the DK as they had killed many of their colleagues and supporters.44 In a private meeting with the KPNLF’s diplomatic agent in Paris, Dr Chhay, son-in-law of Son Sann, a New Zealand diplomat concluded that “[h]is dislike of Sihanouk was exceeded only by his dislike of the KR [Khmer Rouge], and at times the Vietnamese seemed to rank third in this unpopularity contest”.45 A further complication remained that China’s interest in the coalition was to make their ally — the Khmer Rouge — more acceptable, and they retained their primary interest in support for the Khmer Rouge. Despite these huge obstacles, the coalition that New Zealand officials had hoped for did eventuate. The Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (GCKD) was formed on 22 June 1982, in Kuala Lumpur, which concluded a power sharing arrangement between the three factions.46 The forging of a three party coalition made recognition of the anti-Vietnamese forces slightly more palatable to ASEAN’s friends. UN recognition (and New Zealand recognition) immediately went to the GCKD. ASEAN had come to realize that if it wanted to retain support at the United Nations, and its own unity, then the Khmer Rouge would have to be somehow submerged and diluted. The change in presentation did not blunt all

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public criticism however. The Khmer Rouge retained the seat on the United Nations, and remained something of a “public face” for antiVietnamese resistance, while the ministries-in-exile were each composed of three separate structures to accommodate all the alliance partners. New Zealand’s recognition policy remained constant and the new Foreign Minister, Warren Cooper, gave a speech to the press gallery in October 1982, in which he explained that New Zealand’s support for the resistance coalition in Cambodia “was to oppose communism”, and that the vote for their credentials at the UN General Assembly was to support Prince Sihanouk as titular head of the coalition.47 The Australians continued to abstain from the vote on this issue in the United Nations, but New Zealand felt more comfortable with the tripartite resistance coalition — the CGDK — than the previous recognition of the DK. It was acknowledged within New Zealand government circles that the coalition was a “cosmetic exercise”, and New Zealand wished to avoid any requests from ASEAN for aid at this point.48 Foreign Affairs advised their Minister that if the subject of CGDK visits came up with ASEAN that New Zealand would like to avoid contact with Khmer Rouge representatives but would consider some contact with Prince Sihanouk and Son Sann. New Zealand was shortly to host the visits of two noncommunist resistance leaders. On 16 May 1983, KPNLF leader, Son Sann, met with Foreign Minister Cooper in Wellington. While New Zealand recognized the CGDK as the legitimate voice of Cambodia at the United Nations, New Zealand had stopped short of recognition of the CGDK governmentin-exile as a legitimate government of the Cambodian people due to its apparent ineffectiveness and its inclusion of the Khmer Rouge. Son Sann, the acceptable face of the CGDK, came to New Zealand, after a visit to Australia, as a private and unofficial visitor for six days to thank Wellington for its continued support. He stated that “I have come here to ask the New Zealand Government not to break the momentum” of applying pressure to Vietnam.49 He also requested assistance from the New Zealand government,50 and after consultation with the Thai authorities, Son Sann got his aid from New Zealand. New Zealand gave NZ$30,000 during 1983 for humanitarian assistance to the KPLNF and fittingly this aid to Son Sann was announced at the ASEAN dialogue in 1983.51 The

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aid included anti-malaria medication, vitamins, cooking pots, mosquito nets, plastic sheeting, and canned fish and meat. A further $15,000 was given to the KPLNF in 1984, and was a tangible demonstration to the Thais that the non-communist forces were supported by the New Zealand government over and above the Khmer Rouge.52 The second grant was charged to the 1984/85 Multilateral Aid, Refugee Relief Allocation and like the previous money was used for either food, medical supplies or other civic orientated programmes. The announcement of the 1984 contribution was made while Siddhi was in New Zealand on another visit because it was noted that there was “clearly … some political benefit in announcing a contribution to one of the non-communist groups” as this would please the ASEAN leader.53

The Fourth Labour Government and the Recognition Issue The New Zealand policy on Cambodia, as unpopular as it was, particularly for the rank-and-file of the New Zealand Labour Party, survived the election of the Labour government under David Lange in 1984. The Fourth Labour Government maintained, and reiterated, the previous government’s policy. By way of an explanation to the Lange cabinet, a background paper explained New Zealand’s policy up to that point. The paper stated that New Zealand had never reversed its 1975 recognition of the DK government, and without clarifying its position one way or the other after the Vietnamese invasion, New Zealand was able to take credit in the United Nations as being one of the small number of states who recognized the DK government. However, the paper points out that New Zealand’s policy on Cambodia is far from clear. “There is apparently no easy legal answer to the question of whether we do or do not currently recognize the DK. In the absence of a formal statement, recognition or at least continued recognition, must be deduced from the actions of the two states.”54 Foreign Affairs admitted that in various official statements that the New Zealand government had sent “mixed signals”,55 but it remained the best course of action to leave a “recognition vaccum”. Prime Minister Lange renewed the New Zealand demand that Vietnamese troops withdraw completely from Cambodia and expressed

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a desire to achieve a comprehensive peace settlement that would give Cambodia self-determination.56 The Lange Administration continued to support the CGDK at the United Nations, but stated clearly that Son Sann and Prince Sihanouk, not the Khmer Rouge, represented the aspirations of the Cambodian people. The Lange government also opened the way for Prince Sihanouk’s subsequent visit by announcing that he was welcome to visit New Zealand. All of this revealed continuity with the Muldoon government’s position, the innovation being a far greater public expression of dislike for, and distrust in, the Khmer Rouge — although, of course, this was not unknown under Muldoon. In March 1985, Prince Sihanouk visited New Zealand with his plan for a neutral Cambodia.57 He stressed that he had no special interest in his marriage of convenience with the Khmer Rouge as he had personally lost five children and fourteen grandchildren during the reign of Pol Pot. Prince Sihanouk also floated the idea of an international conference on the Vietnamese occupation, but the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defence, Frank O’Flynn, told him that New Zealand would only consider the proposal.58 Failure to pick this up was consistent with the New Zealand government’s commitment to work through ASEAN. Again New Zealand chose not to rush ahead of the pack on this issue, even though it had long advocated exactly this type of dialogue. Prince Sihanouk was also able to hold a meeting with New Zealand Foreign Affairs officials led by Merwyn Norrish, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Following the visit, Foreign Affairs announced a contribution of $130,000 for humanitarian relief along the Thai-Cambodian border.59 The Lange Administration, and David Lange himself, in his role as the Minister of Foreign Affairs (which he held concurrently for a time with the post of prime minister), took great pains to preserve some distance from the Khmer Rouge while at the same time continuing its support for the anti-Vietnamese resistance during the UN credentials vote. A New Zealand Herald editorial at the time of Prince Sihanouk’s visit pointed to the fact that the “bestial” Khmer Rouge were still “numerically and militarily, the coalition’s largest component”.60 The Khmer Rouge were still the power brokers in the anti-Vietnamese resistance forces, and New Zealand officials knew it. The New Zealand break with ASEAN was to come as a surprise to the regional grouping, but reflected New

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Zealand’s long-standing view, expressed since 1980, that a peaceful settlement was the only way to achieve long term stability. After all, a Vietnamese defeat, or sudden withdrawal, may have, at this point, seen the Khmer Rouge back in power.

New Zealand’s Policy Shift The situation in Cambodia changed in September 1989 when there was a general withdrawal of the Vietnamese forces from Cambodia brought about partly by the end of the cold war. Hun Sen, the Vietnamese supported successor to Heng Samrin, was left to face an ongoing civil war with the three insurgencies, which now had little reason to remain a coalition. The prospect of a resumption of conflict led to fears that renewed fighting in Cambodia could bring about a victory for the Khmer Rouge. Prince Sihanouk immediately began to conduct a dialogue with the Hun Sen regime, although it remained unsuccessful. After Vietnam’s withdrawal, Britain had recognized the Hun Sen regime in November. The New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs, Russell Marshall, stated that New Zealand would continue to support the Cambodian resistance coalition, but at the same time expressed his strong opposition to the Khmer Rouge ever having a role in Cambodia’s future government.61 Marshall spoke of New Zealand’s “dilemma”: “We are caught in a way, the same as everyone else is. If you are against the Vietnamese running Cambodia [through its installed regime], you have to be for the other people.”62 Marshall must have winced when the Khmer Rouge’s Vice President and high-ranking member of Pol Pot’s murderous regime, Khieu Samphan, sent him the following telegram: “The unswerving support given by New Zealand to our struggle for national liberation, survival and independence is of vital importance.”63 New Zealand continued to support the Thai government in its belief that the Phnom Penh regime could not be supported as long as it was a lackey of Hanoi. However, Marshall hinted that Vietnam’s military withdrawal had reopened the case. He, and other officials, made a series of strong statements condemning the Khmer Rouge. The critics remained unconvinced. A New Zealand Herald editorial stated that to criticize the Khmer Rouge and then vote to continue recognition revealed

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that New Zealand had failed to achieve an independent foreign policy on this matter.64 By this stage the public was beginning to show even greater interest in the Cambodia situation, and New Zealand’s policy. Between 1988 to 1990 the New Zealand government received several hundred letters from the New Zealand public on the issue, with the 1989 John Pilger documentary on the Cambodian situation, aired on TV One’s Foreign Correspondent programme, generating a great deal of publicity.65 A note to Cabinet reported that most letters “mistakenly” thought that New Zealand had supported the DK,66 while many writers were also concerned that Pol Pot would take power again in Cambodia. While replies assured the concerned public that New Zealand did not support the DK, they noted the diplomatic realities as Wellington saw them in dealing with the Cambodian situation: “The unfortunate part is, however, that as obnoxious as the Khmer Rouge are, they cannot simply be wished away.”67 New Zealand officials were confident that, with the absence of Vietnamese forces, Hun Sen and Prince Sihanouk would engineer a power sharing arrangement that would remove the need to support the Khmer Rouge. Ultimately the four principal protagonists in Cambodia — the resistance forces and the government — agreed to allow for an international settlement. The UN-sponsored Paris Accords of 15 and 16 January 1989 set down guiding principles for working towards free elections and the New Zealand government welcomed this event. Marshall expressed relief at this turn of events: “During my term as Foreign Minister I have been very concerned to support international efforts to bring peace and a durable settlement to the tragic conflict in Cambodia.”68 New Zealand’s Cambodian policy was finally changed on 19 July 1990, when the Minister of External Relations and Trade, Mike Moore, announced that New Zealand would no longer support the resistance coalition at the UN credentials vote.69 Moore also called on Beijing to alter their course: “The Chinese will also have to stop their military assistance to the Khmer Rouge.”70 That New Zealand had made this policy change alongside the American decision to do likewise would not surprise anyone who charged that New Zealand’s policy lacked “independence”. What did come as a surprise was that New Zealand had, in a departure from previous policy, broken ranks with ASEAN for the first time since the Cambodian

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crisis began. The New Zealand Herald claimed that the ASEAN nations were startled by the change but were resigned to it.71 In actual fact, the Cambodian issue, with the demise of the Cold War, had lost its potency as a factor in New Zealand’s relations with ASEAN. By July 1990 there would be no visits from Thai leaders to persuade New Zealand to remain firm. Nor would New Zealand’s policy shift have any repercussions within ASEAN — New Zealand was to retain its reputation as a reliable friend. In accordance with statements by the US and Australian governments, New Zealand again reiterated that the Khmer Rouge should have no role in the Cambodian political structure. Not long after, the DK was forced to vacate the UN seat it had held for so long.

Rebuilding Cambodia With Vietnam’s withdrawal and a massive UN operation about to get underway, ASEAN’s new concern was that stability return to Cambodia. The New Zealand government had floated the idea of sending armed forces personnel to Cambodia to help reconstruct that country soon after Moore announced New Zealand’s policy change.72 In October 1991 the Cambodian factions accepted a United Nations brokered cease-fire and allowed UN forces to engage in a peacebuilding mission whereby the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) sought to establish institutions and pave the way for general elections in May 1993. New Zealand supported the UN effort through diplomatic statements and provided a contribution to the multinational force. 20,000 military, police and civilian personnel were drawn from over 40 countries. New Zealand contributed 97 service personnel for the tasks of mine clearance, communication establishment, and the patrol of inland and coastal waters to protect fisheries. Until the East Timor crisis in 1999, it was the largest peacekeeping contribution ever to come from New Zealand. During the reconstruction of Cambodia, New Zealand gave US$4.7 million as a contribution to UN peacekeeping and NZ$750,000 in humanitarian aid.73 The resulting elections were something of a success, despite disruption by the Khmer Rouge and UN reluctance to disarm the competing factions. A democratically elected government resulted in a power-sharing arrangement between FUNCIPEC (Sihanouk’s supporters) and SOC

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(State of Cambodia: Hun Sen’s political grouping). The leaders, Prince Rannariddh and Hun Sen, became first and second prime minister respectively (in recognition of FUNCINPEC’s status as the majority and SOC’s effective stranglehold over much of the armed forces and a number of government institutions). Seven New Zealand observers — three National, three Labour, and one Alliance — were posted to Kampot province, which a Foreign Affairs media release described as a “less tranquil part of Cambodia”.74 At the time of the election there were, Foreign Affairs thought, around 95 New Zealanders with UNTAC. There was briefly some alarm when six observers, including one New Zealander — Chief Petty Officer, John Oxenham — were taken hostage in Konpong Thon province.75 When, in July 1997, Hun Sen launched a coup that ousted Prince Rannariddh (replaced in the coalition by the Foreign Minister, Ung Huot), seizing complete control of government, those countries that had supported the Cambodian elections expressed their disappointment. Hun Sen explained that Prince Rannariddh had grown too close to elements of the Khmer Rouge, but this was largely a means to subdue FUNCINPEC, as the subsequent brutal repression of Rannariddh loyalists shows. ASEAN refused to admit Cambodia to its ranks, as previously planned, and postponed its membership. New Zealand, too, expressed its disappointment that the Constitution had been violated. New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Don McKinnon, stated that “there must be a peaceful solution with full respect for the Paris Peace Accords and Cambodia’s own laws and constitution”.76 However, New Zealand still offered development aid — McKinnon felt it best to encourage Cambodia into greater pluralism than to engage in open criticism of events. For the New Zealand government the seizure of government through force is unacceptable, however the complexity of the situation worked to ensure that no outside countries felt they could reverse the events of 1997 in Cambodia. ASEAN wanted to encourage Cambodia through engagement, and New Zealand agreed.

The Contemporary Relationship Despite the fact that Cambodia preoccupied New Zealand’s diplomatic

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activity in Southeast Asia for more than a decade, the bilateral relationship itself has never been that strong. Now that Cambodia has retreated to some kind of normalcy, the relationship remains low key. The New Zealand government still feels some regard for Cambodia and continues to provide aid even though geopolitical imperatives are now entirely absent. New Zealand, in assisting Cambodia’s backslidden democracy, donated $144,000 for the 2002 commune council elections and $455,000 in assistance for the national elections in July 2003.77 The money New Zealand gave in 2003 was used to update the electoral roll. (A total of US$12.5 million was needed for the 2003 election, of which less than half could be met by the Cambodian government.) General aid to Cambodia continues as well. In the financial year 2003/2004 New Zealand budgeted $2 million in bilateral aid for Cambodia, which was a jump on the previous year’s total of $1.55 million. New Zealand’s aid to Cambodia has centred on improving governance, human resource development and rural assistance. New Zealand also has an ongoing programme to teach English to Cambodia officials and provides some technical assistance in mine clearing. Jim Sutton, Minister for Trade Negotiations, in March 2003 led a trade mission to Cambodia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade sounded a positive note: “Cambodia is a small but rapidly growing market for New Zealand. Opportunities exist for companies involved in transport infrastructure (road, rail, port, airport), tourism development, power generation, agriculture/food production and consulting services.”78 The reality is more mundane. In 2002 New Zealand exports to Cambodia were worth only $0.56 million — a massive drop from a still modest $3 million in 2001 — while imports to New Zealand were worth just over $1 million in 2002. More than half of New Zealand’s exports to Cambodia are dairy products, while the single largest Cambodian export item to New Zealand are shoes.

Conclusion From 1979, the Cambodian situation was seen by New Zealand officials as an important security threat. The implications for New Zealand included: strong interest shown by the New Zealand public in the case;

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the fact that the Cambodian situation had wider regional implications for ASEAN and the cold war generally; and New Zealand wanted to be seen as a responsible contributor to regional security during ASEAN’s time of need.79 But the decision to condemn Vietnam’s actions in Cambodia by continuing to recognize the Khmer Rouge at the United Nations did not always sit well with the New Zealand government — which managed to get itself into a wrangle over the entire issue, admitting in private correspondence to fudging the issue with both ASEAN and the New Zealand public. The New Zealand Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, once said in a meeting with his Thai counterpart, Prem, that “Kampuchea was not a big political issue in New Zealand”.80 But Muldoon, and the successor Lange government, felt the pressure of the Cambodian issue. New Zealand officials had to be mindful of the controversy that this issue could provoke, and while they supported ASEAN, concern for public opinion did shape New Zealand diplomacy, if not the actual policy itself. New Zealand officials, as was noted in the records of official meetings, often expressed discomfort to their Thai counterparts at having to support the genocidal Khmer Rouge at the UN General Assembly credentials vote. New Zealand documents also consistently point to the fact that the ongoing conflict in Cambodia played into Soviet hands — by turning Vietnam into a client state — but remained unable to convince their friends and allies of this point. This was accompanied by the fact that although New Zealand supported ASEAN, Wellington was always sceptical of Thai suggestions.81 The Ministry also never accepted that pressure on the Vietnamese would ever militarily force them out of Cambodia and suggested, on a number of occasions, that Vietnam be brought into a constructive dialogue. However, New Zealand officials also suspected that Thailand and Vietnam had no real interest in an early solution; and New Zealand’s suggestion to heal the ASEAN-Vietnamese split was well beyond its reach, with its small state status. New Zealand officials decided that it was unrealistic to press for negotiations and instead looked for changes, and encouraged breakthroughs, when, if ever, they might arise. New Zealand, until it finally broke with ASEAN ranks in 1990, only voiced its criticisms of ASEAN policy, and US policy, through

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closed channels. Although the New Zealand government tried hard to urge different policy tacks, it remained equally determined to support whatever decision to which ASEAN collectively agreed. When New Zealand finally changed its policy in 1990, and refused to give the resistance coalition recognition at the United Nations, events had occurred that meant ASEAN/Thailand was no longer worried about the New Zealand position. What the episode does demonstrate is the importance that New Zealand had come to place in a tight relationship with the ASEAN countries by 1979. In dealing with Cambodia, relations with ASEAN were more important than even those with Australia or the United States. NOTES The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, US Pacific Command, the US Department of Defense, or the US government. Some of the material here has previously appeared in Anthony Smith, “The Devil You Know: New Zealand’s Recognition Policy towards Cambodia from 1978–1990”, New Zealand Journal of History, October 1999, pp. 221–41. 1. When the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh in 1975, Cambodia became known as Kampuchea. The name of Cambodia was formally restored in 1989. This author uses “Cambodia” throughout; however, official documents often refer to “Kampuchea”. 2. Memorandum, PM to Ambassador, Bangkok, 19 October 1973, 58/315/1, part 1. 3. Memorandum, Defence Attaché (DA), Bangkok to Secretary of Defence (SD), 30/8/1, “Thailand’s Security in a New Environment”, 12 December 1978, 315/5/1, vol. 2. 4. Richard Kennaway, “The Wider Context”, in Beyond New Zealand II: Foreign Policy into the 1990s, edited by Richard Kennaway and John Henderson (Auckland: Longman Paul Ltd., 1991), p. 53. 5. Wellington to New York, 20 August 1982, “Kampuchea”, 58/480/1, vol. 5. 6. Background paper, Embassy, Bangkok, “Visit of Mr Talboys to Thailand: Transcript of Meeting with Press Representatives in Bangkok on 1 November [1979]”, 59/315/10.

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7. Letter, Warren Cooper, Minister of Foreign Affairs (MFA) to P.M. McGrath, 17 November 1982, 58/480/1, vol. 5. 8. New Zealand was one of a number of Western countries facing this dilemma — and not the only one to risk acute domestic embarrassment. Khieu Samphan, the perennial public face of the Khmer Rouge at the United Nations, publicly thanked the United States for their support in the recognition issue. This caused the Carter Administration some consternation, as in 1978 President Carter had called the DK the greatest violator of human rights on earth. Nevertheless, America, with, it seems, some ambivalence, backed China and the ASEAN states at the United Nations. 9. Marie Alexandrine Martin, Cambodia: A Shattered Society (updated English edition) (London: University of California, 1994), pp. 240–41. 10. Memorandum, DA, Bangkok to SD, “Defence Attaché Bangkok: Periodic Report for Quarter Ending 31 March 1980”, 315/5/1, part 4. 11. When the Chief of Defence Staff and the Secretary of Defence visited Thailand in June 1981, a senior officer of the Royal Thai Army implied (“quite openly”) to the New Zealanders that the DK were receiving their arms from inside the Thai border. Cable, Bangkok to Wellington, no. 857, “Visit by CDS/ SEC DEF”, 9 June 1981, 315/5/1, part 5. 12. More commonly written as Khmer Serei, this militia group served Lon Nol while he was Cambodia’s leader. Subsequently such forces were under the command of Son Sann. 13. Cable, Wellington to Washington, no. 975 (Talboys to Vance, via Washington Embassy), “Indochina”, 13 March 1980, 316/1/1, part 1B. 14. Ibid. The letter further reads: “We have undertaken to consult with them [the ASEAN countries] before making any significant changes in our own stand on major issues relating to Indochina. In giving this commitment, we had very much in mind that no Indochina settlement is likely to last unless it is accepted and supported by the ASEAN countries.” 15. Background paper, “Secretary of Foreign Affairs’ Visit to Canberra, The Kampuchean Situation”, 24 July 1980, 316/1/1, vol. 2. 16. Cable, Bangkok to Wellington, no. 650, “Indochina”, 24 April 1980, 316/1/1, part 1B. 17. Background paper, “Record of Ambassador’s Call on Mr Liang Feng, Deputy Director Asian Affairs Department”, Foreign Ministry, 5 May 1980, 316/1/1, part 2.

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18. Brief for Inter-Parliamentary Union Meeting and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Meeting, September 1982, “Indochina”, 58/480/1, vol. 5. 19. Canada: Visit by Prime Minister September 1982, “Indochina”, 58/480/1, vol. 5. 20. Oddly, Siddhi claimed that the Khmer Rouge had also been joined by the Montagnard. Cable, Bangkok to Wellington, no. 650, “Indochina”, 24 April 1980, 316/1/1, part 1B. 21. The party may have been snubbed by Foreign Minister Nguyen Co Thach as he was at first busy and then “sick”. The Ambassador and his party had to speak with the Vice Foreign Minister Vo Dong Giang and the Director of Asia III Section, Vu Tien. Cable, Bangkok to Wellington, no. 886, “Visit to Viet Nam”, 12 June 1980, 315/5/1, part 4. 22. New Zealand and Australian diplomats were kept abreast of the incident by the American State Department. Cable, Washington to Wellington, no. 3438, “Indochina: Vietnamese Incursion into Thailand”, 25 June 1980, 315/5/1, part 4. The Vietnamese denied all knowledge of the attack, and the ill-considered nature of it suggests that it is possible that a regional commander acted without proper authority. 23. Cable, New Delhi to Wellington (PM to MFA), no. 741, “Thailand”, 3 September 1980, 315/5/1, part 4. 24. Cable, New York to Wellington, no. 982, “Kampuchea”, 3 October 1980, 316/1/1, vol. 4. 25. “NZ to Keep Pol Pot Recognition”, New Zealand Herald, 8 December 1979, p. 1. 26. Publicly, to this point, Peacock had defended the government position, but obviously felt that he could no longer defend a policy with which he so strongly disagreed. Cable, Canberra to Wellington, no. 2267, “Reports of FM’s Resignation”, 21 July 1980, 316/1/1, vol. 2. 27. Background paper, “Secretary of Foreign Affairs’ Visit to Canberra, The Kampuchean Situation”, 24 July 1980, 316/1/1, vol. 2. Note that the Secretary mentioned recognition of “Pol Pot” in this communication, in contrast to the distinction drawn by New Zealand officials in the New Zealand media. 28. Ibid. 29. Gareth Evans and Bruce Grant, Australia’s Foreign Relations in the World of the 1990s (Victoria: Melbourne University Press, 1991), p. 208.

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30. Cable, Canberra to Wellington, no. 347, “Visit of Foreign Minister”, 5 February 1981, 59/315/3, vol. 3. 31. Cable, Bangkok to Wellington, no. 222, “Visit of Foreign Minister Siddhi”, 5 February 1981, 59/315/3, vol. 3. 32. Notes used by Siddhi at lunch with NZ newsmen on 9 February 1981, 59/315/3, vol. 3. 33. Siddhi stated: “Its [Khmer Rouge] methods of government and the policy of near genocide carried out against its own people during the three years it was in power disgusted and horrified us in Thailand as much as it did the rest of the world. Nonetheless — and here is the crux of the Thai position at that time and since — it was the only legal government of Cambodia in existence. Its acts against its own people and against its neighbours were frequently abominable. But it was for the people of Cambodia to deal with, not Thailand and not Vietnam.” 34. The notable difference between the Thais and the Chinese was that Siddhi did not share China’s favourable view of Pol Pot. See Cable, Wellington to Bangkok, no. 193, “Talks with Foreign Minister Siddhi”, 11 October 1981, 59/315/3, vol. 3. 35. Cable, Wellington to Bangkok, no. 193. 36. Son Sann was a former prime minister of Cambodia, who was leader of the noncommunist Khmer People’s National Liberation Front (FNLPK). FNLPK were rivals to both the Khmer Rouge and the Sihanoukist forces. 37. Cable, Wellington to Bangkok, no. 193, “Talks with Foreign Minister Siddhi”, 11 October 1981, 59/315/3, vol. 3. 38. Transcript: Audio Monitor Ltd., “Thai PM Here”, 28 August 1981, 59/315/5. 39. Background paper, “Visit of Prime Minister of Thailand, 28–31 August 1981, Talking Points”, 59/315/5. 40. Background paper, “Meeting with Prime Minister of Thailand and Accompanying Party: Auckland (South Pacific Hotel): Friday, 28 August 1981”, 59/315/5. Prem was confident that Prince Sihanouk and Khieu Samphan would reach agreement but Son Sann was the most doubtful starter. 41. Ibid. 42. Memo, DA Bangkok to SD, “New Zealand Defence Attaché, Bangkok: Annual Report for Year Ending 31 October 1981”, 315/5/1, part 5.

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43. The latter two being, respectively, the forces of Son Sann and the forces of Prince Sihanouk, also known as FUNCINPEC. 44. Background paper, “Dialogue Meeting with ASEAN Foreign Ministers, Singapore, 17–18 June 1982 — Indochina”, 316/1/1, vol. 4. 45. Wellington to Bangkok 785, 8 September 1982, “Kampuchea: Visit to New Zealand”, 58/480/1, vol. 5. 46. None of the factions really wanted the deal. The Khmer Rouge only went along with the coalition because their backers had convinced them that they would lose support if they did not accept the arrangement. 47. “‘Kampuchea Vote Was to Oppose Communism’”, New Zealand Herald, 28 November 1982. 48. Submission, “Kampuchea: Call by ASEAN Heads of Mission”, 18 August 1982, 58/480/1, vol. 5. 49. “Exiled PM Tells of Security Threat”, New Zealand Herald, 15 May 1983. 50. New Zealand Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 33, no. 2 (April–June 1983), p. 39. 51. “$45,000 for Kampuchea”, Auckland Star, 29 June 1983. 52. Background paper, “Visit by ACM Siddhi Savetsila MFA, Thailand 29 March– 1 April 1984”, 59/315/3, vol. 4. The Bangkok embassy reported later that money was used to purchase 35 tonnes of rice for the non-communist forces. “NZ Food for Guerrillas”, New Zealand Herald, 23 August 1984. 53. Background paper, “Visit by ACM Siddhi Savetsila MFA, Thailand, 29 March– 1 April 1984”, 59/315/3, vol. 4. 54. Background paper, “Recognition of Kampuchea”, 19 September 1984, 58/450/1, vol. 8. If New Zealand was to consider derecognition of the Khmer Rouge, the paper recommended the following double strategy: “For domestic purposes it would be preferable for the government to convey the impression that derecognition is a new policy of the new Labour Government — that is, that the former administration de facto recognised the DK. There is a (legal?) basis for this line. For ASEAN purposes however formal derecognition should be presented simply as the regularisation of the New Zealand position of the de facto absence of recognition over the past couple of years (as evidenced by the treatment of Son Sann).” 55. The paper does not elaborate, but presumably this refers to the differing statements made to the New Zealand public, on one hand, and to ASEAN, on the other. The quotation in the previous note appears to provide the vital clue.

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56. New Zealand Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 34, no. 4 (October–December 1984), p. 25. 57. “Sihanouk Yearns for Neutral Kampuchea”, New Zealand Herald, 7 March 1985. 58. “Only Lukewarm Backing for Conference on Kampuchea”, New Zealand Herald, 8 March 1985. 59. New Zealand Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 35, no. 1 (January–March 1985), p. 45. 60. “A Visit from Sihanouk”, New Zealand Herald, 25 February 1985. 61. “NZ ‘in Dilemma’ over Cambodia”, New Zealand Herald, 15 November 1989. 62. Ibid. 63. Telegram, Khieu Samphan, Vice-President of DK in charge of Foreign Affairs to Marshall, 30 January 1989, 58/480/1, vol. 7. 64. “Supping with Khmers Rouge”, New Zealand Herald, 17 November 1989. 65. 58/480/1, vol. 7 and 58/450/1, vol. 8. 66. Report — Cabinet Defence and External Security Committee, “Cambodia”, 58/450/1, vol. 8. 67. Part of a sample from standard letter used by Mike Moore’s office (Letter cited sent to Mr and Mrs King of Epsom, 12 February 1990), 58/450/1, vol. 8. 68. New Zealand External Affairs and Trade Review, vol. 40, no. 2 (January–March 1990), p. 27. 69. “Policy Change on Cambodia Likely”, Dominion, 20 July 1990. 70. Media release on Cambodia, 19 July 1990, 58/450/1, vol. 9. 71. “NZ Broke Ranks at UN on Cambodian Issue”, New Zealand Herald, 20 July 1990. 72. “NZ Stands Ready to Help in Cambodia”, New Zealand Herald, 15 October 1990. 73. Visit to Indonesia by Vice-Admiral Somerford Teagle Chief of Defence Force, 24 October to 1 November 1992, 480/5/1, vol. 2; and Speech by Foreign Minister, Rt. Hon. Don McKinnon to the United Nations Security Council Seminar on Cambodia, “A New Zealand Assessment of the Peace Process in Cambodia”, Canterbury University, 19 March 1993.

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74. 16 May 1993, Media Release, “Concern for New Zealand Observers”, 480/5/1, vol. 5. 75. Daily press briefing, 2 December 1992, 480/5/1, vol. 2. 76. Don McKinnon, “McKinnon: Focus on Cambodia at ASEAN”, Media Release, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Record, 27 July 1997. 77. “New Zealand Assistance for Cambodian Elections”, Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Hon. Marian Hobbs, 19 February, in Foreign Affairs and Trade Record, February 2003, pp. 20–21. 78. “Minister to Lead Trade Mission to Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines”, Minister for Trade Negotiations, Hon. Jim Sutton, 6 December, in Foreign Affairs and Trade Record, December 2002–January 2003, p. 26. 79. Summarized from Report — Cabinet Defence and External Security Committee, “Cambodia”, 58/450/1, vol. 8. 80. Background paper, “Meeting with Prime Minister of Thailand and Accompanying Party: Auckland (South Pacific Hotel): Friday, 28 August 1981”, 59/315/5. 81. Background paper, “Dialogue Meeting with ASEAN Foreign Ministers, Singapore, 17–18 June 1982 — Indochina”, 316/1/1, vol. 4.

Reproduced from Southeast Asia and New Zealand: A History of Regional and Bilateral Relations, edited by Anthony L. Smith (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2005). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg > 124 Stephen Hoadley

5

DIPLOMACY, PEACEKEEPING, AND NATION-BUILDING: NEW ZEALAND AND EAST TIMOR S T E P H E N

H O A D L E Y

Introduction New Zealand’s formal diplomatic relations with East Timor began on 20 May 2000, when the former Portuguese colony became fully independent.1 In the prior 25 years East Timor had been invaded and annexed by Indonesia, suffered loss of life from guerrilla resistance and Indonesian reprisals, stabilized by an international peacekeeping force, and assisted and tutored by a UN mission. New Zealand had been cultivating bilateral relations during the four years prior to independence. And for nearly three decades before that East Timor had been a security, diplomatic, and humanitarian concern to successive governments in Wellington. This chapter traces the evolution of New Zealand’s involvement with East Timor from early awareness in the 1970s to deep involvement from 1999, touches on costs and gains, and speculates on future relations.

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Early Awareness Prior to 1974 East Timor (then Portuguese Timor) was known mainly as a battleground between Japanese and Australian forces during World War II, and later as a backward but tranquil colony in an otherwise turbulent region. New Zealand officials first took serious note of East Timor in the months following Portugal’s change of government and acknowledgement of its overseas possessions’ right of self-determination and independence.2 East Timor seemed poised to make a leap from colonialism to self-government and independence, but this was a process fraught with uncertainty, particularly in the Cold War context. New Zealand officials generally favoured self-government for East Timor but were anxious that the transition be done peacefully, and not disrupt the fragile Southeast Asian consensus.3 To this end New Zealand officials conferred with their counterparts in neighbouring Indonesia in November 1974, agreed that developments should contribute to stability, and hoped East Timor would not come under the influence of the Soviet Union or China.4 In the early months of 1975, as the political climate heated up, New Zealand officials made informal contacts with some of the new East Timorese leaders. One of the first was José Ramos Horta, the foreign affairs spokesman of the popular FRETILIN5 party, who visited New Zealand in July 1975 to publicize his cause amongst NGOs and the media. That same month New Zealand diplomats contacted leaders of the rival UDT6 party in Díli. These were the two largest of the several parties that sprang up following the liberalization of colonial policy by Portugal in 1974. Both advocated self-government and independence for East Timor, but by different paths and time-frames. But New Zealand recognized no East Timorese parties or individuals as representing a government at this time, and no commitments were made.

Security and Diplomacy Trump Idealism The outbreak of inter-party fighting in the colony in August 1975 stimulated Prime Minister Bill Rowling to announce that a UN request for a contribution to a peacekeeping force would be considered “sympathetically”. New Zealand defence officials sketched plans for a

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battalion-sized deployment.7 But Rowling took pains to deny that New Zealand would support any particular East Timorese party or faction. He specifically declined FRETILIN’s request to send an observer to Díli because to do so would be “a partisan act” that would be tantamount to “prejudging the outcome of the dispute over Timor’s future”.8 At that time FRETILIN was clashing with the UDT. Soon thereafter FRETILIN gained the upper hand and drove rival UDT activists to the border with West Timor, where they allied with Indonesian covert forces.9 New Zealand spokespeople consistently took the position that maintaining peace and order in East Timor was the responsibility primarily of Portugal. It was implicit that if Portugal could not manage, then neighbouring countries, primarily Indonesia, might be justified in intervening. Australia was of a similar view, and indeed Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was rumoured, later confirmed, to have indicated to President Suharto his approval of an Indonesian occupation to restore peace and order. The US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, gave Suharto similar assurances.10 New Zealand, distant from the event and not called upon to take a stance, did not go so far, even though information about a possible Indonesian incursion had come to hand.11 Rather, its diplomats in November 1975 helped draft a United Nations Fourth Committee resolution urging all states to respect the rights of the people of East Timor to “self-determination, freedom, and independence”.12 This idealistic resolution was overtaken by Indonesia’s overt invasion of East Timor on 7 December 1975. Algeria introduced a substitute resolution that “strongly deplored” Indonesia’s action and called for Indonesia to withdraw without delay. This resolution was passed by majorities in the Fourth Committee and subsequently the General Assembly. Australia voted for the resolution. New Zealand’s delegate abstained. The reasons were three. First, East Timor as a non-selfgoverning territory was not eligible for protection of sovereignty under Article 2 (4) of the UN Charter. Second, the Algerian resolution “lacked balance” because it focused only on the military situation and did not address the underlying causes of the conflict. Third, New Zealand did not regard Indonesia as entirely to blame for the situation, and wished to soften the word “deplore” to “regret” with regard to Indonesia’s actions.13

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The thinking underlying New Zealand’s position was further clarified by Prime Minister Rowling’s statement of 8 December 1975, upon hearing of the invasion. While welcoming Indonesia’s promise that the East Timorese would be given an opportunity to exercise their right of self-determination, he doubted their readiness for self-government because of the cultural gap between villagers and Westernized elites, and the factiousness of the local leaders.14 Thus New Zealand idealism with regard to self-determination of colonized peoples was tempered by realist concerns about regional instability, outside meddling, and incapacity for self-governance. Added to this was the growing importance of Indonesia, newly stabilized under General Suharto, not only as a regional power but also as a trade, diplomatic, and security partner of New Zealand.15 This led New Zealand leaders and officials to give the benefit of the doubt to Jakarta, and to hope that Indonesia’s intervention would be a benign one.16 When the Indonesians convened an assembly of East Timorese local leaders in April 1976 to request incorporation into Indonesia, the Minister of Foreign Affairs dispatched a junior diplomat to witness this “act of self-determination”. Only five other foreign officials attended. When President Suharto signed the bill annexing East Timor in July 1976, the New Zealand government quietly accepted the annexation de facto, as an inescapable fact.17 Unlike Australia, New Zealand never officially accepted the annexation de jure, that is, recognized as fully legal.

Policy Stabilized: 1976–95 For the next two decades New Zealand’s policy remained fundamentally unchanged. Ministry of Foreign Affairs advice to the incoming Labour Government in 1984 summed up the delicate balance of New Zealand’s diplomatic position: The crux of the problem of East Timor is to reconcile New Zealand’s opposition to the incorporation of East Timor by force, the subsequent human rights violations and repugnance at the sometimes brutal methods of the Indonesian army with the very considerable national interest in maintaining good relations with Indonesia, unquestionably the single most important country in South East Asia.18

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Every few years a New Zealand diplomat, typically the ambassador to Indonesia, made a brief visit to East Timor. But relations with the province were conducted through Indonesian officials in Jakarta. Such official development assistance (ODA) as was given was administered either through Indonesia’s State Planning Agency or those multilateral agencies with a presence in East Timor, not directly through East Timorese counterparts. A few New Zealand NGOs sent representatives to East Timor when Indonesia began to permit visitors. Trade with East Timor was not differentiated from trade with Indonesia, in contrast to separate statistics kept for Taiwan and mainland China respectively. The New Zealand government allowed representatives of the East Timor independence movement to visit New Zealand but only on condition that they stayed only one week and refrained from public political speeches. Officials in Wellington avoided meeting East Timorese FRETILIN or resistance representatives. In 1978 the New Zealand government began characterizing the incorporation of East Timor into Indonesia as “irreversible”, that is, settled in New Zealand’s official view even if not fully legal. Subsequently FRETILIN’s José Ramos Horta was denied a visa on grounds that his visit might coincide with visits by high-ranking Indonesians, causing embarrassment.19 Many New Zealanders took a different view. During the conflict in 1975 a number of New Zealand charities raised money and made relief donations to East Timorese counterparts; these included the Red Cross, World Vision, Save the Children, CORSO, and Presbyterian and Catholic church affiliates. During the next two decades the nonofficial aid dwindled as Indonesian rule discouraged financial autonomy and international connections by East Timorese organizations, but it never completely ceased. An NGO called the Committee for an Independent East Timor (CIET) sprang up in Australia and inspired branches in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. CIET distributed information about FALINTIL’s20 armed resistance, Indonesian heavyhanded responses, Western government and UN vacillation, and deteriorating conditions in East Timor. It sponsored meetings with visiting East Timorese, and lobbied the New Zealand government to speak out regarding human rights abuses. Some church leaders, academics, and journalists, and occasionally MPs such as Labour’s Phil

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Goff and National’s Nick Smith, joined the chorus demanding stronger government action against Indonesian occupation and brutality. Successive foreign ministers, most notably Labour’s Russell Marshall in the 1980s and National’s Don McKinnon in the 1990s, were not insensitive to human rights concerns. But they asserted that they found “quiet diplomacy” to express New Zealand’s concerns over human rights abuses in East Timor more productive than “megaphone diplomacy”, that is, accusations launched at Indonesia in public. They believed that the vast majority of New Zealanders regarded good trade and security relations with Indonesian of greater importance than the fate of East Timor. In accordance with advice from officials, these ministers were convinced that condemning Jakarta would have no beneficial effect on the East Timorese, but would merely estrange Indonesia from New Zealand and make diplomacy and trade negotiations more difficult. And it might hamper New Zealand’s ability to visit East Timor to monitor human rights and economic conditions.21

Shifting Perceptions and Adjusted Policies In the early 1990s New Zealanders’ perception of East Timor shifted. The cause was the Santa Cruz massacre, sometimes called the Díli massacre, of December 1991. East Timorese youth accompanying a burial procession to the Santa Cruz Cemetery in Díli were dispersed by Indonesian army gunfire. Among the nearly two hundred fatalities was a New Zealand citizen, Kamal Bamadaj. The media reports and television footage brought the East Timor tragedy home to New Zealanders. This was followed in March 1993 by the public TV broadcast of John Pilger’s vivid documentary Death of a Nation. This moved a majority of parliamentarians to sign a petition and deliver it to the Indonesian ambassador demanding reforms in East Timor. In early 1994 Parliament sent a delegation to the province to inspect conditions. Prominent in the delegation was Phil Goff, a Labour MP long supportive of the East Timor cause. New Zealand’s ambassador to Indonesia, whose staff had been involved in ascertaining the facts of the killing of Kamal Bamadaj and arranging for return of the body to the family, visited East Timor. Both the delegation of MPs and the ambassador issued reports highly critical

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of Indonesian rule. International watchdog agencies such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch provided validation and details in their publications.22 The New Zealand government, on the other hand, made a more optimistic assessment, reporting to Parliament that human rights conditions had improved in both Indonesia and East Timor, and that the latter enjoyed a rising number of visits by journalists, aid workers, and officials from other countries; the implication was that New Zealand’s “quiet diplomacy” of stressing human rights was working.23 For all of these reasons, the New Zealand public was beginning to awaken to the East Timor issue. By 1994 a public opinion survey showed that only 9 per cent of polled New Zealanders accepted their government’s contention that East Timor’s integration was “irreversible”, whereas 49 per cent thought their government should advance the cause of greater East Timorese autonomy from Indonesia. Furthermore, 54 per cent of respondents believed that trade with countries with poor human rights practices, including Indonesia in this context, should be curtailed.24 The government, while maintaining its quiet diplomacy approach to Indonesia in public, began a subtle reassessment of its position on East Timor. The outcome was manifested first in internal memos and later without fanfare in public statements. Notably, the word “irreversible” was omitted from phrases referring to East Timor’s incorporation into Indonesia. Foreign Minster Don McKinnon became more vigorous in asserting that he always raised human rights issues with his Indonesian counterpart when they met. In 1995 he agreed for the first time in his official capacity to meet José Ramos Horta. As good relations with Indonesia risked being displaced in the public’s perceptions by human rights issues in East Timor, the government responded by raising the priority of reforms in bilateral diplomatic consultations with Indonesian counterparts. Assistance to the Indonesian Human Rights Commission was proffered. As well, a means of delivering official aid more directly to East Timor was explored. Indonesian authorities were not averse to directing aid to the impoverished eastern islands, and New Zealand was able to award scholarships to East Timorese, many of whom returned to become officials and political leaders in the post-Indonesia period.

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New Dynamics and New Threats In 1998 President Suharto stepped down in the face of massive unrest in Jakarta, and his Vice President, B.J. Habibie, assumed the presidency. Unexpectedly, in January 1999 Habibie announced his intention to hold a referendum in East Timor on the future of the province.25 He and the majority of the Indonesian civil and military establishment believed that the East Timorese would opt for autonomy within the Indonesian framework. Furthermore many Indonesian army commanders, whose troops had borne the brunt of hardships in the counter-insurgency effort, and who were reaping economic and political rewards from their leadership positions in the province, were strongly opposed to loosening their ties. Officers conspired with sympathetic or suborned East Timorese to campaign against any move towards independence, and later provided financial, logistics, and weapons assistance to militia leaders. Rhetorical turbulence, then physical clashes, between pro- and anti-independence advocates escalated in Díli and other centres. Despite this unpromising political environment, the United Nations in July 1999 set up the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) to supervise the referendum. President Habibie, backed by his generals, refused to allow more than a token and unarmed UN security presence into East Timor but instead assured the United Nations that his army and police forces would provide security for the foreign personnel there to supervise the referendum. New Zealand sent five New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) officers, ten police, and a legal specialist to assist UNAMET, and individual New Zealanders were contracted by the United Nations for specific electoral observer roles, and later relief tasks. Meanwhile the government, warned by Australian counterparts to anticipate trouble, authorized the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to set up an interdepartmental East Timor Watch Group. The Watch Group brought together officials from the NZDF, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Police, and the intelligence services. Its officials monitored developments and exchanged information as the East Timor referendum approached and public order

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deteriorated, discussed the looming threat, and commenced contingency planning. By June NZDF officials had completed a threat assessment and put forward military and intelligence options. Cabinet then approved funding for NZDF equipment enhancements, and authorized the Chief of Defence Force to commence operational military planning.26 These initiatives where conducted in close consultation with Australian counterparts, who were even more pessimistic than New Zealand officials. As the election approached, Parliament dispatched a five-member multi-party parliamentary delegation to East Timor. It was assisted by Ambassador Michael Green and other New Zealand foreign affairs and defence officials. Also in East Timor were New Zealand journalists, and NGO representatives accredited as observers to the ballot. These observers were able to advise Parliament and to make other New Zealanders more aware of the fairness of the election on the one hand, and the viciousness of the ensuing violence on the other. Their cumulative impact on the government’s decision to contribute peacekeepers, and on a supportive public opinion, was substantial.

East Timor Assaulted Despite militia propaganda, intimidation, and occasional attacks, the East Timor referendum was conducted successfully on 30 August 1999. To the surprise of no one but the Indonesians, nearly 80 per cent of East Timorese voted for independence. The pro-Indonesia militia soon retaliated, unleashing a frenzy of arson, assault, and murder. The Indonesian authorities could not, or according to critics would not, intervene for some days to stop the mayhem. International condemnation, and then financial pressure by means of US threats to withhold International Monetary Fund loans, mounted. New Zealand, along with many other governments including Australia and the United States, cut off all military cooperation with Indonesia.

INTERFET At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Auckland in early September 1999, Asia-Pacific leaders, joined by Britain’s Foreign

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Secretary Robin Cook, agreed that a peacekeeping mission to East Timor was necessary. Backed by an unprecedented Asia-Pacific consensus on a security issue, Britain and the United States took the peacekeeping proposal to the UN Security Council, which speedily approved it. Security Council Resolution 1264 (15 September 1999) authorized formation of an International Force for East Timor (INTERFET).27 It was to be led by Australia and augmented by troop contributions from New Zealand, Portugal, United Kingdom, and those Southeast Asian states that volunteered, notably Thailand, and to deploy to East Timor to keep the peace.28 Under intense international pressure, Indonesia reluctantly acceded. Technically, Indonesian invited INTERFET in, but while a forced intervention was avoided, New Zealand and other participants went in well-armed as a precaution. The New Zealand public was kept abreast of events by the media. On 17 September Parliament conducted a special debate on the issue, and all political parties including the normally pacifist Greens backed the government’s decision to send peacekeepers.29 Also, during 1999 the documentary Punitive Damage was shown in theatres and broadcast on television, tracing the shooting of New Zealander Kamal Bamadaj in the Santa Cruz massacre. The successful civil prosecution by Bamadaj’s mother of the Indonesian commander in East Timor, helped keep the issue alive in New Zealand. NGO activists energetically publicized the cause of East Timorese independence. Public opinion, always sympathetic but previously superficial, began to harden. A poll conducted in late September found that 82 per cent of respondents disapproved of Indonesia’s actions. Furthermore, 63 per cent approved the New Zealand government’s handling of the crisis and 60 per cent approved of sending troops to East Timor “even if there is a risk of significant casualties”.30 Another poll found 80 per cent supported the New Zealand decision to join the UN peacekeeping mission.31 New Zealand, meanwhile, had sent advance parties of Special Air Service and army troops to Darwin for top-up training and preparations for deployment alongside Australian forces.32 On 20 September 1999 the C130 Hercules transports of the two governments commenced an airlift of INTERFET forces from Darwin to Díli. Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) helicopters and Army company group deployed to

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Díli, and HMNZS Canterbury and Endeavour were operating in East Timor’s waters covering the land deployment, by the end of September. By mid-October a New Zealand battalion group, supported by RNZAF helicopters and augmented by Canadian and Irish detachments, deployed to Suai along the border with Indonesia. This district was especially challenging not only because of the many refugees who fled there but also because of the militia members who hid amongst the refugees and intimidated them on both sides of the border.33 With interference by the Indonesian military and police having been forestalled by negotiation, the INTERFET forces set about creating a new framework for the return of order. The Indonesian authorities and troops, taking or looting all they could lay their hands on, and burning or vandalizing what they could not carry, departed. On 25 October authority was formally assumed by the new United Nations Transitional Authority (UNTAET) although the transfer of military command was eventually delayed until February 2000. Aside from subsequent constitutional formalities and a few minor gestures of good will, the Indonesian role in East Timor was at an end.

UNTAET UNTAET’s ultimate mission was to prepare East Timor for independence.34 But its immediate task was to repair damage, restore basic infrastructure, and set up a working government and basic services. It appealed for contributions by UN member governments. In response, New Zealand’s Cabinet voted $500,000 for relief efforts in East Timor, dispensing much of it through international agencies such as the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the World Food Programme. New Zealand also contributed specialized judicial, police and prison personnel above and beyond its INTERFET contribution, and individual New Zealanders served as key staff in UNTAET, OCHA, and other international organizations present in Díli. Government authorised 300 places in its annual refugee quota to accept Timorese displaced persons nominated by the UNHCR. The Auckland City Council and a number of New Zealand–based

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charities including Red Cross, the United Nations Children’s Fund, World Vision, Oxfam, Christian World Service, and Caritas set up appeal funds and began sending emergency food and equipment to East Timor and refugees in West Timor, much as they had done in 1975. The government made matching grants to support their efforts. Fund-raising, information dissemination, hosting of pro–East Timor visitor-activists, and pro-East Timor lobbying and advocacy were undertaken by the Free East Timor Coalition, a 1990s descendant of the Campaign for an Independent East Timor of the 1970s.35 While not large in numbers, this NGO had branches in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Wellington, and Whangarei, and communicated overseas and domestic news through its newsletter Nettalk. Maire Leadbeater, a former Auckland Regional Council member, and her brother Keith Locke, a Green MP, both long-time anti-nuclear and anti-war activists, coordinated the campaign and spoke and wrote indefatigably against Indonesian human rights violations and the New Zealand government’s cooperation with Indonesia, and in support of the East Timorese. The year 2000 was less violent than 1999 but no less politically eventful. After months of informal consultation, UNTAET in June recognized a National Consultative Council of 33 East Timorese leaders. This later became the National Council, which began to function as a de facto parliament. From this body four East Timorese leaders (Xanana Gusmão, Marí Alkatiri, Ana Pessoa, Madalena Brites Boavida) were drawn; with four UN administrators they formed East Timor’s first Transitional Cabinet in August 2000. They were later joined by José Ramos Horta as transitional foreign minister. As the National Council and the Transitional Cabinet matured, more functions were devolved to them by UNTAET. The process accelerated in 2001 with the election in August of a Constituent Assembly, which in turn drafted a constitution. More than a dozen political parties contested this election, but Fretilin emerged with a clear majority.36 The Assembly chose a new Transitional Cabinet entirely of East Timorese, to be joined subsequently by UN representative Sérgio Vieira de Mello. In April 2002 UNTAET assisted the Transitional Cabinet in conducting a presidential election, and Xanana Gusmão won the presidency easily. The final step was taken on 20 May 2002. UNTAET declared East Timor independent and demoted

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itself from an authority to a mission of support, now called the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET).

Forging Diplomatic Relations Meanwhile, officials of the New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta were striving to identify and personally meet the leading figures in the nascent government of East Timor. They built on previous encounters in Wellington and at the UN Headquarters in New York with José Ramos Horta and other peripatetic resistance leaders, and in Díli with prominent figures such as Bishop Belo and members of the Peace and Justice Commission, which operated from offices in the Bishop’s compound. Embassy officials also had links with other parts of the Church organization, and good contacts with Yaysan Hak, a leading Timorese human rights organization. Newspaper editor Salvator Soares, who was associated with the integrationists but became a member of the transitional council under UNTAET, was another valuable link. As well, New Zealand diplomats got to know members of the Carrascalão family that had been prominent under the Portuguese and who emerged again amongst the new East Timor political elite. This elite was of mixed Portuguese-Timorese descent and were relatively Westernized and educated; they subsequently lobbied successfully to adopt Portuguese as the official national language, although indigenous languages and English are widely used in practice. New Zealand officials also kept up relations with returned scholarship students, many of whom became government officials. Three of them subsequently became Deputy Foreign Minister, Electoral Commissioner, and University of Díli ViceChancellor, respectively.37 During 1999 and subsequently, individual ministers, diplomats, and aid officials visited East Timor and invited East Timorese officials and opinion leaders to visit them in Wellington. Foreign Minister Don McKinnon and Ambassador Michael Green visited Xanana Gusmão while he was still detained in Jakarta in early 1999. One of Phil Goff ’s first acts as newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade in January 2000 was to visit Díli where he renewed acquaintances made on two previous visits and met leaders newly returned from exile in Portugal

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and elsewhere. His deputy Matt Robson, in charge of official aid, and other ministers and a parliamentary delegation also visited, and Xanana Gusmão and other high-ranking East Timorese returned the visits. New Zealand’s Colonel Neville Reilly as deputy commander of the UNAMET military observer teams, and Brigadier Martyn Dunne as Díli commander working closely with INTERFET commander Major General Cosgrove, made contacts with locally based resistance leaders Prominent amongst these was FALINTIL commander Taur Matan Ruak, who later became the commander of the fledgling East Timor Defence Force. Brigadier Lou Gardiner as commander of UNTAET military observers subsequently added to these contacts, as did Dr Andrew Ladley as UNAMET legal adviser. During the transition period the New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta provided support for UN-sponsored reconciliation meetings of leaders of the various East Timorese parties and factions. This was regarded as an effective way not only to get acquainted with the future leaders but also to earn their trust of New Zealanders as constructive diplomatic partners. Furthermore, New Zealand contributed $250,000 towards the costs of the 2001 election and dispatched several dozen district electoral officers to assist; these latter were able to make useful contacts with East Timorese officials and political party leaders and candidates. To augment the networking, and to raise New Zealand’s profile and establish it as a serious player in the new state, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade opened a Representative Office in Díli in November 2000. This enabled New Zealand diplomats to liase on a day-to-day basis with UNTAET, local officials, and later the East Timorese members of the Transitional Cabinet. Upon East Timor’s independence on 20 May 2002, the Office was designated a Consulate-General and Jonathan Austin became the first New Zealand diplomat formally accredited to the new state. In mid-2001 New Zealand negotiated a composite aid package of $10 million over the next four years, the first bilateral aid agreement made by the East Timorese transitional authority. The agreed priorities were to be governmental capacity-building, community development, basic education, and natural resource development. These sectors were to complement the on-going contributions to judicial and penal institutions and armed forces and police training already in train. New Zealand also

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provided bridging finance to East Timor through the World Bank.38 On 15 November 2002 New Zealand’s Timor Battalion Group lowered its flag and returned home.39 After November 2002 the NZDF strength was maintained at about 26. These included six staff officers and four military observers attached to UNMISET, eight trainers in small arms and up to six staff specialists assigned for training and support of the East Timor Defence Force, and a two-person support staff element.40 The NZDF thereafter maintained a low-level but ongoing commitment to assist. In 2005 it had six personnel deployed in support of UMISET.

Conclusion From 1974 to 1999 the New Zealand Government viewed East Timor through the prism of relations with Indonesia. Direct contacts were few and infrequent, and in the case of visits by FRETILIN representatives, avoided. Reflecting reports by NGOs, media, and Parliament, officials were concerned about human rights, economic welfare, and local autonomy in East Timor, but these were expressed discreetly and addressed through Indonesian diplomatic channels or international aid agencies and NGOs. Relations with Indonesia remained good but conditions in East Timor remained beyond New Zealand’s ability to ameliorate. Since early 1999 New Zealand political leaders, government officials, defence personnel, and NGO aid and advocacy workers have been enabled directly to invest energy and resources in East Timor. More is pledged. New Zealand diplomats facilitated the APEC agreement and cultivated contacts with counterparts among the emergent leaders of the nascent government. Aid has been put on a programme basis and has been administered effectively on the ground. New Zealand soldiers, sailors, and air personnel have served a total of over 6,000 “rotations” (most on six-month tours of duty) in the East Timor theatre, contributing substantially to the success of the international peacekeeping effort.41 Training schedules were curtailed and civilian careers were interrupted as Territorial Force personnel (reserves) agreed to deploy, some for several rotations. Five soldiers lost their lives and dozens were injured or returned ill. Several dozen police officers and other officials also served.

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The four-year military deployment cost an estimated $196 million, a figure equivalent to about 5 per cent of New Zealand’s annual disposable defence budget over the same period.42 The NZDF successfully met a post–Vietnam War challenge second only to the deployment to Bosnia in the early 1990s. This profound experience yielded valuable lessons.43 If the costs were substantial, what were the gains? Perhaps the most important was New Zealanders’ success in getting to know and winning the trust of East Timorese counterparts. Thereby New Zealand has gained new diplomatic and security partners. Furthermore, by doing its diplomatic and peacekeeping jobs well New Zealand has won the respect of governments and United Nations agencies with whom it cooperated. Contrary to early fears, relations with Indonesia have not suffered measurably. It is tempting to attribute this to the care with which New Zealand’s leaders explained their East Timor policies to their Indonesian counterparts, particularly those of the post-Habibie governments who were more accommodating. Others suggest that New Zealand escaped criticism because its role was less visible than that of Australia, which continues to attract Indonesian opprobrium. But opportunities for concrete gains from trade and investment are few, for East Timor is poor and underdeveloped and likely to remain so for decades. The reputed Timor Gap oil field will not generate significant income before the end of the decade, and even then it must be shared with Australia. Coffee and fish exports and tourism will help. But East Timor, like most Pacific island countries, will depend on loans, aid and remittances for the foreseeable future. So New Zealand can claim its policies are untainted by commercial vested interests. Its initiatives sprang from a desire to be a good international citizen and to contribute to a UN effort; they were motivated also by humanitarianism and justice, and spurred by domestic public opinion. If there was self-interest amongst this idealism, it lay in an enlightened perception of common security, that a poverty-stricken and disorderly East Timor would be a source of violence, disease, environmental degradation, and refugees — or worse, a haven for ethnic militants, pirates, and terrorists. Thus by helping the East Timorese New Zealand was contributing to a more stable region.

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Whatever the motives, New Zealand was one of the midwives of this new nation and is irrevocably committed to its survival and welfare. New Zealand–East Timor relations now take their place alongside relations with Australia, Indonesia, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) states, and the international agencies, comprising an increasingly complex web of bilateral, regional, and global ties. East Timor is institutionalized in New Zealand’s policies on staffing and budgeting in the sectors of diplomacy, aid, and defence.44 These policies have the tacit approval of all political parties and the vast majority of the public. While there will be setbacks such as the December 2002 riots in Díli, and frustrations over the slow pace of development, New Zealand, its partner countries, and the international agencies will have to continue helping to shape East Timor’s future. However expensive and tedious this may become, it is in their long-term interests to do so, for the alternative of risking another failed state is unacceptable. NOTES 1. The official name in Portuguese is Timor L’Este (or Timor Leste) but the more familiar English name East Timor is used in this chapter. 2. Stephen Hoadley, “New Zealand’s Response to the East Timor Controversy”, New Zealand International Review, vol. 1, no. 6 (November/December 1976), p. 4. 3. One of the first New Zealand public official statements on East Timor dealt with a discussion on decolonization in the United Nations Fourth Committee. See New Zealand Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 24 (October 1974), p. 64. 4. Indonesia Newsletter (Wellington), 7 November 1974; Straits Times, 13 February 1975. 5. Frente Revolucionária do Timor Leste Independente (Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor). 6. União Democrática Timorense (Timorese Democratic Union). 7. John Crawford and Glyn Harper, Operation East Timor: The New Zealand Defence Force in East Timor 1999–2001 (Birkenhead: Reed Books, 2001), p. 15. 8. New Zealand Foreign Affairs Record, vol. 25 (August 1974), pp. 56–57; (September 1974), pp. 68–69.

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9. Stephen Hoadley, “East Timor Civil War: Causes and Consequences”, in Southeast Asian Affairs 1976 (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1976). 10. The official record of Australia’s involvement and documents on Whitlam’s foreknowledge may be found in Australia and the Indonesian Incorporation of Portuguese Timor, 1974–76 (Canberra: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, September 2000). For documents and discussion on US foreknowledge prepared by George Washington University’s National Security Program, see www.gwu. edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB62/. 11. As early as 18 August 1975 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was advising the Prime Minister of the possibility of an armed intervention by Indonesia, and obliquely recommending that he be prepared “to see Timor merge with Indonesia”. “Press Conference Briefing for the Prime Minister”, 18 August 1975, MFAT file W8/321/1, released under the Official Information Act. 12. New Zealand Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 25 (December 1975), pp. 40, 44–46. 13. New Zealand Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 25 (December 1975), pp. 44–46. Also Decolonisation, a Publication of the UN Department of Political Affairs, Trusteeship, and Decolonization, no. 7 (August 1976), “Issue on East Timor”, pp. 50–58. 14. New Zealand Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 25 (December 1975), p. 40. 15. J. Stephen Hoadley, “New Zealand and Indonesia: The Evolving Relationship in Regional Perspective”. Indonesian Quarterly, vol. III, no. 4 (July 1975). 16. Recent academic analyses of how decision-makers in Wellington perceived the situation, as revealed in official memoranda and communications, include Matt Mollgaard, “New Zealand and East Timor: The ‘Regrettable’ Invasion” (BA Honours dissertation, Department of Political Studies, University of Auckland, 2002); and Natalie Claire Beath, “New Zealand and East Timor: The Foreign Policy Decision-Making Process” (BA Honours dissertation, University of Otago, 2001). 17. Letter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs to the author (dated 29 September 1976). 18. Quoted by Phil Goff, “East Timor: Lessons and Implications”, New Zealand International Review, vol. XXIV, no. 4 (July/August 1999), p. 3. 19. Letter from Secretary of Foreign Affairs to Minister of Foreign Affairs, “Ramos Horta: Proposed Visit”, 2 June 1978; and memorandum, “Conditions Imposed upon Temporary Visitors in Respect of Political Activities”, 11 August 1978, MFAT file 103/11/3/1, released under Official Information Act.

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20. Forças Armadas de Libertação Nacional de Timor Leste (Armed Forces of National Liberation of East Timor). Falintil was established on 20 August 1975 as the military wing of FRETILIN. It became the main vehicle of East Timorese armed resistance against Indonesian rule, and after the death of the first commander, Nicolau Lobato, was led by Xanana Gusmão. 21. Memo to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Russell Marshall, “Call by the Indonesian Ambassador”, 14 May 1985, 58/318/1; and Note for File, “FDAC: East Timor: Testimony by Minister [Minister of Foreign Affairs Don McKinnon]”, 27 February 1995, MFAT file 318/1/18, released under the Official Information Act. 22. For Amnesty International’s coverage, see www.amnesty.org/ailib/intcam/easttimor/index.html. Human Rights Watch’s coverage may be found at www.hrw. org/wr2k1/asia/etimor.html. 23. Letter, Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs to Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, 15 November 1994, MFAT file 318/1/18, released under the Official Information Act. 24. Vernon Small, “Kiwis Dislike Our East Timor Policy”, National Business Review, 3 February 1994, p. 11. 25. For a detailed and perceptive account of the Indonesian leaders’ debate on East Timor policy, see Don Greenlees and Robert Garran, Deliverance: The Inside Story of East Timor’s Fight for Freedom (Crow’s Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2002). 26. New Zealand Defence Force: Deployment to East Timor (Wellington: Report of the Controller and Auditor-General, the Audit Office, November 2001), p. 12. The authorizing instrument was CDF Directive 24/99. 27. A thorough account of INTERFET and its successor UNTAET is provided by Michael G. Smith, Peacekeeping in East Timor (Boulder: Lynne Rienner for the International Peace Academy, 2003). 28. As at December 2000 32 states had sent a total of 7,893 peacekeepers or military observers to East Timor. Ibid., Annex C. 29. Journal of the House of Representatives (Hansard), 17 September 1999, pp. 19461– 699. 30. Deborah Hill, “Government Wins Approval for Handling of APEC and Timor”, National Business Review, 1 October 1999, p. 18. 31. Herald DigiPoll reported in New Zealand Herald, 6 October 1999.

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32. The story of the New Zealand deployment and activities is told by Crawford and Harper, Operation East Timor. 33. There, the following year, Private Leonard Manning was killed in a gunfight, one of only two UNTAET combat casualties. A militia member was later convicted by an Indonesian court for manslaughter. 34. On UNTAET’s mission and activities, see www.un.org/peace/etimor/etimor. htm. 35. The Coalition’s website may be found at http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~stu/fret/. Peace Movement Aotearoa also publicized the East Timorese cause. See www. converge.org.nz/pma/east.htm. 36. New Zealand sent an observer mission to this election, led by MP Rick Barker. 37. I am indebted to Michael Green, then New Zealand’s Ambassador to Indonesia, for information on early contacts. 38. Full details of aims, programmes, projects, and funding are available at www.nzaid. govt.nz. 39. For the Minister of Defence Mark Burton’s statement on the occasion, see www. beehive.govt.nz/ViewDocument.cfm?DocumentID=15500. 40. “New Zealand Defence Force Contribution to East Timor: Background Paper” (Wellington: International Defence Relations Branch, Defence Policy and Planning Unit, New Zealand Defence Force/Ministry of Defence, November 2002), kindly provided by Natasha van Dusschoten. 41. The figure is approximate because some personnel served two or even three tours of duty and for different lengths of time. Official briefing papers noted that 50 per cent of the Army was either deployed, preparing to deploy, or reorganizing on return from deployment at any given time. 42. Calculated by NZDF Resources Branch as funds separately appropriated over and above savings from cancelled activities and allowances paid through the Ministry of Social Development, but not including UN reimbursement. 43. For a NZDF perspective, see Observations from New Zealand Forces in East Timor (NZFOREM) September 1999–March 2003, prepared by the Lessons Learned Cell, J8 Branch, Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand (Wellington: NZDF, June 2003) and “Strategic and Military Lessons from East Timor”, New Zealand Centre for Strategic Studies briefing papers, vol. 2, part 1 (February 2000) at www2.vuw. ac.nz/css/docs/briefing_papers/ET.html.

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For political and other lessons learned, see James Cotton, “Against the Grain: The East Timor Intervention”, Survival, vol. 43, no. 1 (Spring 2002), pp. 127–42; Stephen Hoadley, “Lessons from New Zealand’s Engagement with East Timor 1999–2003”, New Zealand International Review, vol. XXVIII, no. 3 (May/June 2003), pp. 20–23; Smith, Peacekeeping in East Timor; and the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations website, Peacekeeping Best Practices Unit, www. un.org/Depts/dpko/lessons/PBPUAbout.htm. 44. For a summary of current policy, see www.mfat.govt.nz, East Timor country page.

Reproduced from Southeast Asia and New Zealand: A History of Regional and Bilateral Relations, edited by Anthony L. Smith (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2005). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at 145 6. Uneasy Partners: New Zealand and Indonesia < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

6

UNEASY PARTNERS: NEW ZEALAND AND INDONESIA M I C H A E L

G R E E N

Introduction Despite its size and relative proximity to New Zealand, Indonesia has often seemed more distant and less influential than countries further afield. Early recognition of Indonesia’s independence promoted positive, if shallow, political ties but bilateral relations remained less substantial than with Southeast Asian countries which shared New Zealand’s British connections, though they achieved independence much later. Development assistance delivered through the Colombo Plan was the core of bilateral relations for the first decade. Until the mid-1970s, trade was negligible and defence contacts were rare. Well into the 1980s relations were conducted essentially by a small number of government officials on both sides.1 Impressions of Sukarno’s Indonesia were shaped by the presence of Colombo Plan trainees, by the influence of Indo-Dutch migrants no longer welcome there, and by press reports increasingly focused on Indonesia’s political and economic turmoil and foreign policy

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adventurism. Australia’s perspectives were important to policy-makers who, though not always accepting Australian interpretations, were reluctant to act in ways Canberra might construe as disregarding its strategic concerns about Indonesia. Official disillusionment grew with Sukarno’s efforts to wrest control of West New Guinea from the Dutch, and was compounded by “Confrontation”, the campaign to destabilize the Federation of Malaysia. The potential of the relationship was more fully realized in the Suharto era. The two governments forged a rounded relationship comprising political links, development assistance, trade and economic ties, diplomatic coordination on regional problems, defence cooperation and a range of people-to-people contacts. Persistent underlying tensions, reflecting New Zealanders’ discomfort with the authoritarian character of the Indonesian government, were generally held in check by realpolitik calculations of New Zealand’s interests. Not until the 1990s did public disquiet about Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor, and a sense that stagnation in Indonesia’s leadership made engagement less productive, feed a new wave of disillusionment.

The Impact of Indonesia’s Independence Struggle Nationalist resistance to the resumption of Dutch administration of the Netherlands East Indies (NEI) after World War II drew the New Zealand government’s attention to a territory in which it had previously shown little interest. Before the war New Zealand had received occasional British reports on NEI political and economic developments, and rare consular cases were dealt with on its behalf by British officials.2 Economic links were modest: the NEI was ranked second among nonBritish Empire sources of imports through most of the 1930s but the volume was small (averaging about 3.5 per cent of total imports).3 After war broke out New Zealand Ministers maintained contacts with the Dutch administration-in-exile but showed little interest in the post-war status of the territory, unlike Australian Ministers, who were more attuned to Indonesian nationalist aspirations and to their implications for Australia. Within weeks of Japan’s surrender, New Zealand Ministers were obliged to seek information from the British to help deal with the

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refusal by Wellington watersiders, acting in sympathy with Indonesian nationalists and Australian unions, to load Dutch ships carrying supplies to Java.4 In November 1945, officials of the Department of External Affairs examined the issues for the first time, concluding that New Zealand’s security would be best served by an “enduring settlement” that left “no seeds of conflict” and produced a “soundly administered, prosperous and friendly” NEI. They asked whether so serious a matter should be left to the Dutch and Indonesians to resolve or addressed through a United Nations (UN) Trusteeship, and came down on the side of UN action to ensure the future welfare of the native peoples. But they qualified New Zealand’s support for self-determination in Indonesia out of gratitude for Dutch sacrifices during the war, and because they perceived Indonesia’s nationalist movement to be tainted by Japanese sponsorship. They did not consider recognizing the Netherlands as the lawful authority to imply opposition to full political development of the Indonesian peoples, but believed this should be evolutionary.5 Throughout 1946 and the first half of 1947 the New Zealand government followed developments in the NEI through reports from the British, Australian and Dutch governments and, less frequently, from Indonesian nationalist sources. Official New Zealand comment was rare, and little policy work was undertaken on the implications for New Zealand. Only when the Dutch initiated military action against the Java-based Republic of Indonesia did the New Zealand government express its views, first endorsing British warnings to the Dutch against the military option, and then supporting Australia’s decision to take the matter to the UN Security Council.6 New Zealand had to define its position towards Indonesia more precisely once the Republic of Indonesia began to seek membership in UN bodies. In August 1947 the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) adopted an Indian-sponsored draft resolution advocating membership in the proposed International Trade Organisation for the Republic, even though it was under military challenge from the Dutch. New Zealand abstained but when the issue seemed likely to be re-opened, instructed its delegation to vote in favour of Indonesian participation without voting rights. Political considerations and Indonesia’s potential

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contribution to trade were considered to justify support, even though the legal position was debatable.7 This approach was carried forward to the UN Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE). At its second session in 1948, the Republic of Indonesia submitted an application for associate membership. The Netherlands, though not in control of the territory administered by the Republic, insisted that it was responsible for Indonesia’s international relations and submitted an application for associate membership covering the whole territory. ECAFE members could not agree, and twice deferred consideration. At the fourth session, New Zealand suggested that it should be possible for the area to be represented without attempting to judge the political situation, and argued that it was desirable to facilitate ECAFE’s work on serious economic problems. A New Zealand resolution to admit both the Republic and the rest of Indonesia was subsequently adopted.8 In December 1948 the Dutch launched a second “police action” against the Republic of Indonesia, capturing the Republican capital, Yogyakarta, and arresting its leaders, including Sukarno and Muhammad Hatta, who were sent into internal exile. Acting Prime Minister Walter Nash issued a press release regretting these developments, implicitly criticizing the Dutch for breaking agreements, and suggesting that truce violations should have been referred to the UN Security Council. Nash had received a lengthy justification of military action from the Dutch Legation but was not swayed by it, possibly because an External Affairs analysis of the Dutch arguments was more sympathetic to the Republic.9 In response to the new Dutch “police action” the Indian government convened a conference of regional countries to discuss the situation. Concerned about the implications of participation on other important relationships, New Zealand Prime Minister Peter Fraser gave the designated External Affairs observer, Foss Shanahan, a restrictive brief: he could “speak at discretion but not put forward resolutions, accept office or play a directing role, nor vote”.10 New Zealand’s main interest was defined as ensuring the settlement of the dispute in accordance with UN Charter principles and without weakening the United Nations. Shanahan could regret the recourse to force but not condemn the Dutch.

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If the conference established follow-up mechanisms, New Zealand was not to be represented. Shanahan was to reserve New Zealand’s position on any move to create an Asian grouping. Shanahan was unable to get to India in time. New Zealand’s trade representative in Bombay, J. Inglis, acted for him. Fraser’s concerns about the conference proved to be unfounded. Three resolutions were adopted. They did not condemn the Dutch but kept the main focus on UN action, asserting that the conference was intended to support and facilitate solutions through the United Nations. These resolutions were transmitted to the UN Security Council President as soon as the conference ended. Efforts to establish a secretariat to ensure active followup did not succeed. Though Inglis did not speak, the Indonesians and Indians were pleased at New Zealand’s attendance.11 A UN Security Council resolution in January 1949 demanding reinstatement of the Republican government in Indonesia did not bring the two sides back to the negotiating table. Fraser supported British proposals to encourage the Dutch to implement the resolution. He believed that the Dutch, rather than the Indonesians, had the primary responsibility to act. After a meeting of New Delhi conference participants during the resumed third session of the UN General Assembly in March, New Zealand supported an initiative by Australia and India to inscribe an agenda item on the situation in Indonesia. The aim was to support the Security Council and to impress upon the Dutch the strength of international opinion. The Dutch were told that this stance was not hostile but reflected New Zealand’s desire to see an early and just settlement. New Zealand did not speak but voted for the successful inscription motion. Substantive consideration of the item was deferred by the General Assembly after the Dutch and Indonesians agreed to re-start talks in early May 1949.12 A Round Table Conference met in the Hague from 23 August until 2 November, attended by the Dutch, the Republic, and representatives of the federal states set up by the Dutch after their “police actions”. After difficult negotiations, agreement was reached on the establishment of an independent federal state, the Republic of the United States of Indonesia (RUSI). In December New Zealand voted in favour of a General Assembly resolution welcoming the Hague conference outcome.13

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In the four years between the end of World War II and the Hague settlement, New Zealand’s attitude towards Indonesian independence moved from ambivalent acceptance of the possibility to almost unconditional support. The initial ambivalence was conditioned by concerns about the implications for peace and stability in the Pacific region, by gratitude for Dutch sacrifices during the war, by doubts about the readiness of Indonesians for self-government, and by reluctance to part company with the British, whose interests as a major colonial power inclined them to support the Dutch. As events unfolded, New Zealand gave greater weight to its future relations and reputation with the newly independent countries of Asia, and became more supportive of Australian activism on Indonesia, which reflected different assessments of the risks to regional stability from those of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Dutch policies, especially military actions against the Republic, gradually eroded support for them among New Zealand policy-makers and encouraged a more sympathetic view of Indonesia’s nationalists. Consistent throughout the shifts in New Zealand’s thinking was a desire to see the United Nations playing an effective role in dealing with the Indonesian question: New Zealand’s sole initiative was taken in a UN forum.

Recognition and Initial Contact The Hague settlement re-opened the question of recognition. This had first been raised by the Australians in July 1947 after an initial but ultimately abortive agreement between the Dutch and the Republic. It had re-surfaced during a visit to Wellington in October 1948 by Dr Usman Sastroamidjojo, de facto representative of the Republic of Indonesia in Australia, to whom officials had given a non-committal but sympathetic response. In mid-December 1949, South Africa proposed that all Commonwealth countries recognize Indonesia before the Colombo Conference in January 1950. New Zealand agreed on 22 December, the same day it received an invitation from Indonesian Prime Minister Muhammad Hatta to be represented at the transfer of sovereignty ceremonies on 27 December. Time constraints ruled this out but New Zealand Prime Minister, Sidney Holland, sent a goodwill

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message to Hatta welcoming Indonesia into “the world family of nations”, and hoping for “friendly and co-operative relations”. On 11 January 1950 Hatta formally advised Holland of the formation of the RUSI, sending some material about the constitution and the Cabinet. On 24 January Hatta wrote again to convey “warm appreciation” for New Zealand’s de jure recognition and for New Zealand’s role in securing Indonesia’s associate membership of ECAFE. He also proposed an exchange of legations. Holland’s acknowledgment of this letter on 17 February 1950 completed the formalities of New Zealand recognition.14 After reports that New Zealand’s absence from the Jakarta ceremonies had caused offence in Indonesia, Minister of External Affairs F.W. Doidge told newspapers that New Zealand had not been invited. When the Dutch Legation asked that a public correction be issued, Secretary of External Affairs A.D. McIntosh suggested that Doidge visit Jakarta in January as part of a trip to the Colombo Conference. Hatta welcomed the idea and Doidge’s visit took place on 21–23 January. He called on Sukarno and Hatta, and two Cabinet Ministers.15 Doidge’s faux pas had a fortunate outcome. The New Zealand government had been content before then to rest on the formalities of recognition, into which it had been led by Commonwealth solidarity rather than its own initiative. Doidge’s visit established direct political contacts much sooner than previously indicated. The warmth of his reception and his delegation’s favourable impressions of Indonesia and its leaders launched the bilateral relationship very positively.

Technical Assistance and the Colombo Plan In a press statement before leaving Jakarta, Doidge mentioned the possibility of New Zealand technical assistance and an offer of two fellowships for study in New Zealand of “some form of administrative or academic activity which might be of value for the development of Indonesia”. For much of the next decade development assistance was the principal connection between the two countries. At first, New Zealand contributed experts to UN programmes in Indonesia, especially the UN Technical Assistance Board which had a senior External Affairs officer,

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J.S. Reid, as its Resident Representative from December 1952 until December 1953.16 After Jakarta’s decision to join the Colombo Plan in 1953, New Zealand quickly extended its Colombo Plan assistance to Indonesia.17 Following an exploratory visit in March 1953, the government allocated £300,000, with £128,000 for the capital costs of establishing a technical trade training centre (increased by another £100,000 the following year) and the balance for projects to be negotiated with the Indonesian government. Within the first year of Indonesian participation in the Colombo Plan technical assistance scheme New Zealand experts were being dispatched to Indonesia, and Indonesian trainees to New Zealand. By April 1956, nine New Zealand experts had served in Indonesia and 20 Indonesians had received training in New Zealand. Student numbers from Indonesia increased markedly in 1956–57, to 41. From the beginning there was a sectoral emphasis on health and education. An Indonesian dental mission to New Zealand in 1953 led to the reorganization of the Indonesian School Dental Service along New Zealand lines. A visit to Indonesia by New Zealand’s Director of Dental Health in 1957 led to short-term courses in New Zealand for Indonesian dental nurses and dentists teaching in the Jakarta School for Dental Nurses. Other dental study visits continued at intervals until 1970. A major commitment, which arose out of a visit by Indonesia’s Secretary General of Education early in 1956, was a programme under which New Zealand teachers were sent to different regions of Indonesia to improve the quality of English language teaching at teacher training institutions. The first group arrived early in 1957. Within three years ten New Zealand teachers were working in Java, Sumatra, and Sulawesi.18 Serious balance of payments problems obliged the New Zealand government to reduce its total Colombo Plan budget to £750,000 in the 1957–58 financial year. Although it was restored to £1 million in the following year, the financial situation made it more difficult for New Zealand to offer capital grants. Colombo Plan programmes were reoriented towards technical assistance, considered to be the most effective and economical way for New Zealand to contribute to overseas development. This shift in emphasis also led the government to establish

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special training facilities and residential accommodation in New Zealand for the growing numbers of Colombo Plan trainees, who were taxing the resources of existing tertiary education facilities.19

Official Representation In 1957 the practical difficulties of administering assistance programmes from New Zealand, even with support from the British Embassy in Jakarta, led the government to establish a Colombo Plan office there to coordinate New Zealand activities under the Plan and to administer and support New Zealand experts seconded to Indonesia. The office was funded from New Zealand’s Colombo Plan allocation and its supervisor treated as an expert assigned under the technical assistance scheme. This step prompted the Indonesians to accredit their Embassy in Canberra to New Zealand. Dr A.Y. Helmi presented credentials as Indonesian Minister to New Zealand in June 1958. New Zealand’s diplomatic and consular interests in Indonesia continued to be managed through the British Embassy in Jakarta. But New Zealand officials saw that reliance on communication through the British in Jakarta and the Indonesians in Canberra had limitations: [I]f we only wish to know what is happening in the Republic, existing arrangements are adequate. If we wish to attempt to influence events there or to have any role in shaping Western attitudes towards the Republic then consideration could be given to New Zealand representation in Djakarta.20

Differences Over West New Guinea The case of West New Guinea illustrated these limitations. The dispute over West New Guinea existed because the Dutch and Indonesians had failed to agree on the status of the territory during the Hague Roundtable Conference in 1949. The Dutch wanted to keep it as a colony. The Indonesians claimed it as part of Indonesia. The issue had almost derailed the final agreement, which was only reached by setting aside West New Guinea’s status temporarily. The parties were given a year to find a solution. While the Dutch and Indonesians negotiated, New Zealand officials stayed closely in touch with British and Australian thinking to

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help define New Zealand’s policy. They concluded that New Zealand’s interests would best be served by continuing Dutch sovereignty or by Dutch administration of West New Guinea under UN Trusteeship. The rationale was partly strategic, partly legal, and partly ethnic. The strategic element reflected Australian concerns about the threat to their security if the territory adjacent to Australian New Guinea fell into unfriendly hands, but also a desire to keep European powers involved in the South Pacific. Legal opinion held that the Dutch claim to the territory was at least as strong as Indonesia’s. The ethnic argument was that the Melanesians of West New Guinea were closer to peoples in the South Pacific than to Indonesians. Moreover, having little political consciousness and being economically backward, they would benefit more from administration by an advanced country like the Netherlands than from Indonesian control, given Indonesia’s post-independence developmental challenges.21 The issue was never as prominent for New Zealand as for Australia but gave rise occasionally to official comment, as in early 1954 when the government rejected Jakarta news media claims that Dutch troops were training in New Zealand before deployment to West New Guinea. New Zealand had to take a more active interest after the Indonesians placed the matter before the UN General Assembly in 1954, not least because both sides lobbied hard for its support. To the consternation of the Dutch and Australians, New Zealand did not oppose inclusion of an agenda item on West New Guinea, as Minister of External Affairs T.C. Webb was reluctant to see any issue barred from UN General Assembly consideration. But Webb promised them “active support” on the substance. He saw the key issue as the welfare of the peoples of West New Guinea. Accordingly, New Zealand’s delegation asserted that Dutch sovereignty continued and should be respected; that this was not a colonial issue but a territorial claim; that without a threat to peace, the General Assembly could not intervene in a territorial dispute; that the interests of the inhabitants of the territory were paramount, and the Netherlands was better able than Indonesia to advance these; and that the Netherlands was acting consistently with the UN Charter while Indonesia was not. A draft resolution submitted by eight non-aligned

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countries recalled the failure to resolve the status of West New Guinea at the Hague Conference, expressed the hope that the parties would reach a solution in conformity with the UN Charter, and invited a report to the Tenth Session of the UNGA. New Zealand voted against it and seems to have inspired a ruling by the UNGA President that a two-thirds majority was needed for it to be adopted. Falling short of this, the resolution was defeated. Indonesian diplomats regretted New Zealand’s stance, which they attributed to incomplete understanding of Indonesia’s case. They hoped that closer relations would overcome this.22 At the 1955 UNGA session New Zealand unsuccessfully proposed deferral of inscription of an agenda item on West New Guinea, but later co-sponsored a procedural resolution welcoming the resumption of talks between Indonesia and the Netherlands. Between these two votes, Minister of External Affairs T.L. Macdonald visited Jakarta, where he was pressed to reconsider New Zealand’s stance. Events tilted New Zealand’s sympathies in the other direction. In February 1956, following the failure of the talks, Indonesia’s relations with the Netherlands deteriorated sharply, leading to repudiation of all debts owed to the Netherlands. Anticipating a more difficult phase in the United Nations, New Zealand’s briefing for the 1956 UNGA speculated about Indonesian expansionism if the West New Guinea campaign succeeded: Portuguese Timor, British Sarawak, North Borneo, and possibly eastern (Australian) New Guinea might all be vulnerable. New Zealand’s tougher stance showed in a speech questioning whether Indonesia really supported the aspirations of the peoples of West New Guinea whose cause it claimed to espouse, and in votes against inscription and against the substantive resolution, which again failed to secure a two-thirds majority.23 With the Indonesians hinting at direct action if the General Assembly failed them again, and the Dutch and Australians having agreed to enhance cooperation in developing their respective New Guinea territories, this harder New Zealand line was carried forward to the 1957 UNGA session, at which New Zealand’s Permanent Representative, L.K. Munro, was President. Indonesia suggested that, in this capacity, Munro might assist the parties to resolve the dispute. He declined after the Dutch demurred. The draft resolution offered this mediating role to the UN Secretary General instead. This draft attracted considerable

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support but was defeated by the two-thirds majority rule when voted upon at the end of November. New Zealand spoke and voted against it. Two days after the vote, Indonesia introduced measures against Dutch nationals and properties. By the end of January 1958 10,000 Dutch nationals had left Indonesia; many Dutch-owned utilities had been nationalized; and other properties were under government control though not formally expropriated. New Zealand officials thought diplomatic relations between Indonesia and the Netherlands might be severed. They speculated that anti-European violence might require evacuation of New Zealanders from Indonesia and acceptance in New Zealand, on humanitarian grounds, of expelled Dutch nationals.24 Indonesia decided against raising West New Guinea at the 1958 UNGA session. President Sukarno hinted at more direct measures to win the territory, saying that reason and persuasion had failed. Early in 1959 media reports suggested that Indonesia was readying an armed invasion of West New Guinea. Officials in Wellington took a measured view of the situation, recognizing as elements in Jakarta’s calculations the growing unease about West New Guinea in Dutch domestic opinion, the ambiguity of US policy, Indonesia’s military limitations, and the potential for changes in UNGA voting patterns. But, pressed by Australia and the Netherlands to take a firm line on West New Guinea, they prepared with some trepidation for the visit of Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Subandrio in February 1959.s The visit went smoothly. Subandrio spoke persuasively of Indonesian goodwill towards New Zealand, which he described to Prime Minister Nash as “a European community living in Asia, in close touch with Asia and with Australia — a community which could work out a special relationship with Asian countries”. When asked why Indonesia would want West New Guinea, Subandrio said this was not a matter for rational decision but was “historical, emotional and political”. He insisted that Indonesia’s policy was not expansionist, and ruled out resort to force. The communiqué at the end of the visit contained one paragraph on West New Guinea, a New Zealand draft which the Indonesians accepted with little attempt at negotiation: “An exchange of views took place on the problem of West New Guinea (West Irian). The Indonesian and New Zealand governments would welcome any settlement of this and other

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problems by peaceful means and in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter”.26

Colombo Plan Assistance: Growth and Problems The Nash/Subandrio communiqué put most emphasis on the Colombo Plan and its benefits, noting that “the most extensive and rewarding contacts” between New Zealand and Indonesia took place within this framework, and agreeing on the desirability of extending Colombo Plan cooperation.27 In November 1959 Prime Minister Nash led the New Zealand delegation to the Colombo Plan Consultative Committee meeting in Yogyakarta. After the conference he stayed in Indonesia for five days as a State guest, travelling extensively in Java, holding talks with the President and leading Ministers, and opening a Jakarta asbestoscement board factory built with a New Zealand Colombo Plan capital grant of £100,000.28 A 1960 survey showed that New Zealand had sent 29 experts to Indonesia, more than to any other country. Most worked in the education sector. Indonesia ranked second behind Malaya in Colombo Plan awards taken up for training in New Zealand, 99 in total. Many Indonesian students had inadequate English. Teaching of English had been a pillar of New Zealand technical assistance to Indonesia since 1957 but teachers in this programme did not work directly with Indonesians going to study in New Zealand. Because similar problems arose among other nationalities, as more countries joined the Colombo Plan and the numbers studying in New Zealand increased, the government established an English Language Institute (ELI) at Victoria University, Wellington in 1961. The first intake for the teachers’ course included 33 Indonesians, all of whom graduated. Indonesians filled a high proportion of places in subsequent courses. The shift towards training English teachers in New Zealand hastened the end of the English language project in Indonesia. Participants had always faced resource constraints and difficult working and living conditions, especially as the political situation became more disturbed. An Indonesian policy change in 1962 discontinued English language training at teachers’ colleges and introduced university level programmes for which New Zealand was unable to supply adequate

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numbers of properly qualified experts. As team members left Indonesia, they were not replaced. By March 1964 only one remained.29 Problems beset New Zealand’s capital assistance. The 1959 Colombo Plan Visiting Mission cautioned against any more capital grants, because Indonesia could not guarantee the counterpart funds for full and continuous operations. Results from most capital grants were poor. Construction of the vocational training centre near Malang had been slow, and the installation of equipment had begun only after New Zealand assigned a resident adviser. The Labour Ministry’s inability to provide stipends for students saw their numbers fall inexorably until, in August 1960, a centre that could train 250 had only 42 students (and a staff of more than 50). Prime Minister Holyoake wrote to Subandrio to complain about this. The asbestos plant opened by Nash never attempted continuous production because asbestos was not readily available. £180,000 allocated in 1961 to establish an agricultural faculty at the University of Northern Sumatra in Medan remained unspent, even though a New Zealand agricultural expert had been assigned to the university as a technical adviser.30

Representation Upgraded In February 1961 the Colombo Plan office in Jakarta was raised to Consulate General status. As originally established, the office did not fit the “normal structure of inter-governmental relations”, and concerns grew that the “quite irregular” use of Colombo Plan funds to support the office supervisor might open New Zealand to criticism by Indonesia or other Colombo Plan members. Moreover, Indonesian officials increasingly approached the supervisor about political and economic issues beyond his mandate. Referring inquirers to the British Embassy annoyed them and gave a false idea of New Zealand–United Kingdom relations. Officials also believed that political and strategic considerations were likely to play a larger role in relations with Indonesia: It is the scene of a major struggle for influence between the Communist and the Western powers. It is engaged with the Netherlands (and Australia) in a dispute over the future of West New Guinea which could in certain circumstances result in war. In a very few years it will emerge as a force which New Zealand will have to take very seriously, as Australia already does.31

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These concerns made it important to have broader contacts with Indonesia so that New Zealand might “have some chance of influencing Indonesian policy in directions favourable to ourselves and to the Western position generally”. The change in status was announced on 7 April 1961, together with the appointment of a former Member of Parliament, Duncan Rae, as first Consul General. In January 1963 Prime Minister Keith Holyoake announced a further upgrading to Legation status, with Rae designated Chargé d’Affairs. Staff living and working conditions became increasingly difficult as domestic economic deterioration fed political instability and Indonesia’s international campaigns to take over West New Guinea and to prevent the establishment of Malaysia fostered anti-Western feelings with Indonesia.32

West New Guinea: New Tensions, New Initiatives In April 1960 the Dutch unexpectedly took steps to strengthen their West New Guinea garrison, including the dispatch of an aircraft carrier. Indonesia responded by declaring a prohibited zone in waters around the territory, and circulated protests at the United Nations. New Zealand officials took a fairly unsympathetic view of a Dutch request to make representations in Jakarta, attributing Indonesian restiveness to inept Dutch handling of the reinforcement rather than to aggressive intentions. In August Indonesia broke diplomatic relations with the Netherlands.33 As these events unfolded, Prime Minister Nash visited Europe, including the Netherlands. His brief on West New Guinea questioned New Zealand’s longstanding policy of outright support for the Dutch/ Australian stand because this risked damaging relationships with Southeast Asian countries, aligned New Zealand with a “colonialist” minority in a changing United Nations, and seemed likely to end in conflict. Among several alternatives canvassed was establishment of an independent New Guinea, comprising both Dutch and Australian territories. This was considered the course most likely to appeal to the protagonists. Nash saw the visit as an opportunity to sound out the Dutch. How they reacted is not recorded but a mention of the idea by

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Nash at a press conference in The Hague prompted a clarifying press release by the Acting Prime Minister, a question in Parliament after his return, and inquiries from a puzzled Indonesian Ambassador in Canberra. Feedback from New Zealand’s friends and allies was not supportive.34 Any life this initiative retained was quickly extinguished by news that Malaya’s Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, had proposals for settling the dispute. There were three key points: West New Guinea would pass under UN Trusteeship; the joint administrators would be Ceylon, India, and Malaya; Indonesia and the Netherlands would re-establish relations, and Dutch properties and investments would be returned to their owners. A solution involving trusteeship had the potential to satisfy New Zealand’s requirement for self-determination but the Tunku’s insistence that cession to Indonesia should be the outcome was in conflict with New Zealand’s understanding of the purpose of the trusteeship system. The Tunku’s approach was more unpalatable to New Zealand because all three designated trustees supported Indonesia’s position. After Subandrio publicly attacked the proposal, Malaya withdrew it, and Malayan mediation was formally abandoned in April 1961.35 From early 1960 New Zealand became aware of Dutch plans to accelerate political developments in West New Guinea. A key element was the establishment of a New Guinea Council with a mix of legislative, advisory, and policy functions. Half its members were to be elected. New Zealand accepted an invitation to the opening session, including a Samoan Minister in its delegation to underline its view that this event marked a significant step towards self-government in the South Pacific, not a ploy in the Indonesia/Netherlands dispute. Indonesia, seeing things differently, severed all remaining links to the Netherlands.36 Indications that the new US Administration was taking an interest in West New Guinea, and leaning towards its transfer to Indonesia, led New Zealand in mid-1961 to review its stance. Perceiving that the Dutch were seeking a way out, officials concluded that New Zealand policy should give more weight to acquiescence in any solution acceptable to the Dutch and Indonesians. Shortly before the UNGA session the Dutch asked New Zealand and other friendly countries to support an initiative foreshadowing termination of Dutch sovereignty after a period of trusteeship to prepare Papuans for an act of self-

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determination. Most governments they consulted discouraged the idea, believing Indonesia would not agree. New Zealand’s positive response was qualified, emphasizing the importance of careful preparation. Driven by domestic disenchantment, the Dutch pressed ahead in New York and were rebuffed by Indonesia. New Zealand supported the Dutch through a complicated series of UNGA manouevres over competing draft resolutions which ended with none being adopted. Reports from Jakarta after this UNGA stalemate seemed to foreshadow Indonesian military measures. As part of the intense diplomatic efforts to prevent this, Prime Minister Holyoake appealed directly to President Sukarno, who argued in reply that there was no prospect of compromise with the Dutch without military pressure.37 Consultations with friendly governments indicated a broad shift towards acceptance that West New Guinea would have to be ceded to Indonesia. Attention turned to transfer mechanisms that would safeguard the rights of Papuans. In January 1962 a naval clash off West New Guinea, in which the Dutch sank an Indonesian torpedo boat, stimulated new diplomatic activity designed to bring about mediation under the auspices of the UN Secretary General. The United States, increasingly concerned that failure to resolve West New Guinea’s status gave opportunities to the Indonesian Communist Party and its international supporters to draw Indonesia away from the West, sent Attorney General Robert Kennedy as an envoy to Jakarta and The Hague. Holyoake welcomed the announcement in March that talks were to begin. US diplomat Ellsworth Bunker acted as moderator, but progress was slow. Both Dutch and Indonesians were unhappy with aspects of Bunker’s approach and displeased with pressure from other governments to settle. At one point the Dutch suggested to Deputy Prime Minister Jack Marshall that New Zealand’s stance was not helpful in the context of its concerns about British entry into the European Economic Community (EEC).38

The Issue Resolved Agreement was reached in August. A UN-supervised transfer to Indonesia would commence on 1 May 1963. An act of self-determination would be held in 1969, with UN preparations for it beginning one year before.

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Indonesia and the Netherlands would resume diplomatic relations from the date of signature. New Zealand media comment was generally negative but Holyoake welcomed the agreement in a statement that gave considerable weight to its provisions on the rights of Papuans to choose their destiny. New Zealand joined the 89 UN members who voted in favour of a UNGA resolution which noted the agreement and authorized the Secretary General to carry out his responsibilities under it, but fourteen African countries abstained in protest at the failure to consult Papuans about the transfer of sovereignty. Their criticisms led the Indonesian representative, whose speech had made no reference to self-determination, to state that self-determination in West New Guinea would not be the same as in other countries. With US logistical support, the transfer of responsibility to the United Nations went smoothly, but the Indonesians began to press for a handover date earlier than 1 May 1963. New Zealand did not join other governments in making representations in Jakarta, nor did it give much consideration to steps that might be taken if Indonesia did not observe the terms of the agreement, as was considered likely. But, perhaps as a signal of disapproval of Indonesian behaviour, Prime Minister Holyoake chose not to issue a statement to mark the formal transfer of West New Guinea (now called West Irian) to Indonesian administration.39 As had happened with Indonesia’s independence struggle, New Zealand’s approach to West New Guinea changed over time. From solid support of the Dutch position, New Zealand came to acquiesce in the transfer of sovereignty to Indonesia. A significant difference from the earlier episode was the impact on New Zealand attitudes towards Indonesia. The independence struggle had ended with New Zealand critical of Dutch policies and quite positive about Indonesia. Long before the resolution of the West New Guinea issue, Indonesia’s recourse to threats and infiltration, and its evident disregard for the interests of West Papuan peoples, had alienated New Zealand sympathies. New Zealand went along with the transfer of sovereignty because there was no alternative once the Dutch decided to withdraw and the Americans intervened to shape the deal. An administering power itself, New Zealand believed that the economic, social and political development of the territory’s peoples

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would be better guaranteed by Dutch control than by Indonesian, which it considered likely to substitute one colonialism for another. But even with decolonization of its own dependent territories in prospect, New Zealand’s support for self-government and independence for West New Guinea was somewhat equivocal, perhaps because it considered Papuans to be culturally and in other ways less ready. As in the independence struggle, New Zealand was essentially an observer, not actively engaged. Though sometimes privately critical of Australian security fears, New Zealand Ministers and officials acknowledged Australia’s more direct interests and were reluctant to act in ways likely to upset Canberra: on two occasions when they did — supporting inscription of a UNGA agenda item in 1954, and Nash’s initiative in 1960 — Australia was predictably displeased. Similarly, occasional differences of view with the Dutch over tactics did not weaken New Zealand support for their objectives. New Zealand’s need for Dutch support over UK entry to the EEC may have muted later differences over tactics but by then the Dutch were committed to finding an honourable exit from West New Guinea.

“Confrontation” Increases Disillusionment The concurrent emergence of “Konfrontasi”, the Indonesian campaign against the formation of the Federation of Malaysia, sharpened the growing sense of disillusionment with Indonesia in New Zealand. Indonesia had initially welcomed the proposal to bring Malaya (independent since 1957), Singapore (a self-governing colony), the Crown colonies of Sabah and Sarawak, and the protected State of Brunei into a new federation, but President Sukarno came to see it as a device to perpetuate European colonialism in Southeast Asia. Driven by the need for diversion from domestic economic and political problems, encouraged by revival of a Philippines claim to Sabah in 1962, and openly sympathetic to a rebellion in Brunei in the same year, Sukarno had Subandrio denounce the federation and declare Indonesia’s intention to “confront” it.40 The United Kingdom looked to Australia, New Zealand, and the United States for support. New Zealand had been engaged in the defence

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of Malaya for some years and had forces there with the Commonwealth Strategic reserve. It had developed a warm relationship with the Malayan government, underpinned by significant development assistance commitments, and welcomed the federation concept. But it hoped to avoid a major breach with Indonesia and did not want to become involved militarily without assurances of support, preferably through a security guarantee under ANZUS: as Holyoake said to an Australian Minister, “We have seen what happened to the Dutch when they could no longer count on anyone’s support against Indonesia”.41 US assurances were not forthcoming. Washington was increasingly focused on Vietnam, and viewed Malaysia as a Commonwealth responsibility. The Americans also worried that the UK approach of military deterrence would drive Sukarno, and ultimately Indonesia, into Communist hands.42 Clashes in Borneo between British and Indonesian forces broke out in April 1963. Diplomacy involving the leaders of Indonesia, Malaya, and the Philippines produced an agreement to support the establishment of the federation if an impartial “ascertainment” of opinion in the Borneo territories showed their peoples favoured it. This exercise, conducted by the United Nations, demonstrated majority support for the Federation but the British upset Indonesia by announcing the establishment date before the opinion survey was completed. On 15 September Prime Minister Holyoake welcomed the UN finding. Two days later he spoke in Parliament about New Zealand’s links with Malaysia. But Indonesia did not recognize the Federation, and the Philippines broke diplomatic relations with Kuala Lumpur. In Jakarta, after large demonstrations at the British and Malaysian embassies, Malaysian diplomatic and consular representatives were withdrawn. A mob attacked and burned the British Embassy. The reporting of these events in New Zealand prompted editorial comment highly critical of New Zealand “appeasement” and calling for a clear and specific commitment to defend Malaysia.43 The New Zealand government remained cautious about further commitments. Costs were a factor; so was preserving deployment options against American interest in contributions for Vietnam. On 19 September Holyoake told Parliament that no requests or proposals for use of New Zealand forces in Malaysia had been received. He turned aside a UK request to deploy New Zealand contingents within

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the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve against the Indonesian threat, although he later agreed to send them to the Thai-Malaysia border to free British units for service in Borneo, and hinted at further support if the situation deteriorated.44 A US diplomatic initiative to resolve the dispute led to a tripartite meeting in Bangkok. It ended in acrimony. Border incidents became more frequent and more serious. In April 1964 Holyoake, scheduled to visit Malaysia on his way to a SEATO Council meeting in Manila, decided also to visit Thailand and Indonesia. He insisted that, despite the close timing of his visits to Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta, he would not be “acting in any intermediary role whatsoever between the two leaders whose countries are so unhappily estranged”. His objective was simply to ensure that New Zealand’s policies were not misunderstood and that they were based on “positive, informed, and intelligent” interest in these countries. In Malaysia, he repeated his assurance that New Zealand “would not stand idly by” in the event of an attack on Malaysia, and that New Zealand would make forces available if circumstances demanded. He also publicized an offer of defence assistance to Malaysia, involving training of Malaysians over a two year period and supply of equipment valued at £270,000.45 In Jakarta Holyoake met Foreign Minister Subandrio, General Nasution, and President Sukarno. Subandrio and Nasution were “anxious to appear friendly to New Zealand” but Sukarno was “stand-offish” and “appeared to accept the role of a man who had embarked on a course from which he was unwilling to turn back”. He did not display “the old fire and personal charm”, was “tired and rather slow”, and did not respond to Holyoake’s attempts to probe beyond the superficialities of Indonesia’s position. Nasution, dismissing Confrontation as a political issue outside his competence, insisted that Indonesian forces in Borneo were not TNI personnel but volunteers they had trained. Subandrio acknowledged that Indonesian volunteers would respond to a government order to withdraw from Borneo but wanted to see progress in talks before that could happen. He and Nasution said they understood New Zealand’s defence obligations and military assistance to Malaysia, and that escalation of Confrontation could mean conflict with New Zealand. Subandrio gave the impression that he was keen to see negotiations

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resumed but, like Sukarno, held the Malaysians responsible for obduracy. They both accused the British and Malaysians of humiliating Indonesia by their approach to “ascertainment”, but Holyoake rejected Subandrio’s suggestion that another consultation be held.46 Facing negative press commentary after returning to New Zealand, Holyoake denied that his visit to Jakarta implied any policy change, repeating that he went to ensure New Zealand’s position was understood and to urge Indonesia to change its policy, and pointing out that New Zealand and Indonesia were not at war. But in September, after Indonesia extended infiltration operations from Borneo to East Malaysia, New Zealand agreed to deployment of its battalion against the infiltrators, as there were no other Commonwealth units in the vicinity of the landing. The Malaysian government declared a state of emergency and appealed to the UN Security Council, where the Soviet Union vetoed a draft resolution deploring Indonesia’s aggression, calling on the parties to refrain from the use of force and respect each others’ territorial integrity, and recommending a mechanism to resolve the issue. The British again sought commitments from Australia and New Zealand to facilitate military planning. New Zealand agreed, with conditions, but the urgency abated after the British and Malaysians received secret approaches from Indonesia. Jakarta had been alarmed by the lack of Afro-Asian support at the United Nations, the realization that only a Soviet veto had saved Indonesia from condemnation, and the show of force mounted by the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, at the end of October the Prime Minister announced that New Zealand troops had again been deployed against Indonesian infiltrators near Malacca. In December the New Zealand representative spoke out strongly against Indonesia and in support of Malaysia during the UNGA general debate.47 At the end of 1964 Indonesia announced its withdrawal from UN membership, following Malaysia’s election to the Security Council. Holyoake called this a “retrograde step … in the interests neither of the Organisation nor of the Indonesian people”. Indonesia, he said, “cannot simply contract out of its responsibilities to the international community”.48 Indications that the Indonesians had boosted their forces in Borneo, and Malaysian requests for military reinforcements, led Cabinet in January 1965 to offer additional assistance to Malaysia.49

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The New Zealand battalion in the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve was made available for operations in Borneo; a 40-strong detachment of SAS was also offered; so were naval crews for two British minesweepers in Malaysian waters, and two Bristol freighter aircraft then deployed in Thailand. In addition New Zealand offered more military equipment, mainly rifles, to the value of £130,000. The Prime Minister regretted that the dispatch of combat forces had become necessary but said it was a consequence of Indonesia’s withdrawal from the United Nations and its pursuit of the “Crush Malaysia” policy. The SAS unit began its tour of duty in late February; 1RNZIR deployed to Borneo in May. Both engaged in several skirmishes, inflicting numerous casualties without suffering any.50 Internal stresses in Malaysia caused Singapore to leave the Federation in August 1965, raising Indonesian hopes of success for its campaign, and causing concern in the United Kingdom about longer-term access to the Singapore base. This, and financial pressures to reduce the UK defence commitment east of Suez, made ending Confrontation more urgent. But abandoning Singapore and Malaysia while Indonesia still threatened them was unthinkable. A factor in keeping New Zealand and Australia committed was growing US hostility to Sukarno, which led Washington to see thwarting Confrontation as a key to discrediting his policies.

Bilateral Relations Fragile By 1965 New Zealand’s relations with Indonesia were at a low ebb. Confrontation had curtailed Colombo Plan activities. After January 1965 no New Zealand experts remained in Indonesia, and prospects of developing further projects looked bleak. Indonesian student numbers going to New Zealand had fallen from 40 in 1963–64 to 23 in 1964–65; English language teachers accounted for 22 and 17 places respectively. The following year, except for a small donation of books to the Medan agricultural faculty, there was no capital expenditure; no experts were assigned; no nominations were received for ten general study awards; and only 13 students left for New Zealand, all of them to ELI. Holyoake considered maintaining this remnant of Colombo Plan assistance important “as evidence of our wish to help the Indonesians

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in their task of national development, and as a basis on which, in more propitious circumstances, more varied forms of aid can be resumed”. He differentiated New Zealand’s opinion of Indonesian policy, which was “as misguided as it is sterile”, from its view of Indonesia’s people, towards whom “we in New Zealand retain warm feelings”.51 On Indonesia’s National Day, Holyoake was obliged by comment from an Indonesian source to issue a public denial that New Zealand intended to break diplomatic relations. But their value was increasingly in question. In mid-September the Head of Mission in Jakarta, “completely pessimistic” about Indonesia’s direction, suggested scaling down the post because all hopes behind its establishment had been dashed, and attempts at “influencing these crazy people from within” were futile.52

The End of Confrontation The failed coup in Jakarta on 30 September 1965 changed the landscape, though it took some time for its implications to become apparent. Holyoake’s only public comment was about the safety of New Zealanders in Jakarta. Early assessments by New Zealand officials focused on Confrontation. They saw nothing to suggest this policy would change unless a power struggle with the communists required the army to wind back Confrontation activities. They thought a positive outcome more likely if no public comment was made on Indonesia’s foreign policy and if military clashes could be avoided. This forbearance would make it hard for the communists to use Confrontation as a rallying point against the army. Before long the New Zealand government was advised of Indonesian army feelers seeking a standstill in place. Neither side would withdraw its forces from the Borneo border but neither would they initiate any military action. The Malaysian and Commonwealth forces intimated that they would not take advantage if the Indonesians had to re-deploy units for internal security and anti-communist tasks elsewhere in Indonesia.53 Although all of New Zealand’s friends considered Indonesian policies to be more realistic, Wellington doubted whether a Commonwealth peace initiative could succeed before Sukarno and Subandrio left the scene. Reporting from the post in Jakarta on domestic developments

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emphasized that Indonesia’s political situation was complex, with the outcome of the power struggle uncertain. Accordingly, despite expressing cautious optimism about Confrontation, and declaring itself “ready to respond” to Indonesian efforts to re-establish polices of goodwill, New Zealand renewed its programme of military assistance to Malaysia when it expired in March because “all the public statements by Indonesia’s leaders to date … have reaffirmed that confrontation will continue, and forces adequate to meet the threat to Malaysia must therefore be maintained”.54 In March, after Sukarno signed over executive authority to Suharto, Wellington rebuffed a proposal from New Zealand’s Minister in Jakarta, R.A. Lochore, to donate rice to Indonesia. McIntosh accepted Lochore’s contention that there was now “hope of stable, reasonable and responsible government”, and that Confrontation would wither away if the new government did not lose face over it, but felt it “wiser for us to sit tight and watch developments” because New Zealand did not have enough of a feel for the new authorities to contemplate initiatives. A similar caution marked the response to US suggestions that significant aid for Indonesia was desirable. External Affairs officials recognized Indonesia’s need for aid and the inevitability of requests for New Zealand contributions, but had “no particular enthusiasm for making a first move ourselves”, and would not act without clearer evidence that Confrontation was being scaled down.55 At the end of May 1966 Malaysian and Indonesian representatives agreed in principle in Bangkok to restore friendly relations. In welcoming the step Holyoake said that, if it led to the end of Confrontation, New Zealand forces would leave Borneo. July saw two more signals of improving bilateral relations: the government was represented at a conference in Tokyo on ways to overcome Indonesia’s economic problems, though it made no commitment to offer assistance or to take part in subsequent meetings; and the Prime Minister publicly welcomed the appointment of a new Indonesian Cabinet. The following month Indonesian and Malaysian Ministers signed an agreement in Jakarta formally ending Confrontation. Holyoake’s statement described Confrontation as “a wasteful diversion of energies and resources”, praised the “wiser and more statesmanlike counsels” now prevailing, commended the New Zealand

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forces for the role they had played, and foreshadowed their withdrawal. New Zealand looked forward, he said, to a full resumption of friendly contacts with Indonesia.56 There was never any doubt about which side of Confrontation New Zealand would support. The British and Commonwealth connections determined that, and New Zealand’s longstanding and close relations with Malaya and Singapore already had a strong defence component. Disenchantment with Indonesia’s behaviour over West New Guinea predisposed New Zealand to scepticism about Indonesia’s motivations in challenging the Malaysian federation. More striking in retrospect are New Zealand’s reluctance to commit militarily, and Holyoake’s insistent public differentiation between opposition to bad Indonesian policy and a desire for good relations with Indonesia’s peoples. The reluctance arose in part from parsimony and in part from managing the competing pressures of the United Kingdom and United States for military contributions to their respective Southeast Asian campaigns, a balancing act handled skilfully by Holyoake. The differentiation is less easily explained but perhaps reflected a belief that ordinary Indonesians were as much victims of Confrontation as culpable in it and that, with better leadership, they and their country had much to offer New Zealand.

Bilateral Engagement Resumed Re-engagement with Indonesia began on the basis of a long-term strategic assessment which gave Indonesia a critical place in regional stability because of its size, resources, geographical location and potential power. New Zealand’s interests lay in encouraging political and economic stability and moderation in Indonesian foreign policy. Because the new government’s policies pointed in those directions, it deserved support. There was no expectation of significant trade or economic benefit for New Zealand, given the parlous state of the Indonesian economy. The key point of engagement was again expected to be development assistance, though New Zealand’s ability to contribute was insignificant when measured against Indonesia’s needs, the more so as the New Zealand economy was again under severe foreign exchange pressure.57 The Prime Minister did not move quickly on the political

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relationship. In November 1966, he discouraged a proposal from the Speaker to invite an Indonesian Parliamentary delegation to New Zealand. In December he declined to raise the status of the post in Jakarta to Embassy. In September 1967, perhaps influenced by positive reactions of Parliamentary visitors to Indonesia, he accepted External Affairs’ argument that the time was right to demonstrate New Zealand’s interest in a fresh start with Indonesia, given its normalization of relations with Malaysia and Singapore. The change in status, and the reciprocal upgrading of Indonesia’s representation, was announced on 25 September, but New Zealand’s first Ambassador did not present credentials until March 1968.58 The previous month the New Zealand Minister of Defence, D.S. Thomson, had made the first Ministerial visit to Jakarta since Holyoake’s in 1964. Its purpose was to establish personal contact with Indonesia’s new leaders. Thomson, who was impressed by President Suharto and Foreign Minister Malik, felt his reception went beyond routine courtesy. This helped to consolidate a policy framework for re-engagement based on broadening bilateral political contacts, cooperating with Indonesia in regional organizations, ensuring that New Zealand’s defence policies in Southeast Asia were understood, and expanding aid activities as rapidly as New Zealand’s financial circumstances would allow.59

New Directions in Development Assistance The 1966 Colombo Plan mission to Southeast Asia visited Indonesia in December. It found the administration poorly coordinated and confused about priorities. High inflation discouraged capital aid, while security problems in large areas of the country made sending experts undesirable. The mission recommended increasing opportunities for study in New Zealand as well as providing books and equipment to under-funded educational institutions. But a new programme took shape only slowly. In March 1969 the Embassy reported the arrival of the first experts since 1964 but noted that capital grants remained very small while student and trainee numbers were not much greater than at the low-point year. The next year, for the first time under Indonesia’s new government, the full quota of study awards was taken up.60

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A major change in New Zealand’s foreign aid policy encouraged New Zealand private sector participation in capital assistance projects. New Zealand companies began to win contracts from international agencies for feasibility studies, consultancies and technical support in major infrastructural or sectoral development projects. They also identified project opportunities for implementation through New Zealand’s bilateral assistance programmes. Aid expenditure for Indonesia jumped from $91,000 in 1969/70 to $593,000 in 1970/71. Among projects funded were road surveys and design in Sumatra; upgrading of Jakarta’s water reticulation system; kiln drying of timber in Jakarta; livestock development in eastern Indonesia; seed testing at Bogor; English teaching at Yogyakarta; civil aviation assistance; and support for the Medan University agriculture faculty. Study awards for a wide range of degree and diploma courses in New Zealand were also funded from this amount. In the decade after the 1966 Colombo Plan mission, $12 million was spent on bilateral assistance to Indonesia, which was the largest single recipient country within the total aid programme. Continuity with past assistance was strong, as indicated by the 1975/76 programme which included projects in agriculture (artificial insemination, abbatoir construction, dairying, and sheep breeding); health (dentistry and nursing training); and education (vocational training in welding, Englishlanguage teaching). New Zealand expertise was the key to new projects: cool storage for fisheries; sawmill operations in forestry; and geothermal power development.61

Trade Development Apart from the fillip the bilateral aid programme gave to private sector interests, export growth was stimulated by a series of Reserve Bank credits offered as New Zealand’s contribution to international balance of payments support to Indonesia but with bilateral trade facilitation very much in mind. The idea came from a 1967 trade mission but Cabinet approval for a credit of $500,000 was not given until June 1969, and a detailed agreement negotiated with Indonesia only in April 1970. By November it was fully utilized. Dairy and forest product exporters were

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the main beneficiaries. Cabinet authorized the first of five renewals in April 1971. The terms of the credit were modified for 1974/75 to limit purchases of dairy and forest products and encourage Indonesians to buy manufactured goods. The credit line was increased to $750,000 for 1975/76. Other New Zealand efforts to encourage Indonesian exporters included the allocation of Special Trade Licences and of funding under the Developing Countries Handicraft Scheme.62 Exports, which had rarely exceeded $20,000 a year before 1965, reached $776,000 in 1970, $1.23 million in 1971, and $8.5 million in 1975. Numbers of New Zealand business visitors increased; another trade mission had tested the market in June 1969; and Singapore-based trade officials paid more frequent visits until a Trade Commissioner was added to the Embassy staff in 1971. That year, for the first time, the balance of trade turned in New Zealand’s favour. This continued until 1979 when New Zealand began to import substantial quantities of petroleum condensate from Indonesia. For several years thereafter petroleum products dominated imports as much as dairy products dominated exports.63

“Act of Free Choice” in West Irian Having monitored carefully the winding down of Confrontation, New Zealand was pleased at the constructive approach to regional cooperation promised by Indonesia’s role in establishing ASEAN, but remained sceptical about Indonesia’s commitment to meet its obligation to conduct a self-determination exercise in West Irian. Early signals from Jakarta were ambivalent, even after Indonesia re-joined the United Nations in September 1966, enabling UN technical assistance programmes to resume in the territory. In August 1967 President Suharto confirmed that Indonesia would comply with the terms of the 1962 agreement but subsequent reporting suggested that, rather than test Papuan opinion by referendum, Indonesia would consult a sample of district leaders. This generated debate within the Ministry of External Affairs and between its posts, especially Jakarta and New York, about whether New Zealand’s policy should be based upon realpolitik calculations giving primacy to good relations with Indonesia, which seemed sure to get its way in West

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Irian, or upon insistence on democratic process in this last chance for Papuans to determine their own future. Wellington was not disposed to take a lead, especially if that might set New Zealand apart from more directly interested countries such as Australia and the Netherlands, which were not forcefully advocating the Papuan cause. Moreover, it considered the terms of the 1962 agreement sufficiently imprecise to allow Indonesia’s proposed consultation method.64 In March 1968 the UN Secretary General appointed a Special Representative to oversee preparations and to observe the “Act of Free Choice” on his behalf. A year later the United Nations published details of the consultation process. The eight districts would each nominate between 75 and 175 representatives, depending on population, to special assemblies that would decide West Irian’s future status in the name of its 800,000 inhabitants. They would comprise three groups: district representatives selected by consultation; representatives of parties, organisations or functional groups; and tribal or custom chiefs. District councils and the central House of Peoples’ Representatives had approved this method. The Act of Free Choice was to be conducted district by district from 14 July, with results known by Indonesia’s National Day, 17 August. Foreign Minister Adam Malik invited New Zealand’s Ambassador to observe the process in Biak and Jayapura. Ambassador Challis found West Irian “a primitive, backward, formidable place”, and the two consultations he attended “a depressing experience … the atmosphere was oppressive, and joy artificial, where it was not restricted to the Indonesian population”. There was “an immense gulf between the Indonesian community and the Papuans”. Security measures were “extraordinarily tight”, giving him no chance to talk unsupervised to Papuans. Challis interpreted the absence of opposition voices, and the unanimous result in these two more sophisticated towns, as confirmation of heavy coercion. He thought the exercise had at least made the Indonesians comprehend the problems in the territory but did not believe they would respond with effective policies. He discounted talk of autonomy for the province.65 The report of the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative to the UN General Assembly expressed reservations about aspects of the process, including restrictions on freedom of speech, assembly, and

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movement, but concluded that representatives of the local population had chosen to stay with Indonesia through an act of free choice undertaken “in accordance with Indonesian practice”. Dutch and Indonesian representatives agreed on a simple draft resolution which took note of the report, expressed appreciation for the UNSG’s fulfilment of the tasks entrusted to him, and welcomed any assistance provided for development of West Irian. Hopes that its passage would be uncontroversial were upset by objections from African delegations to what they saw as a mockery of democratic process and a breach of the principle of self-determination that created a precedent for South Africa, Portugal, and Rhodesia to disadvantage black Africans. Procedural manoeuvres and paragraph votes delayed adoption of the resolution, and thirty delegations abstained. New Zealand voted in favour throughout and did not speak, reflecting an assessment that there was “no reasonable and practical alternative to this result, especially now that West Irian has been under Indonesian administration for over six years.”66

Top Level Visits After Thomson’s 1968 visit to Jakarta, more frequent travel in both directions by ministers, parliamentarians, senior officials and military personnel helped to enhance understanding and mutual respect. This re-discovery phase reached an important landmark in February 1972, when President Suharto made the first visit to New Zealand by an Indonesian President, accompanied by three Ministers and the Army Chief of Staff. Suharto’s objectives, the Embassy in Jakarta advised, were to project a favourable image of Indonesia in New Zealand “and by implication expunge past impressions”; to encourage more person to person contacts; and to establish a long-lasting and stable inter-governmental relationship. The visit was considered a success by both sides, despite small public protests on behalf of Indonesian political prisoners. In his meeting with Cabinet, Suharto concentrated on economic questions, especially possibilities for bilateral cooperation and assistance. Political, security, and defence issues received little attention. Separate meetings between the two Foreign Ministers canvassed the regional situation, particularly the aspirations of China and Japan, as well as regional cooperation. They

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agreed to initiate regular consultations between their officials, setting the scene for very active foreign policy exchanges during the subsequent decades.67 Suharto’s visit was reciprocated by Prime Minister Norman Kirk in December 1973 during a Southeast Asian tour. Kirk’s was the first official visit to Indonesia by a New Zealand Prime Minister, although Nash and Holyoake had transacted bilateral business during visits for regional purposes. His discussions with President Suharto and other ministers traversed the current international scene, regional cooperation (including Kirk’s idea for a new forum comprising Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea), law of the sea, and the Southeast Asian zone of peace, freedom, and neutrality. On economic issues, Kirk investigated sourcing more of New Zealand’s oil from Indonesia, agreed to drill exploratory geothermal wells near Bandung, encouraged a planned Indonesian trade mission to New Zealand, and offered other assistance, such as special trade licence allocations, to boost Indonesia’s exports. He addressed the Indonesian parliament and took his Christmas break at Lake Toba in North Sumatra. Favourable press coverage stimulated renewed public interest in Indonesia, reflected in its inclusion on the “hippie trail” and in flourishing Indonesian language courses.68

Defence Cooperation Spasmodic defence contacts had occurred since HMNZS Black Prince made a port call in Indonesia in 1953, one noteworthy example being General Nasution’s visit to New Zealand in April 1961. The advent of an army-backed government in Jakarta from October 1965 gave defence links a new relevance: a 1968 policy paper argued that promoting defence contacts would encourage Indonesia to “maintain its present mood of accommodation with her neighbours and with the western powers” and discourage reversion to “foreign policy adventurism”. A framework for defence cooperation was not established until 1974, after New Zealand appointed a Defence Attache in Jakarta. His recommendations led to agreement on a cooperation package comprising assistance to improve Indonesia’s defence dental service; training of Indonesian personnel in defence resource management and dockyard refit skills at New Zealand

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facilities; assorted training courses for all services; VIP visits; and inspection tours to assess training and exercising options. The estimated annual cost was $28,000.69 The year 1975 saw the first joint naval and air exercises, both opportunistic in origin. A transit of HMNZS Waikato through Indonesian waters in June allowed a relatively simple exercise to be conducted with Indonesian naval vessels. This became the first in a series designated SELINDO, which gradually introduced more exercise tasks. Air Force exercises arose out of RNZAF refuelling stopovers en route to annual exercises in Malaysia and Singapore. In November ten RNZAF aircraft and 55 personnel staged through Surabaya, participating in briefings, aircraft inspections, and social and sporting activities. Designated ELANG SEBARANG, and moved to Madiun from 1976, this exercise became a regular event. Though relatively unsophisticated, these exercises were noteworthy because Indonesia’s armed forces did not usually engage with foreign counterparts. Indonesia’s military tradition emphasized self-reliance and non-alignment. Its military leaders were reluctant to expose to foreign scrutiny the limitations of their equipment and operational techniques. Such concerns did not seem to arise with New Zealand, perhaps because of the small size of its forces and the evident lack of hostile motive. For more than five years the RNZAF was the only foreign air force to conduct operational exercises with Indonesia’s. During a goodwill naval visit to New Zealand in 1979 Indonesian ships exercised with a foreign navy outside Indonesian waters for only the second time.70

Geothermal Project Dominates Aid Development assistance through the late 1970s and early 1980s was dominated by New Zealand’s largest-ever project, geothermal power development at Kawah Kamojang, West Java, which earned much goodwill for New Zealand among Indonesia’s decision-makers. Intended to help Indonesia maximize revenue from oil exports by exploiting geothermal energy for domestic power generation, the project was noteworthy for its emphasis on transferring technology in which New Zealand was an international leader and for an innovative blending of

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New Zealand public and private sector resources in the consortium that carried it out. New Zealand’s total commitment was $24 million over seven years for scientific reconnaissance, exploration, and production drilling, and design and construction of a 30-MW generating station. The early phases went so well that Indonesia considered enlarging the power station even before its completion, giving rise to concerns about New Zealand’s capacity to fulfil its commitments within the budget allocated or to win commercial geothermal contracts in Indonesia. Resolving this problem became the principal business and key outcome of Prime Minister Robert Muldoon’s official visit in May 1980. He returned for the commissioning of the power station in 1983, and the New Zealand consortium was contracted for design work on its expansion. Official development assistance (ODA) funding for geothermal assistance continued into the 1990s, covering at different times a long-term adviser, short-term consultancies, training of Indonesians in geothermal disciplines, evaluation of Indonesia’s geothermal resources, and feasibility studies for small-scale power generation in outer islands.71

Bilateral Trade Agreement and Trade Growth A bilateral trade agreement was signed in September 1978, reciprocally extending Most-Favoured Nation (MFN) treatment and providing for consultations between the two governments on trade issues. In practice, formal consultations were infrequent, though impediments to New Zealand exports were numerous. Import controls imposed in 1982 to conserve foreign exchange and encourage domestic industry development included measures for the dairy industry that damaged New Zealand’s trade, as did a temporary ban on live cattle imports imposed in 1983. New Zealand Dairy Board backing for aid to Indonesia’s dairy sector was part of New Zealand’s response. Diplomatic efforts to modify dairy access restrictions continued until the late 1990s when the International Monetary Fund mandated liberalization after the Asian financial crisis swept them away.72 Exports grew from $24 million in 1977/78 to $94 million in 1980/81, when Indonesia ranked twelfth among New Zealand’s export

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markets. In 1985/86 exports exceeded $100 million for the first time. They have fallen below that level only once since then. Two years later the trade balance swung back in New Zealand’s favour when new refinery technology at Marsden Point slashed imports of Indonesian condensate. Despite these impressive growth statistics — and they did not include re-exports through Singapore or receipts from consultancy services — there were structural problems. The commodity base remained narrow, dominated by dairy and forest products, with volumes and value subject to international market fluctuations. Few New Zealand companies were represented in Indonesia, and there were only a handful of joint ventures. Investment flows in either direction were negligible. The Ambassador in 1982 believed future growth depended on political stability and economic development in Indonesia and on a harmonious bilateral political relationship. The quality of political relations mattered because Indonesian government agencies were responsible for many activities conducted outside the public sector in other countries. This placed a particular burden on the embassy as the channel into Indonesian government systems.73

Negative Images Cutting across efforts to thicken the relationship was a widely held New Zealand perception of Indonesia as repressive and authoritarian. Impressions of chaos and militaristic bluster from the late Sukarno period were overlaid with reports of large-scale killings following the failed coup of 1965 and of the detention, often without trial, of thousands of political prisoners. These coloured public opinion about the Suharto government from the beginning, leading to steady pressure from civil society organisations on successive New Zealand governments to intervene on behalf of detainees. Indonesian Ministers and officials responded to New Zealand representations by defending their practices, sometimes quite robustly, but generally did not allow these issues to impair development of bilateral relations. New Zealand also frequently raised the situation in Irian Jaya (formerly West Irian). Persistent themes were the impact on Papuans of transmigration schemes, which brought large numbers of settlers from

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other parts of Indonesia into the province; Indonesian responses to the spasmodic guerrilla campaign conducted by Papuan separatists through the Free Papua Organisation (OPM); and the treatment of bordercrossers along the ill-defined and poorly policed boundary with Papua New Guinea. On occasion these concerns conflicted with other New Zealand objectives: in the mid-1980s the government declined a New Zealand company’s request to support its bid for major construction contracts in Irian Jaya transmigration projects.74

Portuguese Timor Negativity in New Zealand about Indonesia was fed above all by its invasion and occupation of Portuguese Timor. The impact was corrosive rather than immediate, especially at the governmental level, but concerns about repressive policies in occupied Timor contributed significantly to public and official disillusionment with Suharto’s Indonesia. Indonesia’s founding fathers took the boundaries of the Netherlands East Indies as their country’s borders. They accepted sharing the island of Timor, in the middle of their archipelago, with a Portuguese colony. Apart from occasional calls for its incorporation in the republic during the West New Guinea campaign, this situation was not seriously questioned by Indonesians before Portugal’s overseas empire collapsed in 1974. Political turmoil in Portuguese Timor then bred concerns within Indonesia’s army about the implications for Indonesia’s stability. This led to a strategy of covert military and material support to East Timorese groups sympathetic to association or integration with Indonesia. In December 1975 Indonesian forces openly invaded Portuguese Timor and established a provisional government. In May 1976 a hand-picked People’s Assembly voted for integration with Indonesia, and in July 1976 Indonesia’s parliament declared East Timor Indonesia’s twenty-seventh province.75

New Zealand’s Difficult Balancing Act Policy towards Indonesia since the decision to re-engage at the end of Confrontation had been based on a strategic view of Indonesia’s critical importance to regional stability. This pre-disposed policy-makers to

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empathize with Indonesian concerns about instability in Portuguese Timor. Accordingly, early advice from officials about options for Portuguese Timor’s future, while emphasizing the “fundamental” importance of the right of self-determination, saw integration with Indonesia as “a logical solution”. The unexpectedly rapid communist victories in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos in 1975 drew attention away from Portuguese Timor and reinforced the instinct to accept as legitimate the heightened sense of insecurity that a leftist government in Portuguese Timor prompted in strongly anti-communist Jakarta. While foreseeing the unpalatable possibility of Indonesian intervention, New Zealand officials were not confident that Portugal, after losing control of its colony, could find a solution by enlisting international support.76 New Zealand policy-makers had a reasonably accurate picture of Indonesia’s thinking as it unfolded. Embassy staff visited Portuguese and Indonesian Timor in July 1975. They had good contacts within Indonesia’s civil bureaucracy, armed forces and think-tanks. Wellington kept in close touch with other interested governments, especially Australia’s, which was seen to have a more direct interest than New Zealand in Portuguese Timor. Neither the Embassy nor Wellington suggested that New Zealand play an active role.77 Nevertheless, responding to an appeal from José Ramos Horta, the Foreign Minister in East Timor’s Fretilin government, Wellington instructed the Ambassador in Jakarta in early October to convey privately New Zealand’s concerns about rumours of military intervention and seek an update from the Indonesians. Confirmation of cross-border incursions by pro-integration Timorese and Indonesian army “volunteers” crossed with this instruction, and were soon supplemented by detailed Australian reports about these incursions and Indonesian intentions. Advice to the Minister on handling media inquiries noted the difficulties of obtaining reliable information, especially about external involvement; affirmed that New Zealand’s concerns had been expressed in Jakarta; commended Indonesia’s restraint in a situation causing real fears for its stability; and faulted Portugal for allowing the situation to get out of hand.78 Strong East Timorese resistance to the incursions led to press reports of atrocities and speculation about Indonesian involvement but the public

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response in New Zealand was muted, especially compared to Australian protest demonstrations and media commentary. Even the death of a New Zealander in an Australian television crew caught in the conflict did not arouse strong New Zealand reactions. In November Prime Minister Bill Rowling publicly welcomed the opening of talks between the Indonesian and Portuguese Foreign Ministers in Rome, but this initiative was an Indonesian manoeuvre prompted by the unexpected Timorese resistance. It soon became apparent that no serious negotiation would result.79 Throughout this period, New Zealand decision-making was complicated by preoccupation with general elections and then with installing a new government under Robert Muldoon. Annual talks between Indonesian and New Zealand Foreign Ministries, which took place during the transition, inevitably focused on Portuguese Timor. The Indonesians were at pains to explain their concern that disorder in Timor would distract them from the difficult task of national development. They claimed to be waiting for Portuguese initiatives to play out and professed their belief in self-determination while admitting to differences of view within their government and to some involvement in cross-border activity. They wanted support and understanding if they had to take more direct measures. New Zealand officials characterized their government as an “interested but … fairly passive observer” but warned that New Zealand could not be expected publicly to condone open intervention by Indonesia. They also differentiated the public emphasis on “the wishes of the Timorese people [as] the fundamental factor” from a private position that “integration with Indonesia through self-determination would be the most desirable outcome”.80 Two days before the invasion, New Zealand officials in Jakarta, like those of several other governments, were briefed on Indonesia’s assessment that circumstances made intervention inevitable. Because of the post-election transition, they were unable to give any assurances about an official New Zealand reaction but cautioned that public opinion might be negative. After the invasion began Rowling made a low-key statement regretting the Indonesian action and referring to assurances by Indonesia’s Foreign Minister about the exercise of self-determination. He also announced two $25,000 contributions to ICRC programmes for displaced East Timorese.81

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The large numbers of Timorese displaced by the conflict, and a series of famines after Indonesia took control, ensured a continuing New Zealand humanitarian focus on the territory. The government and the New Zealand Red Cross made a number of contributions to a relief programme administered by the ICRC and Caritas. In October 1978 an RNZAF Hercules delivering milk powder and milk biscuits to Díli under this programme became the first foreign military aircraft to visit East Timor since the Indonesian occupation. The later reorientation of New Zealand’s ODA programmes towards eastern Indonesia, though warranted by that region’s greater poverty and developmental needs, was intended primarily to facilitate aid to East Timor and to justify frequent Embassy visits to monitor conditions there.82

UNGA Action Indonesia had earlier sought New Zealand co-sponsorship for a draft UNGA resolution prompted by Fretilin’s declaration of independence and the counter-declaration by pro-integration parties. Deploring these events, the draft re-affirmed the right of the East Timorese to selfdetermination, and appealed to all East Timorese parties to cooperate with Portugal to find a peaceful solution. After consultations between the out-going and incoming prime ministers, New Zealand agreed, calculating that the resolution would commit the Indonesians formally to a political solution based on self-determination. This draft was withdrawn after Indonesia launched its invasion, and replaced by an African text strongly critical of Indonesia’s action.83 New Zealand had to determine its voting stance on the African draft resolution before a new foreign minister was in place. The New Zealand delegation in New York wanted to vote in favour, with an explanatory statement expressing understanding of the problems faced by Indonesia after the collapse of Portuguese authority. Wellington preferred abstention, with a statement criticizing the resolution’s failure to acknowledge Indonesia’s reasonable concerns but affirming New Zealand’s support for decolonization and the principle of selfdetermination. Forty-two members of the UNGA joined New Zealand in abstaining, but the resolution was adopted.84

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New Zealand abstained on similar resolutions adopted during the next three UNGA sessions. Over this period most of New Zealand’s preferred voting company shifted from abstention to support for Indonesia. In 1979, responding to Indonesian appeals, New Zealand joined them. Around the same time, during a visit to Jakarta, Foreign Minister Brian Talboys publicly described East Timor’s incorporation in Indonesia as “irreversible”. This judgement, which had in practice underpinned New Zealand policy for some time, had been reinforced when the Ambassador in Jakarta visited Díli in January 1978. New Zealand maintained its public disapproval of the way in which Indonesia had taken control of East Timor, but its acceptance of effective Indonesian administration of the territory meant that it treated East Timor as part of Indonesia.85

Continuing Controversy New Zealand’s response to the invasion and occupation of Portuguese Timor remains a matter of public controversy, re-invigorated by East Timor’s gaining independence after a quarter century under Indonesian administration. One interpretation sees the events of 1974–75 as abandonment, by officials anxious to appease Indonesia, of a principled approach to foreign policy under which New Zealand traditionally supported the small and weak. Adherents of this view believe that earlier and stronger warnings to Indonesia by New Zealand might have led to second thoughts about invasion. Even had such a stance not deterred Indonesia, it would have distanced New Zealand from apparent complicity in what followed. Against this interpretation it is argued that the New Zealand government was preoccupied with the unexpected victories of communist forces in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam and their implications for regional security; that it had limited influence in Jakarta; and that it did advise Indonesia to respect the principle of selfdetermination in dealing with Portuguese Timor. The collapse of resistance to communist forces in Indochina was undoubtedly a traumatic development which called into question long-standing security policies of New Zealand and its allies. The scale of events in Portuguese Timor was minor by comparison and, given

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the leftist orientation of the victors in the civil conflict there, appeared plausibly to open new opportunities for communist destabilization in the region. Against that background, integration of Portuguese Timor into Indonesia had attractions, provided it could be achieved by processes consistent with decolonization principles and — a flawed assumption as things turned out — done quickly. As in the case of West New Guinea, New Zealand found it difficult to resolve the tension between support for the principle of selfdetermination and acknowledgment of the political and military realities on the ground. (In passing, it should be noted that, although there were similarities between the ways Indonesia sought to achieve its objectives in the two territories, there is no indication of any reflection on lessons of the then still recent West New Guinea experience in formulating policy advice on Portuguese Timor.) In retrospect, the vote on the African draft resolution stands as a moment at which New Zealand’s support for selfdetermination might have been expressed unequivocally. Voting in favour would not have changed anything on the ground — the invasion was already launched — but it would more clearly have signalled disapproval of Indonesia’s actions.

Thriving Relations Through the 1980s Because of East Timor, the Ambassador in Jakarta wrote in October 1979, “businessmen have tended to keep away from Indonesia, Parliamentarians have been less interested in coming here, and academics have turned their attention elsewhere”. This restraint was short-lived. In many respects the 1980s were the highpoint of bilateral cooperation. Export growth continued strongly, and the trade balance continued to favour New Zealand. Some diversification of exports took place, stimulated in part by promotional activities such as the 1985 Southeast Asian trade mission led by Minister of Overseas Trade Mike Moore. To service growing business interest in Indonesia a second Trade Commissioner was added to the Embassy staff. Direct air links from 1988 facilitated business travel and generated new tourist and peopleto-people exchanges. The aid programme continued to be New Zealand’s largest in Asia.86

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Growth in ministerial and official contact was due partly to New Zealand’s increasing interaction with ASEAN. As an ASEAN Dialogue Partner from 1975, New Zealand participated in a broad range of activities with member countries, addressing development assistance, trade issues, and diplomatic cooperation. Dealing with developments in Cambodia and their impact on ASEAN neighbours remained a focus. But bilateral interests motivated much of the enhanced political contact. The consolidation of a stable government system in Indonesia, its focus on national development, and the prospect that Indonesia’s economic potential might at last be realized made it important for New Zealand to have strong and positive relations with its large, strategically located and increasingly influential neighbour. In order to capitalize on the trade and economic opportunities Indonesia presented, and to ensure that Indonesia’s decision-makers took account of New Zealand’s interests and objectives, New Zealand had to make the running in the relationship. This belief underpinned the large number of ministerial and parliamentary visitors from New Zealand to Indonesia during the Fourth Labour Government. As was apparent during Prime Minister David Lange’s March 1986 visit, Indonesian leaders were curious about New Zealand’s foreign policy reorientation, which they considered more compatible with their own nonalignment.87

Defence Cooperation Gradually Re-focused East Timor had little impact on defence relations at first. In June 1981 the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence approved an exchange of letters to provide the formal framework for defence cooperation that Indonesia had long sought. Indonesia did not sign until 1983. By then almost 100 Indonesian defence personnel had received training in New Zealand in resource planning and management, flying instructor courses, design and management of training, dockyard trades, and aircraft maintenance, or had attended staff college, other officer training, or professional military skills improvement courses. Indonesians were the fourth largest national group to receive training under the Military Assistance Programme (MAP). Indonesian army officers provided Indonesian language training

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for New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel, and attended certain New Zealand army exercises as observers. The designated New Zealand Defence Attaché normally attended the Army Staff College in Bandung in preparing for his assignment. Training teams from New Zealand forces stationed in Singapore occasionally visited Indonesia to conduct courses in professional skills. After Indonesia’s air force purchased Skyhawks in 1980, the RNZAF offered a team to train maintenance instructors, while an Indonesian pilot did a Skyhawk conversion flight course in New Zealand. The Skyhawk connection led to commercial opportunities for Air New Zealand engineering workshops in maintaining and refurbishing Indonesian Air Force aircraft.88 A major focus of defence assistance was dental health. Important aspects of Indonesia’s national capability, especially postgraduate dentistry, lay within the armed forces. From 1974 to 1977 the MAP funded a programme involving visits by Defence Dental Service lecture teams, attachments of dental officers to the Indonesian Naval Dental Institute in Jakarta, and a preventive dentistry course. At the time this was the largest dental assistance programme, military or civilian, in Indonesia. It was influential in introducing the study of oral pathology, oral medicine, and oral diagnosis to Indonesia. After the initial programme ended, further discrete dental assistance was provided for several more years through secondments in both directions.89 The dental programme served to divert attention from more directly military forms of assistance, which were increasingly the target of criticism by New Zealand supporters of East Timor. Their pressure nevertheless affected the evolution of defence cooperation. In 1984 the Ambassador in Jakarta, citing reports that Indonesian Skyhawks had used napalm in East Timor, questioned the wisdom of offering Indonesia places on a Skyhawk weapons delivery training course. Defence deleted this option from the MAP. In 1986, when up to 30 Indonesian officers a year received army combat training, the Embassy worried that New Zealand might be accused of training troops for operations in East Timor because many participants subsequently served in battalions assigned there. Defence decided to shift the emphasis towards combat support and civic aid courses.90

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By 1990, 25 to 30 Indonesians went to New Zealand each year under the MAP, in much the same fields as when bilateral defence cooperation began: dentistry, dockyard management, Skyhawk maintenance, and army platoon commander courses. Financial constraints in New Zealand limited expansion while improving relations between Australia and Indonesia gave Indonesia other options for defence cooperation. Developed in the context of New Zealand’s wider regional security interests, defence cooperation with Indonesia was conceived as a means of promoting confidence and understanding with an important regional partner whose stability and security were important to neighbouring countries and to those more distant, such as Japan, with vital supply lines passing through the Indonesian archipelago. It sought to encourage Indonesia’s inwardly focused armed forces to join in regional approaches to confidence-building and security. A subordinate objective was to persuade Indonesia that the Five-Power Defence Arrangements, to which New Zealand was a party with Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, were not directed against it. With modest military capabilities and no hostile motive towards Indonesia, New Zealand could credibly promote these objectives through practical demonstration of the benefits of cooperation. From a more strictly bilateral perspective, defence cooperation was seen as a way to promote or protect broader New Zealand interests by creating other channels into a government dominated by the armed forces. These links proved helpful in generating positive impressions of New Zealand among the power elite that produced benefits well beyond the defence sphere.91 But differences in defence outlook, military capabilities and language imposed limits. So, increasingly, did New Zealand concerns about the human rights record of the Indonesian armed forces. As East Timor came to dominate public views of Indonesia, defence cooperation was denounced as complicity in repression or defended as leverage to constrain abuses. Both claims over-stated New Zealand’s ability to influence the behaviour of Indonesia’s armed forces.

Damaging Impact of Díli Killings Relations with Indonesia, especially the defence components, came under

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increasingly critical public scrutiny in New Zealand after Indonesian security forces killed large numbers of Timorese at Díli’s Santa Cruz cemetery on 12 November 1991. Video footage of the incident smuggled out of East Timor stimulated new international interest in the territory and greatly invigorated the independence cause. New Zealand public concern was the more intense because a young New Zealander was among those killed. The Indonesian government formally apologized and mounted an official inquiry which, unusually, resulted in the punishment of some army personnel, but these actions did not ameliorate negative views of Indonesia in New Zealand public opinion. Nor did they fully satisfy the New Zealand government, which had made strong representations to the Indonesian authorities about the events in Díli and about the evasions and obstructionism New Zealand Embassy staff encountered as they sought explanations and attempted to recover the body.92 A tendency to judge relations with Indonesia through the prism of East Timor dominated public attitudes throughout the 1990s, sustained by events such as the screening of the television documentaries, Death of a Nation and Punitive Damage; the visit to East Timor by a group of New Zealand Members of Parliament in 1994; and periodic visits to New Zealand by East Timor’s international spokesman, José Ramos Horta. Over time the government responded to the persistent public disquiet. In December 1995 Foreign Minister Don McKinnon held a meeting with Ramos Horta, ending a ban on his contacting ministers. (New Zealand governments never acceded to Indonesian requests to deny Ramos Horta an entry visa, though they had in the 1970s imposed restrictions, later relaxed, against public speaking. Ramos Horta was always able to meet supporters in Parliament, and had long met informally with New Zealand officials at the United Nations.) At around the same time, McKinnon decided to stop using the word “irreversible” to describe the New Zealand government’s view of East Timor’s integration with Indonesia. His rationale was that, since Indonesia and Portugal had resumed discussions on East Timor in 1993 under the auspices of the UN Secretary General, New Zealand ought not to pre-judge the outcome. Any result acceptable to the parties would be acceptable to New Zealand. This shift did not become public until 1997 when it was seen by supporters of East Timor’s independence as a major concession.93

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Sustaining Cooperation Despite Public Disapproval Despite the intensifying public focus on East Timor, efforts continued to expand and develop bilateral relations. The pattern of ministerial visits to Indonesia testified to its prominent place in New Zealand’s view of the region. Reciprocal visits from Indonesian ministers were infrequent, but the burgeoning framework of regional cooperation — the annual ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference, APEC, and ASEAN Regional Forum Ministerial Meetings — provided other opportunities to transact bilateral business. Indonesia’s hosting of APEC in 1994 saw Prime Minister Jim Bolger and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Trade Negotiations attend together. An important new link was membership of the Cairns Group of agricultural exporters in which New Zealand and Indonesian Ministers and officials worked closely together on agricultural trade liberalization in the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations.94 Trade prospered — New Zealand’s exports of goods grew from $137 million in 1989/90 to $368 million in 1996/97. Indonesia continued to be a leading market for exports of New Zealand services. Imports from Indonesia also grew again, after the slump caused by the cessation of oil purchases, but not fast enough to prevent the emergence of a sizeable imbalance in New Zealand’s favour. Investment flows in both directions, though still modest, indicated a deepening of economic ties. Development assistance remained a core element in the relationship, with annual allocations around $4 million. The geographical focus on eastern Indonesia continued. Added to the traditional sectoral emphasis on agriculture (especially livestock development) and education (scholarships for graduate and post-graduate study) were community development (working increasingly directly with local NGOs) and governance (such as support to the newly established National Commission for Human Rights). Fewer Indonesian defence personnel than in the past undertook training in New Zealand. In 1994, for example, ten Indonesians trained under MAP auspices; five in dental health procedures, four in aircraft maintenance, and one in command and tactics. Low-level naval exercises were conducted every second year, and small-scale air exercises took place occasionally. There was no army-to-army exercising. To critics of defence

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cooperation the government argued that cutting these very limited ties would not materially affect conditions in Indonesia or East Timor, while maintaining them ensured access to Indonesia’s military leaders and thus the possibility of influencing their behaviour. A further justification was offered in private: these defence links helped to guarantee Indonesian cooperation with deployments of New Zealand forces through Indonesia’s territory.95

End of An Era Although relations were mature and well-rounded by the late 1990s, further development was constrained by a deepening awareness of sclerosis and corruption in the Indonesian polity after 30 years of Suharto’s New Order. New Zealanders were surprised by the collapse of the Indonesian economy occasioned by the 1997 Asian financial crisis, and the social unrest this bred. Direct New Zealand interests were hit hard: exports to Indonesia in 1998/99 fell to half the level of two years before. Suharto’s resignation in May 1998 was greeted, both in and beyond government circles, as an opportunity to revitalize bilateral relations. The direction of the new administration’s policies took time to discern but the removal of authoritarian structures, the successful holding of general elections, and the decision to allow East Timorese to choose their own future under UN supervision gradually made clear that the changes were far-reaching. Like the changeover from Sukarno to Suharto in 1965–67, the break with the past was not clean. Post-ballot violence in East Timor in 1999, and New Zealand’s participation in the intervention force, tended to deflect attention from positive developments in Indonesia, and to sustain popular scepticism and a cautious approach in policymaking. New Zealand suspended defence cooperation at this time in protest at the role played by the Indonesian armed forces in the violence. Even so, New Zealand provided financial and technical support to Indonesia’s general election and to emergent institutions, such as the Ombudsman’s Office. A strategic review of development assistance was undertaken to better support Indonesia’s new priorities. Cooperation in regional and international affairs was re-activated as Indonesia’s domestic

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preoccupations lessened. Trade growth recovered quickly, to reach record levels on both sides. Resumption of normal political ties was signalled by President Abdurrahman Wahid’s visit to New Zealand in 2001 and Prime Minister Clark’s to Indonesia in 2002. Though defence cooperation has not been resumed, new forms of security engagement have begun, notably police liaison. Sustained improvement in bilateral relations depends ultimately on events in Indonesia but a positive course has been set. NOTES The author would like to acknowledge helpful comments on this chapter from Gillian Green, John Mills, John Subritzky, Andrew Needs, and Sarah Dennis. For much of the information on the defence relationship the author is indebted to Bryan Couchman and Paul Sinclair of the New Zealand Ministry of Defence. 1. The insight about “a small group of officials” comes from R.F. Nottage to Foreign Minister Warren Cooper, 20 January 1982, PM 58/318/1, vol. 4. 2. Netherlands East Indies: Political: General, PM 318/6/1, vol. 1A; Netherlands East Indies: Economic: General, PM 318/4/1, vol. 1. 3. New Zealand Official Yearbook, 1939 (Wellington: Government Printer, 1938), p. 913. 4. New Zealand High Commission, Canberra memo 345 of 25 September 1945, PM 318/6/1, vol. 1B; and cable 350 to London, 19 October 1945, PM 58/318/1, vol. 1. 5. “Java: British and Dutch Policies” and “Notes on Indonesia”, 6 November 1945, PM 318/6/1, vol. 1B. New Zealand’s gratitude to the Dutch was being given concrete expression at this time in proposals to bring prison camp survivors from Indonesia to New Zealand for rest and recreation after their war-time ordeals. 6. PM 318/6/1, vols. 2 and 3 include the New Zealand government exchanges with the United Kingdom and Australia. The UN Security Council established a Good Offices Committee which negotiated a further agreement signed in January aboard the US Navy ship Renville. Though ending the conflict, this agreement did not resolve the key political issues. 7. NZ Mission, New York cable 94 of 2 August 1947; Wellington cable 104 to New York, PM 318/6/1, vol. 3.

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8. Annual Report of the Department of External Affairs, 1 April 1948 to 31 March 1949, p. 58. 9. Dutch Minister to Acting Prime Minister Nash, 20 December 1948; Nash to Dutch Minister, 24 December 1948; untitled note by R.R. Cunninghame, 21 December 1948; press statement of 28 December 1948, PM 318/6/1, vol. 4. 10. Instructions for Shanahan, 14 January 1949, PM 318/6/1, vol. 5. 11. Wellington cable 1 to NZHC, Canberra of 4 January 1949; Wellington cable to NZHC (Nash to Fraser) of 4 January 1949; NZHC, London cable 32 of 6 January 1949; paper by Shanahan, 6 January 1949; and Wellington cable 2 to Australian High Commission, New Delhi (for Inglis) of 19 January 1949, PM 318/6/1, vol. 5. Cable from Inglis via British High Commission, New Delhi, 22 January 1949; cable from Nehru to Nash, 23 January 1949; memo from Inglis, Bombay, forwarding conference documents and resolutions, 28 January 1949, PM 318/6/1, vol. 6. Republican Foreign Minister Maramis wrote to his New Zealand counterpart on 23 January 1949 to express appreciation of New Zealand’s interest in Indonesia’s independence struggle. He said the conference resolutions would help to bring about a settlement. Nehru cabled further thanks to Nash on 27 January 1949. 12. Atlee to Fraser, 16 February 1949; Fraser to British High Commissioner, 26 February 1949; Brief for Part Two of UNGA Third Session, “Indonesia”, 9 March 1949, PM 318/6/1, vol. 6. Also Extract from UNGA Delegation Report on the Indonesian Question, 8 June 1949, PM 318/6/1, vol. 7. The vote for inscription was 41(NZ)-3-12. 13. PM 318/6/1, vol. 8, contains numerous reports from other governments and from Indonesian sources. See also the Brief for UNGA Fourth Session: Item 20, 31 August 1949. New Zealand Delegation Item Report, 28 December 1949, PM318/6/1, vol. 10, summarizes developments during the UNGA. 14. Brief for Call by Dr Usman, 26 October 1948; File note by Shanahan on Usman call, 26 October 1948, PM 318/6/12, vol. 4. See PM 318/6/1, vol. 10 for exchanges between Commonwealth governments on recognition. New Zealand’s advice of its decision was in cable 47 of 23 December 1949. See also J.B.D. Pennink to Prime Minister Holland, 22 December 1949; A.D. McIntosh to Pennink, 23 December 1949, forwarding Holland’s recognition message to the new Indonesian government; Pennink to McIntosh, 29 December 1949, confirming dispatch; cable from Prime Minister Hatta to Holland, 10 January 1950.

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See also Hatta to New Zealand Prime Minister, 11 January 1950; Hatta to “New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs”, 24 January 1950; Holland to Hatta, 17 February 1950, PM 58/318/1, vol. 1. 15. For the claim that offence had been taken, see NZHC, Canberra memo 8/N-3, 3 January 1950; F.W. Doidge telegram to McIntosh, 28 December 1949, PM 318/6/1, vol. 10. For Dutch insistence on clarification and proposal that Doidge visit, see letters between Pennink and McIntosh or Shanahan, 29 January 1949 to 13 January 1950; Shanahan file note, 4/1/50. In a press statement at the end of his visit Doidge said he had come to convey New Zealand’s goodwill and warm friendship to the President, Prime Minister and people of Indonesia; that New Zealand fully appreciated the “importance of Indonesia and especially the need for maintaining the democratic form of government” and “the great task which faces you in economic reconstruction … in recovering from the ravages of war and strife”. Doidge’s press statement issued from Jakarta, 22 January 1950, and a file note on personalities met by Doidge, 9 February 1950, PM58/318/1, vol. 1. For positive personal responses to Indonesia by McIntosh, see Ian McGibbon, ed., Undiplomatic Dialogue: Letters between Carl Berendsen and Alister McIntosh, 1943–52 (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1993), p. 205. 16. Evening Post interview with J.S. Reid, 23 February 1953, on PM 118/2/16, vol. 1. In 1953 four New Zealanders were serving as UN experts in, respectively, public administration, civil aviation, mechanical engineering, and librarianship. They were the third largest national group. 17. For a general background on the Colombo Plan, see The Colombo Plan at 50: A New Zealand Perspective (Wellington: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2001). 18. For the decisions establishing the NZ programme for Indonesia, see G.D.L. White’s reports, 27 March 1953 and 31 March 1953; Submission to Minister, 29 April 1953; Cabinet paper CP(53)497, 8 May 1953; PM’s Office memo CM(53)22, 12 May 1953; Minister to Foreign Minister telegram of 18 May 1953; reply, 10 June 1953; cable from Indonesian government, 21 September 1953; and on the development of the programme, see “Brief for Colombo Plan Visiting Mission”, 12/10/60, PM 118/13/15/5, vol. 1. See also the Annual Report of the Department of External Affairs for the years 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959. (The annual reports covered the period 1 April to 31 March.) 19. Annual Report of the Department of External Affairs, for the years 1958, 1959, 1960.

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20. Background to establishment of the New Zealand Colombo Plan Office comes from Brief for Prime Minister’s Visit to Indonesia, November 1959: New Zealand’s Relations with Indonesia, PM 59/2/183. The quotation in the second paragraph comes from this document. The Indonesians had proposed an exchange of legations in the exchange of correspondence on recognition in 1950 but, while welcoming an Indonesian post in Wellington or accreditation from Canberra, Doidge ruled out New Zealand reciprocation for some time because of prior commitments and an acute shortage of personnel. See Doidge to Hatta, 29 March 50, PM 58/318/1, vol. 1. PM 62/46/1, vol. 1 includes a note by GDL White, Miscellaneous Impressions, 19 March 1953 reporting Indonesian interest in closer relations and commenting on some benefits and difficulties of operating in Jakarta. For accreditation of Indonesia’s Minister to New Zealand, see NZHC Canberra memo of 28 October 1957; Wellington to Canberra memo 61/62/1 of 11 November 1957; NZHC Canberra memo 5/1/4, 9 December 1957; and the Nash Visit Brief, PM 62/46/1, vol. 1. In 1959 Indonesia appointed an Honorary Consul-General in Auckland. 21. Documents illustrating New Zealand thinking include “The Future of Netherlands New Guinea”, 27 October 1949, a discussion paper by R.H. Wade; and a briefing paper for Colombo Conference, Indonesia and Netherlands New Guinea, 22 December 1949. Also relevant on this file is a Doidge speech to Royal Empire Society reported in the Dominion, 16 August 1950, PM 476/2/2, vol. 1. PM 318/6/1, vol. 11 contains “Notes for the Minister of External Affairs on Indonesia”, 25 August 1950, which touch on West New Guinea. On PM 476/2/2, vol. 2, see Internal note, Dutch New Guinea, 1 July 1951. 22. On allegations of training in New Zealand, see External Affairs memo to NZHC, Canberra, 14 December 1953; NZHC, Canberra memo 5/N/5, 31 December 1953; NZ Embassy, Washington memo, 4 February 1954, PM 476/2/2, vol. 3. For developments before and during the 1954 UNGA Session, see New York Permanent Mission cables 122 of 19 August 1954, 251 of 3 September 1954, and GA(P)3 of 22 September 1954; NYPM memo, 27 August 1954; NZHC, Canberra memo 5/N/5, 10 September 1954; aide memoire from Netherlands Legation, 21 September 1954; message from Casey to Webb, 23 September 1954; NYPM cable 284, 24 September 1954; Webb to Munro, cable of 24 September 1954, PM 476/2/2, vol. 3. PM 476/2/2, vol. 4 continues the UNGA Session reporting. Key documents include Van Raalte to Webb, 4/10/1954; Webb to Van Raalte, 29/10/1954; and External to NYPM cable 290, 1/11/1954. PM 476/2/2, vol. 4 includes the detailed exchanges on tactics between Wellington, Canberra, London, and the New Zealand

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Permanent Mission in New York. These events are summed up in PM 476/2/2, vol. 5, NYPM cables GA(P) 66, pt. 2 of 26/11/1954, GA(P) 71 of 30/11/1954, and GA(P) 82, pt. 2 of 11/12/1954; NZHC, Canberra memo 5/N/5, 3/12/1954 covers the Indonesian response. 23. For the 1955 UNGA Session, see Brief for UNGA Delegation, 29 August 1955, PM 476/2/2, vol. 5. See also External cable 164 to NYPM, 20 September 1955; NYPM cable GA(P)10, 20 September 1955; NZ Commission, Singapore cable 158, 14 November 1954 (Macdonald to Prime Minister); NYPM cables 293, 295, and GA(P)65 of 9, 10, and 13 December 1955, PM 476/2/2, vol. 6. For the 1965 UNGA Session, see Brief for Eleventh Regular Session of the UNGA, The Question of West Irian (West New Guinea); NYPM cables 2, GA(P)99, GA(P)103 of 23 January, 25 February, and 1 March 1957, PM 476/2/2, vol. 6. 24. For NZ delegation guidance for the 1957 UNGA Session, see “Brief for Twelfth Regular Session of the UNGA: The Question of West Irian”, 7 September 1957; and External cable 239 to NYPM, 10 September 1957, PM 476/2/2, vol. 7. For tactical developments and instructions, see PM 476/2/2, vol. 8, especially NYPM cables 370, 371, 376, 383, (P)196, (P)199, and (P)200 of 13, 14, 15, 21, 25, and 26 November 1957; and External cables 366 and 370, 14, and 15 November 1957. On post-UNGA Indonesian actions, see PM 476/2/2, vol. 9, “Brief for Thirteenth Regular Session of the UNGA”, 4 August 1958; NYPM cable 411, 29 November 1957; Note for Mr Nash: Indonesian Agitation over Dutch New Guinea, 6 December 1957; “File Note: Possible Developments … Requiring Urgent Attention by the New Zealand Government”, 20 December 1957. 25. “File Note: Meeting on UN Briefing: West New Guinea Item”, 30 September 1958; “Brief for Thirteenth Regular Session of the UNGA: The Question of West New Guinea (West Irian)”, 4 August 1958; NZHC, Canberra cable 388, 16 August 1958, citing the Sydney Morning Herald. PM 476/2/2, vol. 9. 26. External cable 31 to Canberra, 4 February 1959; “Brief for the Prime Minister: Visit of Dr Subandrio”, 12 February 1959, PM 476/2/2, vol. 9. “Record of Discussions with Mr Nash”, 16 February 1959; Press Statement, 17 February 1959; “Notes of Division Heads Meeting”, 19 February 1959, PM 58/318/1. 27. External Affairs Review, February 1959, p. 11. The communiqué also noted the dispatch by the New Zealand University Students’ Association of its first two graduate volunteers to Indonesia, launching a new initiative in voluntary cooperation. This scheme, which sent volunteers only to Indonesia, was subsumed within Volunteer Service Abroad in 1962. For more on the Volunteer Graduate

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Scheme, see Annual Report, Department of External Affairs, for the years 1961 and 1962 and External Affairs Review, May 1961, pp. 27–28. 28. External Affairs Review, November 1959, pp. 22–25. 29. For expert and student statistics, see Annual Report, Department of External Affairs, 1960, 1961, 1962; External Affairs Review, May 1960, pp. 12–13; External Affairs Review, July 1961, pp. 25–26. PM 1/7/16, vol. 1 provides more detailed information from Jakarta post annual reports (Jakarta file series 22/2/1), especially those dated 30 July 1962, 10 June 1963, and 31 March 1964. 30. “Report of 1959 Colombo Plan Visiting Mission”, 30 November 1959; “Brief for Colombo Plan Visiting Mission”, 12 October 1960, PM 118/13/15/5, vol. 1. 31. Submission to Prime Minister, “Representation in Indonesia”, 10 February 1961, PM 62/46/1, vol. 1. 32. External Affairs Review, April 1961, p. 21; External Affairs Review, January 1963, p. 20, Statement by Prime Minister, 28 January 1963; Press Statement, ConsulGeneral in Indonesia, 7 April 1961, PM 62/46/1, vol. 1. 33. “Brief for ANZUS Council Meeting”, 7 October 1959, PM 476/2/2, vol. 11, gives a good overview of concerns about Indonesian intentions at this time. On Dutch reinforcement and Indonesian responses, see NZHC, Canberra cables 223, 230, 305, 309, and 321 of 5 and 6/5 and 7, 8, and 15 June 1960; NZHC, Ottawa cable 58 of 12 May 1960; and NZ Embassy, Washington memo 14/92/1 of 9 June 1960. On the Dutch demarche, see External cable 167 to Washington, 27/5/1960. “Internal Note, West New Guinea”, 6 July 1960, PM 476/2/2, vol. 12, summarizes developments and seeks to interpret them. 34. Brief for Prime Minister’s Visit to Europe, April–May 1960: Netherlands: West New Guinea, 6 May 1960; Extract from “Airmail Bulletin”, 30 June 1960, PM 476/2/2, vol. 11. McIntosh to Laking (personal) of 26 August 1960 on PM 476/2/2, vol. 12. The Australians had not been consulted about Nash’s initiative; the Canadians were sceptical. 35. The Malayan initiative and reactions to it are covered in considerable detail in PM 476/2/2, vols. 12 and 13. The main statement of New Zealand’s reaction is in vol. 13, West New Guinea, a note prepared for McIntosh on 2 November 1960. 36. PM 476/2/2, vol. 11, NZHC, Canberra memo, 18 March 1960 foreshadows Dutch policy of accelerating political development. This volume contains numerous Canadian, Australian, and UK reports detailing Dutch plans as they evolved. External cable 119 to NZHC, Canberra, 2 March 1961, PM 476/2/2, vol. 13 notes the intention to include a Samoan minister; External cable 51 to Apia, 20

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March 1961, PM 58/318/1, vol. 1, cautions Samoans about possible Indonesian misrepresentation and explains New Zealand perception of an important South Pacific milestone. 37. PM 476/2/2, vol. 14, charts the developing US position. Key references include: NYPM cable 170 of 14 April 1961 and savingram 2 of 17 April 1961; Extract from Holyoake/Kennedy Record of Discussion, 14 April 1961; New Zealand Embassy, Washington memo 14/92/1 of 18 May 1961; Submission to Prime Minister, 31 May 1961; External savingram 13 to Washington of 1 June 1961; Brief for UNGA Sixteenth Session, Agenda Item 88; Note of Discussion between Shanahan (Permanent Representative, New York) and UN Secretary General, 19 July 1961; File note: Netherlands Proposals on West New Guinea, 24 August 1961. PM 476/2/2, vols. 15 and 16 cover in detail the manoeuvrings at the UNGA Session, New Zealand consultations with other interested governments, and reports on debates and votes. Instructions to the New Zealand delegation are in vol. 15, External cable 363 to NYPM, 29 September 1961. The delegation report on Agenda Item 88, dated 9 February 1962, is on vol. 17, which also contains reports on possible Indonesian use of force. For Holyoake’s message to Sukarno, see vol. 16, External cable 612 to NZHC, Canberra of 21 December 1961; NZHC, Canberra cable 741 of 28 December 1961 conveys Sukarno’s response. 38. Submission to Prime Minister of 11 January 1962, PM 476/2/2, vol. 16 canvassed New Zealand policy options as international opinion shifted in expectation of a resolution. Vol. 17 has extensive coverage of the naval conflict of 15 January and of US efforts to broker a settlement, which continues in vols. 18 and 19. Vol. 18 includes the text of Holyoake’s statement of 19 March 1962. The reference to Dutch comments to Marshall about New Zealand’s EEC interests is in vol. 19, NZHC, Canberra memo 5/N/5 of 19 June 1962. 39. PM 466/2/2, vols. 20 and 21, cover the conclusion of the US-brokered agreement, its acknowledgement in a UNGA resolution, and West New Guinea’s transition to UN administration. Key references include: (from vol. 20) Holyoake’s statement on West New Guinea, 16 August 1962; Brief for UNGA Seventeenth Regular Session, Supplementary Agenda Item 10; NYPM cables (P)36 and 211 (Commentary), 22 September 1962; (from vol. 21) NYPM cable (Commentary no. 11), 1 December 1962; Submission to Prime Minister, New Zealand and the West New Guinea Agreement, 4 December 1962; UNGA 17: Item Report: Item 89: West New Guinea, 9 January 1963; Brief for SEATO Council Meeting, 1 April 1963; draft press statement, 1 May 1963 (annotated “Scrubbed by PM”). 40. A major reference for this section is John Subritzky, Confronting Sukarno: British, American, Australian and New Zealand Diplomacy in the Malaysian-Indonesian

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Confrontation 1961–65 (London: Macmillan Press, 2000). This monograph discusses the diplomacy around Confrontation, and gives a lucid outline of its origins. See also John Subritzky in Ian McGibbon, ed., Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 2000). Another useful source on the origins of the problem is “The Formation of Malaysia”, External Affairs Review, February 1964. 41. Holyoake to Barwick, 4 February 1963, PM 318/7/1, vol. 1. 42. External Affairs Review, August 1962, p. 42 for Prime Minister Holyoake’s 4 August 1962 statement, “Malaysia”, welcoming the agreement at talks in London to establish the Federation; Submission to Prime Minister, 31 January 1963, PM 318/7/1, vol. 1. The Prime Minister’s Introduction to the Annual Report of the Department of External Affairs for the year ending 30 March 1963 outlines New Zealand’s support for Malaysia and regrets at the opposition of Indonesia and the Philippines to the federation concept. 43. External Affairs Review, June 1963, pp. 32, 41–43, carries the Text of Joint Communiqué issued on conclusion of Sukarno-Rahman meeting, 3 June 1963 and the text of the report released by Ministers, 14 June 1963; External Affairs Review, August 1963, pp. 34–36, has the texts of the Manila Declaration and Joint Statement, 5 August 1963. Prime Minister Holyoake’s statement of 31 August 1963 is on pp. 32–33. External Affairs Review, September 1963, pp. 18–19, contains the texts of is statement of 15 September 1963 welcoming the UN Secretary-General’s report on the result of the “ascertainment” and of his statement in the House of Representatives on 17 September 1963. For examples of media comment, see New Zealand Herald, 20 and 21 September 1963, and Auckland Star, 20 September 1963. 44. External Affairs Review, September 1963, pp. 20–21, Statement by Prime Minister, “New Zealand Troops in Malaysia”, 19 September 1963; Statement by Prime Minister to House of Representatives, “Malaysia, Defence Arrangements”, 20 September 1963. The latter statement announced the extension of New Zealand’s AMDA commitments to the Federation but said they imposed no legal obligation to maintain forces in Malaysia or to follow specific courses of action there. 45. External Affairs Review, March 1964, pp. 25–29, gives a useful account of developments in the dispute during the previous year. External Affairs Review, January 1964, pp. 19–21, gives the texts of two statements by Holyoake, one titled “Malaysia”, 24 January 1964 and another on “New Zealand Battalion and Anti-terrorist Operations in Malaysia”, 29 January 1964. On Holyoake’s travel to the region, see External Affairs Review, April 1964, pp. 18–19, “Prime Minister to Visit Malaysia”, 1 April 1964; and “Prime Minister’s Visit to SE Asia”, 8 April

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1964, pp. 28–29, of the same edition contains the text of Holyoake’s statement in Kuala Lumpur, 11 April 1964. 46. Notes on meetings with Sukarno, Subandrio, and Nasution, 17 April 1964, PM 58/318/1, vol. 1. 47. The negative press reaction to Holyoake’s visit was based on a misapprehension that he was seeking to “appease” Indonesia. Particular offence was taken at his issuing of an invitation to Sukarno to visit New Zealand, though this was done as a matter of diplomatic form, with no expectation that it would be taken up. See PM 59/3/10, vol. 1, External cable to Bangkok, 20 April 1964; Evening Post editorials of 21 and 27 April 1964; NZ Legation, Jakarta, memo 26/1/1 of 27 April 1964; McIntosh to Lochore, 8 May 1964; Holyoake to C. Pegler, 6 May 1964. External Affairs Review, April 1964, p. 23, contains two relevant statements, one by the Acting Prime Minister, “Invitation to President Soekarno”, 24 May 1964 and one by Holyoake, “Indonesia”, 27 May 1964. New Zealand responses to deteriorating relations between Malaysia and Indonesia are recorded in External Affairs Review, June 1964, pp. 23, 28 in statements by Holyoake, “MalaysiaIndonesia Summit Meeting” of 9 June 1964 and “Failure of Summit Talks”, 22 June 1964. Further developments are covered in External Affairs Review, September 1964, pp. 17–18, 19–20, 21 in statements by Holyoake, “Indonesian Landings in Malaysia” of 4 September 1964, Statement on Malaysia in the House of Representatives of 8 September 1964, and “Malaysia-Security Council Debate” of 19 September 1964. The Month in the UN section of the Review covers the referral of the dispute to the Security Council. The announcement that New Zealand troops had been deployed against Indonesian infiltrators was made by Holyoake on 29 October, External Affairs Review, October, 1964, p. 30. Extracts from the series of sharp exchanges between New Zealand and Indonesian representatives at the UN General Assembly are in External Affairs Review, December 1964, pp. 41–52. 48. For Indonesia’s withdrawal from the United Nations, see External Affairs Review, January 1965. This issue contains New Zealand’s reaction in a statement by Holyoake, “Indonesia’s Withdrawal from the UN”, on 12 January 1965. Confirmation of Indonesia’s withdrawal is in External Affairs Review, March 1965, pp. 28–29. 49. Offers of additional military assistance to Malaysia are covered in External Affairs Review, February 1965, pp. 19–20, Statement by Acting Prime Minister, “Military Assistance for Malaysia”, 3 February 1965, and Statement by Prime Minister, “Assistance for Malaysia”, 5 February 1965. 50. Details of New Zealand’s military engagement are from Subritzky, Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History.

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51. Holyoake quotes from his Introduction to the 1965 Annual Report, Department of External Affairs. Statistics from New Zealand Legation in Jakarta, annual report, 1 April 1965, PM 1/7/16, vol. 1. 52. Statement by Prime Minister, “Diplomatic Relations with Indonesia”, 17 August 1965, External Affairs Review, August 1965, p. 17. R.A. Lochore to McIntosh, 14 September 1965, PM 62/46/1, vol. 1. 53. Holyoake’s statement of 4 October 1965, External Affairs Review, October 1965, p. 16. Submission to Prime Minister, 4 October 1965; Jakarta memo 82/1/1 of 5 October 1965, PM 318/6/1, vol. 28. For assessments of the impact on Indonesian foreign policy and advice on New Zealand’s stance, see PM 318/6/1, vol. 29, Jakarta memos 82/1/1 of 8, 12, and 15 October 1965. A more considered assessment, based on longer scrutiny of the post-coup situation is Jakarta’s memo 82/1/1 of 29 December 1965 in vol. 31 of the same file series. For intimations of contacts between new Indonesian authorities and Commonwealth, see PM 318/6/1, vol. 30, Submission to Prime Minister, 3 November 1965; NZHC Kuala Lumpur cables 636 and 637 of 17 November 1965, NZHC Singapore cable 544 of 23 November 1965. For exchanges of assessment between the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand and discussion of policy options, see PM 318/6/1, vol. 31, NZHC London cable 4313 of 2 December 1965; and (in vol. 32) Submission to Prime Minister, 16 March 1966. 54. Annual Report, Department of External Affairs, 1966, pp. 3–4 (Introduction), pp. 31–32 (Indonesia), and p. 41 (Defence Arrangements). 55. External cable 37 to Jakarta, 15 March 1966; Singapore cable 162 (from Lochore), 23 March 1966; External cable 210 to Singapore (for Lochore), 28 March 1966; External cable 299 to Washington, 29 March 1966; Submission to Prime Minister, 29 March 1966, PM 318/6/1, vol. 32. 56. “Recent Moves in Indonesia”, in External Affairs Review, May 1966, pp. 10–14; and External Affairs Review, June 1966, pp. 23, 24 for statements by the Prime Minister, “Malaysia-Indonesia”, 2 June 1966, and “New Zealand Forces in Borneo”, 8 June 1966. External Affairs Review, July 1966, pp. 25, 31 for statements by the Prime Minister, “Aid to Indonesia”, 20 July 1966, and “The New Indonesian Cabinet”, 27 July 1966; External Affairs Review, August 1966, pp. 23–24 for the statement by the Prime Minister, “Agreement to End Confrontation”, 11 August 1966. The Jakarta Agreement did not re-establish diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Malaysia. This did not happen until August 1967. Indonesia established relations

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with Singapore at the same time. Malaysia and the Philippines, by contrast, restored full diplomatic relations in June 1966. 57. Extract from Brief for New Zealand/Japan Official Talks, 17 January 1967 (especially the section entitled “New Zealand’s Interests in Indonesia”); Brief for Twelfth SEATO Council Meeting, 5 April 1967, PM 318/6/1, vol. 35. 58. For the proposed MPs’ visit, see PM 59/3/10, vol. 2, Speaker to Prime Minister, 14 October 1966 and an External Affairs submission to Prime Minister of 1 November 1966, which endorsed the Speaker’s proposal. Holyoake wrote on the submission, “There is plenty of time. Review next year”. He accepted a resubmission of the proposal in mid-June 1967; see Submission to Prime Minister, 19 June 1967 on the same file. On proposals to raise the status of New Zealand’s post, see PM 62/46/1, vol. 1, Submission to Prime Minister, “Status of NZ Representation in Indonesia”, 22 December 1966 (the unsuccessful bid); and Submission to Prime Minister, 8 September 1967 (accepted by Holyoake). On the visit by New Zealand MPs, see PM 318/6/1, vol. 36, Jakarta savingram 32, 9 August 1967 and Division Heads Meeting Notes, 7 September 1967. External Affairs Review, September 1967, p. 30, contains the Prime Minister’s statement, “Status of Diplomatic Missions”, 25 September 1967, and External Affairs Review, March 1968, pp. 42–43, his statement of 6 March 1968 on the appointment of R.L.G. Challis as Ambassador. 59. Thomson to Holyoake, 18 February 1968; Brief for Prime Minister’s Visit to the United States and Asia, 27 September 1968 PM 318/6/1, vol. 37. 60. On the 1966 Colombo Plan Mission visit, see Extract from Brief for NZ/Japan Official Talks, 17 January 1967, PM 318/6/1, vol. 35. For statistical and other information showing the slow recovery of the aid programme, see PM 1/7/16, vol. 1, Jakarta memos 22/4/1 of 4 April 1967, 9 April 1968, 31 March 1969, 31 March 1970, and 7 April 1971. 61. On aid allocations, sectoral emphases and specific projects, see, for example, the relevant sections of briefs for the visits of President Suharto to New Zealand, February 1972 (on PM 59/3/10, vol. 5), Prime Minister Kirk to Indonesia, December 1973 (on PM 59/2/4/3, vol. 19), Foreign Minister Talboys to Indonesia in March–April 1976 (on Jakarta file 26/3/5, vol. 1) and Prime Minister Muldoon to Indonesia, May 1980 (on Jakarta file 26/3/5, vol. 3). 62. PM 40/16/1, vol. 1, covers the 1967 trade mission and the trade credit proposal. The trade and development assistance sections of the briefs for the Suharto, Kirk, Talboys, and Muldoon visits provide information on adjustments to the credit

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regime, on its impact on trade, and on other trade support extended to Indonesia, for example, Special Trade Licences. The series of annual reports from Jakarta on PM 1/7/16, vol. 1 include comment on trade missions, trade commissioner visits, and trade growth. 63. Trade statistics are from the New Zealand Official Yearbook series. Steven Lulich in MFAT’s Information and Publicity Division collated the statistics. 64. On uncertainties about Indonesian intentions in West Irian, see PM 476/2/2, vol. 22. Key references include: Division Heads Meeting Note, 1 June 1966; Jakarta memos 82/1/1 of 5 July and 23 August 1966; Jakarta memos 82/1/5 of 2 September and 16 December 1966 and 6 January 1967. On Indonesian proposals for consulting the people of West Irian, and the internal debates these provoked, see Jakarta memos 82/1/5 of 3 February and 17 March 1967. The last of these is on vol. 23 of the file, together with a draft reply from Wellington to Jakarta and New York, apparently not dispatched, addressing their respective arguments. 65. External Affairs Review reported on the Act of Free Choice in its July (p. 18) and August (pp. 37–38) 1969 editions. PM 476/2/2, vol. 24, includes a briefing paper on the Act of Free Choice prepared for Parliament’s Select Committee on External Affairs on 20 June 1969; Challis’ report in a letter to Laking of 14 August 1969; and Jakarta’s cable 140 of 29 August 1969. 66. Quotation from Brief for UNGA 24th Regular Session: Agreement between Republic of Indonesia and Kingdom of the Netherlands concerning West New Guinea: Report of the Secretary General regarding the Act of Self-Determination in West Irian, 17 September 1969 PM 476/2/2, vol. 24; also New Zealand UNGA 24 Delegation Report on Agenda Item 98, 19 February 1970, PM 476/2/2, vol. 25. 67. PM 59/3/10, vols. 4–6, cover the Suharto visit. Suharto’s objectives were outlined in Jakarta’s memo 25/2/6 of 20 December 1971 (in vol. 4); for a report on the visit, see External cable 86 to Jakarta of 14 February 1972; for some feedback from the Indonesian side, see Jakarta memo 25/2/6 of 3 March 1972 (both in vol. 6). External Affairs Review, October (p. 53) and December (p. 58) 1971, foreshadowed Suharto’s visit in statements by the Prime Minister. The February 1972 edition, pp. 13–21, gives an account of the visit. 68. PM 59/2/4/3, vol. 22, covers Prime Minister Kirk’s travel to Asia. A report on his visit to Indonesia is in Kuala Lumpur’s cable 1498 to Wellington, 18 December 1973. Another account of the visit is in Margaret Hayward, Diary of the Kirk Years (Wellington: Cape Catley/Reed, 1981), pp. 188–91. The Lake Toba sojourn is described in pp. 194–95.

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69. On Nasution’s visit, see PM 59/3/10, vol. 1, Submission to Acting Prime Minister, 27 March 1961 and Brief for Prime Minister, 21 April 1961. The 1968 policy paper cited was the Brief for the Prime Minister’s Visit to the United States and Asia, 27 September 1968. Jakarta file 30/4/1 includes the Defence Attaché (DA) report, “Defence Cooperation with Indonesia” of 1 June 1974. Jakarta file 30/2/2 contains the record of discussions formalizing the cooperation package; see DA Jakarta memo to Secretary of Defence and Chief of Defence Staff, 22 August 1974. 70. On naval and air exercises, see Def 23/7/1, Submission to Minister of Defence, “Defence Cooperation with Indonesia”, 9 January 1976; Jakarta file 30/4/5, DA Jakarta memo to CAS, 21 November 1975. On Indonesian attitudes towards defence links with New Zealand, see Ministry of Defence briefing note, “NZ Defence Cooperation with Indonesia”, 1 June 1982, prepared for the Dialogue Meeting with ASEAN Foreign Ministers. 71. For a background to the geothermal project, see the section entitled “NZ Bilateral Aid Programme to Indonesia” in the briefs for Deputy Prime Minister Talboys’ October–November 1979 visit to ASEAN countries and for Prime Minister Muldoon’s May 1980 visit to Indonesia. These briefs are in Jakarta file 26/3/5, vol. 2 (Talboys) and vol. 3 (Muldoon). 72. Much of the information in this paragraph comes from the relevant section of the briefs for the visit of the Indonesian Foreign Minister to New Zealand, July–August 1983 in PM 58/318/1, vol. 5, and for Prime Minister Lange’s 1986 visit to Indonesia. 73. The statistics are from the appropriate years of the New Zealand Official Yearbook. The assessment was made by Ambassador R.F. Nottage; see Nottage to Minister of Foreign Affairs (Warren Cooper), “New Zealand’s Relations With Indonesia”, 20 January 1982, PM 58/318/1, vol. 4. 74. On political prisoners and human rights violations, see PM 59/2/4/3, vol. 19, Brief for Prime Minister’s Visit to Indonesia, December 1973, Country Paper II: Indonesia, especially para. 9; Jakarta file 26/3/5, vol. 2, Brief for Visit by Deputy Prime Minister to Indonesia, October–November 1979; and vol. 3, Brief for Prime Minister’s Overseas Visit, May/June 1980, Brief III: Indonesia, Human Rights section. The Brief for Prime Minister Lange’s Visit, March 1986, especially the Overview, Human Rights, and Irian Jaya sections are helpful. 75. See Don Greenlees and Robert Garran, Deliverance: The Inside Story of East Timor’s Fight for Freedom (Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2002). Many MFAT and Defence documents from this time have been declassified in response to a series

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of requests under the Official Information Act. All references in this section are to documents made available under these OIA releases. OIA releases in 2002 in response to separate requests from Keith Locke and Nicky Hager covered the period leading up to the Indonesian invasion in 1975. These documents, and the public controversy over the respective roles played by officials and ministers, are analysed in a research paper by Matt Mollgaard, “New Zealand and East Timor: The ‘Regrettable’ Invasion” (BA Honours dissertation, Department of Political Studies, University of Auckland, 2002). 76. Submission to Acting Prime Minister, 26 February 1975; Submissions to the Prime Minister, 18 August 1975, 22 August 1975, 27 August 1975, and 8 September 1975, PM 321/4/1. 77. Key references for this paragraph, all from the file series PM 321/4/1, include: NZ Embassy, Jakarta memo to Wellington, 22 July 1974; Jakarta cable 1121 to Wellington, 3 October 1974; Brief for the NZ/Indonesia Officials’ Talks (Item 1: Portuguese Timor), 31 October 1974; Record of NZ/Indonesia Officials’ Talks (Item 1: Portuguese Timor), 4–5 November 1974; Jakarta cable 1307 to Wellington, 8 November 1974; Jakarta memo 330/1/1 of 19 February 1975; Jakarta cables 164 and 245 to Wellington, 21 February 1975 and 26 February 1975; External memo 321/4/1 to Washington, 7 March 1975; Jakarta memo 330/1/1 to Wellington, 5 August 1975. 78. Submission to Prime Minister, 8 October 1975; External cable to Jakarta, 10 October 1975; NZHC Canberra cables 1887 and 1955 of 9 October 1975 and 17 October 1975; Submissions to Prime Minister, 22 October 1975 and 23 October 1975, PM 321/4/1. 79. Submissions to Prime Minister, 3 November 1975 and 5 November 1975. Rowling issued a press statement welcoming the proposed talks on 6 November 1975, PM 321/4/1. 80. External memo of 4 December 1975 covering Brief for NZ/Indonesia Officials Talks, 24–25 November 1975; External memo of 8 December 1975 covering Record of NZ/Indonesia Official Talks, 24–25 November 1975; External cable 2695 to Canberra, 26 November 1975, PM 58/318/2. 81. Jakarta cable 1224 to Wellington, 5 December 1975; External cable 1137 to Jakarta, 9 December 1975, conveying text of 8 December Rowling press statement, PM 321/4/1. See statement by Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs on relief assistance, Foreign Affairs Review, December 1975, p. 40. 82. See the text of the Foreign Minister’s statement on the RNZAF relief flight in Foreign Affairs Review, October–December 1978, p. 44. See also the “NZ/Indonesia

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Defence Relations” section of the 1980 Muldoon visit brief. 83. Submission to Prime Minister, 3 December 1975. Annotations on the submission show that Rowling requested that the instructions on New Zealand’s stance towards the draft resolution be cleared with incoming Prime Minister Muldoon. External cable 1599 to Singapore, 4 December 1975, PM 321/4/1. 84. PM 321/4/1, External cable 1169 to NYPM, 9 December 1975; NYPM cable 1191 to Wellington, 9 December 1975; Submission to Prime Minister, 10 December 1975 (marked “Not Seen by Prime Minister”); NYPM cable 1207 to Wellington, 11 December 1975; Submission to Minister of Foreign Affairs, 23 December 1975; Portuguese Timor section of Brief for Visit of Minister of Foreign Affairs to Southeast Asia, 16 March to 8 April 1976, 12 February 1976; see also “Portuguese Timor”, in Foreign Affairs Review, December 1975. 85. Foreign Affairs Review, April–June 1976, pp. 39–40; Foreign Affairs Review, October–December 1976, p. 24; Foreign Affairs Review, April–June 1977, pp. 27– 28 all contain statements indicating New Zealand acceptance of Indonesian control of East Timor. Jakarta file 26/3/5, vol. 2, East Timor section of Brief for Visit by Deputy Prime Minister to Indonesia, October–November 1979 (19 October 1979), discusses the change of voting stance in the United Nations. This ground is covered in more detail in the East Timor section of the brief for Prime Minister Lange’s visit to Indonesia in March 1986, which also addresses the “irreversible” status of East Timor’s incorporation in Indonesia and the precise character of New Zealand’s acknowledgement of this. 86. REB Peren to Minister of Foreign Affairs (Brian Talboys), 20 October 1979, Jakarta file 26/3/5, vol. 2; Brief for ASEAN Economic and Trade Mission, March 1985 and Jakarta cable 82 to Singapore, reporting on the outcomes of the mission, Jakarta file 26/3/5, vol. 7; Brief for Minister for Trade Negotiations, 19–21 February 1993, “Indonesia/NZ Relations” section for references to air links and tourism development, Jakarta file 26/3/5, vol. 10. 87. Information on these visits on Jakarta file 26/3/5, PM 58/318/1, and PM 59/3/10. 88. On the defence agreement, see Def 23/7/1, Submissions to Minister of Defence, 11 June 1981 and 21 January 1983; Ambassador, Jakarta to SFA, 17 July 1981; and Jakarta file 30/1/1, Ambassador, Jakarta to SecDef, 29 May 1981 and to SFA, 6 September 1983. For statistics on defence cooperation, see Jakarta file 30/8/1, Defence Attaché memo to Ambassador, 2 June 1987. 89. On defence dental cooperation, see Def 23/7/1, Submission to Minister of Defence, “Indonesia: Assistance in Dentistry”, 27 September 1974; Director of Defence

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Dental Services, “Report on Dental Cooperation with Indonesia”, 13 July 1977; Def 249/6/67, Minute: MAP: NZ/Indonesia Dental Cooperation Programme, 1 July 1981. The Indonesian Director of Dental Health when the defence dental programme was launched had been a member of the 1953 Indonesia dental health mission to New Zealand. 90. On Skyhawk weapons delivery course, see Def 23/7/1, Director, International Defence Policy to AS(Pol), undated (late 1984) covering AS(Pol) to CDF, 3/12/84; McDowell, MFA to SecDef, 20 November 1984; and Powles, Jakarta to McDowell, MFA, 12 November 1984. On army combat training, see Def 61/1/12, Jakarta cable 1555 to Wellington, 9 October 1986. For a government response to representations that military links with Indonesia be severed, see 318/1/18, Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade to Chair, Foreign Affairs and Defence Select Committee, 15 November 1994. 91. Note from DA to Ambassador, 9 March 1990, Jakarta file 30/2/2. 92. The Santa Cruz killings and their impact are well summarized in Greenlees and Garran, Deliverance, pp. 22–24. A great deal of information on the New Zealand government’s response to this incident has been made public in Official Information Act releases. Some key references for New Zealand reactions, all from file 318/1/18, include: External cable 3418 to Jakarta, 13 November 1991; External cable (number deleted) to Jakarta, 15 November 1991; NZ Embassy Note no. 6906, 15 November 1991; Jakarta cable (number deleted), 19 November 1991, reporting on an Embassy visit to East Timor on 14–15 November; Jakarta cable (number deleted), 19 November 1991, conveying the text of an aide-memoire lodged with the Foreign Ministry; Jakarta cable (number deleted), 20 November 1991, reporting the response to the aide-memoire; Jakarta cable (number deleted), 28 November 1991, conveying the text of a further aide-memoire lodged with Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry and Armed Forces HQ; Jakarta’s memo 82/1/1 of 26 November 1991; Jakarta cable 266 to Defence, 10 December 1991; and file note (Duncan to Gibson and Small), “UN: East Timor: Cooperation with Australian Government”. 93. A large number of documents relating to Ramos Horta’s visits to New Zealand were released in response to Keith Locke’s requests of 30 October and 22 November 2002. For an Indonesian request to deny him a visa, see Jakarta memo 51/2/2 to Director, EIB, 19 September 1978; for the policy guidance, see Submission to Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, 22 June 1978 and Acting Minister to C. Iles, National Coordinator, CIET, 29 June 1978. As other documents show, CIET lobbied, without success, to have the conditions on the visa lifted though Ramos Horta accepted them — see NYCG cable 428 to Wellington, 4 October 1978. On McKinnon’s decision to meet Ramos Horta, see Submission to Minister of Foreign

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Affairs and Trade, 22 May 1995; External cable UO1525 to Osaka, 16 November 1995; External cable to Jakarta UO2007, 23 November 1995. On the meeting, see 318/1/18, Submission to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 7 December 1995; External cables UO2920 and UO3790 to Jakarta, 8 December 1995 and 22 December 1995; Minister’s press statement, 8 December 1995; transcript of McKinnon interview with Kim Hill, National Radio, 11 December 1995. For policy advice on ceasing to use “irreversible”, see 318/1/18, draft submission to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, “Development of New Zealand’s Policy on East Timor”, 30 January 1995; External cable C34230 to Jakarta, 15 February 1995 seeking comment on a revised draft; Jakarta cable C01328, 22 February 1995 in response, which focused inter alia on “irreversible”; submission to Minister, 17 March 1995 containing final version of policy paper. The minister’s annotations further refined thinking about use of “irreversible”. A file note of 19 July 1996 recording a meeting between the Minister and UNANZ included a comment from the UNANZ side that the word “irreversible” had not been heard for some time. Publicity arising from this led to a public clarification from the Minister — see fax from W. Cochrane, SSEA Division to Jakarta and to the Christchurch newspaper, the Press, 3 February 1997. 94. Details of visits on Jakarta file 26/3/5, vols. 9 and 10. 95. Trade statistics from the appropriate years of the Official Yearbook. Defence cooperation details from initial draft of the submission, “Development of New Zealand Policy on East Timor”, 30 January 1995, 318/1/18.

Reproduced from Southeast Asia and New Zealand: A History of Regional and Bilateral Relations, edited by Anthony L. Smith (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2005). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg > 209 7. Growing Apart: New Zealand and Malaysia

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GROWING APART: NEW ZEALAND AND MALAYSIA M A R K

G.

R O L L S

Introduction The relationship with Malaysia was one of New Zealand’s most significant in Southeast Asia. At times, in the early years, the relationship displayed an intimacy which meant it almost warranted a “special” epithet (though, ironically, this term was not actually employed until the 1990s). The intimacy between the two countries was wholly derived from the Commonwealth connection. This connection initially provided the foreign and defence policy framework for both states and it also manifested itself in the areas of aid and education. The Commonwealth link was particularly significant because through it New Zealand was an active participant in the formative experiences of the Federation of Malaya and its larger successor, the Federation of Malaysia.1 Though the Commonwealth connection was to gradually decline in importance because of leadership changes in Malaysia and changes in New Zealand’s foreign policy perspectives and priorities, it remained at least a residual factor throughout the period under consideration.

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Whilst the Commonwealth connection was based on shared interests, the relationship between New Zealand and Malaysia was not always perceived to be one of equals in the earlier period. As the Commonwealth link gradually weakened, however, and Malaysia adopted a more independent and sometimes divergent foreign policy stance (often as a result of fundamental domestic political changes) the bilateral relationship displayed increasing equality with which came normality. A feature of the normalization of bilateral relations was that whereas defence and security issues had tended to be predominant, they were now just one part of the relationship as it became multi-faceted and encompassed a wider range of issue areas including the environment and human rights. A more normal, broad-based relationship also meant that whilst there were instances when New Zealand and Malaysia cooperated closely on the basis of shared national interests and common regional and international concerns, there were several occasions when their interests diverged markedly. On these occasions, the relationship displayed the sort of friction that can characterize international diplomacy between states.

The Commonwealth Connection: 1948–66 Although New Zealand’s diplomatic relations with Malaysia were not fully established until after the Federation of Malaya became an independent state in August 1957, New Zealand’s relationship with the peninsula predated this by several years. Indeed, it was in June 1955 that the first formal diplomatic link was put in place with the appointment of Foss Shanahan as Commissioner to Southeast Asia.2 New Zealand’s relationship with Malaya had, however, begun even before this with the establishment of significant military and development aid ties between the two. The development of such links in the early post–World War II period should be seen in the context of New Zealand’s close political and military ties with Britain, its belief in and commitment to the Commonwealth as an important international institution, the view that decolonization should be a cooperative process and the defining nature of its growing anti-communist stance.

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Malaya held an important place in Britain’s strategic calculations as it sought to uphold its influence in Southeast Asia and it rapidly acquired a prominent position in terms of the deteriorating regional security situation and the growing anti-communist struggle. Malaya’s position in this struggle helps to explain the importance which it was eventually accorded in New Zealand thinking. As McKinnon states: “Anti-Communism shaped defence and foreign policy. Although [Minister of Finance Walter] Nash and [Prime Minister Peter] Fraser had jibbed at some of Britain’s expectations in the sphere of Commonwealth defence in 1946, they did not hesitate to proffer their support in the more intense international climate of 1948–49.”3 Indeed, it was in response to a British request for assistance in 1949 following the communists’ victory in China and the heightened threat to Hong Kong that New Zealand made its first military commitment to Southeast Asia in the post-war period. This commitment took the form of three DC-3 Dakotas of A Flight No. 41 (Transport) Squadron Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) being deployed to Royal Air Force (RAF) Changi, Singapore where they subsequently assisted the RAF with courier services within Malaya and to Saigon and Hong Kong.4 Recognition that it shared “common defence interests … in SouthEast Asia and the Southwest Pacific” with Britain and Australia had led New Zealand to become part of ANZAM (the Australia–New Zealand–Malaya area) in 1949.5 Established in May 1948 as an informal consultative framework, ANZAM was a “contingency planning operation for the Eastern Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific … based on Australian defence machinery with the British and New Zealand defence forces involved through their liaison officers in Australia”.6 Increasingly, however, as the security situation began to deteriorate following the CPM’s (Communist Party of Malaya) decision to resort to armed struggle and the onset of the “Emergency” in June 1948, ANZAM planning began to take into account the peninsula’s security problems.7 Although it had been recommended at the Chiefs of Staff conference in Melbourne in 1953 that New Zealand’s “defence commitments shift [from the Middle East] to South-East Asia”,8 it was not until the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ conference in London in February

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1955 that New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Sidney Holland, decided to commit elements of all three services to the soon to be established Commonwealth Strategic Reserve. In a statement on 8 February, Holland now acknowledged that the “security of South-East Asia, and as part of it the security of Malaya, are of special significance to New Zealand”.9 The strategic significance of Malaya to New Zealand was clearly indicated in a report to the Chiefs of Staff Committee by the Joint Planning Committee entitled “The Importance of Malaya to New Zealand”, which stated that “the loss of Malaya would be a serious blow to the prestige and solidarity of the Commonwealth and to the status of the United Kingdom in Pacific Affairs”.10 The loss of Malaya would increase the threat to air and sea communications linking New Zealand with the Middle East and while the long-term effects of the loss “cannot be precisely defined”, the short-term effects of the emergence of communist regimes in Indonesia and “elsewhere in South-East Asia … could result in the development of a major threat to Australia and New Zealand”. Following the London conference, the New Zealand Cabinet authorized Holland to transfer to Malaya No. 14 (Fighter-Bomber) Squadron RNZAF and No. 41 (Transport) Squadron RNZAF — now equipped with Bristol Freighters.11 The army component of New Zealand’s contribution to the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve was to be the New Zealand Special Air Service (SAS) squadron which was formed on 1 May 1955 and which became part of 22 SAS regiment in Malaya.12 Although, as it turned out, the CPM insurgency had actually peaked and was beginning to wane by the mid-1950s, the New Zealand SAS was engaged in operations in Pahang, on the Perak-Kelantan border, and in Negri Sembilan targeting particular groups of terrorists. The New Zealand squadron was eventually replaced in November 1957 by the 1 Battalion New Zealand Regiment which then became part of the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve’s “land component”, 28 Commonwealth Infantry Brigade. The Commonwealth Strategic Reserve was principally “conceived as a support for regional defence under the terms of the Manila Pact”13 (which New Zealand had signed up to in September 1954), and with the external defence of Malaya against communist (Chinese) aggression. It was the Reserve’s role in conducting counter-insurgency operations

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— only supposed to be of secondary importance as far as the New Zealand government was concerned — which was to the fore, however.14 Indeed, even when the Emergency ended in 1960, 28 Commonwealth Brigade, and the New Zealand battalion which was part of it, “remained committed to its secondary role of assisting the Malayan government in operations against the MRLA [Malayan Races Liberation Army; an alternative name for the Communist Party of Malaya]”.15 The year after New Zealand’s first military deployment to Malaya was highly significant in terms of another aspect of the bilateral relationship: the provision of development assistance. This aspect, along with the military commitment to the peninsula’s security, was to provide the firm foundations on which the relationship was subsequently to be based. Together, they help to explain the degree of closeness between the two countries which was evident in the earlier period. At the 1950 Commonwealth Foreign Ministers meeting held that year in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), it was agreed to establish the Colombo Plan. The Plan would see the seven founding members (including New Zealand) provide various forms of technical assistance, including scholarships, in order to promote the development of current and prospective South and Southeast Asian Commonwealth countries. In keeping with its traditionally parsimonious approach to foreign affairs, the New Zealand government was initially unwilling to contribute to the Plan in its first year.16 However, New Zealand’s provision of technical assistance and capital aid to Malaysia became substantial later. By 1969, some 600 Malaysian students had graduated from New Zealand institutions after being awarded scholarships under the Colombo Plan.17 New Zealand was also heavily involved in the establishment of an agricultural training college at Binatang in Sarawak (including providing a grant of £250,000 to help set it up). The education of future members of the Malaysian political elite in New Zealand under the auspices of the Colombo Plan provided invaluable personal contacts between the two countries. It was the formation of the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve, however, and New Zealand’s participation in it which was one of the main subjects for discussion when the New Zealand Foreign Minister, T.L. Macdonald, visited Malaya in October 1955.18 In his meeting with Malaya’s Chief Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, who subsequently

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became the country’s first prime minister after independence, the upcoming Constitutional Conference in London was also discussed. This conference set in train the timetable for the process of granting self-government to the Federation. In a clear shift from its earlier policy — that the CPM insurgency had to be defeated first before moves towards self-government could occur — Britain had now decided that in the interests of securing a good long-term relationship with Malaya, these moves should now be hastened.19 This was a decision which New Zealand “fully supported”. The New Zealand government fully accepted the idea of Malayan independence, McKinnon contends, reassured that the sort of pro-British government which was going to take over would “not threaten Commonwealth security interests, particularly the Singapore base”.20 Indeed, the government thought that granting independence to Malaya was the “best way of ensuring that the Singapore base remained in British hands”.21 Merdeka (Independence) on 31 August 1957, unsurprisingly, saw the beginning of a significant change in New Zealand’s diplomatic representation. In September, the Commissioner to South-East Asia, Foss Shanahan, became New Zealand’s first High Commissioner to the Federation of Malaya although he was still resident in Singapore. Two years later, in 1959, a Kuala Lumpur office was established and Mr (later Sir) Charles Bennett became the first New Zealand High Commissioner resident in Malaya. Bennett, who was also New Zealand’s first Head of Mission of Maori descent, was able to establish very close links with the first leaders of independent Malaya.22 The first visit to the newly independent Federation of Malaya by a New Zealand Prime Minister occurred in 1958 when Walter Nash called into Kuala Lumpur as part of a tour of several Asian states. In the brief prepared for this visit it was noted that the New Zealand government had welcomed Malaya as the newest Commonwealth member the previous year and that New Zealand had “tried as far as possible to maintain a footing of complete equality within the Commonwealth partnership in all its dealings with Malaya since that time”.23 It was also noted in this brief that New Zealand wanted Malaya (and Singapore) to become part of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). Malaya’s external defence arrangements, however, continued to occur within a

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purely Commonwealth framework: in this case, the new Anglo-Malayan Defence Agreement (AMDA) which took effect on 12 October 1957. This agreement, Leifer notes, entailed a “commitment by Britain to the external defence of Malaya in return for which it was granted the right to maintain military forces ‘for the fulfilment of Commonwealth and international obligations’”.24 It was not until April 1959, though, when the New Zealand and Malayan governments exchanged letters, that New Zealand became “formally associated … with those articles in the agreement that provided for the stationing of Commonwealth forces”.25 In the main, up to 1959, the bilateral relationship was comparatively trouble free. Neither the Ministry of External Affairs in Wellington nor the High Commission in Kuala Lumpur had expressed any particular concerns about how it could be maintained and/or improved. The start of what was to become a very familiar pattern of concern about how the relationship could be furthered (or even sustained) can be seen in a memorandum sent from the Ministry of External Affairs to the High Commissioner in December 1959 in advance of the first visit to New Zealand by a Malayan Prime Minister. Such concerns, generated primarily by the effects of domestic political changes in Malaysia, were to greatly exercise the minds of New Zealand high commissioners, in particular, in future years. In the memorandum, the Ministry asked for suggestions as to how the relationship between New Zealand and Malaya could be strengthened.26 In response, the High Commissioner suggested, amongst other things, that Malaya could establish a diplomatic post in Wellington. The notes commenting on these suggestions included discussion of the fact that as Malaya had only a few career diplomats, the establishment of a diplomatic post in New Zealand would have to take into account Malaya’s “own priorities”.27 This view was no doubt based on a shared understanding of the limitations which small states faced in establishing diplomatic representation overseas. It was not until 12 December 1969 that the Malaysian High Commission in Wellington opened, with Lim Taik Choon becoming the first Malaysian High Commissioner to New Zealand.28 Prior to the establishment of the High Commission, the Malaysian High Commissioner in Canberra had also been accredited to New Zealand.

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It was Tunku Abdul Rahman — who in January 1960 had become the first Malayan Prime Minister to visit New Zealand — who was the architect of the proposal to create the larger Federation of Malaysia. The eventual establishment of Malaysia was to have profound diplomatic and military consequences for New Zealand. Militarily, it was to eventually lead to New Zealand forces becoming actively involved in defending the new federation against its Indonesian neighbour. The Tunku, as he was popularly known, had been motivated by an increasing concern about what Nicholas Tarling describes as the “leftward trend of Singapore politics” since the city-state had become self-governing in 1959.29 This trend could be countered by incorporating Singapore into a larger political entity dominated by Malaya. A merger between Malaya and a Singapore with an ethnic-Chinese majority, however, could shift the racial balance in such a way as to threaten Malay political dominance. It was for this reason that the Federation of Malaysia proposal — which first came into the public domain in May 1961 — also included the British territories of Sarawak and Sabah (British North Borneo). Including these two north Borneo states would balance the increase in the Chinese population. For the colonial power, Britain, the Federation provided a very acceptable way of disengaging from Sarawak and Sabah. From the New Zealand perspective, the proposed federation was seen as a good way of preserving “Western influence” and “of forestalling Indonesian aspirations”.30 Although “Malaysia” was not due to come into being for some time, “in an understanding in November 1961” the terms of AMDA “were extended to all the territories of the enlarged Federation of Malaysia”.31 It was not until two days after the establishment of the Federation on 16 September 1963, however, that an exchange of letters between the New Zealand and Malaysian governments saw implementation of “revised arrangements to adjust the geographical scope of New Zealand’s existing association” with AMDA.32 Even before the Federation had come into existence, Indonesia had officially adopted a policy of Confrontation towards Malaysia in July 1963 and had embarked on limited military activity in Borneo. It was with the potential for entanglement in this conflict in mind that the Prime Minister, Keith Holyoake, made it clear in a parliamentary

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statement on 19 September that the revised arrangements “imposed no legal obligation on New Zealand to maintain forces in Malaysia or to follow any specific courses of action in her external defence”.33 Indeed, New Zealand refused a request for military assistance in Borneo from Britain and Malaysia after the establishment of the Federation. For New Zealand, Pugsley contends, the “SEATO commitment” remained its “principal concern” and it also lacked the wherewithal “to meet both that and a commitment to Borneo”.34 In view of the intensification of the conflict after 16 September, the pressure put upon it by its major allies and the desire to be seen to be upholding a commitment to Malaysia, the New Zealand government did agree, however, to the RNZAF’s Bristol Freighters being used to convey troops and supplies to Borneo and to the use in anti-piracy patrols of the RNZN frigate on station. That the New Zealand government was trying hard to remain uninvolved in Confrontation was clearly evident to the recently arrived commanding officer of the New Zealand infantry battalion in Malaysia, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Gurr: “I had been made aware, as had the Australian battalion commander, that our respective governments wished to avoid armed conflict with the Indonesians even though we had a moral obligation to assist Malaysia.”35 By January 1964, however, the prevailing circumstances had changed and the moral obligation had become a moral imperative. Indonesian landings on the peninsula had “convinced Holyoake … that New Zealand had to play its part” and the government agreed to allow the New Zealand battalion to assist in operations along the ThaiMalaysian border which would release British and Malaysian units for action elsewhere.36 The subsequent escalation in Indonesian activity was matched by further moves towards the commitment of New Zealand forces and after the landing of Indonesian troops in Johor in August, Wellington gave approval to the High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur, R. Hunter Wade, to allow the battalion to be employed in operations against infiltrators in certain circumstances.37 It was not until after Indonesian paratroops had landed in and around the Labis area (again in the state of Johor) on 3 September that the government finally gave approval, through the High Commissioner on 4 September, for the New

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Zealand battalion to “actively assist the Malaysians”.38 1 RNZIR was subsequently involved in search operations for Indonesian forces in Johor in September and October; initially under the command of 4 Malaysian Brigade and then under 1 Malaysian Brigade. These operations ended after what proved to be the last Indonesian infiltration of the peninsula on 28 October.39 Following the end of these operations, the New Zealand battalion rejoined 28 Commonwealth Brigade. The British elements of this brigade were by now “part of a rotational system for active operations in Sarawak and Sabah”,40 but it was not until 5 February 1965 that Holyoake announced that the New Zealand battalion was available for service in Borneo “in rotation with Malaysian and British units”.41 This announcement followed New Zealand’s agreement “in principle” in January 1965, in response to Malaysian requests for assistance, to “offer additional military assistance to the defence of Malaysia against Indonesian Confrontation”. New Zealand’s provision of military assistance also included a forty man detachment from 1 Ranger Squadron New Zealand SAS which left New Zealand for Borneo in February. 1 RNZIR was given approval to go to Borneo for a six-month tour of duty and it subsequently deployed to the Second Division of Sarawak in May 1965 and by June had begun preparations to engage in cross-border operations aimed at deterring Indonesian forces from crossing into Malaysian territory. The political sensitivity which such “Claret” operations engendered — and this was not confined to the New Zealand government, but included the British one too — was such that for approval to be given there had to be “an assurance that there would be no security leaks” and that they would not become public knowledge.42 During its time in Borneo, 1 RNZIR carried out 18 such operations.43 By the end of the battalion’s tour in late October major domestic political change had occurred in Indonesia. Indonesia’s President Sukarno lost effective power following an abortive coup by a group of disaffected air force and army officers in which the Indonesian Communist Party was alleged to have been involved. The “counter-coup” launched by General Suharto saw the army take power in Jakarta and it was not to be long before Confrontation began to be wound down and Indonesia and Malaysia moved towards a rapprochement. In late May 1966 Indonesia approached Malaysia

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directly and the subsequent meeting led to the so-called “Bangkok Accord”. Confrontation officially ended on 11 August 1966. New Zealand’s political and military relationship with Malaysia had reached its zenith by 1966. New Zealand’s support during Confrontation had been widely appreciated in Malaysia and it had certainly contributed to the favourable view of New Zealand which was held there. In a discussion between the Principal Assistant Secretary in the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a visiting New Zealand journalist, it was noted that Malaysia had benefited from the support provided by New Zealand and Australia — two countries held in high regard internationally — and that both had also assisted the Federation to remain stable and to enjoy even socio-economic growth.44

Continuity and Change: 1966–71 The themes of continuity and change were highlighted in a report prepared in September 1966 entitled “The Future of New Zealand Relations with Malaysia”.45 In addition to recognizing that many aspects of New Zealand foreign policy could be found in the bilateral relationship with Malaysia (for example, political and military cooperation with Britain and Australia), the report noted that New Zealand had a continuing interest in Malaysia. This was not only because of its geographical position, but also its “political stability and capacity for economic growth”. Malaysia provided a very “satisfactory base for the extension of [New Zealand’s] interests — political, commercial, and military — in South-East Asia”. Besides recognizing the significance of the relationship for New Zealand, the report also acknowledged that New Zealand needed to be aware of “pressures for change” in Malaysia. In particular, it argued that as Malaysia gained more “assurance” in “handling [its] … domestic political affairs” and increasingly asserted an “independent and Asian identity, New Zealand like the other Commonwealth allies … [would] tend to lose the ease of access to the Malaysian Government’s thinking which has been characteristic of relations in earlier years”. The clear implication was that New Zealand would have to work much harder at the relationship.

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For the time being, however, and despite any moves towards a “more ‘independent’ international posture”, Malaysia still accepted the Commonwealth military presence.46 The substantial British presence in Malaysia was also important to New Zealand as it created a structure which New Zealand’s own defence and regional interests could readily be linked with. Fundamental changes in either Malaysian perceptions or the British presence would, therefore, have the potential to have a major impact on the military dimension of New Zealand–Malaysia relations. In the months immediately following the High Commission’s report, it was the Malaysians who seemed to be unsure as to the value which New Zealand placed on the relationship. The New Zealand government, the High Commission noted, seemed to be having problems in determining its position towards Malaysia as evidenced by the fact that the Defence Aid Programme for Malaysia and secondments to the Malaysian Armed Forces had given rise to “hesitations” and “qualms” in Wellington. 47 Though the High Commission appreciated that, for the government, Thailand and the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) were the most pressing concerns, Malaysia needed reassuring that it was still important and that it was not “being taken for granted”. These concerns seemed to have been taken on board by the time that Tun Abdul Razak, the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, visited New Zealand in April 1967. In an extract from Cabinet discussions with him it was noted that “central to New Zealand’s conception of its role in Asia is its relationship with Malaysia”.48 Holyoake also restated the New Zealand government’s intention to continue with its contribution to the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve for as long as Malaysia wanted it to do so.49 The Malaysians appeared to have been reassured by such statements and, following Razak’s visit, to have gained a clearer perspective of New Zealand.50 In the same month that Razak visited, the British Defence Secretary, Denis Healey, arrived in Singapore. During his visit Healey clearly indicated to Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, that Britain “would be out of mainland Asia by the late 1970s”.51 Britain’s intention to drastically reduce its force levels in Asia — brought about largely due to its worsening financial situation — had already been conveyed to the New Zealand government.52 Thus, when Britain published its defence

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white paper in July 1967 neither its contents, nor the implications for the Commonwealth defence framework in Malaysia and Singapore, were unexpected. In the white paper it was stated that by 1970/71 Britain would have reduced its force levels in the region by 50 per cent and that by the mid-1970s they would be withdrawn completely.53 Although these reductions were not unexpected, they were decidedly unwelcome for New Zealand. Not only did the New Zealand government believe that Malaysia and Singapore still needed some form of external protection but, even more importantly, Britain’s withdrawal would — despite New Zealand’s move towards reliance on the United States — threaten the whole basis of long-standing policies towards Malaysia and Singapore in particular and the wider region more generally. The planned withdrawal of British forces effectively signalled the end of AMDA. In order to avoid a destabilizing power vacuum occurring, and to give Malaysia and Singapore time to improve their own defences, Britain proposed the Five-Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA). The wording of this arrangement establishes the FPDA as a consultative body without the binding obligations of a standard alliance treaty. The first meeting of Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Singapore to discuss this putative arrangement was held in Malaysia in June 1966 and was attended by Holyoake. Prior to the meeting, the New Zealand High Commissioner wrote to the Prime Minister drawing his attention to the closeness of the relationship with Malaysia and arguing that it would be badly affected if New Zealand decided to withdraw its forces too.54 It was not until the following February, however, that the government announced that it was prepared to retain its forces in the area of Malaysia and Singapore beyond 1971. This decision, McKinnon contends, had everything to do with encouraging the United States to “commit itself to the region as a whole” and nothing to do with any attempt to “take on Britain’s former treaty obligations”.55 Indeed, at a Cabinet session held before the June 1968 five power meeting it had been argued that for its part New Zealand must “avoid any commitments of a long-term or specific nature and discourage any disposition on the part of Malaysia and Singapore to look to Australia and New Zealand to pull their chestnuts out of the fire”.56 In New Zealand, the decision was presented by the Prime Minister as “a national one, that of an independent nation, …

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consistent with long-established objectives and approaches in New Zealand foreign policy”.57 The second five-power meeting to discuss the future defence arrangements for Malaysia and Singapore was held in Canberra in June 1969 in the aftermath of the race riots in Kuala Lumpur in May. These riots had ensued after the election results had seen the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and its non-Malay coalition partners lose significant support, giving rise to acute concerns amongst the Malays about the continuance of their political dominance. The riots led to the suspension of parliament, the establishment of a National Operations Council led by Tun Abdul Razak and the virtual sidelining of the Prime Minister, Tunku Rahman. It was Razak, therefore, rather than the Tunku, who represented Malaysia at this meeting. Not surprisingly, the meeting was clearly affected by these political developments. In particular, the Australians were very cautious about making any defence arrangements with Malaysia and about the possibility that racial violence could spill over into Singapore. Similar concerns were also evident in New Zealand with it being noted that the press and the general public had begun to re-examine “previous policies” which could lead to a questioning of the “wisdom of the military commitment”.58 By this stage the move of the New Zealand battalion to Singapore was already pending, however, and thus New Zealand’s concerns were less acute.59 Following the Tunku’s resignation, Razak became Malaysian Prime Minister on 21 September 1970 and parliamentary democracy was restored in July 1971. Although the political turmoil undoubtedly meant that there was a preoccupation with domestic politics this did not lead to international isolation or to a neglect of foreign policy. In fact, quite the opposite occurred. Proposals for the neutralization of Southeast Asia; increased contacts with Third World non-traditional allies and — closely related to the more pro-Malay domestic politics which were now being pursued — the introduction of an Islamic dimension to international politics were all features of a more activist Malaysian foreign policy.60 An indication of the principles which were now going to guide Malaysian foreign policy, including anti-colonialism and non-alignment, was given in a speech by Tan Sri Mohamad Ghazali Shafie, the Minister for Special Functions and Minister for Information, in February 1971.61

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In a report on the speech, the New Zealand High Commission recognized that both its contents and its omissions had very significant implications for the bilateral relationship. The speech, the report noted, had contained no mention of New Zealand either in relation to its defence contribution or its provision of development assistance and thus seemed to give the impression of Malaysian ingratitude.62 Concomitantly, therefore, New Zealand “must learn to accept that Malaysia is under new management with a determination to appear to be beholden to no-one, especially those who are not Asian countries”. In a telling phrase, the report noted that the days of the Tunku’s “beaming benevolence” towards New Zealand (and Australia) are over. Provided, however, that Razak could “contain” more radical elements in the Cabinet and UMNO, Malaysia’s policy of “relative indifference” towards New Zealand would not “turn into something more sour”. In April 1971, the prime ministers of the five powers met in London to finalize the post-AMDA arrangements for Malaysia and Singapore’s defence. The meeting agreed that AMDA would be terminated on 31 October 1971 and be replaced by the FPDA.63 Under the new arrangements “an obligation to consult in the event of any form of external attack was substituted for the automatic commitment to respond” which AMDA had contained.64 The fact that it was only a commitment to consult and no more was readily emphasized by Holyoake after the meeting.65 The meeting also agreed to the establishment of an integrated air defence system (IADS) — which took place in September — and to the deployment of a joint Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom (ANZUK) force which would include the New Zealand infantry battalion. Whilst the multilateral FPDA provided a continuing military link between New Zealand and Malaysia it was never a crucial one. It was the bilateral military cooperation which remained a significant feature of the relationship. In the main, however, in the post-1971 period it was the non-military dimensions of the relationship that were to the fore.

A Relationship in Transition: 1972–80 After all the diplomatic activity surrounding the establishment of

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the FPDA the previous year, 1972 was comparatively quiet. A staple of regular communications between the High Commission in Kuala Lumpur and the Ministry in Wellington for a time was a series of articles which appeared in the Malaysian Chinese language newspaper, Sin Chew Jit Poh; most of which portrayed New Zealand in a distinctly unflattering light. The first of these articles appeared on 29 April and was entitled “Is New Zealand A Paradise?”: the answer to which was clearly “no” as New Zealanders were “forced” to live in suburbs and thus were compelled to “buy their own cars”.66 The increasingly “vitriolic” nature of these articles eventually led the High Commission to convey New Zealand’s concerns to a representative of the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was the Malaysian author’s location in New Zealand, however, which had the potential to cause diplomatic friction. Fearful of being prosecuted in Malaysia for having previously travelled to the People’s Republic of China on an invalid Malaysian passport, the author was attempting to stay in New Zealand. In the circumstances, to allow him to remain could have been regarded as granting him “political asylum” which would have been problematic for New Zealand–Malaysia relations. The decision was eventually taken to informally ask the Malaysian government what action it would take and assurances were received that any action would be limited. Arguably the most significant event in 1972 for the bilateral relationship was the coming to power of the third Labour government, led by Norman Kirk. Irrespective of the degree to which the new government was actually pursuing a more radical foreign policy approach, two aspects of its policy towards Asia were significant for New Zealand–Malaysia relations. The first aspect was the adoption of an Asian policy which was determined less by the policies and attitudes of New Zealand’s traditional allies — Britain and the United States — and more by New Zealand’s own attitudes. These had changed to such an extent that New Zealand was now viewing itself as part of a wider Asia-Pacific region. As the Prime Minister himself noted: “For the first time, we are setting out to see things through our own eyes, to look at our relations with Asia from the point of view of a small and prosperous country which geography has placed in the Asia-Pacific region.”67

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The second aspect reflected a fundamental change in perceptions. No longer would Asia be viewed “primarily as a series of possible threats to … [New Zealand’s] security”, but instead as “a region whose relative stability and economic progress are essential to the well-being of New Zealand, and whose efforts at regional co-operation are also therefore of the closest concern”.68 Emphasising the economic importance of Asia to New Zealand was driven by the search for economic opportunities at a time when the New Zealand economy was badly affected by oil price rises, falling commodity prices and Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community (EEC).69 Both these aspects led New Zealand to pursue what might be described as a more “activist” policy towards Asia.70 A heightened level of activism was certainly evident in New Zealand–Malaysia relations. Not only was there increased interaction in the form of a number of high-level visits, but also a series of new initiatives to try to broaden and strengthen the relationship. In March 1973, the Malaysian Defence Minister, Tun Ismail, visited New Zealand and his New Zealand counterpart, Mr A.J. Faulkner, travelled to Malaysia.71 Out of the latter’s visit, and originating from suggestions made by the Secretary of Defence and the Chief of the Defence Staff who accompanied Faulkner, arose the annual officials’ talks.72 The first talks were held in Kuala Lumpur later in the year and included discussion of “subjects of mutual foreign affairs and intelligence interest”.73 The agenda for the second round of talks in Wellington in November 1974 included “student and youth movements in SouthEast Asia”: a subject which, it will soon become apparent, was indeed of mutual interest.74 From New Zealand’s point of view, these talks were clearly an important component of the Kirk government’s attempt to develop “new directions” for its Southeast Asia policy.75 These “new directions” saw the government attempt to promote “confidence and stability through regional co-operation” and to strengthen bilateral ties, all with the avowed aim of moving away from the traditional military approach to involvement in the region. The talks with Malaysia were meant to get across these new policy aims. As part of his wider Asian tour, the Prime Minister visited Malaysia

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in December 1973. It was announced that plans to exchange military personnel were proceeding and that New Zealand had accepted Malaysia’s offer of a place for a New Zealand officer at its Armed Forces Staff College.76 Such an exchange was an important part of the Labour government’s new defence Mutual Assistance Programme (MAP) which was intended to strengthen and extend New Zealand’s “co-operative bilateral relationships” with the militaries of a number of countries in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, including Malaysia. 77 The aim of the programme was to assist these countries to “maintain their independence and freedom of action” which would, in turn, contribute to New Zealand’s security and to regional stability. In the realm of economics, it was stated that discussions had been held on a review of the 1961 Malaysia–New Zealand trade agreement.78 This agreement had governed trade relations for over a decade and “provided for a mutual extension of preferential tariff concessions and contained assurances for both sides that they would not impose or increase duties on a range of specified commodities”.79 A revised agreement, it was hoped, would increase the volume of trade and provide benefits for both parties. The subsequent modifications to the 1961 agreement were eventually implemented in February 1975.80 Discussions were also held on that other staple of the relationship — development assistance. The Malaysian Prime Minister had “expressed appreciation” for New Zealand’s assistance with the establishment of a logging training centre in Trengganu and “welcomed” New Zealand cooperation with the Malaysian National Rice and Padi Authority which would see the installation of eight grain storage silos at Tanjong Karang in the state of Selangor.81 At the forefront of Kirk’s plans to strengthen the relationship was his idea for a reciprocal immigration agreement which would lead to the freer movement of people between the two countries. This idea had first been raised in March 1973 and it was one of the topics discussed during his December visit. Persistent Malaysian concerns that any such agreement could lead to an excessive movement of people, however, meant that Malaysia was always less than enthusiastic about it.82 Whilst for Kirk and some other ministers the issue still remained a “live” one some twelve months later, for those involved in actually drawing up such

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a scheme it was regarded as more or less “moribund” by then.83 It was not until the National government had come to power in 1975, though, that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was advising the new Foreign Minister, Brian Talboys, that he could now indicate to the Malaysians that the issue was “never envisaged as a major element in the overall context of [the] … bilateral relationship” and could finally be dropped!84 The freer movement of people idea was never pushed hard enough by New Zealand for it to become a source of friction with Malaysia. Neither was another of Kirk’s ideas about which Malaysia was also lukewarm. This was his suggestion that in order to move away from divisive, Cold War, regional institutions, a wider regional grouping or association that would link Asia and the Pacific and could discuss a variety of regional issues was required.85 For Malaysia, it was the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) which was regarded as the principle vehicle for promoting Southeast Asian regional cooperation and institutionalized interaction between the region and external powers. Another potential source of friction in the foreign policy sphere at this time was over divergent attitudes towards China. New Zealand’s benign view of China was certainly not shared by Malaysia which — despite the establishment of diplomatic relations in May 1974 — still regarded China with suspicion because of its continuing support for the still dormant, but soon to be active, CPM.86 In contrast to the absence of real friction over some of these foreign policy fundamentals, it was the thorny area of the politics of international sport, in this case rugby, which seemed to come closest to generating a diplomatic rift. In light of Malaysia’s hard objection to sporting contacts with South Africa under its Apartheid era, in early 1973 Malaysia was considering boycotting the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch if the New Zealand government allowed the 1973 South African rugby tour of New Zealand to go ahead. The Malaysian Minister for Youth, Culture and Sport had been critical of the apparent decision by the government to only “postpone” the tour; not fully understanding that the term “postponement” was a domestic political manoeuvre aimed at reducing the fallout in New Zealand of the actual decision to cancel it.87 At the heart of real and recurring friction between New Zealand and Malaysia were students. This was indicative of both the importance

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which Malaysia attached to the education of its students in New Zealand and of the Malaysian government’s concerns about student activism at home and abroad. That this issue could generate such heat was also indicative of how important education was to the bilateral relationship and, perhaps, of how much the relationship had changed. Following the 1974 Malaysian election, which had occurred at a time when the country was facing economic difficulties, there was heightened student radicalism on campuses which the Malaysian government was determined to clamp down on. The government’s concerns about student activism were not just confined to the domestic arena, however. The Malaysian education minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, according to Means, also “accused some Malaysian students in Australia and New Zealand of joining communist front organizations and warned … [those] studying abroad that they should avoid any political activities and any criticism of Malaysia”.88 The New Zealand government was certainly aware of these concerns and although it noted that left-wing causes had grown in popularity among Malaysian students, there was “no evidence” that they had been influenced by either the Communist Party of New Zealand or the People’s Republic of China.89 In advance of Tun Razak’s rescheduled visit to New Zealand in October 1975,90 there were concerns amongst New Zealand officials that he could face demonstrations from New Zealand students protesting about the treatment of their fellows in Malaysia and about the “repressive” nature of the political system there.91 Such concerns were made more acute by an apparent increase in general anti-Malaysian feeling in some New Zealand quarters which took the form of accusations of Malaysia’s “authoritarian” policies and restrictions on individual freedom.92 The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted, however, that such sentiments were largely confined to a small group of student activists and that the masses were “either unmoved or not much interested in Malaysian affairs”. From an official perspective, there was an appreciation of the internal difficulties which the Malaysian government faced as the renewed threat from the CPM grew. In the event, Razak’s visit passed off relatively peacefully (certainly in comparison with his experience in Australia) and the demonstrations that did occur were regarded as inconsequential.93 Little of real substance

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resulted from the visit although both countries “reaffirmed commitment” to the FPDA and Malaysia announced it would support New Zealand’s UN initiative for the establishment of a Nuclear Weapons–Free Zone in the South Pacific.94 This initiative was very much in keeping with Razak’s own support for the neutralization of Southeast Asia. Razak was obviously affected by the demonstrations during his visits to Australia and New Zealand (though he noted that the demonstrators in New Zealand were mainly New Zealand students). On his return to Kuala Lumpur he held a press conference in which he discussed the issue of Malaysian students in both countries and indicated that in future the Malaysian government would need to be “more strict” with its students going overseas.95 The New Zealand government was immediately concerned at the prospect of any restrictions being placed on the activities of Malaysian students in New Zealand. These could place it in a difficult position. This would be particularly so if they contained provision for “extra-territorial jurisdiction” for Malaysian courts to try people accused of treason because New Zealand had no extradition treaty with Malaysia. Concern about the possible implications for civil liberties in New Zealand of Malaysian government action led the Prime Minister, Bill Rowling, to send a letter to his counterpart. In this he expressed regret at the demonstrations and hoped that strict measures would not be introduced, though this was entirely a Malaysian matter of course. If, however, the Malaysian government was considering introducing extraterritorial legislation, then Rowling hoped that the two countries could consult over any proposed law changes. New Zealand, Rowling stated, would have no problem with the introduction of a quota on the number of Malaysian students coming to New Zealand. Indeed, New Zealand would actually “welcome” this as the government wanted a greater degree of proportional equality amongst Southeast Asian students coming to study.96 Needless to say, Razak was “annoyed” by Rowling’s letter and had “no intention of replying”.97 The question of whether or not there would be a reply became tied up with the change of government in New Zealand as the National Party returned to power in December 1975. The change of government, in addition to causing Malaysia some general disquiet as to the possible

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policy implications for the New Zealand Force South-East Asia and aid levels, led to a Malaysian belief that there would now be “no requirement” for Razak to reply.98 Although the New Zealand High Commissioner initially indicated that some form of response would still be expected, it was eventually accepted that unless the new government raised the issue there would be no reply forthcoming. The issue was not raised and there was no reply. It was against this backdrop that Razak died in January 1976. His deputy, and brother-in-law, Hussein Onn, replaced him as prime minister and Onn chose Mahathir to be his deputy. New Zealand’s failure to send a ministerial level representative to Razak’s funeral attracted some press comment in New Zealand. In accordance with Muslim custom there was to be no lying in state and the body of Razak was to be buried promptly. The practical difficulties of getting a minister to Malaysia in time for the funeral were such that New Zealand was represented by the High Commissioner, J.H. Weir, instead.99 The first major visit to Malaysia by a member of Robert Muldoon’s government occurred in March 1976 when the Foreign Minister, Brian Talboys, undertook a tour of several Southeast Asian countries. In the absence of any “pressing bilateral issues” his discussions with Onn were general in nature.100 The topic of students, however, did crop up in discussions with both Onn and the Malaysian Foreign Minister, Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen. Talboys was no doubt relieved to hear that Malaysian students in New Zealand would only be affected by extraterritorial legislation if they engaged in “near treasonable activity”. For his part, Ahmad Rithauddeen indicated that the proposed ceiling on Malaysian students of 40 per cent of the total number of international students studying in New Zealand, which the National government was considering implementing, was a source of some concern.101 Indeed, several prominent Malaysians made the point to Talboys that the number of New Zealand trained students helping Malaysia develop represented “the most significant investment [New Zealand had made] … in Malaysia’s future and in ensuring its continued goodwill towards New Zealand”.102 Although New Zealand forces were not directly involved in combating renewed activity by the CPM in 1975–76 — indeed the

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Malaysian government initially refused to ask for external assistance103 — the continuing insurgency did raise one or two issues for the bilateral relationship. In 1976 there were concerns expressed that New Zealanders and other foreign citizens (including diplomats and aid workers) resident in Malaysia would have to participate in the Rukun Tetangga defence scheme, but Mahathir announced in November that this would not be the case.104 In mid-1976 the New Zealand Cabinet agreed to a request by Malaysia “for training assistance from New Zealand for a special para-military police force” which was based close to the strategically important Betong Salient.105 Apart from Muldoon’s visit to Kuala Lumpur in August 1977 to attend the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC), his only official visit to Malaysia during his term in office, there were no high-level official visits until late 1979. This lack of visits may have contributed to the feelings expressed by New Zealand’s High Commissioner, J. Shepherd, that the relationship had changed and that the “old intimacy” had gone.106 As he also observed, however, this made for a “more interesting and rewarding” relationship. The newly appointed High Commissioner, Michael Mansfield, certainly found it of interest that he had had to wait six months to pay his courtesy call on Hussein Onn.107 The prevailing regional security situation, as so often before, continued to provide a focus for cooperation however. Muldoon’s National government, which had returned to power after the 1978 election, continued to perceive regional instability as a threat to New Zealand’s security and regarded the appropriate response to be the provision of diplomatic and military support for the United States and the West in the region.108 In terms of threats to New Zealand, Muldoon, McKinnon contends, played up fears of Soviet aggression and the Soviet military presence in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific.109 For Malaysia, the prospect of Soviet opportunism was very much a concern because of the Soviet Union’s military links with Vietnam and the situation in Cambodia which had been created by the Vietnamese invasion in December 1978.110 The Malaysians were particularly concerned that fighting in Cambodia could spill over into Thailand and that this would see Malaysia become involved too. Hussein Onn was certainly anxious to know what New Zealand’s position on Cambodia was. There was

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agreement between New Zealand and Malaysia that peace could only be achieved in Cambodia when there was a “genuinely neutral and independent Cambodian government acceptable to both Hanoi and Peking”. In the light of the current regional security situation, it was noted how Malaysia was now attaching an increasing importance to the FPDA. Indeed, it was regarded as a “principal support” to Malaysia’s own aim of becoming self-reliant in defence.111 This was in stark contrast to the situation in 1976 when, it was observed, the Malaysians had been saying “less and less” about the FPDA (or about the New Zealand force in Singapore).112 The importance of Cambodia was evident in the fact that it was the focus for discussions when Talboys, the Deputy Prime Minister, visited Kuala Lumpur in November 1979 and it also featured on the agenda for Tengku Rithauddeen’s talks when he came to New Zealand in February 1980. Other items discussed during the Malaysian Foreign Minister’s visit included the establishment of direct air links between the two countries along with the old staples of education and trade.113 Another consequence of the Vietnamese invasion and occupation of Cambodia, which was exacerbated by the brief Sino-Vietnamese border war in February 1979, had important security implications for Malaysia: the invasion triggered another exodus of boat people from Indochina. This was a particular problem for Malaysia because it provided a very attractive target destination. Since 1975, Malaysia had faced successive waves of refugees and in 1979 alone 166,709 people landed on its shores.114 These large numbers were difficult to accommodate whilst resettlement in a third country was arranged — something which was in any case becoming increasingly difficult — and there were fears that as the majority of them were ethnic-Chinese, they could have a destabilizing effect on Malaysia’s racial balance. New Zealand played its part in the international effort to resettle as many of the refugees as possible in third countries and between 1975 and 1982 it took in 1,312 people from Malaysia.115 In a letter to the Secretary of External Affairs, Mansfield described 1980 as “something of a vintage year”.116 Not only had there been several high-level visits by New Zealand ministers to Malaysia (including

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Talboys’s trip in June to attend the PMC), but trade had increased significantly: New Zealand exports had risen by 38 per cent and the Malaysian demand for agricultural exports (especially butter and milk products) was now so great that it exceeded supply. The number of New Zealand–Malaysia joint ventures had also increased markedly from just four in 1974 to eighteen in 1980, including one concerned with the manufacture of that essential piece of New Zealand domestic life — the lawnmower.

Managing Mahathir’s Malaysia: 1981–2002 If Mansfield’s letter had been upbeat, then that written just over twelve months later by his successor was decidedly less so. High Commissioner Freeman-Greene noted, again, that New Zealand would have to work hard at the relationship and that it must be prepared to “weather … [its] share of the hard knocks” as the new Malaysian government “seeks to make up for lost time both in terms of domestic development and foreign policy objectives”.117 The new government to which he referred was that led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who had come to power in July 1981 following Hussein Onn’s retirement. Mahathir was subsequently to dominate Malaysian politics for over two decades and was the driving force behind much of Malaysia’s foreign policy which consequently displayed a degree of idiosyncrasy. Though many of his foreign policy positions gave the appearance that he perceived the international system in black and white terms, and that he was dogmatic, his view was usually more complex and his policy highly pragmatic. None the less, his willingness to take a stand on certain issues to the extent of causing diplomatic friction, and his forthright opposition to any apparent external interference in Malaysian domestic politics, made for a difficult era in the bilateral relationship. The tenor of Malaysian foreign policy under Mahathir seemed to be indicated more or less immediately by his refusal to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Australia in 1981, his “Buy British Last” campaign and his “Look East” policy.118 The refusal to attend the Commonwealth summit was influenced by both his low opinion of the efficacy of the organization and by the low

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priority which was accorded to the Commonwealth in Malaysian foreign policy: it was also indicative of his sensitivity to foreign media coverage of Malaysian ethnic issues. Although none of these things directly affected New Zealand, they suggested that the residual Commonwealth connection was likely to be of even less utility and indicated quite clearly the potential for confrontation should an issue which was of direct concern arise. Unfortunately, such an issue did arise in the unlikely form of Antarctica. New Zealand’s interest in the large, frozen continent to its south was both understandable and long-standing. For New Zealand, stability in Antarctica was vital for its security and it was the 1959 Antarctic Treaty that was the best way of guaranteeing this. Malaysia’s interest was less immediately apparent. In his address to the UN General Assembly on 29 September 1982, Mahathir mentioned that Antarctica belonged to the “international community” as a whole and that any exploitation of its resources should be used to aid the development of poor countries as well as the rich. This was a mention which, as one New Zealand diplomat commented, was “longer and more damaging to our interests than had been expected”.119 New Zealand’s objections to the “feel and content” of the speech were clearly indicated to the Permanent Head of the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the High Commissioner in a meeting on 8 October.120 New Zealand was especially concerned that its earlier “representations had failed to dissuade Mahathir from proceeding”. In response to his speech, New Zealand tried unsuccessfully to elicit a joint response from the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties or to get agreement that if New Zealand made a reply it could be on behalf of all of them.121 The High Commission in Kuala Lumpur very much preferred quiet diplomacy, arguing that any unilateral response by New Zealand would cause resentment in Malaysia and could adversely affect bilateral ties.122 This was also the position which was eventually adopted by the Ministry in Wellington. The Antarctica issue seemed to raise concerns about the whole direction of New Zealand–Malaysia relations as the prevailing view was that Malaysia was just not prepared to listen to New Zealand’s concerns.123 For many, the whole issue clearly emphasized how important it now was for Mahathir to come and visit.124 It was not until August 1984, however, that Mahathir — accompanied

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by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Deputy Ministers of Finance, Trade and Industry and Primary Industries — paid his first visit to New Zealand as Prime Minister.125 The discussions with David Lange, the Prime Minister of the Labour government which had come to power after the June 1984 election, revolved around Mahathir’s principal concerns which were the “bilateral trade imbalance and access for Malaysian students to New Zealand educational institutions”.126 Agreement that there were “no major problems” in the bilateral relationship was accompanied by recognition that there was still “some divergence of view” on Antarctica.127 The first high profile visit to Malaysia by a member of Lange’s government occurred in January 1985 when the Minister of Defence, Frank O’Flynn, held discussions with Mahathir and the deputy ministers of defence and foreign affairs who reiterated that Malaysia “continued to regard the FPDA as an important instrument of national and regional security”.128 O’Flynn also visited the IADS headquarters at Butterworth. Another visit by O’Flynn, this time in the capacity of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, occurred in quick succession when he visited Kuala Lumpur in July as the leader of the New Zealand delegation to the ASEAN PMC.129 Lange’s first visit to Malaysia as Prime Minister also occurred in 1985 when he called in on his way back from Europe in March. In his discussions with Mahathir the issues of Cambodia, ANZUS, the FPDA and “student entry to New Zealand” were all aired.130 Significantly, in reaffirming to both Mahathir and Lee Kuan Yew (who he visited in Singapore) New Zealand’s continuing “commitment to keeping troops in Singapore as a contribution to the stability of the South-East Asia–South Pacific region”,131 Lange linked Southeast Asia with the area to which New Zealand’s security concerns were increasingly being refocused.132 Symbolic of Malaysia’s attempts to rapidly industrialize in the 1980s through the pursuit of a “heavy industries” policy (which was one part of Mahathir’s ambitious plan to transform Malaysia into a developed nation and society) was the plan for a Malaysian national car. The resultant “Proton Saga” was eventually launched in September 1985. In order to expand production it was decided to market the car in a select group of overseas markets and New Zealand was one of the countries

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chosen.133 The Proton Saga also proved to be a potent symbol of bilateral cooperation in another area. Coinciding with the announcement on 26 November 1985 by Mike Moore (Minister of Overseas Trade and Marketing) and Bob Tizard (Minister of Energy) that Welgas Holdings had signed a contract with the Malaysian national petroleum company, Petronas, for “a pilot feasibility study for the development of CNG [compressed natural gas] as a transport fuel”, Welgas’s Chief Executive handed over a CNG fuelled Proton Saga car (the first in Malaysia) in Kuala Lumpur.134 Contention rather than cooperation was evident again at the 40th Session of the UN General Assembly in 1985 over the issue of Antarctica. Since Malaysia had placed the issue on the agenda in 1983, the accepted norm had been for the Assembly to adopt without a vote a resolution that had been negotiated between the Consultative Parties and Malaysia.135 At the 40th Session, however, Malaysia and its supporters put three resolutions to a vote. Whilst these secured a relatively small vote in favour, “all the countries most directly concerned [including New Zealand] signified their view of the Malaysian initiative by not participating, or by absenting themselves from the vote”.136 The position of New Zealand and the other Consultative Parties was that it was regrettable that the previous pattern of consensus had not been adhered to and that if consensus was not restored, the Consultative Parties would “be compelled to reconsider their participation in this item”. New Zealand’s special interest in Antarctica was also very much in evidence in the new defence white paper — The Defence of New Zealand — released in February 1987. Antarctica, along with New Zealand itself and Australia, was deemed an area of “direct strategic concern”.137 Although the white paper recognized that New Zealand had wider interests, including the FPDA, in reality the focus was now almost entirely on its immediate region. Indeed, it was in this context that on 23 December 1986 the Prime Minister had announced the decision to withdraw the New Zealand force from Singapore by the end of 1989.138 This decision, Lange stated, would not affect the continuation of New Zealand’s bilateral military relationship with Malaysia or its participation in the FPDA. That the withdrawal from Singapore would not affect military

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cooperation with Malaysia was reiterated when the Minister of Defence and Minister of Science and Technology, Bob Tizard, visited Malaysia and Singapore early in 1988. Tizard “reassured his counterparts of New Zealand’s continuing interest in maintaining a good working relationship under the Five Power Defence Arrangements”.139 As part of a realization perhaps that new areas of cooperation were now required if the bilateral relationship was to progress, Tizard also met Datuk Amar Stephen Yong, the Malaysian Minister of Science, Technology and the Environment and “agreed that the two countries would co-operate in several areas, including agriculture and materials technology”.140 Some parallels can be seen here with the review of New Zealand’s relationship with Canada where it had been recognized that although long-standing ties made for a “comfortable” relationship, these were no longer “enough to give [it] … vitality”.141 A little over a year after Lange’s Labour government had been returned to power in the August 1987 election, and soon after the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Russell Marshall, had made the first major address for some time on New Zealand’s relations with Southeast Asia,142 New Zealand’s High Commissioner sought to follow up a recent basic relationship paper with his own appreciation of the state of the relationship at this time. After noting the need to “redress the imbalance in Ministerial visits” (caused by fewer Malaysian ministers travelling to New Zealand), the High Commissioner contended that despite New Zealand and Malaysia being similar countries, in many respects “the tendency has been for the relationship to weaken as [both states] … look past each other to more vital markets and partners”.143 Moreover, recent areas of friction, including Antarctica and human rights issues, tended to overshadow the “more positive and productive elements”. Antarctica and human rights (primarily the case of Lorraine and Aaron Cohen) were certainly amongst the areas of friction that were identified in mid-1989. Malaysia’s persistent campaign in the United Nations, based on Mahathir’s view of Antarctica as a “common heritage”, continued to “harm New Zealand’s political and security interests in Antarctica” as it threatened “to undermine the Antarctic Treaty”.144 The case of the Cohens, who were arrested and convicted in Malaysia in 1987 for heroin trafficking, was also an ongoing source of friction.

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There had been considerable public condemnation in New Zealand of the severity of their sentences (Lorraine had been sentenced to death and Aaron to life imprisonment) and pressure had been placed on the government to take action on their behalf. In anticipation of the Malaysian Supreme Court confirming the death sentence at the appeal hearing in early August 1989, a whole series of telegrams requesting clemency had been prepared for the Prime Minister down.145 In the event, the Court commuted Lorraine Cohen’s death sentence to life imprisonment and the telegrams were never sent. Aaron Cohen’s life sentence was upheld and he was awarded six strokes of the cane too — a decision which was hardly likely to reduce feelings in New Zealand that his human rights had been violated in some way. Human rights became combined with environmental concerns over the issue of logging activities in Sarawak and the treatment of activists protesting against these. Many groups in New Zealand were concerned about deforestation in general and what was occurring in Sarawak in particular. Following a visit to Sarawak by someone from the High Commission to look at deforestation and its environmental effects, the High Commissioner produced a summary report.146 New Zealand was fully aware of Malaysia’s sensitivity on this matter and never pressed too hard. Instead, New Zealand gave priority in its environmental policy to furthering the pursuit of the idea of sustainable development contained within the Brundtland Report, “Towards a Common Future”, and persuading other countries to do likewise. In the realm of economic and trade relations, Malaysia was clearly upset by New Zealand’s decision to introduce changes to its Generalized System of Preferences scheme. One of these changes saw the introduction of a threshold (set at 70 per cent of New Zealand’s gross national product) “above which countries … [would] no longer qualify for the developing country preferential tariff”.147 This effectively graduated “off the … list a number of countries with per capita GNP’s above the threshold”, one of which was Malaysia. The effect on Malaysian exports represented an “average duty increase of 6.7 per cent” and Malaysia “fully expressed its concerns” about this.148 Those traditional areas of cooperation — the Commonwealth and defence — were not immune from disagreement (or at least

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disappointment) either in 1989. They did, however, display some of the more positive elements too. Following Mahathir’s change of heart over the Commonwealth — which can partly be explained by the fact that CHOGM provided a very good forum for him to get his views across to developing states — it was announced in 1987 that Malaysia would host CHOGM in 1989. Prior to the meeting in Kuala Lumpur in October, which was attended by the Prime Minister, Geoffrey Palmer, and Russell Marshall, New Zealand had indicated that it would support Malaysia’s plan “on behalf of the Commonwealth” to invite Pakistan to rejoin and attend the meeting if there was a consensus in favour.149 New Zealand was not supportive, however, of Malaysia’s desire for Fiji to return also. New Zealand did not see the “necessary preconditions (a return to civilian government and free elections) … [being] met in the immediate future”. Since the military coup in 1987, Fiji had emerged as another area of disagreement. Malaysia’s sympathy for the Fiji coup leaders policies of “indigenous rights” seemed to stem from Malaysia’s own domestic political structure. Malaysia’s policy of offering assistance to Fiji following the imposition of sanctions ran completely counter to that of New Zealand.150 The visit by New Zealand’s Minister of Defence, Bob Tizard, and the Chief of the Defence Staff to Malaysia in June 1989 saw the extent of defence cooperation between the two states highlighted. New Zealand, it was noted, was the only country outside ASEAN to “offer the Malaysians long-term exchange postings with its Armed Forces” under the auspices of the MAP.151 Malaysia provided a variety of things (including ranges and airspace) that were invaluable for the training of New Zealand’s forces. The annual highlight of defence cooperation was the “incorporation of 1 RNZIR into a Malaysian infantry brigade group for … ex[ercise]. TAIAHA TOMBAK”.152 At the same time, however, question marks were now being placed over some aspects of defence cooperation because of the impending withdrawal of the New Zealand battalion from Singapore. The Malaysians had expressed “regret” about this decision since it had been made and were concerned that it implied a lack of commitment by New Zealand to the FPDA.153 Malaysia was much happier about the outcome of talks in Kuala Lumpur in August 1989. These finally resulted in the initialling of an Air

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Services Agreement between Malaysia and New Zealand which would establish direct flights between the two countries for the first time.154 The agreement allowed for the designated airlines of the two states “to be able to operate weekly services up to the equivalent of two B747s each between Malaysia and New Zealand”. The first service was to begin immediately and the second from October the following year. A wide-ranging appreciation of the relationship prepared for the Malaysian bilaterals at CHOGM provides a good overview of the relationship at the end of the decade.155 In strategic terms, it was acknowledged that whilst regional stability was still a long-standing New Zealand concern, Malaysia’s “direct strategic significance to New Zealand” was now “less than Indonesia’s”. Economically, Malaysia was still “a significant second-tier export market”, but did not rank highly “as a source of imports”. In the year to June 1989 New Zealand exports to Malaysia — which were still primarily primary products such as milk powder and cream — totalled NZ$245.6 million, whilst imports totalled only NZ$72.2 million. Traditional political ties resulting from old security concerns and the Commonwealth connection were now much less important. Indeed, it was ASEAN which was now the main “international organisation through which New Zealand and Malaysia relate[d] in any systematic way”. That other traditional bilateral link, the provision of development assistance, had “been completely removed” by 1989.156 If the elements which had led to “closeness and warmth” in the past had now gone, then nothing had really come along to replace them. A combination of Mahathir’s domestic and foreign policy positions and New Zealand’s refocusing on the South Pacific meant that the “two countries ha[d], largely unconsciously, been growing apart”.157 In the absence of the “old easiness”, and given New Zealand’s interest in building its links with ASEAN on the foundation of its relations with traditional allies such as Malaysia, “the burden of sustaining and developing the relationship” would in future fall “rather more on the New Zealand side”. If the burden was increasingly going to fall on New Zealand, then the High Commission’s task was not going to be made any easier by recent cost cutting. This had led to a reduction in consular staff, vehicles and drivers,

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and to the start of a search for “cost-effective rental accommodation” to replace the existing chancery which was to be sold.158 The task facing the incoming High Commissioner, Michael Chilton, was “to build a new relationship with Malaysia … with fewer resources than the post … had in the past”.159 The Ministry, in Mike Moore’s words, was “looking for a quality product at the minimum cost”. [underlining in original.] The new National government, which was to hold office from 1990–1999, laid claim to have discovered Asia and its importance to New Zealand. This rediscovery, however, did signal an important shift in foreign policy emphasis and it laid the basis for an attempt to reconstruct the relationship with Malaysia, if not exactly build a new one.160 Although the new government’s “Asia 2000” goal involved a good deal of hyperbole, at its core was the pragmatic belief that in order to secure a viable economic future for itself, New Zealand was increasingly going to have to interact economically with states in Asia.161 Economic interaction, the government believed, could best be promoted through cooperation with traditional friends and trade partners and through participation in a variety of regional multilateral organizations. It was rather symbolic, therefore, that Philip Burdon, the Minister for Trade Negotiations, and one of the architects of the “Asia 2000 Programme”, was the first minister in the new government to visit Malaysia. Burdon travelled to Malaysia in March 1991 and the Defence Minister, Warren Cooper, followed him in April.162 The Minister of External Relations and Trade, Don McKinnon, also attended the ASEAN PMC in Kuala Lumpur in July.163 An unofficial visit by the Malaysian King to New Zealand also occurred in 1991 which further “raised the profile of the relationship in both countries”.164 Other positive developments in 1991 included the announcement that the diplomatic representation at a number of posts including Kuala Lumpur would be strengthened and the visit of HMNZS Wellington to East Malaysia.165 An announcement that the New Zealand infantry battalion could not attend exercise TAIAHA TOMBOK in 1992 received rather less publicity than HMNZS Wellington’s visit and indicated the extent to which cost constraints continued to impede defence relations. Contained in a report on this bilateral defence cooperation were concerns about increasing friction between Australia and Malaysia

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and the Ministry of External Relations and Trade’s unease about the possible showing in New Zealand of the television series Embassy.166 Malaysia had strongly objected to this series when it was first shown in Australia on the grounds that the fictional Southeast Asia country portrayed in it represented a thinly disguised attack on Malaysian politics and society. The Ministry was right to be uneasy. When Embassy was eventually shown on TV One, beginning on 2 February 1993, it did cause diplomatic friction, albeit not to the same extent as in the Australian case. Following the broadcast of the first episode, New Zealand quickly received a demarche from the Malaysian government protesting about its screening.167 In response, the Secretary of External Relations and Trade wrote to McKinnon drawing his attention to the serious consequences faced by Australia in 1990–91 and expressing the need for the government to explain what action it was taking.168 McKinnon’s response was to write a letter to his counterpart, Datuk Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, on 11 February outlining the New Zealand government’s position: a position which had already been explained in his conversations with the Malaysian High Commissioner.169 The government confessed to having no knowledge of Television New Zealand’s decision to show the programme and McKinnon expressed his profound regret at that decision. He reassured Abdullah, however, that it was being shown at a low viewing time and that very few people had actually watched it. The letter must have been pitched at the right level for the matter seemed to go no further. This episode prompted the High Commission to draw the government’s attention to the need for it to be aware of potentially sensitive issues which could arouse Mahathir’s hostility.170 Indeed, it might be necessary in some instances for New Zealand “to take tough decisions and weigh carefully principles or domestic considerations against the damage that might be done by arousing Malaysian ire”. The government certainly seemed to take this advice on board. Education and trade remained important features of the relationship in 1993. In a briefing for a visit by the Secretary of External Relations and Trade to Malaysia in June 1993, it was noted that in 1992 New Zealand exports to Malaysia had increased by 21 per cent on 1991 figures to NZ$377 million with imports increasing by 61 per cent to

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NZ$181 million.171 Philip Burdon visited Kuala Lumpur again in 1993, accompanied by representatives of 150 New Zealand companies, for an Asia 2000 Trade and Investment Opportunities Seminar sponsored by the Malaysia–New Zealand Business Council.172 By 1993, Malaysia was the biggest revenue earner for the New Zealand education sector “with estimated receipts of NZ$30 million in 1992”.173 Further illustrating the strength of the relationship at this time was Malaysia’s support for New Zealand’s candidacy for the UN Security Council in 1993/94.174 Prime Minister Jim Bolger’s visit to Malaysia in May 1994 certainly symbolized the strength of the relationship at this time and highlighted the extent to which it had been revitalized. Some of the language used in his speeches was deliberately dramatic — “Our relationship has a special character, it’s very important to us” — and frequent reference was made to the length of the relationship.175 Although Mahathir would have appreciated the fact that Bolger shared his “commitment to open regionalism”, he may have been less appreciative of Bolger’s enthusiasm for CER (Closer Economic Relations) and APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation).176 Mahathir’s attendance at CHOGM in Auckland in November 1995 passed off comparatively peacefully as Malaysia did not oppose the Commonwealth’s decision to suspend Nigeria. However, in describing Mahathir’s remark on the need for Commonwealth countries to be aware of their own past history with regard to democracy and human rights — “one man’s democracy may be another man’s dictatorship” — as “flippant”, Don McKinnon may have fallen foul of the cardinal rule in dealing with Mahathir of avoiding anything which could be construed as personal criticism.177 A more low-key but none the less highly significant visit occurred in December 1995, when the Malaysian Minister of Trade and Consumer Affairs, Dato Abu Hassan, arrived. As part of his visit he travelled to Scott Base and this marked a major desensitizing of the Antarctica issue. Indeed, his trip to Antarctica was “the result of positive contacts with Malaysia at the UN” which had led to the “welcome return to consensus on the question of Antarctica” at the General Assembly in 1994.178 Having been invited by Bolger to return for a bilateral visit whilst he was attending CHOGM, Mahathir paid an official visit to New

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Zealand in March 1996.179 Pre-visit press comments in New Zealand noted the positive nature of the bilateral relationship and the degree of personal chemistry between Bolger and Mahathir.180 It was certainly the positive aspects which were highlighted in the official speeches and statements. Symbolizing the close relationship, Bolger noted, was the fact that Mahathir was going to inaugurate a Chair in Malay Studies at Victoria University.181 Other announcements during the visit concerned the signing of several joint ventures between New Zealand and Malaysian companies (including areas such as education, cold store technology, and steel furniture manufacture), the fact that trade continued to increase (Malaysian exports to New Zealand had increased by 54 per cent over 1994 to NZ$374 million in 1995 and New Zealand exports to Malaysia had gone up by 11 per cent to NZ$434 million) and the introduction of a working holidays arrangement for 18 to 30 year olds.182 It was unfortunate, perhaps, that at the time of his visit there was an ongoing debate in New Zealand over Asian immigration and that Mahathir temporarily forgot his own strictures about avoiding comments on others’ domestic politics. In response to criticism of New Zealand immigration policy by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, Mahathir commented that New Zealand could not reject Asian immigration and then claim it wanted to be closer to Asia without it sounding like discrimination.183 These comments attracted criticism from Peters and others and sparked off a renewed debate about the extent to which New Zealand was an “Asian” country. That this was the only real source of friction during the visit should be regarded as a demonstration of its underlying strength. Post-1995, when his Barisan Nasional (National Front) government had achieved a decisive election victory, Mahathir had “pledged to pursue his foreign policy positions [on APEC and the EAEC, for example] even more aggressively in the future”.184 Given the potential for friction over some of these issues, its absence was notable. The National government’s careful avoidance of any “linkage” between trade and human rights during the visit undoubtedly helped too.185 In 1997, New Zealand and Malaysia signed a new Trade and Economic Co-operation Agreement186 and the Foreign Minister, Don McKinnnon, attended the ASEAN PMC and the ASEAN Regional

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Forum (ARF) in Kuala Lumpur: McKinnon was also received by Mahathir.187 McKinnon’s stance at the ARF over Burma’s ruling regime, however, would not have endeared him to Mahathir who was a vigorous supporter of the ASEAN policies of non-intervention and constructive engagement.188 During the last two years of the National government, New Zealand–Malaysia relations revolved around APEC and the domestic political crisis in Malaysia centred on Anwar Ibrahim. Indeed, these two aspects became inextricably linked. Anwar Ibrahim, the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister and Mahathir’s anointed successor,189 was sacked on 2 September 1998 and subsequently imprisoned to await trial on charges of corruption and sodomy. The nature of his dismissal and the charges which were laid against him led to large protests in Malaysia. These occurred at a time when Malaysia was not only hosting the Commonwealth Games, but was also preparing for the APEC Leaders’ Summit in November. The preparations for this summit saw Don McKinnon travel to Kuala Lumpur again, in late October.190 The APEC summit was attended by the Prime Minister, Jenny Shipley (who had replaced Bolger as National leader in 1997), Don McKinnon and Lockwood Smith. Lockwood Smith had the opportunity to witness first hand some of the protests when his official car was stopped in a traffic jam on the edge of a march through the city.191 In stark contrast to the position adopted by some other Western leaders, Shipley decided to continue with her bilateral meeting with Mahathir at which she was going to raise New Zealand’s concerns over Anwar.192 New Zealand’s generally low-key approach — which included Shipley’s criticism of US Vice-President Al Gore’s APEC banquet dinner speech in which he had voiced support for the people campaigning against Anwar’s jailing — was widely criticized in the New Zealand media.193 This low-key approach was thought to have been influenced by a number of factors including the belief that APEC was not the right forum in which to raise such concerns, McKinnon’s candidature for the Commonwealth Secretary General’s position and, especially, the fact that New Zealand was to host the APEC summit in 1999.194 The preparations for chairing APEC and hosting the Leaders’ Summit in 1999 saw Lockwood Smith visit a number of Southeast Asian

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countries, including Malaysia, in February 1999.195 The preparations for a successful summit, at least as far as Malaysian participation was concerned, were effectively derailed by the eventual conclusion in April of Anwar’s trial on corruption charges and the sentence of six years in jail which he received.196 In a statement released on 14 April, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Don McKinnon, stated that “no one could be pleased with the outcome of the trial” and that “the conduct of the trial, and today’s verdict, have caused concern and unhappiness in Malaysia and internationally”.197 In view of the assault charge which had been brought against the Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor, McKinnon also indicated that New Zealand expected Anwar’s future “physical safety be assured while he remains in custody”. Such comments, and their implied criticism of the way in which the Anwar issue had been handled, would not have endeared McKinnon to Mahathir and may have further contributed to the alleged opposition by him to McKinnon’s becoming Commonwealth Secretary General.198 What role, if any, such criticism played in Mahathir’s late decision not to attend the APEC summit in Auckland in September is unclear. The decision to send his deputy, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, instead, however, was clearly a diplomatic setback for New Zealand and for the government’s APEC-centred regional policy. Mahathir’s decision was probably influenced by a combination of his traditional dislike of APEC and the lack of substance which he attributed to such meetings, as well as a need to focus on the ramifications of the ongoing domestic political and economic crises in advance of an election.199 Mahathir’s son, Mahathir Mirzan, did attend the APEC Chief Executive Officers’ Summit, however, in his capacity as head of the logistics company Konsortium Perkapalan Berhad, where he held discussions with several New Zealand companies on the application of e-commerce technology to logistics.200 The change to a Labour government after the October 1999 election did not hold out the prospect of any significant upturn in the bilateral relationship. In opposition, the new Prime Minister, Helen Clark, had expressed the belief that the National government had gone “overboard” with its Asia focus and that this had led to it “going soft on human rights in Asia and neglecting opportunities in other parts of the world”.201 In government, Clark indicated that New Zealand would

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“continue to engage very actively in the institutions and organisations of the Asia-Pacific” including maintaining “full participation in the Five Power Defence Arrangements”.202 It was readily apparent, however, that the new government’s foreign policy agenda had a wider geographical focus and encompassed a range of issue areas, including human rights, the environment and international labour issues, which provided some scope for friction with Malaysia. It was the area of human rights, or rather Anwar Ibrahim’s right to a fair and independent trial, which led Phil Goff, the new Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to openly criticize the judicial process in Malaysia following Anwar’s conviction for sodomy. In a statement released on 8 August 2000, Goff indicated that he had “conveyed to the Malaysian Government New Zealand’s concerns at the conviction … and the process followed in securing that conviction”.203 Although New Zealand generally refrained from commenting on such matters, in this case it had been necessary to do so because there was “deep concern about the adequacy and fairness of the process followed in reaching this verdict”. Goff had already raised the matter with his Malaysian counterpart, Syed Hamid, when the two met at the ARF in Bangkok in July. The first high level visit to Malaysia by a member of the Labour government occurred in September 2000 when Jim Sutton, the Minister for Trade Negotiations, travelled to Kuala Lumpur to hold discussions with his counterpart, Dato Seri Rafidah Aziz, on the possibility of linking the ASEAN Free Trade Area and CER.204 By this time total trade between New Zealand and Malaysia equalled 2 billion ringgit (approximately NZ$1 billion) and, as a result of a combination of two years of drought in New Zealand and the Asian economic crisis, the balance was now weighted in Malaysia’s favour. At 54 per cent, dairy products still accounted for the bulk of New Zealand’s exports and Malaysia remained New Zealand’s tenth largest export market as well as the biggest source of full-time students for New Zealand’s universities. It was Jim Sutton, in the capacity of Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, who, in March 2001, effectively indicated the state of the relationship in a statement entitled “New Ambassador [sic] to Malaysia”.205 The language used in the announcement that Mac Price was to be the next High Commissioner to Malaysia differed quite markedly

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from that used in the contemporaneous announcement of the new High Commissioner to Singapore. Whilst the relationship with Singapore was described as “one of the closest we have with any country”, that with Malaysia was merely described as “comprehensive”. In his visit to Kuala Lumpur in March 2002, to have meetings with Mahathir and Syed Hamid, Phil Goff struck the more normal note with reference to the “long-standing” nature of the relationship and the traditional areas of cooperation between the two countries.206 The topics for discussion, however, including human rights issues and people smuggling, suggested that there would continue to be areas of disagreement, as well as perhaps, new areas for cooperation in a regional and international environment radically changed from the post-1945 one in which the relationship had begun.

Conclusion After a period spanning more than 50 years, the relationship at the end was very different from that at the beginning. The regional and international circumstances which had given rise to close cooperation in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s had changed beyond recognition by the 1980s. The concomitant absence of a shared imperative to work closely together was exacerbated by marked domestic political changes in Malaysia and shifts in defence and foreign policy priorities in both countries. Though elements of the old relationship remained in the areas of defence, education, and especially trade, they were not attributed with the same degree of significance that they once had been. To a large extent, by the 1990s, New Zealand’s relationship with Malaysia existed primarily in the context of their membership of, and participation in, a range of regional institutions and dialogue processes. That this should be the case, and that the old personal contacts no longer seemed to matter as much, is perhaps lamentable. It is, however, largely understandable. Ultimately, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that neither the political elites nor the populations alike in both countries had any strong sense of enduring commonality. The relationship, therefore, was always going to be affected by vicissitudes and thus it was much more likely that the two would grow apart rather than remain close together.

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NOTES 1. The Federation of Malaya, which had come into existence with the Federation agreement of 1 February 1948, replaced the short-lived Malayan Union established in April 1946 after a brief post-war period of British military administration. The Federation of Malaya was eventually succeeded by the Federation of Malaysia which was established on 16 September 1963 with the inclusion of Sabah, Sarawak, and, initially, Singapore. Singapore left the Federation on 9 August 1965. 2. 58/420/1, New Zealand: External Relations — Malaysia, part 1 (14 August 1953 to 3 October 1974). Pugsley contends that this diplomatic post was “established only after it was agreed that New Zealand regular forces would become part of the Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve”. Christopher Pugsley, From Emergency to Confrontation: The New Zealand Armed Forces in Malaya and Borneo 1949–66 (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2003), p. 5. 3. Malcolm McKinnon, Independence and Foreign Policy: New Zealand in the World Since 1935 (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1993), p. 75. 4. Pugsley, op. cit., pp. 16–17. A flight eventually returned to New Zealand in December 1951 (ibid., p. 21). 5. Ibid., p. 8. 6. McKinnon, op. cit., p. 114. McKinnon notes with reference to ANZAM that its existence was supposedly top secret until the Prime Minister, Sidney Holland, revealed it in a parliamentary statement in 1953 and that the government had been less than enthusiastic about it. This lack of enthusiasm was for reasons of both wanting to avoid Australian “domination” and a feeling that the ANZAM region was not yet a crucial one: the Middle East still had priority at this time (ibid., pp. 115–16). 7. Pugsley, op. cit., p. 8. It was not until 1953, though, that ANZAM’s “focus” was actually expanded to “include the defence of Malaya”. 8. Ibid., p. 45. 9. Rt. Hon. Sidney Holland cited (ibid., p. 54). 10. 58/420/1, part 1. 11. Pugsley, op. cit., p. 54. The Royal New Zealand Navy’s (RNZN) contribution was “to provide one frigate, and occasionally two, on station” in the British Far East Fleet (ibid., p. 46). 12. Ibid., p. 88. Pugsley notes that Britain had actually asked New Zealand to

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contribute an infantry battalion to the Reserve but that Holland had declined this request and offered the less expensive SAS squadron instead (ibid., pp. 88–89). 13. Michael Leifer, Dictionary of the Modern Politics of South East Asia (London: Routledge, 1995), p. 77. 14. Pugsley, op. cit., Appendix 4 Directives for NZ Elements of the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve, pp. 370–77. 15. Ibid., p. 124. From 1960 to 1963 the New Zealand battalions in Malaya were deployed in operations along the Thai-Malaysian border where the remnants of the CPM had sought refuge (ibid., pp. 169–70, 183–84). 16. See McKinnon, op. cit., p. 116. New Zealand’s support for the plan, McKinnon contends, should be seen in terms of the view that this, rather than military involvement, was the best way for it to be engaged in the Southeast Asian region (ibid., pp. 133–34). New Zealand’s support for the Plan as a way of countering communism was very much in keeping with the security approach which was to be adopted by many non-communist Southeast Asian states. This approach was centred on the belief that the best way of combating a communist insurgency was to pursue socio-economic development in order to alleviate the conditions which the communists sought to exploit in order to attract people to their cause. 17. 58/420/1, part 1. A number of Malaysian students also came to New Zealand under the auspices of MARA (Majlis Amanah Rakyat — Council of Trust for the Indigenous People) which supported the education of bumiputera in Malaysia and overseas (ibid.). Bumiputera is the Malay term for indigenous people. 18. “Visit to Federation of Malaya by Hon. T.L. Macdonald, Foreign Minister, 23–28 October 1955”, 58/420/1, part 1. 19. “Brief for the PM: Visit to Asian Countries”, March/April 1958, 58/420/1, part 1. 20. McKinnon, op. cit., p. 135. 21. Ibid. 22. New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade Record (NZFATR ), vol. 14, no. 9 (March 1996), p. 25 and McKinnon, op. cit., p. 153. This no doubt explained why, as the Prime Minister Jim Bolger noted many years later, Sir Charles was understood to have been “the first foreigner to be awarded the title of Tan Sri, the Malaysian knighthood”. NZFATR, March 1996, p. 25. 23. “Brief for the PM: Visit to Asian Countries”, March/April 1958, 58/420/1, part 1.

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24. Leifer, op. cit., p. 46. The possible use of the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve to fulfil such international obligations was a source of friction, however. When in 1959–60 a deteriorating situation in Laos raised the possibility of forces from the Reserve being deployed there as part of a SEATO response, the Malayan government refused to “allow the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve to deploy directly from its base in Malaya to Laos or Thailand”. Pugsley, op. cit., p. 173. The 1967 decision by the New Zealand government to commit a rifle company from 1 Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (1 RNZIR) at Terendak to South Vietnam similarly caused the Malaysian government “some qualms” (ibid., p. 338). 25. Leifer, op. cit., p. 46. 26. 58/420/1, part 1. 27. Ibid. These notes also commented — no doubt in connection with the High Commissioner’s suggestion that there could be a reciprocal visit by the New Zealand Prime Minister — on the fact that there had already been a “considerable number of visits” by ministers and MPs to Malaya and to the New Zealand battalion. These visits, it was contended, must be a source of irritation to the Malaysians and give substance to claims that Malaya is an “occupied” country. 28. Information supplied by John Mills, Information and Public Affairs Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 29. Nicholas Tarling, Nations and States in Southeast Asia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 19. 30. McKinnon, op. cit., p. 154. 31. Leifer, op. cit., p. 46. 32. External Affairs Department, Wellington cited in Keesings Record of World Events at http://80-keesings.gvpi.net.ezproxy.waikato.ac.nz:2048/keesings/lpext.dll/KRWE/ krwe-110019. 33. Keesings Record of World Events. 34. Pugsley, op. cit., p. 196. 35. Robert Gurr, Voices from a Border War (Melbourne: self-published, 1995), p. 29. 36. Pugsley, op. cit., p. 198. 37. Ibid., p. 202. 38. Gurr, op. cit., p. 46. For details of the diplomatic manoeuvrings leading up to this final approval, see Pugsley, op. cit., pp. 202–3.

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39. Ibid., p. 73. Indonesia later desisted from such operations because, in addition to their failure to attract and mobilize sympathizers for the Indonesian cause, Britain had conveyed to the Indonesian government the dire consequences if it persisted with this line of attack. It was not until British Cabinet papers concerning the issue were eventually declassified that the full extent of Britain’s planned response was revealed. These papers disclosed that if Indonesia had stepped up its attacks on the Federation, Britain (with support from Australia and New Zealand) would have mounted an operation to destroy Indonesia’s “offensive air and naval capabilities (Straits Times, 3 January 1995). New Zealand’s contribution would have been six RNZAF Canberra bombers (ibid.). For details of No. 14 Squadron RNZAF’s preparations for Plan ALTHORPE, see Pugsley, op. cit., pp. 230–32. 40. Gurr, op. cit., p. 73. 41. Pugsley, op. cit., pp. 257–58. 42. Gurr, op. cit., p. 130. 43. Ibid., p. 119. 44. 58/420/1, part 1. 45. High Commission to Secretary of External Affairs, 15 September 1966, 58/420/1, part 1. 46. Ibid. 47. High Commission to Department of External Affairs, 28 September 1966 and 10 March 1967, 58/420/1, part 1. 48. 58/420/1, part 1. 49. Pugsley, op. cit., p. 339. 50. In a speech to the Annual dinner of the Australian and New Zealand Graduate Association of Malaya, the Malaysian Minister of Information had recognized the importance of New Zealand and Australia’s role in the region. High Commission to Secretary of External Affairs, 29 June 1967, 58/420/1, part 1. 51. Lee Kuan Yew, From Third World to First. The Singapore Story: 1965–2000 (Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings and Times Editions, 2000), p. 52. 52. Ibid. 53. Ibid., pp. 55–56. 54. High Commissioner to Prime Minister Keith Holyoake, 8 May 1968, 58/420/1, part 1. Such a withdrawal, the High Commissioner continued, would lead to

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New Zealand losing its “special place in Malaysian minds” and could not be compensated for by an increase in aid (which would be seen as an attempt to buy Malaysia off). 55. McKinnon, op. cit., p. 170. In terms of keeping the United States involved it was claimed by Holyoake in September “that all three ANZUS powers recognised that Malaysia and Singapore were part of the ANZUS area”. 56. Ibid., p. 169. 57. Ibid., p. 182. 58. Extract from ANZUS Officers’ Consultative Brief on Malaysia and Singapore, 14 October 1969, 58/420/1, part 1. 59. 58/420/1, part 1. The decision to move the battalion to Singapore had been taken because, once Britain began to run down its forces in Malaysia, the Australians had been reluctant to commit themselves financially to the maintenance of Terendak Camp where 28 Commonwealth Brigade had been based (Pugsley, op. cit., p. 339). 60. Gordon P. Means, Malaysian Politics: The Second Generation (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1991), pp. 46–48. 61. 58/420/1, part 1. 62. High Commission to Minister of Foreign Affairs, 10 March 1971, 58/420/1, part 1. 63. Lee Kuan Yew, op. cit., p. 65. 64. Leifer, op. cit., p. 95. 65. McKinnon, op. cit., p. 171. 66. 58/420/1, part 1. 67. “Review of Foreign Policy 1973 by Rt. Hon. Norman Kirk”, New Zealand Foreign Affairs Review [NZFAR], vol. 23, no. 12 (December 1973), p. 29. 68. Ibid. 69. Bruce Brown, “New Zealand in the World Economy: Trade Negotiations and Diversification”, in New Zealand in World Affairs III 1972–1990, edited by Bruce Brown (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1999), p. 22. 70. This is the term used by Norrish to describe the foreign policy pursued by Kirk during his visit to Southeast Asia in 1973–74. See Mervyn Norrish, “Introduction”, in New Zealand in World Affairs III, p. 17.

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71. 58/420/1, part 1. 72. Ibid. The idea for such talks was not entirely new, however. The topic of annual meetings between senior officials from the two foreign ministries had been raised in a letter from the Secretary of Foreign Affairs to the High Commission in Kuala Lumpur dated 10 March 1972 against the background of the establishment of similar talks with Indonesia. 73. Letter to the Prime Minister from Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs, 7 November 1974, 58/420/1, part 1. 74. 58/420/1, part 1. 75. Letter to Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs from Acting Head of Research Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 14 November 1974, 58/420/1, part 1. 76. NZFAR, December 1973, p. 28. 77. “Review of Foreign Policy 1973 by Kirk”, ibid., p. 38. 78. NZFAR, December 1973, p. 28. 79. 58/420/1, part 2 (1 November 1974 to 30 August 1975). The volume of trade between New Zealand and Malaysia was generally small and up to 1967 the balance of trade had been in Malaysia’s favour. New Zealand’s main imports from Malaysia were rubber and canned fruit (especially pineapples) and its main exports to Malaysia were dairy products. 80. Ibid. 81. NZFAR, December 1973, p. 28. 82. 58/420/1, parts 1 and 2. 83. Note from Department of Labour to Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs, 31 October 1974, 58/420/1, part 2. 84. Background Paper on Foreign Minister’s upcoming visit to Southeast Asia, 16/3– 8/4/76, prepared by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 12 February 1976, 58/420/1. 85. “Review of Foreign Policy 1973 by Kirk”, NZFAR, December 1973, p. 30 and 58/420/1, part 1. 86. Defence Secretary and Secretary of Foreign Affairs to High Commission, 25 November 1974, 58/420/1, part 2. 87. 58/420/1, part 1. 88. Means, op. cit., p. 36.

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89. 58/420/1, part 2. 90. His visit had originally been planned for August 1974 but this had had to be cancelled because of Norman Kirk’s sudden illness and subsequent death. Kirk’s successor, W.E. (Bill) Rowling, subsequently extended an invitation for Razak to visit New Zealand at the time both of them were attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kingston, Jamaica, in April–May 1975, 58/420/1, part 2. 91. 58/420/1, part 3 (1 September 1975 to 4 December 1975). 92. Briefing Report for Prime Minister on Razak’s visit to New Zealand, 11–15 October 1975, prepared by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 58/420/1, part 3. 93. 58/420/1, part 3. 94. Joint press statement on Razak’s visit to New Zealand, 14 October 1975, 58/420/1. 95. 58/420/1, part 3. 96. Rowling’s letter to Razak, 7 November 1975, 58/420/1, part 3. The letter was not actually sent to the High Commission in Kuala Lumpur to be passed on to the Malaysian Prime Minister until 17 November because the original had been mislaid. By 1976, one in two foreign students in New Zealand were Malaysian and 89 per cent of all private Asian students in New Zealand came from Malaysia (58/420/1, part 5 [1 March 1976 to 31 December 1976]). 97. High Commission to Wellington, 5 February 1976, 58/420/1, part 4 (8 December 1975 to 28 February 1976). 98. High Commission to Wellington, 10 December 1975, 58/420/1, part 4. 99. 58/420/1, part 4. 100. Telegram from Talboys to Wellington, 21 March 1976, 58/420/1, part 5. 101. After postponing a decision on this a number of times, the Cabinet finally agreed to a 40 per cent quota on 11 October 1976 (58/420/1, part 5). Similar concerns were expressed by the Malaysian government about New Zealand’s decision to introduce a NZ$1,500 per annum fee in 1980 for private overseas students pursuing tertiary study. Coming at a time when similar developments were occurring in Australia and the United Kingdom, the Malaysian government was anxious not to see any further restrictions on Malaysian student numbers (58/420/1, part 7, April 1979 to 31 May 1980). 102. Telegram from Talboys to Wellington, 21 March 1976, 58/420/1, part 5.

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103. 58/420/1, part 3. 104. High Commission to Wellington, 7 December 1976, 58/420/1, part 5. 105. Background Notes on Malaysia, 26 January 1977, 58/420/1, part 6 (18 November 1974 to 6 March 1979). 106. Report by High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, 10 January 1979, 58/420/1, part 6. 107. Letter from High Commissioner to Secretary of Foreign Affairs, 14 September 1979, 58/420/1, part 7. 108. See McKinnon, op. cit., pp. 196–99. Such thinking, he observes, led the National government to repeatedly postpone the decision to withdraw New Zealand forces from Singapore (pp. 197, 202). 109. Ibid., p. 197. 110. Letter from High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur to Secretary of Foreign Affairs, 14 September 1979, 58/420/1, part 7. 111. High Commission to Wellington, 18 November 1980, 58/420/1, part 8 (1 June 1980 to 31 August 1982). 112. High Commission to Wellington, 18 February 1976, 58/420/1, part 5. 113. 58/420/1, part 7. 114. Means, op. cit., p. 75. 115. 58/420/1, part 8. 116. Letter from High Commissioner to Secretary of Foreign Affairs, 15 February 1981, 58/420/1, part 8. 117. Letter from High Commissioner to Secretary of Foreign Affairs, 22 March 1982, 58/420/1, part 8. 118. See Means, op. cit., p. 92. Although the “Look East” policy gave the appearance of being another anti-British/Western one, it really rested on Mahathir’s admiration for the “work ethic” of the Japanese and South Koreans and their models of industrialization and government-industry cooperation (ibid., pp. 92–93). Furthermore, Mahathir “stressed that not everything in the East was wholly good, nor was everything in the West wholly bad”. R.S. Milne and Diane K. Mauzy, Malaysian Politics under Mahathir (London: Routledge, 1999), p. 55. 119. 58/420/1, part 9 (1 September 1982 to 31 July 1985).

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120. High Commission to Wellington, 8 October 1982, 58/420/1, part 9. 121. 58/420/1, part 9. 122. High Commission to Wellington, 14 October 1982, 58/420/1, part 9. New Zealand’s preferred solution was that Malaysia should become a signatory to the Antarctic Treaty and then, perhaps, a consultative party. 123. Letter to New Zealand High Commissioner from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 6 October 1983, 58/420/1, part 9. 124. 58/420/1, part 9. 125. NZFAR, vol. 34, no. 3 (July–September 1984), p. 29. 126. Ibid. The trade figures had shifted decisively in New Zealand’s favour following its decision in 1981 not to buy any more Malaysian oil as it was “expensive” and not suited to “New Zealand’s purposes”. Paper on Malaysia and New Zealand–Malaysia relations by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, August 1982, 58/420/1, part 9. 127. NZFAR, vol. 34, no. 3 (July–September 1984), p. 29. 128. NZFAR, vol. 35, no. 1 (January–March 1985), p. 43. 129. NZFAR, vol. 35, no. 3 (July–September 1985), p. 47. 130. NZFAR, January–March 1985, p. 46. 131. Ibid. 132. This refocusing on the South Pacific had, McGibbon contends, already been evident in the defence reviews of 1978 and 1983. See Ian McGibbon, “New Zealand Defence Policy from Vietnam to the Gulf ”, in New Zealand in World Affairs III, p. 116. 133. Means, op. cit., p. 96. 134. NZFAR, vol. 35, no. 4 (October–December 1985), p. 31. Although New Zealand had had involvement with other ASEAN countries in this area, “this was the first major development programme on a purely commercial basis”. Such joint ventures were certainly favoured by Mahathir as they provided a way for Malaysia to obtain valuable “know how” (Milne and Mauzy, op. cit., p. 64). 135. NZFAR, vol. 35, no. 4 (October–December 1985), p. 52. 136. Ibid. 137. NZFAR, vol. 37, no. 2 (January–March 1987), p. 15.

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138. NZFAR, vol. 37, no. 1 (October–December 1986), p. 20. 139. NZFAR, vol. 38, no. 2 (January–March 1988), p. 32. 140. Ibid. They also agreed that New Zealand could assist with the upgrading of exports of fresh fruit and vegetables by Malaysia. 141. NZFAR, vol. 37, no. 4 (July–September 1987), p. 5. 142. Opening comments by Russell Marshall to Otago Foreign Policy School, “SE Asia and New Zealand”, 13 May 1988, in NZFAR, vol. 38, no. 3 (April–June 1988), pp. 16–20. 143. Letter from High Commissioner to Secretary of Foreign Affairs, 14 October 1988, 58/420/1, part 8 (1 October 1988 to 31 June 1989). Further contributing to the weakening of the relationship, according to the High Commissioner, was the fact that the previous generation of leaders in Malaysia had now been replaced by a more Islamic, Malay nationalist one. 144. 58/420/1, part 8 (1 October 1988 to 31 June 1989). 145. 58/420/1, part 9 (1 July 1989 to 31 October 1989). 146. 58/420/1, part 8 (1 October 1988 to 31 June 1989). 147. NZFAR, January–March 1985, p. 47. 148. 58/420/1, part 8 (1 October 1988 to 31 June 1989). 149. Ibid. 150. See Milne and Mauzy, op. cit., p. 135. Mahathir had also taken his “southern message”, of the need for South-South cooperation in the face of the advanced states’ domination of the international political and economic order and their double standards, to other states in the South Pacific including Western Samoa and Tonga. 151. 58/420/1, part 8 (1 October 1988 to 31 June 1989). 152. Ibid. Further evidence of the close cooperation between the defence forces of the two countries was provided by the fact that a Royal New Zealand Air Force officer participated in the Malaysian inquiry in 1989 into a series of crashes by Royal Malaysian Air Force “Skyhawks”. 153. Ibid. These concerns were heightened by the fact that Malaysia felt the recent financial limitations placed on defence in New Zealand raised “doubts about … [New Zealand’s] ability to continue to participate in FPDA”.

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154. 58/420/1, part 9 (1 July 1989 to 31 August 1989). The agreement was eventually signed in Kuala Lumpur on 6 December. 155. Briefing on Malaysia–New Zealand Relations prepared for Malaysian Bilaterals at upcoming CHOGM by Ministry of External Relations and Trade October 1989, 58/420/1, part 10 (1 November 1989 to 31 May 1990). 156. Project aid had ended several years prior and from 1988 it had been decided to phase out the “last group of fully-ODA funded Malaysian students”. The ODA subsidy element for private students from Malaysia was also projected to end. 157. Ibid. 158. 58/420/1, part 9 (1 July 1989 to 31 October 1989). 159. Letter to new High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur, Mr M. Chilton, from Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mike Moore, 30 August 1990, 58/420/1, part 12 (1 August 1990 to 31 January 1990). A very similar letter was also sent to the New Zealand High Commissioner in Singapore. The post in Kuala Lumpur may have remained a larger post for longer because of the significance of past links between the two countries. 160. Sheridan cites Don McKinnon’s view that the Lange government and its Labour successors had given the impression internationally that New Zealand wanted to sit in splendid isolation in the South Pacific and that New Zealand’s new Asian engagement was “an historic turning point”. See Greg Sheridan, Tigers. Leaders of the new Asia-Pacific (St. Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1997), p. 171. 161. This point was reiterated in Don McKinnon’s speech in September 1994 inaugurating the Asia 2000 Foundation. See NZFATR, vol. 3, no. 4 (September 1994), p. 30. 162. 58/420/1, part 13 (1 February 1991 to 31 July 1991). 163. 58/420/1, part 14 (1 August 1991 to 30 November 1991). 164. 58/420/1, part 15 (1 December 1991 to 30 April 1994). 165. 58/420/1, part 13. HMNZS Wellington’s port call was combined with a trade promotion and the visit of the New Zealand High Commissioner. 166. Ibid. 167. 58/420/1, part 15. The television series Embassy and the film Turtle Beach were, Sheridan contends, viewed by Mahathir “as examples of the western media … using its financial muscle and international English-language-based distribution power to defame and condescend towards developing countries, particularly Malaysia”

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(Sheridan, op. cit., p. 196). Malaysia objected to Turtle Beach, which was partially funded by the Australian government, because of its portrayal of massacres of, first, non-Malays, and then Indochinese refugees. 168. Letter from the Secretary of External Relations and Trade to the Minister of External Relations and Trade, 4 February 1993, 58/420/1, part 15. 169. 58/420/1, part 15. 170. These included “domestic politics, consular cases and environmental issues, especially those concerned with tropical timber” (ibid.). 171. Ibid. 172. NZFATR, vol. 2, no. 11 (May 1994), p. 39. This council had been established in 1992 and its New Zealand–based counterpart — the New Zealand–Malaysia Business Council — was set up in 1993. 58/420/1, part 15. 173. 58/420/1, part 15. 174. 58/420/1, part 14. 175. Prime Minister J.B. Bolger’s Address to the Malaysia–New Zealand Joint Business Council luncheon, Kuala Lumpur, 19 May 1994, NZFATR, vol. 2, no. 11 (May 1994), p. 38. See also his address to the state banquet hosted by Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Kuala Lumpur, 19 May 1994 (ibid., pp. 41–42). The term “special relationship” had already been employed by Don McKinnon on 10 May when he announced the appointment of Tim Hannah as the new High Commissioner to Malaysia (ibid., p. 76). 176. Mahathir was particularly wary of APEC because in his view it tended to be dominated by powerful, Western, states and he was concerned about it becoming institutionalized and rules-based. See Milne and Mauzy, op. cit., p. 129 and Sheridan, op. cit., p. 199. He had also been concerned about CER since its inception in 1983 as he regarded it as an example of a pioneering Pacific trade bloc (58/420/1, part 15). Indeed, one of his reasons for proposing the East Asian Economic Group in 1990 (which eventually metamorphosed into the EAEC — East Asian Economic Caucus) was to counter CER and the European Union’s single market. See Milne and Mauzy, op. cit., p. 129. 177. The Evening Post, 14 November 1995, p. 2. 178. NZFATR, vol. 4, no. 7 (December 1995/January 1996), p. 29. It was even hoped that the visit would provide “the basis for opportunities for scientific co-operation between … [the] two countries in the Ross Sea region” (p. 30).

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179. NZFATR, vol. 4, no. 8 (February 1996), p. 10. 180. See, for example, The Evening Post, 20 March 1996, p. 9 and The Dominion, 26 March 1996, p. 10. 181. NZFATR, vol. 4, no. 9 (March 1996), p. 26. 182. Ibid., pp. 27–28, 35. The working holidays arrangement, which was similar to schemes with the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, and Ireland, it was noted, was the first one with an ASEAN member and had first been discussed during Bolger’s 1994 visit (p. 35). 183. See The Dominion, 27 March 1996, p. 1. In general, Mahathir was welcoming of Australia and New Zealand’s recognition that they were in the Asia-Pacific and not in Europe, but he argued that belonging to Asia should not just be seen in terms of the economic gains which it could bring but also in terms of identifying “with the culture of the area”. Mahathir, cited in Sheridan, op. cit., p. 199. 184. Sheridan, op. cit., p. 186. 185. The Evening Post, 29 March 1996, p. 6. 186. NZFATR, vol. 7, no. 1 (June 1998), p. 36. 187. NZFATR, vol. 6, no. 2 (July 1997), p. 32. 188. In his address to the ARF on 27 July, Don McKinnon had described the State Law and Order Restoration Council as an “extremely repressive regime which ha[d] to change its ways” (ibid., p. 40). 189. Anwar had also been picked out by the High Commissioner in 1988 as a useful new leader for New Zealand to cultivate. Letter from High Commissioner to Secretary of Foreign Affairs, 14 October 1988, 58/420/1, part 8. 190. NZFATR, vol. 7, no. 5 (October 1998), p. 66. 191. The Press, 16 November 1998, p. 2. 192. Ibid. 193. The Evening Post, 18 November 1998, p. 3; Sunday Star Times, 22 November 1998, p. 6. 194. Sunday Star Times, 22 November 1998, p. 6; The Dominion, 18 November 1998, p. 2. 195. NZFATR, vol. 7, no. 8 (February 1999), p. 42. 196. Far Eastern Economic Review, 22 April 1999, p. 14.

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197. NZFATR, vol. 7, no. 10 (April 1999), p. 30. 198. The Australian newspaper reported on 16 November 1999 that Mahathir had “urged some of New Zealand’s closest allies to vote against” McKinnon. The Evening Post, 16 November 1999, p. 9. 199. The New Zealand Herald (online edition), 4 September 1999, 11 September 1999. 200. The New Zealand Herald (online edition), 14 September 1999. 201. Sheridan, op. cit., p. 173. 202. Prime Minister Helen Clark’s Address to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, Wellington, 26 May 2000, NZFATR, vol. 9, no. 1 (May/June 2000), pp. 32–33. The FPDA, Clark contended, was useful for the New Zealand Defence Forces’ training and also played a major role in relations between Singapore and Malaysia. In this address, Clark also recognized the long-standing nature of New Zealand’s engagement with Asia including its involvement in Malaya in the 1950s. 203. NZFATR, vol. 9, no. 2 (July/August 2000), p. 55. 204. NZFATR, vol. 9, no. 3 (September/October 2000), pp. 4–6. 205. NZFATR, vol. 9, no. 7 (March 2001), p. 34. 206. NZFATR, vol. 10, no. 8 (March 2002), pp. 32–33.

Reproduced from Southeast Asia and New Zealand: A History of Regional and Bilateral Relations, edited by Anthony L. Smith (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2005). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at 263 8. Beyond the Rhetoric: New Zealand and Myanmar < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

8

BEYOND THE RHETORIC: NEW ZEALAND AND MYANMAR G U Y

W I L S O N - R O B E R T S

Introduction Myanmar gained its independence from colonial rule in 1948.1 After a brief period of parliamentary democracy, the armed forces took control of the country in 1962, setting up a one-party state under military control. When this system threatened to collapse under popular pressure in 1988, the military reasserted direct control. The new regime, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), annulled an election process in 1990 that was to instigate a new democratic constitution. Myanmar was accepted as a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in July 1997. Today, Myanmar has a population of about 50 million, in a country approximately 2.5 times the size of New Zealand in land area. Ethnic Burmans account for around 65 per cent of the population with minority ethnic groups including Karen, Shan, Kayin, Chin, Rhakine, Kaya, Mon, and Arakan. On 6 May 2002 the opposition and pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was freed by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC

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— there was a name change from the SLORC in 1997), the military rulers of Myanmar, after nineteen months of house arrest. The release of this Nobel Peace Prize winner, in and out of house arrest since 1989, was greeted by overwhelming relief by the international media. Press reports noted her “fragile femininity” and “steely determination”,2 how she was “delicate and serene”,3 and, again, how her “femininity” belied her “extraordinary determination”.4 While the media were effusive and curiously personalizing in their observations, New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Phil Goff, was more restrained. He welcomed Suu Kyi’s release, describing her as a “champion of democracy”, and called on the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) to release other political prisoners.5 Goff also noted that if “her release proves to be unconditional, and provided positive change continues in Myanmar, New Zealand will look at joining international efforts to assist the people of Myanmar and support economic and political progress”.6 Goff was not, however, explicit as to what those international efforts were and this is central to understanding New Zealand’s relationship with Myanmar. An editorial in the Dominion argued that “there is room to ease sanctions if the steps toward democracy continue”.7 Yet New Zealand does not have sanctions in place against Myanmar and has consistently argued against their application since the military reassumed formal control of Myanmar in 1988. New Zealand’s trade relations with Myanmar have typically been at a low level (around $500,000 per annum in either direction, although exports have increased in recent years8) that there is little to sanction. The international effort that the New Zealand government has been engaged in to date has been berating the ruling military regime, publicly and through diplomatic channels. It is somewhat ironic that the regime described by some as a truly Orwellian government (where the leaders go by the titles Secretary-1, Secretary-2, and Secretary-3, and where billboards advise the population to “oppose those relying on external elements, acting as stooges, holding negative views”9) should be the target of the sort of overused political rhetoric of “democracy”, “political reconciliation”, and “political and economic reforms” that Orwell warned against, and that such an approach is a central policy plank of New Zealand’s relations with Myanmar.10 In the absence of substantial relations the rhetoric, and how

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it is crafted, becomes the relationship. With few carrots or sticks (such as trade or aid) available, it is the language that is tempered or ramped up in response to events. After over a decade of demarches from New Zealand foreign ministers and officials, the recent admonitions of New Zealand’s foreign minister are directed as much to a domestic and international audience as they are to the rulers of Myanmar. An alternative approach for New Zealand, though, is not readily apparent. The New Zealand government has to a certain degree, in its relations with Burma/Myanmar, been responding to the internal dynamics and infrequent overtures of the successive Burmese regimes. Relations since Burma’s independence in 1948 can be divided into three periods: benign neglect from 1948 to the early 1970s when Burma was isolated and New Zealand uninterested; limited engagement from the early 1970s to 1988 when the government responded to Burmese overtures and developed a relationship built mainly on limited trade and aid; then, since 1988, with the regime (and name) change, a shift to disengagement and condemnation. Given the imbalances in the depth of the bilateral relationship over time, the third period will necessarily receive more detailed coverage. Throughout these three periods, less in the first, in the background of the second, and to the fore in the third, has been the multilateral and regional context. The New Zealand government’s national goals have been shaped and tempered by broader regional goals, particularly New Zealand’s relationship with ASEAN as a regional political entity. As this chapter progresses through the three periods, New Zealand’s national and regional goals will be considered as part of the history of the relationship. Several themes emerge, perhaps indicative of New Zealand’s broader approach to foreign policy.

Benign Neglect: 1948–74 As Burma started to emerge from its self-imposed isolation in the early 1970s, the New Zealand government welcomed this move, although there had been little contact in the past and knowledge of Burma was limited.11 This lack of knowledge existed despite this period being bounded by two of the three most important political developments

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for Burma in the period covered by this chapter: independence in 1948 and the military coup in 1962. Britain had gradually annexed Burma in a series of wars starting in 1824. A process of decentralization from direct rule was in progress when Japan invaded in 1939. Japan was unable to control the whole country or win the widespread support of the population, despite supposedly liberating Burma from colonial rule. Japan formed the Burmese Independence Army, led by Aung San (Aung San Suu Kyi’s father), and granted nominal independence for Burma in 1943. The new army, despite being trained by the Japanese, revolted in March 1945 and joined forces with the Allies. Britain’s immediate post-war objective was internal law and order and resuming the rice production role that Burma had played during the colonial period. But Burma already had a national army and local political institutions from the British and Japanese periods and was therefore in a strong position to resist any imposition of pre-war rule. Elections were held in April 1947 and Aung San’s Anti-Fascist People’s Free League (AFPFL) won 172 of the 182 seats on offer in the national assembly. Aung San and six others were assassinated in July 1947, by domestic rivals, in what was a major blow to Burma’s transition to independence. Aung San’s assassination, though, cemented his iconic stature in the history of the independence struggle — augmenting the stature of his daughter’s claim to leadership. Despite this setback, Burma became independent in January 1948, under the prime ministership of Thakin Nu and with the name Union of Burma. During this period of multi-party politics the government was plagued by popular discontent, law-and-order problems, political infighting, and the insurrections of minority groups whose concerns had not been dealt with by the independence process and whose political aspirations had been nurtured by Britain during the colonial period as a tactic of divide and rule.12 Despite the AFPFL winning the third national election in 1958, party leader U Nu turned to General Ne Win, head of the armed forces (called the Tatmadaw), for assistance in governing.13 In the immediate post-independence period Ne Win emerged as the real power behind the political scene, and his power grew as ethnic divisions and demands for devolution were perceived as detrimental to national

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unity. As internal stability remained elusive, the General staged a coup in March 1962, ending constitutional government and consolidating all power under the armed forces. The main motivation for the coup was concern with internal stability, secessionist movements, and trying to end political disunity. With a colonial and pre-colonial tradition of centralized and hierarchical government, the party political period from 1948 to 1962 had little meaning to the majority of people; democracy had appeared to fail the basic tests of law and order, internal security, and protection of minority groups — “the people looked on in stoic silence” as the military took power.14 Accurately described by the New Zealand government as a “bloodless coup”, the military concentrated its power in a seven-member Revolutionary Council and, to underscore its revolutionary character, made an ideological declaration: The Burmese Way to Socialism.15 The Council drew on Burmese political history: direct power and separation of government from the people came from the pre-colonial period of monarchical rule; the emphasis on law and order and internal stability came from the colonial period; and the socialist ideology from the nationalist period during and just after World War II (WWII).16 Despite being a founder of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in the 1950s, the new Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma found even the NAM to be too internationalist for its liking. Burma retreated into a self-imposed isolation to deal with internal troubles, becoming the “great non-joiner, an introverted state dominated by a xenophobic military”, despite U Thant becoming the UN Secretary General.17 Contact with other countries was limited mainly to China (a treaty of friendship in 1960) and Thailand, both sharing borders with Burma. There was little incentive for New Zealand to pursue relations, and few efforts by Burma to take the initiative. Despite its isolation, Burma did send a defence attaché to Australia who visited New Zealand in 1958. The Burmese Way to Socialism put the country into steep economic decline over time. The inflexibility of centralized control was exacerbated by a shortage of skilled personnel for the administrative demands of a centralised economy. Top-down control of the bureaucracy prevented the development of the sort of competent administrators that were pivotal for the development of other authoritarian economies in the region. Law

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and order was strictly enforced with other political organizations forced out of existence or, in the case of insurgent groups, directly attacked. Social regimentation was strict, although this was principally in the cities with rural identities allowed to remain. Despite the so-called socialist model, land was never collectivized. The Council kept absolute rule until 1974 when it implemented a constitution it had written, keeping up a façade of power sharing and elections with a political party it had created and would subsequently control — the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) with General Ne Win as the chairman. This “one-party constitution” was voted into law in elections contested only by the BSPP, described by the New Zealand government (probably naively) as “considered to have been reasonably fair”.18 There was some interest, although minimal, from Burma in visits of senior government personnel abroad. In 1966 there was some discussion in the New Zealand government of encouraging “Prime Minister” Ne Win to add New Zealand to a proposed Australia visit. Australia postponed the visit and a new proposal for 1971 prompted the Reception Branch at the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs to note that a visit by the Burmese Prime Minister would be impractical given commitments to Princess Alexandra, a “flood of other visitors”, and the possible visit of the Nepalese King and Queen later in 1971.19 Such was the importance of Burma during this period!

Trade and Aid: 1974–88 Benign neglect, an approach adopted towards each other by both New Zealand and Burma, gave way to overtures from Burma starting in the early 1970s. This approach was welcomed by New Zealand. The encouragement offered by New Zealand during this period was primarily trade and aid, although both remained at minimal levels. Burgeoning political contact and engagement, though, prompted no criticism of the repressive internal situation in Burma by the New Zealand government. 1974 seems the appropriate year to date the beginning of this new relationship as U Ne Win (he had given up the title of general in 1971)

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visited New Zealand in that year. The date might alternatively be 1975 when New Zealand accredited its ambassador in Malaysia to Burma. Trade was the principal focus of the relationship but this remained at levels described as modest, perfectly capturing the nature of the relationship at this time. In 1975 New Zealand exported $170,000 worth of goods to Burma and imported $40,000, and this level did not increase into the millions of dollars until the 1990s.20 Burma joined the Colombo Plan in 1972, through which most New Zealand aid was channelled. Burma also received loans from the Asian Development Bank, of which New Zealand was a founding member. New Zealand’s aid budget for Burma in the 1970s was between $150,000 and $200,000 per annum. New Zealand primarily supported trade training schools and 53 Burmese students received technical training in New Zealand from 1972–76 as part of the Plan. The New Zealand government tried to represent the (modest) new relationship following Ne Win’s visit, and the visit by Deputy Prime Minister U Lwin in 1976, in a positive light. The visits were a “valuable opportunity to learn of Burma’s views of developments in South-east Asia” and there were discussions on “a wide range of matters of common interest”, although none appeared to be worth dwelling on in official reporting.21 New Zealand was happy to support (modestly, of course) Burma’s new “pragmatic” change of direction even though there were no “particular interests at stake”. U Lwin’s visit, focused mainly on aid, was “amicable but not very productive” and “did not add up to much”, but there was “more substance to the relationship than there has been for some time”. There were opportunities for occasional worthwhile export opportunities but the Burmese market was not seen as having much potential. There was some renewed interest in oil and natural gas opportunities in the 1980s, with visits by the Burmese Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Energy in 1986 and the Deputy Prime Minister in 1987. New Zealand’s Minister of Energy visited Burma in 1986. There was now less focus on discussing regional issues and more interest in trade promotion and investment opportunities. The main interest of the Burmese visits was natural gas technology and there were calls on British Petroleum New Zealand and Transgas, Wellgas, and Cargas. Compressed Natural

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Gas and Liquid Petroleum Gas were of particular interest. The New Zealand government assessed that prospects for investment in Burma’s energy sector were not promising given Burma’s lack of hard currency and depressed economy, but that New Zealand was well placed, given the goodwill between the two countries, to take advantage of any medium to long-term opportunities. During this period there was little interest shown by the New Zealand government in the domestic situation in Burma as the “warm bilateral relationship” developed. This was despite the hundreds of political opponents jailed in the 1960s, declarations of martial law at various times (such as during protests when the government refused to give U Thant a proper burial), continued repression of students and the periodic closure of universities throughout the 1970s, and ongoing military action of varying intensity against a number of minority insurrection movements throughout the period. Matters of internal policy were, at the time, not documented or analysed and were not issues at stake in the relationship. Nor was there any major concern expressed in government records during this period about possible communist expansion into Burma, whether through a hardening of Burma’s own socialist ideology, communist insurgency, or by closer relations with China. Burma had signed a Treaty of Friendship with China in 1960 (partially resolving the problem with Chinese-sponsored insurgents) and relations had grown closer on the basis of shared border concerns and a growing arms trade. There was never much Soviet influence of any note in Burma. The New Zealand government expressed no official concern over Burma’s relationship with China, acknowledging the domestic determinants of Burma’s own socialist ideology and that China was apparently trying to push Burma towards closer relations with ASEAN. Perceptions of this relationship were probably coloured by New Zealand’s official recognition of China in 1972 and its own bilateral relationship. Also, Burma’s relations, as it emerged from self-imposed isolation, seemed sufficiently diverse (Japan supplied the bulk of aid and the United States provided helicopters for counter-insurgency, for example) and, as noted above, the official view was that New Zealand had no particular interests at stake in Burma at this time. The trade-as-foreign-policy theme continued right

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up until 1988, when events in Burma took a new turn that demanded a reassessment of the relationship. The New Zealand government was interested, in January 1988, in hosting the Burmese Minister of Health in New Zealand. A local New Zealand company was interested in tendering for a proposed Rangoon hospital project and the government was initially keen to do what it could to facilitate a successful tender. Government interest in this venture waned, and was soon overtaken by events in Burma, ushering in the third period in the relationship.

Rhetoric as Relations: 1988–2002 By 1987, the failure of Ne Win’s policies and the BSPP’s “Way to Socialism” had brought the economic crisis to a head. At an extraordinary meeting of the BSPP Central Committee, Ne Win admitted to the failure of his policies and called for “self-criticism”.22 Ne Win formally resigned his position and called for a referendum on whether Burma should have a multi-party system. This dramatic admission of failure by the nation’s leader (although one cannot help but suspect an ulterior motive) opened the floodgates for popular opposition to the failures of the regime. Public protests expanded in the cities, led first by students, then joined by civil servants and disaffected members of the military. The protestors were agitating for an interim government before multi-party elections and, as government authority waned, alternative local administrations were established. The Tatmadaw responded harshly to the breakdown in law and order. In July and August, military repression led to 3,000 people being killed, approximately 4,000 to 5,000 jailed, and nearly 10,000 forced to flee from the cities and towns into the countryside.23 These events were quaintly described at the time by the New Zealand government as “disturbances”.24 The Tatmadaw then separated itself from the BSPP, cutting all political ties to the old regime, and formed the SLORC — establishing authority and restoring law and order (always a principal goal of the military) through military action, martial law, curfews, and the imprisonment of opposition leaders. It did, though, commit the country to multi-party elections. These elections were held in May 1990. The balloting itself was free,

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according to international observers, although the election itself was far from being unfettered as it was held under severe restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly. Ninety-three parties contested the election, including a renamed BSPP: now the National Unity Party (NUP). Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of the independence hero Aung San, had formed the National League for Democracy (NLD) and, drawing on growing popular support and over 70 per cent voter turn-out, won 392 of the 485 constituency seats in the new Assembly. The NUP won only ten seats, despite receiving 21 per cent of the valid vote to the NLD’s 60 per cent.25 The Assembly was to draft a new constitution for Burma, but the SLORC refused to relinquish control and decreed in July 1990 that it would retain all power until a National Convention was convened to implement a new constitution. The Convention was duly convened in 1993, after a year of dialogue between political groups. Almost 80 per cent of the delegates were appointees of the SLORC, not the elected representatives of the 1990 election.26 The Convention, fully under control of the SLORC, has maintained the façade of political reform, moving at an incremental pace suited to the whims of its masters. In 1997 there was a name change from the SLORC to the SPDC (from the “Tolkienesque to the Orwellian”27). This purely cosmetic change was accompanied by the appropriate statement: In order that endeavours can be made with aims at emergence of disciplineflourishing democratic system in the state and building of a new peaceful, tranquil and modern developed nation, the State Law and Order Restoration Council has been dissolved with immediate effect.28

The new regime expanded the armed forces to secure its control, from approximately 175,000 to more than 400,000 today.29 China remained the dominant supplier of arms, while others, including Singapore, Israel, and Pakistan, also developed significant military partnerships with the Tatmadaw.30 The role of the drug trade, over US$1 billion in the mid1990s and supplying 60 per cent of the US heroin market, became closely tied in with the military, transforming Myanmar into a “narco-military dictatorship” with drug money funnelled through the military and outwardly legitimate businesses.31 At the end of the 1990s the SPDC

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was “dependent on drug trafficking for economic and strategic reasons” with the “whole regime infused with corruption”.32 Military action against minority insurgent groups continued, although ceasefires were negotiated with many. As a result of internal displacement there were at least 400,000 illegal immigrants in Thailand by the end of the 1990s, becoming a source of ongoing tension.33 Border tension with Thailand intensified, with alleged Thai military support for Shan and Karen insurgent groups and periodic cross-border Thai military action against the drug-funded and Tatmadaw-aligned United Wa State Army. In 2000, New Zealand accepted 207 refugees from Burma, previously housed in a Thai refugee camp.34 Refugees from fighting in the border region continue to flow into Thailand.35 Opposition groups continued to be suppressed throughout this period. Aung San Suu Kyi, for example, was in and out of house arrest depending on the mood of the regime and its perceptions of permissible action and public reaction. It would seem that the Tatmadaw will retain its dominant role in the ruling of the country and has put in place the resources and mechanisms to ensure its longevity. As one observer suggests, “it seems likely that the Tatmadaw will continue to control the political process” and while it will be challenged it will only allow “some space for the function of pseudo-democratic institutions and the debate of non-military issues”.36 The human rights record of the Myanmar government has been appalling. In 2001 there were more than 1,500 political prisoners (prison conditions remain “harsh and life threatening”); freedom of speech, assembly, and association remains severely restricted; forced labour continues; trafficking in persons is widespread; and human rights abuses take place by both sides in ongoing ethnic/insurrectionist conflicts.37 Human Rights Watch reported in 2002 that “grave human rights violations remained unaddressed”.38 In the last few years the SPDC has appeared to be more conciliatory, releasing political prisoners to coincide with the visits of UN human rights envoys, although this is undoubtedly part of the aggressive international public relations campaign the SPDC has instigated. It is not clear from the literature, though, the extent to which the situation in Myanmar in the 1990s was dramatically different from

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the experience of Burma during Ne Win’s rule.39 While the harsh approach taken by the SLORC to resurgent opposition groups is well documented, it is difficult for outside observers to determine the extent of the decline in the internal situation in Myanmar immediately following the 1988 coup and 1990 annulment of elections. There was, however, a diametrically new response by the international community and by New Zealand. There appears to have been no analysis by the New Zealand government comparing the before and after. That there had been a series of highly visible and condemnable events was sufficient for a policy shift and the rhetoric surrounding human rights came to dominate the bilateral relationship, taking 1988 as the starting point. This gave the relationship between New Zealand and Myanmar an importance that it had previously not engendered. Following the coup in 1988, the New Zealand government’s assessment was cautious. It noted again, in 1989, that the relationship between the two countries was “not substantial”.40 It also noted that Western nations in general were putting constraints on their relationships with the new regime because of the human rights situation. The government remained interested in the SLORC’s announced process of political reform (the election had yet to be held) but was still in the trade mindset, lamenting the prospect of not being able to move trade beyond modest levels. In the 1990s, human rights took centre stage in the relationship. As New Zealand’s Foreign Minister for much of the decade, Don McKinnon became a strident advocate of human rights — credentials that would stand him in good stead for his subsequent appointment as Secretary General of the Commonwealth. Despite the ascendancy of human rights and the accompanying rhetoric, New Zealand’s policy towards Myanmar maintained a balance between pronouncement and pragmatism, perhaps creating an erroneous public impression of the policy. A July 1994 press release noted: Experience has shown that isolation and hard words have not been effective in bringing about political or social change in Myanmar. As Myanmar opens up economically, a wide range of trade links is being established. As this contact increases, the political restriction that at present prevails will become less sustainable. New Zealand is therefore prepared to move [to] … a more fruitful approach.41

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Two features therefore distinguished New Zealand’s relationship with Myanmar during this period: hard words; and, a (modest, of course) policy of engagement, particularly the resisting of pressure to impose sanctions. The latter was particularly important for New Zealand’s relations with ASEAN and ASEAN’s policy of “constructive engagement”, more so after Myanmar’s acceptance into ASEAN in 1997. Each of these features is worth discussing in detail. Throughout the 1990s (setting the trend for the present policy) Myanmar received hard words from New Zealand. Joint demarches were made with other countries to register concerns to the Myanmar government. A March 1995 press release noted that “New Zealand will continue to urge the Myanmar government to grant unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners, and set a clear timetable for the negotiation of a new constitution”; other press releases in 1996 were entitled “Burmese Given Strong Message” and “McKinnon Expresses Concern Over Myanmar”.42 The New Zealand government’s expectations in 1996 included a “clear commitment to respect human rights and principles of democracy”.43 New Zealand also supported resolutions condemning Myanmar, such as those agreed in the UN General Assembly Third Committee and the International Labour Organization. The government noted that “our general position on Myanmar is to use opportunities in international organisations to criticise Myanmar’s human rights”; the statement was also made that “New Zealand has traditionally attached a lot of weight to both the observance and effective promotion of human rights … it’s been a constant feature of our foreign policy under successive governments … we have reputation of speaking out bluntly when the occasion demands it”.44 New Zealand, though, was not traditionally vocal with regard to human rights when Myanmar was Burma, nor was it the policy of successive governments. With regard to Myanmar, the commendable attention paid to the internal human rights situation dated from after 1988 as part of an international movement. Is this a case of the New Zealand government of the time being swept up in the excitement of the grand statements, the moralizing, and the international kudos? Before commenting on the international and regional dynamic, it

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is worth noting that there were active domestic political consistencies agitating for action on Myanmar in the 1990s. Letters to the New Zealand government were received in small numbers, but gave the issue a domestic political context. The New Zealand Burma Support Group was active, and church and other human rights groups maintained calls for stronger action. In 1998 the New Zealand Dairy Workers Union called for a trade boycott by the New Zealand Dairy Board. The calls for stronger action typically asked for the government to instigate a trade boycott or sanctions. New Zealand had little to sanction: in 1996 imports remained around $500,000 but exports had reached $2.5 million, mainly dairy products and machinery.45 Increased sales of dairy products raised exports to $7.5 million in 2000.46 Both the European Union and the United States implemented various types of trade, investment, and aid sanctions against Myanmar, particularly government-to-government and multilateral agency assistance. The United States refused to relax these sanctions after the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest in 2002. It also took a dim view of drug production in Myanmar and designated the United Wa State Army a terrorist group in 2002.47 Coordinated consumer pressure resulted in a number of multinational firms pulling out of Burma, such as Pepsi Co. By December 2001, 25 US companies decided against selling products sourced from Burma, including Wal-Mart and the 333-store Ames department store chain.48 The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions has 325 firms on its list for boycott campaigns and the Confederation is flush with success after a provocative campaign that persuaded bra-maker Triumph International to close its Burma factory.49 The New Zealand government consistently argued in the 1990s against imposing sanctions. In 1998 it stated that it was not convinced that a trade ban “would be the best way to promote positive change in Myanmar”.50 It argued that sanctions would only be effective if universally applied (and there was no chance of that happening), they would negatively affect the ordinary people of Myanmar, and evidence suggested that the military authorities were largely impervious to economic pressures. It did note, however, that Aung San Suu Kyi had called for a trade ban “from time-to-time”, but that opposition opinion

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was not united — suggesting that Aung San Suu Kyi did not have the authority to make such a call.51 The policy, therefore, was of officially “neither encouraging nor discouraging the business relationship” as most trade had developed through “private sector contacts”.52 Aung San Suu Kyi had indeed called for sanctions, quite publicly in 1996 in the Nation (noted in MFAT’s files), arguing for targeted sanctions and stating that sanctions would only affect privileged people, not ordinary Burmese. The New Zealand government expected that economic liberalization as an economic tool would bring about political change but that sanctions as an economic tool would not. The government also recorded the observations by the New Zealand Ambassador in a visit to Myanmar in 1997 that Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD were the only opposition — seemingly contrary to the New Zealand government’s that Aung San Suu Kyi did not have the authority to call for sanctions.53 With little to sanction the debate over sanctions was largely theoretical, turning on the semantics of who represented the opposition and what exactly they were calling for. But the debate did represent an important marker in the bilateral relationship. Trade was limited, though growing, investment non-existent, and aid was channelled through other organizations, rather than granted bilaterally. The hard words for domestic and international consumption, articulating all the key phrases to which ears are attuned, were tempered by a pragmatic policy of limited engagement. New Zealand would only go so far in translating words into action. This policy of limited engagement was particularly important given the value that the New Zealand government placed on its relations with ASEAN. ASEAN adopted what was described as a policy of constructive engagement towards Myanmar, formalizing the policy that had grown up around relations with Burma as it engaged with specific regional countries. Myanmar was interested in a more robust relationship and pursued membership of ASEAN, achieving it in 1997. Myanmar’s membership was controversial and ASEAN was criticized strongly by the United States and the European Union. A double standard appeared to exist when Cambodia was denied membership later in 1997 due to domestic political turmoil and military involvement in politics.

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Apparently, though, US “highhandedness” actually sped up Myanmar’s membership; the Indonesian foreign minister of the time responded to Western criticism with the statement: “It’s our organisation, not theirs.”54 ASEAN’s interest in Myanmar’s membership was primarily economic, with billions of dollars at stake in trade and investment, primarily from Singapore, as Myanmar started to slowly and hesitantly liberalize its economy.55 It was also a way for ASEAN to assert its regional credentials — a regional means of dealing with the issue while at the same time maintaining some ability to deny that the Western model of government that Western countries were calling for in Myanmar was universal.56 The New Zealand government stated in 1997 that, “New Zealand has reluctantly gone along” with the ASEAN policy of constructive engagement although “there is no realistic alternative”.57 In 1998, a similar statement was made: “With some reservations, New Zealand has acknowledged that the ASEAN policy represents the most realistic option open, at the present time, to influence the SLORC [sic] government.”58 The government was therefore caught between its hesitation over ASEAN’s policy and its reasoning that to take steps to isolate a regime already inured to decades of isolation would have little effect. The government was also keen to work with the international community regarding Myanmar, rather than strike out on an independent course. It wanted to take account of the views of other countries, particularly those in ASEAN. In June 1997 the government noted that “ASEAN is a key institution for New Zealand’s engagement with South East Asia” and that the “expansion of ASEAN is a decision for ASEAN”.59 New Zealand was therefore able to cover both sides of the stumps: supporting international rhetorical condemnation of Myanmar in international forums, while supporting (albeit reluctantly) a moderate ASEAN policy of engagement rather than isolation. Most importantly, this policy prevented any irritants being introduced into New Zealand’s relations with ASEAN. It also allowed the continuation of modest trade with the potential to explore specific opportunities in Myanmar, as had been pursued with Burma during the previous period of relations. As such, the accredited embassy in Bangkok continued to look for specific opportunities for New Zealand trade and

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investment in Myanmar in the 1990s on the basis that case-by-case judgements could be made on the appropriateness of individual projects (although it is not clear how this approach might be reconciled with the official policy of neither encouraging nor discouraging trading links). Whether many opportunities will be identified in the future, though, is uncertain. The US Commercial Service, which provides advice to US companies wanting to operate abroad, advises that “the current business climate [in Myanmar] has little to recommend it”.60 New Zealand’s Labour-led government, which took office at the end of 1999, has articulated a policy for engaging with Myanmar that appears to differ from the previous policy of the 1990s. Confirmed in November 2002, the basis of the policy remains no intensifying of relations with Myanmar but also no trade or visa restrictions. The government will remain mindful of its commitments to ASEAN but, as a point of difference, look to work with like-minded countries (unidentified) to support democratic forces and Aung San Suu Kyi as appropriate. It remains to be seen, though, how this policy will translate into identifiable differences — and whether the policy will remain calibrated to the policies of other regional countries.61 Myanmar has enjoyed regional and international prestige from its ASEAN membership, but relations in recent years with some regional countries has soured. As noted, there was much initial interest from ASEAN countries in participating in the liberalization of the economy. But the reforms have not delivered and restrictions placed on investment by external firms have resulted in ASEAN firms pulling out of Myanmar.62 Some members, like Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, are also finding that their engagement with Myanmar is damaging their valued relations with important Western countries that want to press Myanmar harder for change. ASEAN’s constructive engagement might therefore be successful if ASEAN countries press Myanmar for internal change, particularly economic, as a condition of ASEAN membership. Lost trade and investment might be the prime mover for such ASEAN action. It would be ironic, given New Zealand’s protestations, if the pressure on ASEAN applied by Western countries taking a harder line on Myanmar than New Zealand actually brought about a change in ASEAN’s policy.

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Conclusion This chapter has demonstrated that New Zealand’s relations with Myanmar since 1948 can be divided into three time periods. The first period, 1948–74, can be characterized by benign neglect. Any overtures from the reclusive state were welcomed and although there was some assistance to Burma through multilateral institutions there was little initiative by either party to pursue a direct relationship. In the second period, 1974–88, a modest relationship developed based on limited trade and aid. The New Zealand government gave the infrequent official meetings some gravitas and beyond the focus on new trade opportunities there was no criticism of the regime’s non-democratic character or its floundering economy. In the third period, 1988–2002, human rights moved to the forefront of the relationship, reflecting the domestic and international mood of the time. The New Zealand government spoke up frequently and used hard words against Myanmar. At the same time, though, it supported ASEAN’s policy of constructive engagement. The government resisted calls for sanctions, based on clearly articulated reasons, and maintained the modest but growing trading relationship. The government’s protestations that it “reluctantly” went along with the ASEAN policy of constructive engagement in the 1990s appear to be a bit laboured. The government’s own policy, ASEAN aside, was a version of constructive engagement. Non-constructive engagement would surely have meant more hard words (they were quite hard already) and sanctions? Yet the government resisted imposing sanctions as a point of principle, even though, with minimal trade, there would have been little actual economic cost to either party (the New Zealand dairy industry aside). Why would the government be reluctant to go along with ASEAN’s policy given its admission that there was “no realistic alternative”? We are again into the murky world of diplomatic semantics — the need to appear to want to do more than internationally condemn, but modestly engage with, a human-rights-violating military junta when there were no realistic alternatives. The government was able to carve out a Newspeak-like niche of positioning itself on a rhetorically constructed middle ground: between remaining sceptical of ASEAN’s only realistic alternative and not supporting the (presumably unrealistic) positions

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being advocated by other Western states. The importance of perception and policy positioning, particularly with regard to international organizations, came to define the relationship. Such, though, is the nature of international diplomacy. For a small country on the international stage, New Zealand’s role is always played relative to a multitude of other actors. The lack of actual substance to New Zealand’s relationship with Myanmar did not prevent the relationship from developing, particularly after 1988, based around the salience of the “Myanmar issue” in regional relations. Myanmar’s admission to ASEAN demanded a response, as did resolutions in international forums and letters from constituents. The New Zealand government was able to advance its international credibility and pursue a moderate approach that allowed limited direct relations with Myanmar and cooperation with ASEAN, without domestic political fallout from a limited constituency. This was achieved with a policy that was clearly articulated, although based on the tortured logic of reluctantly supporting the only realistic policy and the repetition of some over-used catch phrases. While extrapolating a general conclusion about New Zealand’s foreign policy from the history of New Zealand’s relations with Myanmar is hazardous, certain themes emerge that have salience elsewhere. Five themes might be: first, lofty and moralizing rhetoric (particularly in the last decade); second, a more nuanced and pragmatic policy in practice; third, the primacy of preserving relations with important countries; fourth, the importance of upholding New Zealand’s international reputation; and, fifth, the importance of trade relations in foreign policy. The first four of these themes, for example, are present in New Zealand’s approach to nuclear arms control.63 Merwyn Norrish suggests that New Zealand’s foreign policy must “strike a balance between the ideal and the realistic”, which might be called the pragmatic approach.64 He also suggests that “New Zealand now reaches its foreign policy decisions after careful consideration of its own direct national interests, less influenced than before by a willingness to follow the lead of others” — although being in the good company of others (and therefore subject to their influence) is often in New Zealand’s interests. Also, Norrish identifies the moral element and that the “political and economic … are inextricably intertwined” in

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New Zealand’s foreign policy.65 From this case study of New Zealand’s relations with Burma/Myanmar it is evident that the five themes suggested by this author, or variations on these by others, are the modus operandi for a small, pro-active, moderate but Western-aligned state in the international system. NOTES The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of the New Zealand government. 1. There is some debate over whether the country officially called the Union of Myanmar by its government should properly be called Myanmar or Burma by others. The new name, Myanmar, was promulgated by the State Law and Order Restoration Council in 1989. Some governments and NGOs continue to use “Burma”, adopted in various guises after independence, as a form of protest against the Council’s illegitimacy. The US State Department, curiously, is one organization that does this, despite the United Nations adopting “Myanmar”. The New Zealand government uses the official name, Union of Myanmar, therefore this chapter will do the same, but make reference to the country as Burma during the period when it was known as such. 2. Richard Savill, “Prisoner of the Slorc [sic]”, Dominion, 8 May 2002. 3. “Cautious Celebration”, Dominion, 14 May 2002. 4. Peter Popham, “Sweet Scent of Freedom”, New Zealand Herald, 9 May 2002. 5. Press release, Phil Goff, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 7 May 2002. 6. Ibid. 7. “Cautious Celebration”, Dominion, 14 May 2002. 8. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), “Myanmar: Country Paper”, April 2000, p. 4. 9. Timothy Garton Ash, “Beauty and the Beast in Burma”, in New York Review of Books, 25 May 2002, p. 22. 10. George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language”, in Essays (London: Penguin Books, 2000). 11. Briefing to the Prime Minister from the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, 20 August 1973, 59/222/1, vol. 1.

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12. Josef Silverstein, Burma: Military Rule and the Politics of Stagnation (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977), p. 29. 13. “U” is an honorific used in Burmese names, meaning “Uncle” or “Mr”. 14. Silverstein, Burma: Military Rule and the Politics of Stagnation, p. 31. 15. Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefing paper, 59/222/1, vol. 1. 16. Silverstein, Burma: Military Rule and the Politics of Stagnation, p. 32. 17. Peter Carey, “From Burma to Myanmar: Military Rule and the Struggle for Democracy”, Conflict Studies, no. 304 (November–December 1997), p. 1. 18. Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefing paper, 59/222/1, vol. 1. 19. Cable, Wellington to Canberra, 15 February 1971, 59/222/1, vol. 1. 20. Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefing paper, 59/222/1, vol. 1. 21. All official quotes in this section of the chapter are taken from various papers in MFAT file, “New Zealand Externals Relations/Visits from Burma/General”, 1 November 1941 to 31 January 1999, 59/222/1, vol. 1. 22. Edmond Dantes, “Engaging Myanmar: A Historical Perspective”, Asian Defence Yearbook, 2000–2001, p. 35. 23. Carey, “From Burma to Myanmar”, p. 4. 24. Ministry of External Relations and Trade briefing paper, 13 July 1989, 59/222/1, vol. 2. 25. Maung Aung Myoe, The Tatmadaw in Myanmar since 1988: An Interim Assessment, Working Paper no. 342 (Canberra: Australian National University, 1999), p. 2. 26. Dantes, “Engaging Myanmar”, p. 36. 27. Ash, “Beauty and the Beast in Burma”, p. 22. 28. Reproduced in MFAT file, New Zealand External Relations/Burma, 1 November 1996 to 31 March 1998, 58/222/1, vol. 11. 29. US Department of State, “Burma: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices — 2001”, www.state.gov, p. 1. 30. Andrew Seth, Burma’s Secret Military Partners (Canberra: Australian National University, 2000). 31. Carey, “From Burma to Myanmar”, p. 13.

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32. Desmond Ball, Burma and Drugs: The Regime’s Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, Working Paper no. 336 (Canberra: Australian National University, 1999), p. 1. 33. Carey, “From Burma to Myanmar”, p. 9. 34. Tim Watkin, “Rebels Fighting Burma’s Military Regime Find Safety in New Zealand”, New Zealand Herald, 31 March 2001. 35. Nation (online edition), 9 June 2002. 36. Maung Aung Myoe, The Tatmadaw in Myanmar, p. 1. At the time of final writing, in June 2003, Aung San Suu Kyi had just been placed back under house arrest. 37. US Department of State, “Burma: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices”, p. 2. 38. Human Rights Watch, “Human Rights Watch World Report 2002: Asia: Burma”, www.hrw.org. 39. Despite his resignation, Ne Win continued to operate behind the scenes and was regarded as an elder statesman for the government of Myanmar. One example of his influence is the continuation of a currency based on multiples of nine, reflecting Ne Win’s obsession with numerology. He died in December 2002. In the preceding months, members of his family had been arrested for allegedly plotting a coup. 40. Country report, 59/222/3, vol. 3. 41. Press release, 27 July 1994, 58/222/1, vol. 10. 42. Press release, 14 November 1996, 58/222/1, vol. 10. 43. Country brief, 58/222/1, vol. 11. 44. Statement to Chisolm Park Conference, 12–13 October 1998, 58/222/1, vol. 13. 45. Ministerial reply, 13 June 1997, 58/222/2, vol. 1. 46. MFAT, “Myanmar: Country Paper”, p. 4. 47. The United Wa State Army is closely linked with Khin Nyunt, the SPDC first secretary and head of military intelligence. See Rodney Tasker and Bertil Lintner, “No Quick Fix For the Junta”, Far Eastern Economic Review, 29 November 2001, p. 29. New Zealand has a police liaison officer in the embassy in Bangkok, but no official contact with Myanmar law enforcement on the drug issue. 48. Far Eastern Economic Review, 20 December 2001, p. 8.

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49. “Burma Boycott Campaign Stepped Up”, BBC News — World Edition, 28 October 2002. 50. Ministerial reply, 10 September 1998, 58/222/2, vol. 2. 51. Ibid. 52. Ministerial reply, 13 June 1997, 58/222/2, vol. 1. 53. Report of visit by New Zealand’s Ambassador to Myanmar, 27 December 1996– 9 January 1997, 58/222/1, vol. 11. The Ambassador did not meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, but other unidentified opposition figures suggested that sanctions would have little effect. 54. Dantes, “Engaging Myanmar”, p. 39. 55. Carey, “From Burma to Myanmar”, p. 12. 56. Dantes, “Engaging Myanmar”, p. 39. 57. Ministerial reply, 13 November 1996, 58/222/2, vol. 1. 58. Statement to Chisolm Park Conference, 12–13 October 1998, 58/222/1, vol. 13. 59. Cable, Wellington to Ottawa, June 1997, 58/222/1, vol. 11. 60. The US Commercial Service, “Burma Country Commercial Guide FY2002”, www. usatrade.gov, p. 2. 61. The government’s 3 June 2003 press statement on the re-arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi was cautious, offering a standard condemnation. Visa restrictions on SPDC leaders were announced later that month, in a climate of more forceful condemnation by ASEAN countries (notably Malaysia). 62. Dominic Whiting, “Out-of-Step Myanmar Faces ASEAN Pressure to Change”, Reuters, 7 April 2002. 63. Guy Wilson-Roberts, “Nuclear Arms Control Negotiation with Special Reference to New Zealand and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty”, Ph.D. thesis, Department of Political Studies: University of Auckland, 1999. 64. Merwyn Norrish, “Introduction”, in New Zealand in World Affairs III, 1972–1990, edited by Bruce Brown (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1999), p. 17. 65. Ibid., pp. 17–19.

Reproduced from Southeast Asia and New Zealand: A History of Regional and Bilateral Relations, edited by Anthony L. Smith (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2005). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at 286 Rhys Richards < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

9

WARMTH WITHOUT DEPTH: NEW ZEALAND AND THE PHILIPPINES R H Y S

R I C H A R D S

Introduction Although the Philippines achieved independence in 1946, it was the growth of regionalism in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and 1970s that prompted New Zealand to develop closer relations with Manila. As the war in Vietnam drew to a close, nations in and outside Southeast Asia began seeking alternatives to the military alliances remaining from earlier wars, including alternatives to the South-East Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO) created under the Manila Pact in 1954. There was also a perceived need to draw Japan away from its post-WWII isolation and to engage it peacefully in the economic and regional development of Southeast Asia. Thus SEATO, ECAFE (Economic Commission for Asia and Far East), and the Colombo Plan were augmented by new regional and intra-regional organizations. From 1966 to 1973 ASPAC (the Asian and Pacific Council) brought together Japan, (South) Korea,

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China (“Nationalist”), (South) Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, New Zealand, and Australia, with Laos as an observer. In parallel a host of smaller organizations were begun to develop intraregional habits of consultation and cooperation. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) followed in 1967, with Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines seeking to develop cooperation within the region, not in security and defence, but rather on economic progress, political stability, and regional issues. As New Zealand sought to develop an enduring relationship with ASEAN, it was increasingly anomalous that New Zealand had a resident embassy, available for day by day consultations at a working level, in the other four ASEAN capitals, but not in Manila. Frequent visits to Manila were made by New Zealand ministers and officials to attend international and regional meetings as Manila became a conference centre of the region. This made the absence of a resident embassy all the more conspicuous. Moreover from 1970 onwards, the Philippines began buying 5 per cent of all New Zealand’s dairy exports — a significant amount of trade for the New Zealand economy at the time as it was narrowly based in terms of export markets and commodities. When the New Zealand Dairy Board added its considerable weight to the political and security concerns of the then New Zealand Department of External Affairs to take a more pro-active part in regional affairs, a momentum developed to strengthen the bilateral relationship tangibly through full diplomatic representation.

The Early Years: Accreditation from Hong Kong By the mid-1960s New Zealand had recognized that its many interests in the Philippines merited diplomatic representation, albeit in the form of cross-accreditation from another post. In May 1967 Mr R.L.G. Challis, Commissioner in Hong Kong, was cross-accredited as Minister to the Philippines. The announcement of the cross-accreditation referred to New Zealand’s wish to build on existing links through SEATO, ECAFE, the ADB (Asian Development Bank), and the Colombo Plan, and to facilitate bilateral trade.1 In June 1966 his successor, Mr W.G. Thorp, was similarly appointed Minister to the Philippines to enhance and

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strengthen political and commercial relations. In recognition of the growing range of common interests, in November 1971 his successor, Mr R.B. Taylor, was appointed New Zealand’s first Ambassador to the Philippines, although still resident in Hong Kong.2 During the next few years, particularly during the early stability under martial law in the Philippines, the role of the non-resident Embassy grew rapidly, involving frequent visits to Manila and beyond by five of the ten seconded officers then in Hong Kong. (There were three from External Affairs, two were Trade Commissioners, two were support staff to help open the new office in “Peking”, and three were language students.) At this stage, New Zealand’s Defence establishment maintained an active range of consultations on defence and regional security cooperation, though mainly directed from Wellington. A communist insurgency was ongoing in the Philippines — and lingers on today — but Western interest in checking communist expansion in the region was focused upon Vietnam and Thailand, not the Philippines. Nonetheless, New Zealand and the Philippines met together frequently for consultations as alliance partners in the Manila Pact of 1954 that had created SEATO. The low priority accorded the bilateral relationship was evident, however, in the failure to establish an embassy resident in Manila before 1975, by which time the effective life of SEATO had been well and truly cut short. (The end of SEATO did not unpick the Manila Pact, which still technically remains an alliance between the original signatories.) A growing volume of regional and bilateral meetings, ministerial and official visits, defence links, expanding trade and consular activities were serviced from Hong Kong, as was a substantial aid programme. In the Philippines, considerable prominence was accorded New Zealand aid, which at this stage was New Zealand’s largest bilateral aid programme outside the South Pacific. The main thrust of the aid programme was to provide technology and services in areas where New Zealand had special knowledge not available in the Philippines or from other aid donors. As several New Zealand consultancies demonstrated success in the Philippines, their projects expanded considerably. This was in accord with New Zealand’s aid priorities at that time, and may have been in part a recognition of the slower growth in other aspects of the bilateral relationship.

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The biggest projects were to help develop geothermal energy electricity generation, mainly in Leyte and on Negros. They received much favourable publicity in the Philippines itself, particularly after it was discovered that, by coincidence, the largest geothermal reserves were in Leyte, the home province of the First Lady, Imelda Marcos. The rehabilitation and relining of water pipes in Metro Manila was similarly conspicuous, whilst a dairy farm project was sustained at Marawi in southern Mindanao despite the war of secession by the Mindanao Independence Movement — and later its successor organizations — throughout the far south.3 Various other consultancies were maintained, including some through the Asian Development Bank based in Manila. During these difficult early years, some logistical support was provided through the British Embassy, and also through the generosity of a long time New Zealand resident businessman, Mr A.J. (“Tony”) Butler, who often acted as if an unofficial honorary consul. Even so, with the growth of ASEAN and its related regional bodies and meetings, and the steady growth of dairy exports, the overall relationship was soon too large to be workable without representation on the ground in Manila.

The New Resident Embassy in Manila In 1975 Mr M.P. (“Mac”) Chapman was appointed New Zealand’s first resident Ambassador in Manila. The announcement of his appointment stated this was “to add a new dimension on a day to day basis on a wide range of bilateral questions in the trade, aid and political fields”.4 However, the new Embassy encountered major problems in getting established and operational, so that during the first year or so many activities remained guided from Wellington. Fortunately, this hiatus was resolved during the term of the second resident Ambassador, Miss Barbara Angus, in 1978. Growth in trade made the Philippines that year New Zealand’s third largest trade partner in Asia after only Japan and Hong Kong. Regional, security, defence, trade, and aid contacts developed substantially thereafter during the terms of David Holborow (1981–84), Paul Cotton (1984–87), and Alison Stokes (1988–91).

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A high note in the bilateral relationship occurred after March 1986 when, following a period of unprecedented domestic turmoil in the Philippines, massive civil demonstrations culminated in the overthrow of President Marcos, and the appointment of President Corazon Aquino. During a short stop-over visit to Manila, the Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. David Lange, who had earlier expressed concern about election malpractices under President Marcos, became the first Head of Government to meet the new President Aquino.5 Prime Minister Lange was again in Manila in June 1986 for an ASEAN Ministerial Conference, where he opened the new Embassy chancery, and visited several aid projects accompanied by the President.6 Later the New Zealand Prime Minister gave strong support internationally for President Aquino after an attempted coup in August 1987.7 There was widespread public concern in New Zealand that the preservation and enhancement of democratic processes within the Philippines should not falter. Throughout Aquino’s term, the Philippines maintained a special relationship with New Zealand, which proved particularly useful for the expansion of trade, and of the aid programmes such as the large industrial forestry project at Bukidnon on northern Mindanao.

Bilateral Relations since 1990 The bilateral relationship grew steadily in the 1990s anchored by a state visit to New Zealand by President Fidel Ramos in August 1995, the first to New Zealand by an incumbent Philippines’ president. He was accompanied by a large contingent of ministers, politicians, officials and senior Philippines’ business leaders. In addition to the official discussions in Wellington, the party saw examples of New Zealand industrial and consultancy capabilities relevant to trade and investment potential. That visit was followed up by a New Zealand trade and investment opportunities seminar hosted in Manila by the then New Zealand Minister for trade negotiations, Phillip Burdon, in 1996 and supported by a team of New Zealand business representatives. Various business opportunities, especially in energy and telecommunications, were investigated and concluded; a bilateral Science and Technology Co-operation Agreement was

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launched; and business councils were established in both countries during this period. The Philippines role as APEC host for 1997 provided opportunities for New Zealand ministers and Prime Minister Rt. Hon. J.B. Bolger to engage in bilateral discussions with Philippines counterparts. This culminated in the Leaders Summit held at Subic Bay in November 1997. Further accreditations were developed during this period with the first resident New Zealand Defence Attaché appointed to Manila in March 1997, and Customs and Police attaches were accredited from Bangkok. Through these and other new liaison arrangements, New Zealand sought to enhance its wider cooperation with ASEAN members at working levels in each of these fields, including to enhance its own border security, police and customs surveillance and agricultural quarantine facilities. Regular visits to New Zealand by Philippines’ ministers and senior officials focused largely on New Zealand’s experience in economic reforms and public sector restructuring, with the latter providing followup focus for official development assistance (ODA) initiatives in the Philippines and many study attachments in New Zealand government departments. The bilateral ODA programme grew to cover a wide range of aid activities. From 1989, onwards its centrepiece was a pilot project in Bukidnon Province in the island of Mindanao — continuing a pattern of New Zealand aid giving to this troubled secessionist region to help improve its development prospects. This project was expanded to display the potential in the Philippines to establish and sustain commercially sustainable plantation forestry. The decade saw the winding up of the substantial New Zealand support for the development of the Philippines geothermal energy electricity generation capability through assistance both on the ground in the Philippines and in New Zealand. The drilling work in the Philippines by New Zealand consultants established some world leading breakthroughs in drilling technology and fluids reinjection. By the end of the decade, 120 Philippine men and women had graduated from the Geothermal Engineering Institute at Auckland University with advanced engineering qualifications.8 The six-year presidency of Fidel Ramos, from 1992 to 1998, brought considerable progress to the Philippines which was being described

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in some media circles as the “New Tiger of Asia”. This was perhaps premature but reflected well the healthy economic performances in the Philippines at the time. New Zealand shared in this stability and prosperity through ever improving trade figures, still predominantly dairy products. Ministerial visits reaffirming bilateral relations continued during the decade. Philippines Foreign Secretary Siazon visited New Zealand in 1997 while Bobby Romulo, a former Foreign Secretary, accepted the honorary position of Advisor to New Zealand’s “ASIA 2000”, a foundation launched to promote and enhance New Zealand’s relations with Asia. In 1999 Philippines President Joseph Estrada came to Auckland with a large delegation in November to attend the APEC Summit. Ramos was succeeded by Joseph Estrada, whose administration proved controversial and the President himself was subject to an impeachment proceedings. The unsettled period of Estrada’s presidency, including a renewal of serious hostilities in Mindanao, put a break on Philippines development and also affected the bilateral relationship. When elements of the elite and large numbers of Filipinos successfully struggled for the removal of Estrada, known as “EDSA II” or the second People’s Power Revolution in January 2001, Vice-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was swept into the presidency. Despite a legal challenge over this leadership transition, and a nascent “EDSA III” movement to restore Estrada, New Zealand announced promptly its full support for the new President and her administration.9 New Zealand’s ODA programme continued to have the Bukidnon forest project (BFI) as its main focus, but NZODA also started to branch out into environment and governance issues, and latterly indigenous rights. Management problems and local politicking had plagued the BFI for a number of years, although forestation continued with over 7,000 hectares planted by 2003. Harvesting of the oldest trees finally started in earnest that year, so that when New Zealand’s formal support for the project ceased in June 2003, the BFI was well established as a model sustainable plantation forestry company with good prospects for long term commercial viability. New Zealand was also able to make available to the Philippines its experience in outdoor tourism by assisting the development of a Philippines national eco-tourism strategy.

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Since 1998 full descriptions of New Zealand’s ODA to the Philippines have been issued annually in a series called “Project Profiles”. In the year 2000/2001 the allocation was $3.3 million, mainly in education and training, environment and conservation, good governance, and in support of UN social and peace programmes on Mindanao.10 A new Philippines ODA Country strategy was developed during 2002–2003, coinciding with the establishment of New Zealand’s International Aid and Development Agency (NZAID) to administer New Zealand’s official assistance. This sets out a five-year plan adopted jointly in October 2002 with $3.7 million annually in the same project areas. The Philippines also has substantial access to several regional and global programmes of NZAID, most notably through the Asia Development Assistance Facility (ADAF).11 New Zealand’s aid to the Philippines has remained one of the most consistent aspects of the relationship. Much of New Zealand’s ODA has been to support Manila’s governance in Mindanao. The continuing unrest in the Muslim South may provide a new impetus for New Zealand to continuing helping in Mindanao.

Trade Growth In the decade 1980–89, New Zealand’s annual exports to the Philippines had doubled. In the period 1990–2000, they doubled again, to reach $316 million in the year ending June 2000. Dairy products still account for the greater part, but in recent years forest products and some manufactured items also contributed to this increase. Over the three decades up to year 2000, imports from the Philippines were only one sixth of the total trade, while New Zealand exports were five-sixths (83 per cent). This imbalance continues today.12 New Zealand now trades with about a hundred countries each year, with the top ten trade partners accounting for two-thirds or more of the global total. The Philippines has never been among the top ten, but ranks consistently in the second decile, usually being around the fifteenth largest trade partner. An analysis of New Zealand/ Philippines bilateral trade, with exports and imports combined, up to the year 2000, reveals the ebb and flow of this aspect of the relationship.13

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Following the opening of diplomatic relations in 1971, the importance of the trade partnership rose sharply from only 0.43 per cent of overall New Zealand trade to a high point of 1.26 per cent in the 1974–75 trade year, which was the same year that the Embassy became resident in Manila. The share remained high at over 0.7 per cent until 1982. Although the volume and value of trade grew substantially over the years 1982 to 1995, the importance of this trade fell below 0.7 per cent until the 1996–97 trade year. Since then the ratio has increased above that level, making the Philippines once again a small partner in New Zealand’s overall trade. This seemingly modest level has remained of special significance for New Zealand, because it involves an important commodity trade at the very heart of rural New Zealand. Dairy exports to the Philippines each year have been consistently ranged between five to ten percent of New Zealand’s total dairy exports. Trade reached a peak of almost $500 million in the 2001–2002 year but has leveled off as the New Zealand dollar started to rise and as other markets became more attractive for the exporters. Dairy produce is expected to continue to be the bulk of future trade, but important opportunities are expanding for niche marketing in high technology. Aside from the bilateral trading relationship, New Zealand and the Philippines have shared interests in the prospects for the wider trading framework. As both countries are traders of primary products, their interests have overlapped in many international trade meetings and negotiations. New Zealand and the Philippines, alongside a number of other agricultural nations, have been co-members of the “Cairns Group” of agricultural exporters since the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Both countries have used this as a vehicle to represent their common interests, as they have elsewhere, including recently within the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group. Consultations on international trade issues have now become a matter of habit. For example, when the Minister of Trade and Agriculture, Jim Sutton, visited to Manila in March 2003, consultations focused not only on bilateral trade issues, but also on shared concerns in the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Doha Round.

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Regional Security Following the September 11 and Bali terrorist attacks, security became a much bigger issue in New Zealand’s relations with Southeast Asia, including with the Philippines. While communist insurgency, Muslim separatism, kidnapping, and other security threats had been part of the Philippines scene for many years, the globalization of terrorism and linkages between groups, especially in Southeast Asia and beyond, threw a new spotlight onto such movements and activities in the Philippines. As well as focusing on this new threat, cooperation increased across the board in regional organizations, especially in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) but also in APEC and the more recent Forum for East Asia and Latin America (FEALAC). New Zealand Foreign Minister, Phil Goff attended the Second Ministerial Meeting of FEALAC in Manila in January 2004. New Zealand increased its training assistance to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) under the Mutual Assistance Programme (MAP), which, although modest, and far behind the United States and Australia, nevertheless is now the third most significant training partner for the AFP.14

Conclusion New Zealand’s bilateral relationship with the Philippines has continued to develop most cordially and, at times, with warmth. This has been underpinned by extensive consultations and cooperation in wider regional and international contexts. There have been few bilateral issues of great importance to either party, and no points of serious disagreement or stress. New Zealand’s development assistance to the Philippines has proved to be the mainstay of the relationship, particularly with continuing programmes in Mindanao and elsewhere, while trade — another constant — has retained significance to New Zealand’s important dairy industry. In recent times the beginnings of a solid security partnership are also emerging as both countries share concerns over the threat terrorism poses to the region. However, overall the partnership has not yet developed much depth or substance, including when compared with New Zealand’s many working links with the other members of ASEAN.

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NOTES This chapter is largely based on published sources in the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs Library supplemented by discussions and reminiscences with former MFAT and Department of Trade and Industry staff who had served in the New Zealand Embassy in Manila. Grateful acknowledgements are made to Colin Bell, former New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines from 1995 to 1998, and to the present Ambassador, Terry Baker. 1. External Affairs Review, vol. XVI, no. 5 (1967), pp. 30–31. 2. External Affairs Review, vol. XXI, no. 8 (1971), p. 65; no. 11 (1971), p. 56. 3. Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 25, no. 1 (1975), pp. 5, 16. 4. Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 25, no. 1 (1975), p. 23. 5. Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 36, no. 1 (1986), pp. 11, 21. 6. Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 36, no. 2 (1986), pp. 1–2, 6–7. 7. Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 37, no. 4 (1987), p. 28. 8. Personal communication with Colin Bell, former New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines, 3 December 2003. 9. Dominion, 29 January 2001; Evening Post, 29 January 2001. 10. Project Profiles (Wellington: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2000), pp. 1, 86. 11. See www.nzaid.govt.nz. 12. New Zealand Year Book (Wellington: Department of Statistics/Te Tari Tatau, New Zealand government, annual issues 2000, 2001, 2002). 13. New Zealand Year Book (annual issues 1965–2000). 14. Personal communication with Terry Baker, New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines, 5 March 2004.

Reproduced from Southeast Asia and New Zealand: A History of Regional and Bilateral Relations, edited by Anthony L. Smith (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2005). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at 297 10. Palm and Pine: New Zealand and Singapore < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

10

PALM AND PINE: NEW ZEALAND AND SINGAPORE G E R A L D

H E N S L E Y

Prelude The comfortable relationship which grew up between New Zealand and the Republic of Singapore in the second half of the twentieth century played a decisive part in introducing New Zealand to Asia. This, though, was one of history’s happier ironies. For much of that century New Zealand looked to Singapore as its protection from Asia, first from the ambitions of Japan and then from those of Chinese-backed communism. In the years between the two world wars New Zealand, a loyal son of Empire, had no intrinsic interest in East Asia, then largely ruled by the European colonial powers. It did, however, become increasingly concerned about the ability of the British navy to continue to guarantee the security of the Pacific. Worried about the rise of Japanese militarism and with few hopes of an isolationist United States it looked anxiously for a means of sustaining British power in the Pacific. It seized on Britain’s compromise proposal to send its main battle fleet to Singapore in the event of trouble in the region. Wellington immediately offered

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£100,000 in 1923, scouting any suggestion that we should instead rely on the League of Nations for protection, and in 1927 committed the substantial sum of £1 million to complete the Singapore base. This became in effect New Zealand’s defence policy. New Zealand’s first Defence White Paper, in 1935, called Singapore the key to local defence, leaving New Zealand only to find the capability to deal with sporadic raiding vessels. But as the European outlook darkened it became alarmingly apparent that Britain had to “defend a two-hemisphere empire with a one-hemisphere navy”.1 After Munich the New Zealand Prime Minister was advised that the assumption of a strong British fleet at Singapore had become unrealistic. In April 1939 Walter Nash asked a British admiral what could be done if the Singapore strategy failed. His reply, “Take to the Waitomo caves”, was not reassuring.2 A year later, after the fall of France, Britain informed Australia and New Zealand that a fleet could no longer be spared. The Waitomo caves would have been crowded but for the US naval victories at Midway and the Coral Sea. The fall of Singapore in 1942 therefore had a profound effect on New Zealand. For the first time it was alone, with its security imminently threatened until the United States came to the rescue. But the lessons were felt more sharply by Australia which lost a division in Singapore and felt betrayed by Britain. The conclusion then drawn in Canberra — that henceforth the security of the Pacific depended on the Americans — was accepted only slowly and reluctantly in Wellington. After the war New Zealand hoped for a resumption of a Commonwealth system of defence. Even so perceptive an observer as Alister McIntosh, the New Zealand Secretary of External Affairs, said in 1946 that “I have not yet reached the conclusion that the British will necessarily write themselves off so far as the Pacific is concerned” and his deeply proBritish countrymen agreed.3 New Zealand’s post-war strategy centred not on the Pacific but on helping Britain check the feared expansion of the Soviet Union into the Middle East. In 1949 the government undertook to send a division to the Middle East in the event of war and accepted compulsory military service in peacetime to support the commitment. Even the subsequent signing of the ANZUS Treaty, which acknowledged that New Zealand’s security now depended on the Americans, was

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promoted at the time as “bolting the back door” in the Pacific to enable the country to play its part further afield. Whatever the merits of the Middle East strategy it quickly frayed. The Korean War and China’s intervention, the crumbling of the French position in Indochina and the rise of communist insurgencies in Southeast Asia suggested that the region at New Zealand’s back door required more urgent attention than countering the Soviet threat to Middle Eastern oil. The British too were alarmed at their weakness in East Asia and in 1951 talks began in Singapore with Australia and New Zealand, looking to the establishment of a three-nation strategic reserve. This was finally approved at a Prime Ministers’ meeting in London in January 1955. Two months later the New Zealand Prime Minister announced the first contribution to the Far East Strategic Reserve, based on Singapore and Malaya. This had been urged by New Zealand officials, Frank Corner arguing in 1953 that “South East Asia should be our number one focus of interest” and McIntosh agreeing that the “sensible thing is to turn our attention to South East Asia and not get ourselves diverted into any Middle East irrelevancies”.4 The abandonment of the distant Middle East commitment, however, was more than a change of military strategy; it was a major change in foreign policy, a shift of the national focus to the Asia-Pacific region. With the establishment of the Far East Strategic Reserve forward defence was back — New Zealand was to be defended “as far from our own shores as possible”.5 Back with it, after not much more than a decade, was a renewed sense of the importance of Singapore to New Zealand’s security. The fear was no longer the Japanese but the Russians and Chinese. Though the United States had become the paramount power in the Pacific it was content to leave the protection of Southeast Asia to Britain. So not everything had changed. The New Zealand forces, the first overseas deployment in peacetime, found themselves fitting comfortably into the familiar surroundings of British headquarters on British bases.

Political Transition The Singapore they came to, though, had changed and was very different

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from the quiet pre-war colony. The communist insurgency in Malaya and the beginnings of anti-colonial agitation had made for turbulent politics. Singapore had been separated from the Federation of Malaya in 1946 and in 1955 was embarking on a modified form of internal self-government under a new constitution. To accompany its strategic shift the New Zealand government opened a representative office in Singapore, the first in Asia. A former Cabinet Secretary and diplomat, Foss Shanahan, arrived in Singapore that year, with the rather grand title of Commissioner for South East Asia, and found himself trying to make sense of the restless political scene. A Chief Minister, David Marshall, had been elected in Singapore while a British Governor retained power over external relations and internal security. After a preliminary scuffle to define the border between the two the Labour Front government began localization of the civil service and laid useful foundations in education and language policy. But under its two successive chief ministers it was a twilight government. Debates in the Assembly and the familiar forms of colonial devolution seemed a frail response to the tide for change that was building on the island. The enfranchisement of large numbers of Chinese-born residents, and the enthusiasm for the new China of equally large numbers of students educated in the Chinese-language schools shook the parliamentary foundations of English-speaking Singapore. This was the real struggle for power and those who understood it best were the Special Branch (said to be the world authority on Asian communism), the Malayan Communist Party, and the newly formed Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) led by Lee Kuan Yew. Shanahan was troubled by the fact that neither Marshall nor his successor, Lim Yew Hock, seemed to have grasped the implications of Singapore’s new politics. Neither was devoting sufficient time and energy to building a broad party following and so each was vulnerable to factional splits and the relentless parliamentary criticism of the small PAP.6 That party was not eager for office until it had built a mass base and established itself as the leader of social and political change. The New Zealand representative was therefore interested in Lee and his colleagues from the outset, having a long talk with Lee a few weeks after his arrival, describing him as “the ablest man in the Assembly and

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a capable and astute Leader of the Opposition”. Lee told him that he could not accept communism because it was inhuman and tyrannical but that many of his colleagues felt that communism was the only way of winning independence. The communists, he said, had well-laid plans for the liberation of Singapore and Malaya and they had real motivation, unlike many of their opponents who were simply time-servers. “There was nothing comparable to them in the world for zeal, ardour and sacrifice, other than the Catholic Church”.7 The situation was serious and if the British did not soon set a date for self-government and independence the communists would continue to gain popular support. From then on New Zealand accepted that Lee was not a communist, though many others disagreed. Both Wellington and its representative in Singapore, however, continued to worry through the next two turbulent years whether he and the other English-speaking moderates could survive and control their extremist wing. This indeed was the key issue in Singapore’s politics, blocking all progress towards independence until it was resolved. With weak governments no date could be fixed, unlike Malaya where the election of a firmly based nationalist government meant that the British had no difficulty in agreeing on independence in 1957. In Singapore the Governor could not contemplate even an early election for fear a communist-dominated government would take power. He told Shanahan in July 1955 that they would simply have to tough it out with the use of emergency powers.8 So for a time the running was made in the streets and the government responded with periodic detentions of trades unionists and student organizers. Despite overseas criticism this was accepted by New Zealand as unavoidable in Singapore’s circumstances. For Wellington, as for Canberra and London, the security of the bases, and therefore of the noncommunist position in Southeast Asia, was the overriding consideration. When the next round of constitutional talks broke down in April 1956 (over control of internal security) the Prime Minister, Sir Sidney Holland, publicly endorsed the British position: New Zealand strongly supports aspirations of the people of Singapore for self-government and independence. At the same time it shares the concern of the United Kingdom authorities for the internal security of Singapore … Singapore is a bastion of the free world.9

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Indeed, and the military bases were seen as so critical that as late as January 1958 the British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, was telling his New Zealand counterpart, Walter Nash, that if the communists looked like gaining power through elections Britain would have no hesitation in resuming direct rule.10 New Zealand was not entirely comfortable with this possibility. At the time of the constitutional talks it had privately pointed out to London “the dangerous consequences which a conflict with nationalistic movements for independence in Singapore might have for UK policies in Asia as a whole”.11 These misgivings strengthened in the following months and when further disorders broke out a few months later Wellington noted that “if the fight against the Communist subversives cannot be won by the local government, then it cannot be won by the United Kingdom”.12 When Britain consulted the two Dominions about fresh talks in March 1957 Australia expressed “considerable misgivings” at the prospect of further constitutional concessions, but New Zealand was relieved.13 These talks, in which the Chief Minister and Lee Kuan Yew worked together, found a tactful solution to the difficulty over control of security and opened up the path of progress. Their success, however, brought to a head the divisions in the PAP between the constitutionalists and the advocates of direct action. In August 1957 the extremists captured the party’s central executive but before they had time to plan their next moves five of the six new members of the central committee were detained by the internal security people who then picked up a number of the “second eleven”.14 This proved decisive. The arrests did not damage the party’s increasing support and the moderates, restored to office, took prudent measures against any further coups. In December the PAP swept triumphantly in elections for control of the City Council. This brief experiment in local government demonstrated the pulling power and careful organization of the PAP but otherwise was not a success. The flamboyance of the mayor and the heated nature of the anti-colonial rhetoric at Council meetings reignited the New Zealand office’s fears of what lay beneath. It pointed out that the party owed much of its success to its large and dedicated following of students and other young and easily led Chinese, noting

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gloomily that “[t]his is of course typical of Communism”, and wondered whether Lee was the “front man” for extremists.15 This uneasiness lingered but 1958 was otherwise relatively calm. Talks in April at last established the base for a new state of Singapore, independent in all but external relations and control of internal security which was to be shared with Britain and the newly independent Federation of Malaya. Attention shifted to the prospects for the elections which were called for May 1959 and which would inaugurate the new state. The focus fell increasingly on Lee Kuan Yew and the PAP as New Zealand concluded that the conservative parties were neither united nor active enough to make a victorious showing. There were still concerns over Lee’s control. At the end of his term Shanahan thought that in government he would try to get rid of the extremists “but I doubt whether he would succeed”. But privately Lee was saying that his party wished the bases to stay “for the time being” — the last thing they wanted was the loss of the thousands of jobs that the bases provided.16 As early as December 1958 the New Zealand Prime Minister was told that “all observers” were agreed that the PAP was in a strong position to gain a majority. In the final days the post’s confidence was bolstered by the discovery that the Chinese betting shops “which a few weeks ago were offering long odds on the PAP, are now quoting 6 to 5 in favour of a PAP majority”.17 There was alarm among the commercial and expatriate community in Singapore — understandable in view of some of the election campaign rhetoric. Wellington, though, kept its nerve. An assessment four days before the vote noted that the PAP was the only party in Singapore “which possesses both a mass base and a dedicated, intelligent leadership”. It noted bleakly a weakness in this: the leaders “have said enough to hang themselves if the extreme wing of the party ever recaptures power.” The party leaders have an impatient and difficult following to satisfy so “they declare reasonable intentions in arrogant language; their persuasion is never far from threats”. Finally, not all of them were committed to democratic institutions but then “only a strong and popular government can establish the conditions in which democracy can take root in Singapore”.18

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The PAP Government: 1959–63 Relations between the two states thus got off to a sympathetic start and after Lee’s first press conference the acting Commissioner reported that “Lee Kuan Yew is a man with whom we could do business”.19 Wellington agreed: “There seems cause for guarded optimism about at least the immediate future.” There was no burden of the past, New Zealand favoured colonial liberation and the Prime Minister, Walter Nash, came from the same tradition of pragmatic British socialism that had so influenced the PAP leadership. This led Dr Evatt, the former Labor Foreign Minister of Australia, to suggest to Nash immediately after the PAP’s victory that “it is vitally important for the Labour movement of both countries to get alongside” the new government and offer friendly guidance on the responsibilities of self-government.20 Nash tactfully fended off thought of party-to-party contacts: “With the clear mandate that he received in last month’s general election, I believe that Mr Lee Kuan Yew will make a sincere effort to put into effect his party’s programme of ‘democratic non-Communist socialism’” but he considered that New Zealand’s help should be on a normal government-to-government basis. New Zealand was anxious to develop the relationship, but felt it needed to be careful not to expose Lee to accusations of undue Western influence and that it might be best to let things settle down for a few months.21 For his part Lee was equally forthcoming. He had earlier made clear his liking for New Zealanders whose outlook and racial policies he thought got a better psychological reception in the minds of Singaporeans. Now, at a first meeting with the Acting Commissioner on 15 June 1959 his mind was already concentrating on how to establish an efficient administration free from corruption, likening what he had inherited to a ten-ton truck with an Austin 7 engine. He had been impressed by what New Zealand was doing under the Colombo Plan and asked whether it could assist in training tough administrators. However, an impromptu offer of help with reshaping their trades union system was politely, and perhaps understandably, turned aside by Lee.22 Nonetheless New Zealand agreed that practical assistance was the best policy. A briefing for the External Affairs Committee of Parliament

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in August noted that the two most important long-term problems were the future of the British bases, and the relationship with Malaya. The new PAP government had made a promising start, with intelligent and courageous statements by Lee, but “the main battle with Communism and the grave economic problems of Singapore has not yet been joined”. It concluded that the new state needed assistance and encouragement and New Zealand, as a small state with no axe to grind, was well-placed to provide it.23 The successful Colombo Plan system of technical assistance offered, as Lee had noted, the most effective channel for the amount of help that a small country like New Zealand could give. By April of the following year, when Sir Walter Nash paid his first visit to the new state, New Zealand had spent £25,397 on aid, provided 29 study awards and a number of technical assistance assignments in broadcasting, publicity, education and health.24 Not counted as aid but no less useful to the Singapore economy, there was 41 Squadron of the RNZAF at Changi and either a cruiser or one or two frigates at Sembawang. New Zealand accredited its Commissioner to the new state, stretching the formalities a little as far as Britain was concerned. “We are concerned to maintain our special and close link with the Singapore government and in publicity work would not wish to pay too much lipservice to formal UK responsibility for Singapore’s external relations.”25 But, preoccupied with the urgent task of domestic development, the new government had little time to chat with its Commonwealth friends, however sympathetic. With unemployment at 10 per cent and half the population under 19 years of age Singapore’s traditional entrepôt economy would have to be transformed to provide jobs and education. Lee’s government embarked on an ambitious plan for industrialization and also on a large and in the end hugely successful programme of housing construction. All this inevitably took time to show results and no one — except possibly the communists — was more aware than the government of how little time there was. Prime Minister Lee told his Parliament that the second year in office would be decisive for the government. If construction and expansion did not start then it would be unlikely to do so in the third or fourth years.26

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Unexpectedly, though, the communist challenge when it came was not so much over jobs as over the future relationship with Malaya. Throughout the period of constitutional change it had been understood by everyone that the goal at some undefined date was reunion with the Federation of Malaya on which Singapore was economically and geographically so dependent. Only David Marshall had briefly wondered whether it might not become some sort of Tangier. The trouble was that the most compelling reason for integration — a larger context in which to manage Singapore’s chronic internal security difficulties — was also the principal stumbling block. The newly independent Federation Government, dominated by conservative Malays, was reluctant to take responsibility for such a restless and ethnically different state. So the future relationship with Malaya, though regularly reaffirmed as a goal by the PAP, remained unclear. New Zealand was disappointed by this, feeling that Singapore’s economic as well as its political future depended on a merger. It worried that if Kuala Lumpur continued to be discouraging a more chauvinistic group in the PAP might get the chance to pull Singapore further to the left. This was hardly an attractive prospect for Malaya “and yet the Malayan Government’s present attitude is such as to encourage and accelerate the trend”.27 But in 1961, spurred by another flurry of Chinese chauvinism when the former mayor split from the PAP, the Prime Minister of Malaya, Tunku Abdul Rahman, changed his mind. He concluded that the vexations of having the lively state of Singapore in the federation were less than the dangers of a hostile independent state perhaps controlled from Beijing. At a speech in Singapore he floated the idea of some sort of federation covering Malaya, Singapore, and the British territories of North Borneo and Sarawak — what came to be called Malaysia. The warm welcome this drew from the Singapore government provoked the long-foretold split in the PAP, with the communist-led wing moving away to form the Socialist Front (Barisan Sosialis). The communists supported a merger with Malaya, but on their terms and not as a present from a conservative aristocrat like the Tunku. Their action, which left the PAP with a slim parliamentary majority, had the effect of accelerating the process. A year later the Tunku had so far changed as to threaten to close the causeway between the two countries if the

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Singaporeans did not choose merger. The communists had backed a loser. The issue of merger did not have the inflammatory power of employment grievances or Chinese-language education to get people on to the streets, and the government’s vigorous drive for jobs and low-cost housing was beginning to win the electorate’s respect. For the next two years politics on the island were dominated by the negotiations over merger. Singapore secured special terms for itself and in September 1962 71 per cent of those voting approved the merger. There remained the general election, called for September 1963 when Singapore would formally enter Malaysia. Despite another round-up of extremists earlier in the year (termed with grim humour Operation Cold Store) the outcome was not clear. The New Zealand office laid aside its crystal ball this time and thought that the government in Singapore had only a 50 : 50 chance of winning a workable majority.28 In fact support for the opposition Singapore Alliance melted away and the PAP won a decisive victory. A few days later Singapore embarked on its union with Malaysia, applauded by her friends with the relief and slightly anxious hopes that well-wishers always have at an arranged marriage.

Malaysia: 1963–65 Fear of the communist extremists had hurried on the merger but it was deeper, less manageable fears that wrecked it. The influence of the Barisan Sosialis had in fact been waning since they failed to overthrow the government in 1961. Although they managed 13 seats in the 1963 elections the New Zealand representative thought support was declining in their traditional bases among the unions, students and rural dwellers. Trouble at Nanyang University in July the following year saw the fall of their last stronghold. The international left-wing movement opposed Malaysia as a neocolonialist trick. More seriously Indonesia proclaimed Confrontation against the new state. This brought attacks on Singapore as well as other parts of Malaysia but it also brought considerable military and diplomatic support from Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, and if anything Indonesian pressure brought Malaysians closer together. What drove them apart was racial distrust. Neither Chinese nor

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Malay was comfortable with the other and the enforced intimacy of federation became increasingly irksome. As the first Malaysian Parliament prepared to open Lee declared, “We want Malaysia to prosper but we must have our fair share of this prosperity”.29 Singapore’s single-minded drive to improve living standards was now accelerating and many Malays feared that the Chinese Singaporeans were bound to end up with more than their fair share. Peninsula Malaysia was still a conservative, easy-going, hierarchical society. It was alarmed by the prospect of unrestricted competition from what it saw as the clever, industrious and tough-minded Chinese. And there, to embody their fears, was the clever, industrious and toughminded Prime Minister of the new federal state urging that communalism was not the answer and that over time Malaysia must become a genuinely multi-racial society. Lee wanted very much for Malaysia to succeed; he had staked his career since 1955 on this goal. He was willing to conciliate Malay nationalism, conceding that the Prime Minister would have to be a Malay for perhaps a generation, but the Chinese had to be accepted as equal partners in Malaysia.30 More daringly, he argued that the PAP was best fitted to command the loyalty of the urban Chinese in Malaysia and that it should therefore have a voice in central government. He put this into effect with some of his PAP colleagues by entering the Malaysian Parliament at the elections in April 1964. This was a direct challenge to the Kuala Lumpur government and its own Chinese allies. There was now a new form of extremism to be countered — Malay nationalism — and Lee and his colleagues became its demons. The irritations began to accumulate. Lee’s skills as a parliamentary debater did not help and New Zealand (and others) thought him at times too outspoken and provocative.s But when riots broke out in a Malay part of Singapore in July, the New Zealand High Commission in Kuala Lumpur put the blame squarely on encouragement by the governing party — the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) — of an extremist line. The cracks began to look ominous and an angry Lee told the High Commissioner that he would not give Malaysia two years to survive.32 Wellington, alarmed by the events, took stock. “We still hold the

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view that the survival of Malaysia depends in large measure upon the willingness and determination of the politically dominant Malays to work towards a genuinely multi-racial society.” This after all was inherent in the concept of Malaysia and why it was different from Malaya. The Malay leaders should recognize that “Malaysia is a federation, not an empire”. Lee’s loyalty to Malaysia, the assessment continued, “seems to us beyond question. It is doubtful whether without him Singapore could avoid political trouble of a kind that could well wreck Malaysia.” Wellington was encouraged by the political truce that had been hastily agreed by the leaders on both sides but sceptical: “at bottom they seem determined to get rid of Lee and remove the PAP threat”.33 The truce did not last and the squabbling continued, with the New Zealand High Commissioner, Hunter Wade, increasingly despairing about “the element of Greek tragedy” in the drift. There was in fact little that Malaysia’s friends could do about a family row and when an opportunity did appear New Zealand was perhaps too quick to discount it. Lee and the Tunku, realizing that something had to give if an explosion was to be avoided, had secretly begun at the beginning of 1965 to explore the possibilities of disengagement — a looser federal arrangement for Singapore. The logic of this was simple: if the PAP was to be denied a role in national politics it had to be given greater autonomy in Singapore. The British found out about it and, alarmed, got Australia and New Zealand to weigh in too. Lee, who paid his first visit to New Zealand in March said ruefully, “Your chaps in Wellington gave me a thorough going-over [on disengagement].”34 New Zealand like its allies was fearful that any major modifications to Malaysia would weaken its international standing — already under attack by Indonesia and her friends — and open up a grave risk of further disintegration. This was too cautious, but by the time Wellington had come round to accepting that disengagement was better than divorce it was too late. In this atmosphere even Lee’s visit to New Zealand became a further ground of complaint against him by the Malay extremists. In fact he was careful to avoid direct references to his critics. He enjoyed the visit, as he did several subsequent ones, liking New Zealanders and what they had achieved. In a thank-you letter to Holyoake he commented politely on the rather lengthy procession of civic dignitaries he met: “If Malaysia

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had such men in abundance, solid citizens, to take an interest in the affairs of their community, the task of maintaining a democratic system of government in Malaysia would be so much easier”. He had still not given up on disengagement: I agree that nothing must be done which would give the impression abroad that Malaysia is disintegrating. Taking full cognisance of this paramount consideration, I believe that adjustments can be made which will improve our position internally, the better to meet our external problems.35

The temperature, though, continued to rise and by May was being described in Wellington as very dangerous. Elements in UMNO were openly calling for Lee’s imprisonment and Lee, returning from an Asian tour, told the welcoming crowd, “If we must have trouble let us have it now instead of waiting for another five or ten years”. The Singapore government still clung to hopes of Malaysia, being buoyed by an unexpectedly large win in a by-election, but Lee felt that the Tunku was losing control of his party and of events.

Separation Yet the blow, when it came in August, was a surprise. On 7 August the Tunku told Lee that if Singapore did not leave the federation, he would have to take repressive measures which would lead to riots in bloodshed. There were no other choices he said; he could not hold the situation in his party much longer. The Singapore Cabinet, many of whom had been born on the peninsula, debated the ultimatum. The first reaction of some was to stand and fight, accepting that they would be imprisoned, but by the next day they were agreed on Singapore’s departure.36 The Tunku had acted with great speed and secrecy, knowing what the reaction of his Commonwealth allies would be. They only got wind of it on 8 August and the prime ministers of Britain, Australia, and New Zealand immediately sent personal appeals to the Tunku. Holyoake’s customary calm was shaken. “I am appalled”, he told the Tunku, “at any suggestion that Malaysia should be broken up or truncated”. It would encourage Indonesian hostility and dishearten those who had supported Malaysia. Many in New Zealand, he said, “will question how effectively we can maintain our support”.37

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The Singapore leadership was still in shock. The following day — now Singapore’s Independence Day — Lee sent Holyoake a message, but in an unknown cipher which turned out to be based on pages of the Little Oxford English Dictionary and took a day to decode. It gave an emotional description of events but its warm references to New Zealand’s “staunch support” hinted that it was only because of this external support that Singapore was given the option of leaving quietly. The cable assured Holyoake that “you can rely on my colleagues and I to ensure that Singapore will remain a non-Communist nation so long as we are in authority and whatever the sacrifices we have to make”.38 New Zealand immediately announced its recognition of the new state — the first to do so after Britain — but took a tactfully bland line in public. In a press release Holyoake contented himself with saying that “Since Singapore and Kuala Lumpur have agreed freely though reluctantly to separate … we must respect that wish”. A week later he was still voicing regret to the Tunku, but assuring him that full New Zealand support for Malaysia and Singapore in the face of Indonesian confrontation would in no way be affected.39 As the after-shocks rattled the Borneo states of Malaysia disengagement made a fleeting reappearance. The High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur suggested that if the Tunku could be persuaded to look again at a looser form of federation with East Malaysia, Lee could be invited to join the discussions. “We might then end up with a reconstituted Malaysia based on Lee’s earlier disengagement proposals that we turned up our noses at but that now seem relatively attractive.”40 Wellington was half-receptive but its Singapore representative was firm. Lee was upset and unlikely to be receptive; Singapore could not backtrack so quickly. In any event many Singaporeans seemed genuinely relieved to be on their own and would not wish to return to the old situation. So separation was a fact and New Zealand had to consider the consequences. Holyoake told a parliamentary committee that he did not expect great changes and that he personally was optimistic.41 An appreciation by the Ministry’s adviser, Ralph Mullins, agreed. The Singapore government had achieved much since 1961. There was little immediate cause for concern and the future of Singapore should be sound. There were difficulties of course and the future depended on how

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well the neighbours could work together. “If the marriage was one of convenience, the divorce can only at best be one of inconvenience: the divorced couple in this case are obliged to continue living in the same house.” Lee would need to adjust his balance by cultivating the AfroAsians and this could lead to a visible, if superficial, diminution in reliance on Britain, Australia and New Zealand. But behind this independent posture he thought that Lee was well aware that Singapore’s security depended on Britain and on cooperation with Malaysia.42 Bilaterally there were no serious implications for New Zealand. Commonwealth privileges on trade were extended at once and aid would not be affected. The overriding consideration was defence: New Zealand’s defence policy depended on the continuing availability of the bases. New Zealand forces were now spread over two countries and it might prove difficult “to conduct a war from another country”, but it was hoped that there would be the minimum disturbance to the current defence arrangements.43 Lee moved swiftly to dampen fears. He took charge of the issue himself, agreed that at some point in the future the bases would go, but firmly resisted Afro-Asian pressure to set any date. Wellington assumed that when the dust settled Singapore would inevitably be pressed to take a greater interest in the use to be made of the bases. A new defence agreement would be needed but it concluded with relief that neither Singapore nor Britain seemed in any hurry to raise the matter.

Independence and the British Withdrawal: 1965–71 The New Zealand government’s optimism — by no means universally shared — proved well-founded. Earlier policies on economic development were gathering momentum and rejection by Malaysia redoubled the incentive to succeed. In the first year of independence exports rose by 10 per cent and the government’s revenue increased by almost as much. More than a quarter of the population was now in new, low-cost housing, more in six years than New Zealand had achieved in thirty. Employment was buoyant, the only shadow being the degree of dependence on the 45,000 jobs and income provided by the ten British bases. Two years after the separation Lee invited his colleagues and senior officials to a

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celebratory dinner. He stipulated black tie instead of the open-necked white shirts which were the trademark of the PAP. Understanding their surprise, he said to them, “you may wonder [at the black tie]. Once you could not afford it. Now you can”.44 The voters were equally pleased with the rising prosperity and in the April 1968 elections the PAP made a clean sweep of all the seats. Internationally, despite the presence of the bases and Lee’s quiet support for the American effort in South Vietnam, Singapore was widely accepted. Communist sympathisers around the world clung to the fiction of “Malaya” and were wont to deride Lee as merely the “mayor of Singapore”. But the city-state immediately became a member of the United Nations where in general it tended to follow the Afro-Asian line except where its security interests might be involved. Early in 1967 it was admitted to the Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organisation and its anti-colonial credentials were kept burnished by careful diplomacy. As a Wellington brief put it, “the PAP has pursued a policy of non-alignment with a noticeable pro-Western bias”.45 The key concern, for New Zealand and everyone else, continued to be the relationship with Malaysia. Not surprisingly some bickering continued after separation as the two countries sorted out the new status so abruptly thrust upon them. There were irritations over immigration restrictions, Singapore’s nationalization plans, relations with Indonesia. There were threats of economic sanctions, redirecting rubber shipments and hints about Singapore’s water supplies. Two of these disagreements, over defence and external relations, concerned matters of principle and more directly involved the Commonwealth partners. Malaysia asserted the right to station troops in Singapore for external defence, citing the hastily drafted Separation Agreement that referred to the inseparable nature of Malaysian/Singapore defence. This was a delicate point. No one had ever thought that their defence was other than inseparable but independence required consent. The best thing — namely, for the two to get together and work out practical common arrangements — was hardly possible in the atmosphere, but the British stepped in and brokered a settlement. Then there was the question of barter trade with Indonesia. Singapore wanted to open an exchange market on a nearby island but,

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with Confrontation still going on, Malaysia objected. The disagreement came to be seen as a struggle over control of Singapore’s foreign policy. By late 1965 the Tunku was thinking of using his small naval forces to blockade the island. New Zealand, which had seconded personnel to the Royal Malaysian Navy, told Kuala Lumpur that its people could not take part in military measures against a fellow Commonwealth member.46 By the new year most of these issues had been sorted out and, though flare-ups occurred from time to time, both sides came to accept the need to cooperate and as far as was practicable to restrain their occasional irritations. Although Singapore’s progress looked increasingly impressive some of the old internal worries were still there. Like Singapore’s own leaders New Zealand’s new High Commissioner thought the prosperity and stability still brittle; even after a year “not so much a state as a location”.47 There was the old issue of “Chinese chauvinism” but an assessment in September 1966 judged that with a government that was efficient, incorrupt and progressive “internal security is, therefore, good at present”. There was the position of Singapore Malays whose position New Zealand officials thought in some ways to resemble that of Maori in New Zealand. The Chinese majority could afford to support official discrimination in their favour, but was this the right thing to do? The government was firm: “The real task is to make certain that the minorities will always enjoy the same rights as those enjoyed by the majority”.48 And then there was the disappearance of the parliamentary opposition. In August 1966, even before the clean sweep of the next election, New Zealand reflected on the charge that Singapore was in all but name a one-party state. The High Commissioner argued that though authoritarian the government maintained a lively communication with the people. He also judged that because Singapore was so compact this could be and was done directly in the electorates and community centres rather than through parliamentary debates. Two years later, he noted that there was a price to pay in civil liberties and a tame press but that this was accepted by Singaporeans “who see no credible alternative policy”.49 New Zealand saw its policy as one of firm support. The cash assistance was perhaps less valuable than the moral support but it was not insignificant. The most useful form of aid was the provision of experts

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and advisers in particular fields. In the 1967 fiscal year New Zealand spent $802,936 on technical assistance for Singapore, for example helping to set up an Industrial Research Unit that in later years blossomed into the Singapore Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research, one of the engines of Singapore’s growth. Defence aid was not much less important. Since its foundation defending Singapore had been someone else’s job but now a national defence force had to be built up almost from scratch. In 1966 New Zealand spent roughly $685,000 on training for Singaporean officers and, with the help of Commodore Richard Humby, took on the task of midwife in establishing the Republic of Singapore Navy. This was of “considerable practical assistance” in building a professional defence establishment and won lasting goodwill. Events were also widening New Zealand’s perspective. For the first time trade appeared as one of its interests in the region. Developing country preferences were extended to Singapore but a bilateral trade agreement was not felt necessary given Singapore’s largely duty-free status. The retention of the bases “for as long as possible” was still the core of Wellington’s concerns. It was central to New Zealand’s forward defence policy and alternatives in Australia would not have comparable value. But the purpose of the bases, especially after Confrontation formally ended in 1966, looked increasingly diplomatic rather than purely military. They were seen as playing an essential part in maintaining confidence and cooperation between Singapore and Malaysia and in encouraging Singapore to work towards a more stable relationship with its neighbours. In a think-piece a year after independence the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs mused that the Singaporeans “because of their exposed position, will have to go somewhat more than half-way in meeting the more reasonable demands of its neighbours”. It reached the conclusion — a year before ASEAN was formed — that Singapore should be urged towards some form of regional association. At the same time New Zealand should encourage her neighbours to regard Singapore as a natural member of such a grouping. This might be the best way for Singapore to achieve a reasonably comfortable and long-lasting relationship with Malaysia and Indonesia.50

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It was ironical, given New Zealand’s persistent anxieties about the security of the bases, that when the end came it was not the PAP or the Malaysians who pulled the plug but the British government. Lee sensed the risk as early as Separation when he told a group of foreign correspondents on 30 August 1965 that the problem was not that he wanted to get rid of the bases but that the British were becoming increasingly disillusioned. “If the British withdraw I am prepared to go on with the Australians and the New Zealanders, but I am not prepared to go on with the Americans.”51 In February 1966 the British government reaffirmed that the British bases would stay as long as Malaysia and Singapore wanted them. But Confrontation with Indonesia, which at its height had required 50,000 British troops as well as substantial Australian and New Zealand forces, was coming to an end and it was apparent that Britain could no longer sustain the burden of such extensive deployments. A gradual run-down was planned but after months of speculation and official reassurances the collapse of the pound sterling brought things to a head and in January 1968 the British government suddenly announced that it would withdraw all its forces from Singapore and Malaysia within three years. Once again Singapore faced a crisis. Most immediately it was economic. The Commonwealth presence in 1966 accounted for 20 per cent of Singapore’s GDP and was the island’s largest employer. Singapore’s economic growth had begun to diminish this reliance but the accelerated withdrawal still threatened widespread unemployment and perhaps instability. There were also security concerns. The Commonwealth presence was aimed to stabilize the region and underpin confidence. Southeast Asia was far from stable. Indonesia was no longer threatening but the Vietnam War was at its height and there were still active communist insurgencies in Thailand and the Philippines. The Anzac strategy of forward defence was built on a British presence. Apart from the numbers it was their organization and huge logistic infrastructure which sustained the smaller partners. As the hints of a British departure multiplied New Zealand had to rethink. Forward defence was finished; two Anzac battalions could not sustain the role of the Far East Strategic Reserve. Was there any point in

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staying on? Wellington was clear that, bases or not, Singapore’s strategic position was of major importance. “It is to our interest to do what we can to assist the present government, since Singapore is unlikely to produce an alternative regime as well disposed to the West.”52 It concluded that even small Anzac forces could help maintain stability. In the event of a major threat they would provide a tripwire, for the American Secretary of State had affirmed that any attack on Anzac forces would bring in American support under ANZUS.53 But short of that, retaining them would be a vote of confidence in Singapore. New Zealand could not provide economic help that was large enough to be decisive, but it could provide a bridge while Malaysia and Singapore built up their defence forces and the presence could be used to encourage these forces to cooperate as closely as possible. In short, an Anzac deployment could no longer provide protection but it could provide reassurance. At first the decision to stay was “in the meantime”, but in February 1969 Holyoake said that the New Zealand battalion would shift from Malaysia to Singapore and stay on indefinitely after the British withdrawal in 1971. Discounting any attempt to replace the British role, he said that New Zealand could “play a part in the search for regional security and stability in South East Asia and the Pacific”.54 After much diplomatic activity the Five-Power Defence Arrangements were agreed in November 1971. The Commonwealth security guarantee was gone; instead Britain, Australia and New Zealand agreed to help build up Singapore and Malaysian forces, operate a common air defence system for the two countries and “consult” in the event of an external threat. For both New Zealand and Singapore this was a significant marker: both had moved out from under the British umbrella. For New Zealand the logic of the fall of Singapore in 1942 was at last fully accepted and it was perhaps no coincidence that from this time the ANZUS relationship began to assume greater importance and visibility. For Singapore it signalled the end of the special relationship with Britain. Over the previous four years its economic growth, aided by the freeing up of huge tracts of base land, had been spectacular. By 1968 the proportion of the national income contributed by the bases had been halved and industrial output rose significantly the next year. There were no net job losses and

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the British departure, so dreaded when it was first mooted, in the end caused “scarcely a ripple”.55

Bilateral Relations: 1971–80 Yet the relationship between Singapore and New Zealand had changed. The withdrawal crisis was “a job well done” and Singaporeans were grateful to New Zealanders as “a stout-hearted and generous people” who had held their nerve.56 Henceforth, though, relations would be principally with one another and there was a need to look more closely at the interests which were shared. New Zealanders found it easier to talk to their counterparts. The annual official talks which began in 1973 were valued by the New Zealand participants who noted that “it is always a sobering experience to talk to the Singaporeans given their instinct to seek the lead-lining in any cloud”.57 The New Zealand business community found Singapore the most comfortable introduction to wider markets in Asia. Tourism was increasing and 1975 saw 38,000 New Zealand visitors, though the flow in the other direction was still tiny. Trade also showed a steady increase, though its sudden doubling in value in 1973–74 owed more to the oil shock than to any encouragements from policy. Indeed the Singapore government’s policy was to stay out of trade. When a New Zealand Trade Minister enquired, Goh Keng Swee said cheerily, “I have a Trade Division in my Ministry but I am sure that if they all went on leave they would not be missed, and in my opinion it is better to leave trading to the traders.”58 That was not the view of successive New Zealand governments. While its trade was cosseted by import licensing, investment control and monopolies New Zealand could enjoy only modest gains from Singapore’s economic boom. Trade missions were exchanged from time to time. The Trade Commissioner could build on these, spotting opportunities and opening doors for business visitors, and otherwise handle correspondence on such matters as the surprising recurrence of cockroaches and even a lizard in tinned pineapple. Aid on the other hand was phasing down. Over the years New Zealand had spent NZ$30 million on equipment and a comparable amount on training. Now in a rapidly developing Singapore there was

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less and less need for it and technical assistance was pegged at the token amount of NZ$150,000 for much of the 1970s. The two countries were becoming partners and there was scope for information, especially commercial, to flow both ways. In December 1973 Prime Minister Norman Kirk paid a fruitful visit. The two leaders got on very well — Lee circulated the record of their discussion to all his ministers. Kirk raised the possibility of greater cooperation in science and technology and Lee was keen, especially if it could have commercial spin-offs in areas like food processing. In due course this became a formal agreement on technical, educational, and scientific development — SINTESD — and coordinators were appointed from each side to explore the opportunities, including joint ventures.59 They discussed visas for young Singaporeans to study in New Zealand. The New Zealand government was not ready to encourage private paying students, and there was a limit to the number of free places which could be offered under the Colombo Plan. There was also the delicate matter of persuading some of those who graduated to go home. But most of all there were the excitements of student politics. The early 1970s, with the American withdrawal from Vietnam, had seen a revival of the Left. The Barisan Sosialis was fading in Singapore but in the 1972 elections it still managed to get 22 per cent of the votes, though no seats. In 1974 the Singapore government carried out the last of its major detentions, of 43 members of the Malayan National Liberation Front. There were denunciations of political oppression by student leaders in New Zealand and a noisy row over claims that the Malaysian High Commissioner was keeping that country’s students under surveillance. Singapore refused visas to one or two student leaders but otherwise kept its head down, as for the most part did its students in New Zealand, and relations were not affected. Defence continued to be the main strand to the relationship. When Australia announced in May 1973 that it was withdrawing its battalion, Kirk was quick to declare that the New Zealand forces (a battalion, transport squadron, helicopters and regular frigate deployments) would stay as long as they were wanted. New Zealand thus found itself in the surprising position of being Singapore’s only foreign base. The New Zealanders improved their combat skills in the jungles of Johore across the

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causeway and helped with the day-to-day development of the Singapore armed forces. Singapore, increasingly short of training space, was able to make use of New Zealand soil, deploying aircraft detachments to Ohakea and infantry companies and artillery to the wide spaces of Waiouru. These arrangements worked very smoothly. The New Zealanders behaved well and on the worst occasion when they did not — a drunken brawl in a late-night bar in 1978 — the Singapore government was understanding, Dr Goh saying simply: “When you train young men to fight they are bound sometimes to fight in the wrong place at the wrong time.”60 The forward deployment was expensive, though, and the need for it becoming less clear. In 1975, with the economy in recession, Cabinet asked the Prime Minister, now Bill Rowling, to discuss “carefully” with Lee a possible withdrawal.61 Lee was relaxed, but the fall of Saigon and a change of government in New Zealand put the issue to one side for the time being. With the British umbrella folded away Singapore embarked on a more active foreign policy. There were two main strands. To limit competition among the major powers it was better to ensure that all had free access to the region, and that there was room for the growing influence of China. So berthing was provided to keep the US Seventh Fleet on hand but ship repair and other facilities were also made available to the Soviet Union. New Zealand swallowed a bit at this last but understood the need. Wellington was an active supporter of the other strand — closer regional association. ASEAN — linking Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand — had been established in 1967. Nominally an economic and socio-cultural association, its primary significance from the first was political and worries about Vietnam greatly increased its importance in sustaining confidence. In a very real sense Ho Chi Minh was the father of ASEAN. In November 1973 New Zealand concluded that “as far as we are concerned, ASEAN is the key grouping”.62 The following month Kirk told Lee that New Zealand did not seek to join but would welcome some form of closer cooperation with the group. Singapore was keen and in February 1974 New Zealand (and Australia) became the first “dialogue partners” of ASEAN, with Singapore responsible for liaison with New Zealand.

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Settling into Normality: 1980–91 By now the rather hectic character of the past two decades had faded and so had the distinctive nature of relations between the two countries. Security worries were no longer dominant as the communist threat faded. The opposition vote in elections fluctuated around a quarter but it was now mainly a protest vote. There were new concerns over the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism but New Zealand could not help with these.63 The relationship was changing in other ways. Singapore’s economic growth had long outpaced New Zealand’s with the result that the smaller country now had the larger economy. A milestone came in 1984 when Singapore’s per capita income passed New Zealand’s and continued to climb. A New Zealand Treasury Report of 28 September 1984 gave the 1983 figures in US dollars as: NZ$5,728 and Singapore $6,466. The Singapore dollar which had been worth NZ30c in 1970 was now above parity. The cumulative effects of different economic strategies could not have been more evident. As Lee was reported to have said, “Singapore is a South country going North and New Zealand is a North country going South”.64 But these great changes did not shake the firmness of the friendship. The easy bilateral relationship was mainly the product of history and our unthreatening size, the High Commissioner noted in 1977, but it was so stable that it was almost taken for granted by both sides. The New Zealand battalion stayed on (the air force squadron was disbanded in 1977) and was invited to celebrate Waitangi Day in 1979 with a ceremonial parade in the city centre, the only foreign force ever to do so.65 The 1978 Defence White Paper in New Zealand had described its presence as “anachronistic” but it was in fact convenient to both sides. New Zealand troops enjoyed excellent training opportunities while underlining the country’s concern with regional security. Singapore valued the day-to-day contacts and professional exchanges while being well aware that the small force was part of an alliance network which led back to the United States. The Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1979 increased the significance of the token force. Singapore moved from gently pressing

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Wellington to think about a future withdrawal to equally gentle pressure to stay for the time being. Pressed by the Minister of Defence in 1983 his Singaporean counterpart said “Singapore would like you to stay as long as you could”.66 Cabinet thereafter decided that the force would stay, recognizing the contribution it made to interests shared with the United States as well as Singapore. The ANZUS crisis of 1984–85, sparked by New Zealand’s antinuclear policy, once again altered these calculations. To Singapore’s surprise New Zealanders, who had often been described as reliable people “who did not jump about”, suddenly did so. The Straits Times was disapproving, calling on Wellington to live up to its responsibilities and asking what kind of alliance would it be if members did not help one another.67 The new Prime Minister, David Lange, arrived in Singapore in October 1984 “to sit at the feet of Mr Lee” (Lee observed that would be quite a bundle). The two, after agreeing that the troops should stay on, had a serious discussion on New Zealand’s difficulties with nuclear ship visits. Lange emerged to say, “he thinks we ought to stay [in ANZUS] and so do I”, but he added “we are just absolutely unable and unwilling and refusing to accept nuclear weapons in New Zealand”.68 Visiting again in March the next year he said that New Zealand had “no intention” of leaving the alliance, whatever resolutions of the Labour Party conference might say. He told the Singaporeans that “we are unique and we have that sense of security” but that was of little comfort to them; they were worried that New Zealand’s actions could have a ripple effect on the region’s security as a whole.69 When the two prime ministers met again, in Rotorua in April 1986, New Zealand had introduced its anti-nuclear legislation and was about to be suspended from the alliance. One of the consequences was some devaluation of the Singapore–New Zealand partnership. New Zealand’s next White Paper, in 1987, gave no priority to the security of Southeast Asia and in 1989, after 34 years and several changes of mind, the troops at last came home. It was far from being the end of New Zealand’s security involvement in Southeast Asia. The Five-Power Defence Arrangements, after some years as a paper reassurance, began to put on flesh from 1980 onwards in the form of annual air and naval exercises in the South China Sea. By the nineties these had become extensive and sophisticated affairs

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which helped keep the five armed forces interoperable and a tri-service headquarters was established to enhance the effectiveness of future exercises. With the ease and daily contact of the New Zealand base gone, both the Singapore and New Zealand Ministries of Defence looked for other ways to maintain links between the two forces. The establishment in December 1995 of a Defence Coordination Group expanded joint training and other activities significantly. There were regular air and land exercises in each other’s countries; the two navies benchmarked each other’s efficiency; and there were growing ties between the two countries’ defence industries. Overall Singapore became New Zealand’s closest defence partner after Australia and it seemed natural, when Singapore decided to take part in the East Timor peacekeeping operation, that its troops should be attached to the New Zealand battalion. Economic ties, though, were taking over as the most expansive feature of the relationship. New Zealand’s exports to Singapore were growing at roughly 25 per cent a year with manufactured exports approaching half the total. Singapore had become our third largest market in Asia, after Japan and China, and its importance as the gateway to ASEAN trade was becoming plain. Fifty New Zealand firms were established on the island by 1984 and the New Zealand businessmen, who used to gather for lunch at two small tables on the High Commissioner’s terrace, had blossomed into the New Zealand Businessmen’s Council with 164 members and a hotel ballroom in which to meet. Singapore was less excited by the prospects. New Zealand’s restrictions and low productivity discouraged their entrepreneurs who saw better opportunities elsewhere. Even the Singapore government, looking at investing part of its massive surpluses in New Zealand, decided that the rate of return was too low.70 “Welcome to Yugoslavia” said Lange (then Leader of the Opposition) to Dr Tony Tan in May 1984. Singapore was therefore encouraged by the sweeping Lange-Douglas reforms of the next two years. When the Lange government was re-elected with an increased majority in 1987 Lee told his National Day audience “I cheered for him”.71 By the 1980s the two countries were managing a relationship that was broad-based but not particularly demanding or complicated. There were

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the usual inter-governmental issues — visa policy, the increase in private students wanting to come to New Zealand, tussles over New Zealand’s protective civil aviation policy, teacher exchanges — but any irritations these caused were handled at bureaucratic level without disturbing a relationship invariably described as “close”. The exception was a short but intense row over the Generalized System of Preferences. These were designed to help developing countries and from time to time successful countries “graduated” out of the scheme. In a review in late 1984 the New Zealand Cabinet decided to remove these preferences from Singapore. The decision was logical enough but it was announced without consultation with the Singaporeans who were worried, once again, about the ripple effect this could have on their larger trading partners. The reaction was strong and when negotiations did not succeed in modifying the New Zealand decision significantly Singapore brought in ASEAN and there was talk of suspending the ASEAN–New Zealand dialogue if it was not resolved.72 New Zealand, which had stoutly championed closer regional association in Southeast Asia, was bemused to find itself a victim of regional solidarity. Just before ASEAN officials’ talks in June 1985 it found an acceptable compromise, agreeing to exempt some individual items from the graduation. The subsequent changes in New Zealand’s economic policies considerably increased Singapore’s interest in investing in New Zealand, especially in tourism and food-processing, and by 2001 this investment exceeded a billion New Zealand dollars. In the 1999 calendar year New Zealand’s exports to Singapore were running at $418 million and its imports at $532 million. The next step was the negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement which came into force in January 2001. Though trade actually declined over the next two years, the Closer Economic Partnership (CEP) it established heightened interest in each other’s opportunities. Exports to Singapore for 2002 were $386 million, a 3 per cent decrease which followed a much larger 18 per cent dip in 2001. Imports from Singapore were $593 million for 2002, also a slight drop on the year before, as the world economy slowed. These figures did not record an increase in services and consultancies, and there was growth in other “non-traditional” exports such as aircraft parts, engines, computers, and paper and wood pulp. Nonetheless, New Zealand’s exports to Singapore

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were still dominated by, in order of value, milk powder, crustaceans, butter, machinery, and fresh milk. Singapore’s return trade was led by petroleum, computers, and machinery.

Conclusion By 1991, when Lee stepped down as Prime Minister, the ties between the two countries were much broader but also less intense than they had been in the days of Singapore’s struggle for survival. In that sense the “special” relationship had waned. New Zealand diplomats no longer enjoyed privileged access to Singapore’s leaders. In 1969 Lee could talk of inviting “only the family” — the Commonwealth three (the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand) and Malaysia — to Singapore’s 150th anniversary celebrations. Twenty years later, both countries had a much wider circle of friends and much more diversified interests. All this was natural and predictable. But the question remains: why were the two countries, with such different histories, origins, and geography, so consistently comfortable with each other? They shared many common goals — regional security, defeat of the communists and economic growth — but so did a number of other countries. Size was part of it; two small nations could be relaxed with each other. New Zealand could only persuade not threaten. As part of the Englishspeaking community it had influence in London and Washington without gravitational pull — a point made by Lee himself. Both New Zealand and Singapore shared the British colonial experience, at least with the English-educated establishment, and so there was a common vocabulary, common assumptions and understandings to draw on. When the Foreign Minister, Rajaratnam, cautioned that the early ASEAN was a Mini-Minor, not a Rolls, his New Zealand listeners understood perfectly. It cannot have been just good fortune that a succession of New Zealand leaders were sympathetic. Walter Nash was a democratic socialist, anti-colonial in instinct and yet firmly pro-British, a combination which enabled him to take a calmly sensible view of Singapore’s troubles in coming to independence. His successor, Keith Holyoake was a conservative farmer and very different in nature, yet he stood firmly

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by Singapore in the crisis of 1965 and Singapore never forgot this staunchness. Lee never missed an opportunity to talk to him and said, “I increase in stature every time we [meet]”.73 Norman Kirk’s time in office was brief but he too left a lasting impression with his vision of closer regional ties. On the New Zealand side Lee Kuan Yew personified Singapore for forty years. He was not universally admired. The far Left were angered by his outwitting the communists, student leaders in 1975 denounced his visit as “nothing more than a frivolous and petty exercise in international back-scratching”,74 and liberal New Zealanders were troubled by the detentions and the discouragement of opposition. But most New Zealanders were impressed by his intelligence and charm, and even more by the miraculous transformation he had worked on his poor and over-crowded island. Sir Robertson Stewart, the leader of the first trade mission to Singapore in 1964, echoed a not uncommon remark when he suggested to Lee at a reception that we should swap governments for a while. Lee’s reported reply was “that may be all very well for you but what about us?” Singaporeans, whether politicians or tourists, found New Zealand cool, beautiful, and empty — a pleasant change from their own. They liked the friendliness of New Zealanders (“people say hello to you”) and enjoyed its leisurely pace of life.75 Perhaps, like Goh Keng Swee, they marvelled at the expanses of green fields which the Chinese would have cultivated so intensely. More often they noted a certain economic stagnation, but concluded that New Zealand was so isolated and so stable that it could afford less fixity of purpose. Singapore’s success had some influence on New Zealand’s own change of economic outlook, as the visitors on “Singapore stopovers” began to flood through the island from the late 1970s and to see the astonishing prosperity brought by its economic and social policies. But it was the long presence of the forces that paid the more surprising dividend. For over 30 years thousands of Kiwi families had two-year postings at Nee Soon or Sembawang, usually their first time outside New Zealand. (The reverse is now happening with the increasing number of Singaporean national servicemen who come to New Zealand on exercises.) They brought home with them a taste for satay, Chinese meals, and the chopstick skills to

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go with them — and a wider outlook of which they were hardly aware. In this unexpected way Singapore, which had been the anxious focus of New Zealand’s security worries for much of the twentieth century, helped its partner to a better understanding of the next. NOTES 1. Ian McGibbon, “The Singapore Debacle: Shattered Illusions and Lasting Lessons”, New Zealand International Review, May/June 1992. 2. W. David McIntyre, New Zealand Prepares for War: Defence Policy 1919–1939 (Christchurch: University of Canterbury Press, 1988), p. 218. 3. Frank Corner in Malcolm Templeton, ed., An Eye, an Ear and a Voice: 50 Years in New Zealand’s External Relations 1943–1993 (Wellington: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 1998), pp. 108–9. 4. Both quoted in W. David McIntyre, Background to the Anzus Pact: Policy-making, Strategy and Diplomacy, 1945–55 (Christchurch: Canterbury University Press, 1995), pp. 373–76. 5. McIntosh to Nash in 1958, quoted in Ian McGibbon, “Forward Defence: The Southeast Asian Commitment”, in New Zealand in World Affairs, vol. II, edited by Malcolm McKinnon (Wellington: New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, 1977), p. 11. 6. See, for example, Wellington’s brief of 8 September 1955, PM 455/4/1. 7. Note of Lee-Shanahan discussion, 13 August 1955, PM 455/4/1. Shanahan was a Catholic. 8. Discussion with the Governor, Sir Robert Black, 26 July 1955, PM 455/4/1. 9. Press statement, May 1956, PM 59/455/2/1. 10. Wellington cable of 25 January 1958, PM 455/1/1. 11. Quoted in a later brief for PM Nash’s Asian visit, February 1958, PM 58/455/1. 12. Briefing for External Affairs Committee. NZ House of Representatives, 23 October 1956, PM 455/4/1. 13. Wellington brief of 28 February 1957, PM 455/4/1. 14. The Governor, Sir Robert Black’s, description, 15 October 1957, PM 455/1/1. 15. Memorandum by Shanahan, 8 January 1958, PM 455/1/1.

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16. Shanahan despatch, 2 April 1958, PM 455/1/1. 17. Memorandum from Singapore, 26 May 1959, PM 455/4/2. 18. Incomplete draft of (radio?) talk delivered on 27 May 1959, PM 455/4/2. 19. Acting Commissioner Lochore to Wellington, 2 June 1959, PM 58/455/1. 20. Evatt telegram to Nash, 2 June 1959, PM 58/455/1. Evatt, a distinguished former Foreign Minister, was out of office at the time. 21. Nash’s reply (by letter), 26 June 1959, PM 58/455/1. 22. Memorandum to Wellington, 16 June 1959, PM 58/455/1. The Ministry regretted that “our help with trade union organisation will not be wanted”. 23. Briefing for External Affairs Committee, 25 August 1959, PM 455/4/1. 24. Brief for Nash visit, 1 April 1960, PM 455/4/1. 25. File note, 3 August 1959, PM 58/455/1. 26. Lee Kuan Yew, moving the Address in Reply, August 1960. 27. Brief for Nash visit, 1 April 1960, PM 455/4/1. 28. Memorandum to Wellington, 13 August 1963, PM 420/2/1. 29. Quoted in memorandum from Singapore, 17 December 1963, PM 420/2/1. 30. Ibid. 31. For example, memorandum from High Commissioner, Kuala Lumpur, 12 February 1965, PM 420/2/1. 32. Memorandum of 10 August 1964 from High Commissioner Wade in Kuala Lumpur, PM 420/2/1. 33. Wellington assessment cabled 21 August 1964, PM 420/2/1. 34. Memorandum from High Commissioner, 15 April 1965, PM 420/2/1. 35. Lee to Holyoake, April 1965, PM 420/2/1. 36. Wellington noted “It is quite clear that expulsion was forced upon the Singapore Government”. Cable, 10 August 1965, PM 455/4/2. 37. Holyoake to the Tunku, 8 August 1965: “I have spoken my mind thus frankly for I have spoken as a friend”. PM 455/4/2. 38. Lee to Holyoake, cable of 9 August 1965: “By the time you have decoded this

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message you will know that …”. PM 455/4/2. 39. Holyoake to the Tunku, 17 August 1965, PM 455/4/2. 40. Cable from High Commission, Kuala Lumpur, 17 August 1965, PM 455/4/2. 41. Holyoake to External Affairs Committee, minutes of special meeting, 11 August 1965, PM 455/4/2. 42. Paper prepared for discussion, 20 August 1965, PM 455/4/2. 43. Note of meeting in the Ministry, 20 August 1965, PM 455/4/2. 44. Related in despatch by New Zealand’s first High Commissioner to Singapore, Jim Weir, 9 August 1968, PM 455/3/1. 45. Briefing paper, 6 June 1969, PM 455/4/2. 46. 27 November 1965, 123/1/1. 47. Despatch on first anniversary of independence, 19 August 1966, PM 455/1/1. 48. Rajaratnam, quoted in memorandum of 10 May 1967, PM 455/1/1. 49. Memorandum from High Commissioner, 9 August 1968, PM 455/3/1. 50. Brief prepared in Wellington, September 1966, PM 123/1/1. 51. Transcript of interview with five foreign correspondents, 30 August 1965. 52. Briefing paper, 23 September 1966, PM 455/1/1. 53. He spoke in Canberra and was quoted by Lee at the 150th anniversary state banquet, 8 August 1969, PM 455/4/2. 54. Press statement, February 1969, PM 59/455/2/1. 55. Singapore Nation, November 1971. 56. Speech by Lee in New Zealand, 4 April 1975. 57. Report of official talks, 15 and 16 December 1975, PM 58/4555/1. 58. Meeting of New Zealand Trade Minister with Dr Goh Keng Swee, Finance Minister, 11 August 1969, PM 40/88/1. 59. First raised when PM Kirk visited Singapore in December 1973, the Agreement was finally signed in March 1976. The first coordinators were Dr Lee Kum Tatt (Singapore) and Laurie Cameron (New Zealand). 60. Personal recollection.

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61. Brief for PM Rowling, 4 April 1975, PM 58/455/1. 62. Brief for Rajaratnam’s visit, 19 November 1973, PM 59/455/3. 63. “Singapore remains worried about the emergence of Islamic fundamentalism in both Malaysia and Indonesia”. Cable from High Commission, 11 January 1982, PM 58/455/1. 64. Quoted as saying this at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in September 1981, in MFAT Brief of 8 June 1982, PM 58/455/1. 65. If a review held by Prime Minister Tojo of Japan in 1943 is exempted. 66. Report to Cabinet by the Minister of Defence, David Thomson, March 1983, PM 58/455/1. 67. Straits Times, 1 August 1984. 68. All quotations are from the transcript of Mr Lange’s press conference in Singapore, 5 October 1984. 69. Foreign Minister Dhanabalan in Manila, July 1986, told the press of the “real danger for all of us” if the New Zealand approach spread, PM 58/455/1. 70. It sounded out Wellington about the possibility in September 1980, but nothing more was heard. Brief on NZ-Singapore relations, May 1982, PM 58/455/1. 71. Prime Minister’s National Day Address, 1987. 72. See the address to ASEAN Economic Ministers by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr Mahathir, 7 February 1985. 73. Greeting Holyoake at Singapore Airport in April 1969, for the second time that year, PM 455/4/2. 74. The President of the Victoria University Students Association at the time of Lee’s visit in 1975, Evening Post, 7 April 1975. 75. This was how a group of Singapore journalists responded when questioned by Foreign Minister Talboys in June 1976, PM 58/455/1.

Reproduced from Southeast Asia and New Zealand: A History of Regional and Bilateral Relations, edited by Anthony L. Smith (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2005). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg 331 11. From an Alliance to a Broad Relationship: New Zealand>and Thailand

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FROM AN ALLIANCE TO A BROAD RELATIONSHIP: NEW ZEALAND AND THAILAND A N T H O N Y

L.

S M I T H

Introduction The bulk of the New Zealand relationship with Thailand, in the post– World War II (WWII) era, revolved around a series of concerns about security in Southeast Asia, including New Zealand’s South-East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) commitments, the Vietnam War and Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia. The relationship waxed and waned over the years, but was largely based on the fact that Bangkok and Wellington shared a number of common interests. Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia were viewed by Wellington as the most important countries of Southeast Asia for strategic and economic reasons. Relations with Thailand were subordinate to that — notably the protection of Malaysia’s northern border. Official New Zealand documents from the mid-1970s made constant reference in the post-SEATO era to a more well-rounded relationship,

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or a broadening of ties. The one consistent strand of the relationship remained official development assistance (ODA), which netted a lot of goodwill for New Zealand. Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia reinvigorated the relationship as Thailand sought New Zealand’s support against Hanoi’s actions. The end of the Cold War meant a mellowing of the relationship, which occurred at the same time as New Zealand’s desire to tap an expanding Thai economy — a potential that New Zealand officials had identified as early as the 1960s.

Contact Prior to SEATO Prior to New Zealand’s decision to become involved in SEATO, Thailand was not a country given much attention from decision-makers in Wellington. In fact, post-war relations had an awkward start. When Thailand (or Siam as it was then referred to in Commonwealth circles1) opted to side with Japan during WWII with a transit agreement, the allies promptly declared war on Thailand. A fact not found in background papers or publicity releases from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is that, at 5 p.m. on 25 January 1942 (New Zealand Standard Time), New Zealand declared war on the government of Thailand in accordance with New Zealand’s allies,2 and a state of war existed until 8.30 p.m. on 11 January 1946 when it “ceased”.3 Subsequent to this, any interaction with Thailand was done on New Zealand’s behalf by the United Kingdom. The New Zealand government decided that it would be best if the British government handled the claims of any “wrongs done to New Zealanders” during WWII.4 New Zealand, however, remained largely uninterested in this process, but did greet warmly Thailand’s 1951 lump-sum payment for Commonwealth war claims.5 New Zealand’s official lack of enthusiasm for Thailand is confirmed by an episode in October 1946 when the British authorities contacted New Zealand about the possibility of four Thai air force officers visiting both Australia and New Zealand to look at models for Thailand. The response of the Prime Minister, Peter Fraser, was less than receptive, and revealed lingering bitterness: “In view of the behaviour of Siam during War II I cannot feel any enthusiasm for the proposed visit of the Mission

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to discuss organisation of a Siamese Air Force.”6 Fraser reluctantly agreed that he, and the Cabinet, would consider the issue if Britain was insistent, but the tour never eventuated. Britain’s main interest in Thailand, which was subsequently to be shared by New Zealand, was the impact that Thailand’s security would have on Commonwealth defence. In the immediate post-war years, Britain sought and obtained cooperation with Thailand in bolstering the fortunes of the northern border of its colony Malaya and, in April 1949, Britian equipped five infantry battalions in southern Thailand for this very purpose. Thailand, at an early stage, both to compensate for their wartime affiliation with the Japanese as well as to check the rise of communism, was keen to cooperate. The Thai Prime Minister, Marshal Luang Phibun Songgram, had already openly declared that in the event of open war with communist forces, Thailand would be on the side of the Western powers. The Chinese revolution in 1949 heightened concerns about security in the Asia-Pacific, and Wellington was, by the early 1950s, to discover that it had a stake in Southeast Asia’s security. By the early 1950s the Thais (and others) had determined that there could be an intervention by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) into Indochina, in support of Ho Chi Minh, and a possible hot pursuit of Kuomintang troops into Burma’s outer regions. China’s intervention in the Korean War contributed to a growing unease about the PRC’s southward intentions amongst Thai officials, many of whom felt that the Korean War was just one manifestation of communist China’s expansion into Asia. Bangkok also feared events inside Indochina. Concern over the possibility of a Vietnamese incursion was heightened when the Viet Minh entered Laos in April and December of 1953, and again in January and March of 1954. Thai officials became convinced that North Vietnamese troops might destabilize the area and ultimately drag Thailand into the conflict. Thailand took these security concerns to the UN Security Council along with the related concern of 60,000 Vietnamese refugees living in Thailand’s northeast region. It was on this issue that New Zealand made its first tangible gesture of support for Thailand. When Bangkok lodged a protest with the United Nations on 16 June 1954, New Zealand was a non-permanent member of the Security Council at the time, and New Zealand’s representative, Leslie

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Munro, along with representatives from Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States, sponsored the Thai complaint under Articles 34 and 35, Paragraph 1, of the UN Charter.7 The New Zealand delegation was first made aware of the Thai complaint through New Zealand’s contacts with the American delegation, and Munro recorded that the United States was responsible for the urgency with which this matter was pressed on the Security Council.8 The United States wanted to establish observation teams, but Munro knew that Washington had had an ulterior motive — to score political points against the Soviets before the Geneva Conference on Indochina by forcing Moscow to use a veto. Despite seeing through this, New Zealand gave “emphatic support” to the submission of a plan to provide a five-member observer team for independent scrutiny of Thailand’s border security.9

The Colombo Plan By 1954, the year that SEATO was signed, New Zealand had come to share the concerns of both Britain and the United States — New Zealand’s two key allies — about the importance of Thai security. But New Zealand also supported a British policy of promoting aid and development as an alternative to military ventures. Official aid, through the Colombo Plan, actually formed the core of New Zealand’s early contact with Thailand. The Colombo Plan of 1950 was designed to channel aid money to South and Southeast Asia as a means to boosting the stability of countries that were still recovering from the debilitating effects of the Pacific War. The communist revolution in China in 1949 and the emerging problems of regional insurgency added impetus to establishing a programme that would shore up regional resilience. In this sense the Colombo Plan and SEATO, with regards to New Zealand’s relationship with Thailand, were two different responses to the same problem — instability in Thailand and the surrounding region. Wellington’s clear preference, reflecting British policy, was for the preventative measures that development assistance could deliver. While the Colombo Plan was initially intended to assist Commonwealth Asia, invitations were later extended to the non-Commonwealth countries of Burma, Indochina, and Thailand. Following Australia’s

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lead, New Zealand argued that it was important to bring in all the non-Commonwealth states of Southeast Asia as it would be “grievously wrong” if the Colombo Plan helped Commonwealth countries and neglected the rest of Asia.10 The Minister of Foreign Affairs, F.W. Doidge, also acknowledged that while force had been necessary in Korea, Indochina, and Malaya, this was an incomplete solution, especially in other parts of Asia where poverty was the real problem. Multilateral aid was also subsequently channeled through the UN-sponsored Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE). In March 1958, the New Zealand Prime Minister, Walter Nash, inspected a number of projects in the Southeast Asian region. Soon after that the Nash government decided to give £35,700 to the Mekong River Development Scheme already started by ECAFE.11 The Colombo Plan accounted for about £1,000,000 per annum in New Zealand aid in the subsequent decade. The birth of SEATO and the forging of military ties

The 8 September 1954 signing of the South-East Asian Collective Defence Treaty (SEACDT), also known as the Manila Pact, was the event that brought Wellington and Bangkok into intimate contact with each other. Alongside official development assistance, defence ties were the second crucial pillar of the New Zealand–Thai relationship. Aside from New Zealand and Thailand, the other signatories to SEATO were the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Pakistan, and the Philippines. New Zealand joined the Manila Pact primarily as a way of assisting Anglo-American protection of the Southeast Asian region, but inadvertently came into close contact with Thai military planners for the first time. Membership of SEATO was a catalyst for the resulting rise in New Zealand’s consciousness of Thailand as, of the three Asian SEATO members, Thailand was always considered the most important to regional security. With its independent history and relatively large size, the Kingdom of Thailand was not only judged to be reasonably stable and vital to checking the spread of communism but it was also firmly entrenched as a Western ally at the time of the treaty’s signing. Thailand had sought American defence protection, received Western aid, assisted in the Korean War, and supported the United States at the

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United Nations. But New Zealand’s emerging interest in Southeast Asia remained centred on the Commonwealth commitment to Malaya and Singapore. There is much evidence to suggest that New Zealand officials in Cabinet and in External Affairs were initially less than happy with the prospect of being formally allied to Asian countries. The Department of External Affairs described Thailand as “an embarrassing ally” because of its foreign relations history.12 New Zealand’s membership of SEATO did not prove domestically controversial at the time. In fact, the leader of the opposition, Labour’s Walter Nash, offered his support for SEATO, thus giving bipartisan support to the agreement. When he assumed office in 1957 he reaffirmed government support for the organization. New Zealand’s involvement with SEATO was initially designed to be part of the “forward defence” strategy and an alignment with Western powers, rather than representing a desire to be involved in an alliance with Asian countries. SEATO was also the vehicle through which New Zealand was able to standardize joint military procedures with the United States, later to be carried on through ANZUS.13 While SEATO was an expression of New Zealand’s regional commitment, loyalty to its Western allies was considered the most important part of this whole endeavour. The wording of the SEACDT Article IV is very similar to that found in Article IV of the ANZUS Treaty, in that an attack on any of the parties in the specified regions would be considered as a danger to the security of the others. The United States limited its potential involvement by specifying in the treaty that intervention would only be considered if the threat was from communist forces, while other signatories wanted a security guarantee against all possible threats. The British and French argued that it would offend the Asian neutral countries and provoke communist responses. US Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, privately explained to New Zealand and the other alliance partners that the wording was necessary to get the agreement through the US Senate. Furthermore, Laos, Cambodia, and South Vietnam were cited as areas that were in the scope of the treaty by the extension of a protocol agreement. Once in SEATO, New Zealand’s policy-makers actively assisted its Western allies in urging Thailand to remain in the Western camp, and New Zealand’s representatives made efforts both to encourage Thailand

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to remain a strong ally and to discern her intentions. T.L. Macdonald, New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, visited Thailand in February 1955, and returned again in October the same year. Encouraging Thailand to remain committed to the alliance was a topic of discussion on both occasions. Establishing an embassy

Macdonald’s two visits were the backdrop to the establishment of an embassy in Bangkok in 1956 — the first full embassy or high commission in Southeast Asia (although New Zealand had already established a commission in Singapore). Naturally, the choice of Bangkok was motivated by New Zealand’s membership in SEATO, and the need to be represented at the various planning levels of the Permanent Secretariat located in Bangkok. The embassy was expected to provide representatives to the meetings of the Council of Representatives, the Permanent Working Group, the Budget Sub-committee, the Information Advisory Group and various ad hoc committees. The embassy also performed many incremental tasks in connection with SEATO; the most common was providing varying degrees of assistance to New Zealand military personnel attending courses and conferences, and various other military visits. The Annual Council Meeting, the most important SEATO event, also involved substantial amounts of time. The post was also accredited to Laos, and, following the restoration of relations with Vietnam by the Kirk Government, accredited to Vietnam too. Laos, however, held no real interest for New Zealand, except in as much as it presented an irritant to Thai security. New Zealand did establish some small aid projects in Laos before and after the Vietnam War,14 but as one letter of policy guidance was to succinctly put it “Laos is of no intrinsic interest or importance to New Zealand”.15 Once established to take care of SEATO affairs, the embassy also served to represent New Zealand interests at various multilateral organizations which had established secretariats in Bangkok — this included ECAFE (later ESCAP), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Therefore, New Zealand diplomats initially arrived in Thailand, first and foremost,

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to support collective security, secondly, to support regional cooperation, and thirdly, to deal with the ensuing bilateral relations. The actual position of ambassador was left vacant until 29 August 1961, when Prime Minister Keith Holyoake, appointed Major-General Sir Stephen Weir as New Zealand’s Ambassador to Thailand and as the Council Representative to SEATO.16 The appointment of one of New Zealand’s most famous WWII generals confirms the main focus of the embassy — a functional link to SEATO. The creation of the post in Bangkok did not, however, entirely solve the problem of New Zealand’s ability to make independent assessments of political and security issues in Thailand and in the immediate region. New Zealand’s limited political intelligence gathering ability was compounded by the “perennial” threat of a coup in Thailand.17 New Zealand, throughout SEATO’s life span, often relied on American, British, Australian, and sometimes Thai resources to report back to Wellington. New Zealand found itself in a position of having to conduct diplomacy with a military regime in September 1957, when the government of Thailand was replaced with a Military Governor, Marshal Sarit. New Zealand and some of the other SEATO members had to address the problem of public association with such an administration. The functions of SEATO did proceed but the public opening and closing sessions of the SEATO Council were dispensed with to delay the question of recognition. General Sir Stephen Weir, New Zealand’s Ambassador, concurred with the views of the other SEATO members that it would be wise to maintain SEATO links so as not to drive Thailand into neutralism.18 In fact, Sarit was judged by New Zealand’s SEATO partners to harbour neutralist sentiments — or at least Sarit had successfully cultivated such an image. Wellington agreed with Sir Stephen’s recommendation, but owing to the awkwardness of the situation recommended that New Zealand proceed “unostentatiously” with its SEATO involvement.19 Military aid, principally from America, was critical to Thailand; by 1960 the cumulative total of military assistance to Thailand was US$300 million vis-à-vis $216 million in civilian aid programmes,20 but the United States and Britian were unhappy with having to channel aid

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through SEATO. New Zealand shared this view. To divert money into counter-subversion programmes meant extra expenditure in Thailand on top of the Colombo Plan, which was already receiving around £1,000,000 per annum from New Zealand. New Zealand officials did not want SEATO to become another channel of foreign aid, and kept SEATO aid levels to an absolute minimum. By 1965 New Zealand aid to SEATO had dropped to a low level as it was felt that there was little that New Zealand could contribute in terms of technical assistance or capital grants. Giving minor donations through SEATO gave the appearance of wanting to help without undertaking a substantial commitment.

New Zealand Troops in Thailand After the time of the so-called first Lao crisis, caused by a North Vietnamese Army incursion into Laos in 1959, the Nash government had been concerned that if SEATO was invoked to assist Laos it would have two difficult outcomes for New Zealand — it could drag New Zealand into a dangerous conflict and demonstrate a lack of will by the SEATO members.21 In August 1960 the neutralist forces of Captain Kong Le were successful in a coup in Vientiane, to be followed by the 12 December 1960 coup by the right wing Prince Boon Oum. The ousted neutralists found themselves in opposition to the new regime and fighting alongside the Pathet Lao (and the Viet Minh). Prince Boon Oum called on SEATO assistance, but outside of Thailand and the United States, the SEATO members were not prepared to commit material assistance. With regards to Laos, New Zealand consistently supported initiatives aimed at a peaceful resolution — including US President Kennedy’s plan for a coalition government in Laos.22 The implication of this stance for New Zealand–Thai relations was not positive, and New Zealand’s representatives were subject to the outward displeasure of the Thai Foreign Ministry. The Thais were of the opinion that the Pathet Lao and their Viet Minh allies constituted a real threat to the stability of Thailand and that the communists should be militarily defeated. In March 1962, the US Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, and the Thai Foreign Minister, Thanat Khoman, issued a joint statement known as the Rusk-Thanat Communiqué. As part of his testimony to the US

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Senate Sub-committee on US Security Agreements, the US Ambassador to Thailand claimed in 1970 that Australian and Filipino officials had publicly accepted the Rusk-Thanat agreement whilst New Zealand and Britain had expressed their support privately.23 New Zealand’s lack of public statement was the result of no New Zealand press interest in the subject.24 If the New Zealand government had come under pressure to declare its views it had prepared a press release offering support, which included this sentence: “We would therefore endorse the statement by Mr Rusk and Mr Thanat Khoman that the treaty provides the basis for the signatories collectively to assist Thailand in case of Communist armed attack against that country.”25 But this support was coupled with serious reservations. New Zealand officials noted that the Rusk-Thanat communiqué implied that one or more of the SEATO members could not be expected to fulfil their obligations and might well encourage some members to see their obligations as optional.26 They were also concerned that this could lead to an intervention without Britain, something that was considered politically undesirable as well as logistically difficult, as New Zealand had planned to act as part of the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve (CSR). However, the communiqué was to set a precedent for bilateral action that was soon to see New Zealand making a token force contribution to the Thai-Lao border area. The failure of the right wing, the neutralists, and the Pathet Lao to work together shattered any hope of a working coalition. An attack by Pathet Lao forces on Nam Tha on 6 May 1962 sparked fears among the SEATO members that this could be the beginning of a much wider war. According to SEATO’s own official history, this Pathet Lao action “opened a new military campaign which again brought their forces within striking distance of the Thai border”.27 Although in actual fact there was never any indication that Thai soil was directly threatened by the Nam Tha incident, on 15 May 1962 Thailand made a direct request for American troops. The United States accepted, and sent 5,000 marine, army and airforce personnel to Udon Thani in the northeast of Thailand as part of Operation Scorpion. Britain, Canada, and Australia also made contributions, and New Zealand sent a token contribution to the allied operation. On 23 May 1962, Prime Minister Keith Holyoake publicly announced that New Zealand would send 30 SAS soldiers and three

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Bristol freighters from No. 41 Squadron.28 In addition HMNZS Taranaki was to be made available. Holyoake maintained that the New Zealand force was to “give assurance to the people of Thailand” and stave off the threat of aggression. When US Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, W. Averell Harriman, met with the New Zealand Ambassador to Washington, Harriman explained that he wanted the “flags of other SEATO countries flying” in Thailand.29 The Prime Minister of New Zealand, in recommending a New Zealand force, told his Cabinet in June 1962 that there were four reasons for sending New Zealand forces to Thailand.30 First, the Kennedy Administration had declared that the communist “nibbling” process must stop, and it was desirable to restore the ceasefire in Laos. Second, Operation Scorpion would reassure the Thais politically as they faced the prospect of instability along an 800-mile border with Laos. Third, the members of SEATO should be prepared to act upon their security obligations. Fourth, and most crucially for New Zealand’s overall security policy, “[i]t was important for New Zealand to prove to her allies and more especially the United States that she could be relied on in time of crisis”. In public, however, the government was quick to downplay any long-term commitment. Holyoake told the Dominion newspaper that “there is clearly and unequivocally no commitment on the part of the New Zealand Government to maintain permanent armed forces in Thailand”.31 In fact, both New Zealand’s commitment to regional security, and its attempts to limit the risks to New Zealand troops were evident in this decision. New Zealand sought, and obtained, a Thai promise to assign an army unit to Phu Ko so as not to leave the SAS troops exposed in any way. In return the New Zealand soldiers planned to advise the Thais in basic unconventional warfare (“sadly lacking in the Thai armed forces”).32 The New Zealand Chiefs of Staff recommended, however, that the SAS operate alongside American forces in Korat instead.33 Not only was care taken to ensure the safety of the forces contributed, but once the flag had been flown, New Zealand officials soon explored ways to withdraw the contribution. To replace the departing forces, the idea was floated that a battalion of New Zealand Army Engineers could be stationed in Thailand and

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commissioned to assist in the construction of infrastructure.34 This would mean that they could be an extension of the existing bilateral aid programme to Thailand, and at the same time represent a military presence that did not primarily exist as a combatant unit. The British had decided to channel its contribution through the existing Commonwealth aid scheme, and New Zealand agreed with this, not wishing to initiate another aid programme. The Royal New Zealand Airforce (RNZAF) Bristol Freighters were used to carry supplies to the American advisers working in the northeast of Thailand, while the army engineers on assignment to the road building aid project near Khon Kaen assisted in airforce runway construction at Mukdahan. In the intervening period of force rotation, the King and Queen of Thailand — who seldom left Thailand — visited New Zealand in August 1962 in acknowledgement of New Zealand’s assistance to the Kingdom. This was the first visit to New Zealand by an Asian head of state. New Zealand’s contribution was small and did not linger long. But the Royal visit appeared to confirm that New Zealand had made a minimal showing, yet achieved recognition as a dependable ally.

The Emergence of Controversy From the early 1960s New Zealand’s involvement in Western efforts to check communism in Southeast Asia began to be touched by controversy. And this ultimately included relations with Thailand, a country noted for its revolving door of administrations that more often than not resulted in military rule. From the time of Operation Scorpion onwards, letters of protest from various NGO groups and private citizens were sent to the New Zealand government — although it was not until the height of the Vietnam War that the New Zealand public would become so intensely focused on Southeast Asia. Evidence of a breakdown in a bipartisan consensus on Cold War policies was foreshadowed in 1964, when Dr M. Finlay, the President of the Labour Party, publicly criticized the Holyoake government’s decision to offer military support to the authoritarian Thailand. Finlay argued that democratic reforms in Thailand should be a necessary precondition before committing even token help to the Kingdom.35 He also expressed doubts about SEATO

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as it allowed regimes to claim anti-communist sympathies in order to cover up all kinds of human rights problems. The Minister of Defence, Dean Eyre, chose a meeting of the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs to respond to such criticisms. First of all, he argued, if New Zealand only supported democracies there would be few countries with whom New Zealand could deal with. Eyre also articulated the view that the major consideration for New Zealand’s foreign policy formation was not whether a country was democratic or not but whether it was a victim of aggression. He reminded his audience that New Zealand supported Poland in 1939 “although Poland then, like some states in South-east Asia today, was ruled by a military junta whose grave errors of policy had contributed greatly to its own troubles”.36 When Holyoake visited Bangkok to attend the SEATO Council Meeting in 1965, he linked growing unrest in Thailand with the insurgency of the Vietnam War which was, in turn, linked to wider communist expansion.37 Support for an authoritarian government in Bangkok was preferable to an undesirable alternative from Holyoake’s standpoint.

Post-Laos SEATO Arrangements By the time of the 1962 Laos crisis it was evident that SEATO would never be able to function as a cohesive military alliance. The 1965 Annual Report of the New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok indicates why New Zealand still found the organization useful into the 1960s: “Thailand finds SEATO a convenient context in which to present the bilateral military assistance it receives from the United States.”38 Embassy staff felt that New Zealand, alongside the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, was in a position of being most trusted of the SEATO allies by the Thai government. Ambassador Weir noted in correspondence that “the Thais regard New Zealand as one of the hardcore nations of the SEATO alliance”.39 From the beginning SEATO’s internal divisions and its failure to attract most of the region’s non-communist nations meant that it was unable to act as a successful military alliance in the traditional sense, and failed to achieve Washington’s desire to establish a NATO-type structure in Asia. But in a narrow sense SEATO did prove to have some tangible and non-tangible benefits to the New Zealand–Thai relationship.

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New Zealand’s serious interest in Thailand’s security gave Wellington special status with Thai officials. The 1962 visit by the King of Thailand was a clear indication of this, but this was reaffirmed during February 1966 when the Thai Prime Minister, Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn, and the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs, Thanat Khoman, both visited New Zealand to meet with the New Zealand Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence. During the visit Thanom briefed New Zealand officials about Thailand’s security concerns and their general discussions about regional instability in which Thanom stated that the relationship between Thailand and the “principal members of SEATO”, one of which was New Zealand, was satisfactory in contrast to the “two notable feet-draggers”, namely France and Pakistan. 40 Wellington’s relationship with Thailand during the active years of SEATO was close enough for New Zealand to be treated as a first-rate ally. But New Zealand’s foreign policy position on Thailand was a fine balancing act. New Zealand’s relative isolation from these security problems meant that there was never any imperative to contribute heavily to SEATO’s defence of Thailand (if needed), and New Zealand was not able to contribute in any substantial fashion. Encouraging a series of economic and social initiatives were always seen by New Zealand officials as a far more feasible option. This decision was a combination of acumen and limited resources.41 Nonetheless, New Zealand officials were concerned with the covert threat that existed, and wanted to assist in any practical way to ensure that such a threat did not move southwards towards Malaysia. This was coupled with a growing interest in Indochina. For that reason New Zealand did monitor the problems in the north, northeast, and southern borders in conjunction with its allies. In terms of regional security, both New Zealand and Thailand were disappointed when in July 1967 a British Defence white paper formally announced a wish to completely withdraw its forces “East of Suez” by the mid-1970s. With the anticipated winding down of the British presence, a New Zealand contribution to another joint intervention like Operation Scorpion, would be seriously diminished. New Zealand’s foreign policy-makers remained hopeful that American forces would remain in the region, but this was to be undermined by the Vietnam War. Although New Zealand’s contribution to the Vietnam War effort

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was never under SEATO auspices, involvement in that conflict was part of New Zealand’s contribution to regional security as expressed in — and, indeed, as invoked by — the spirit of the Manila Pact. However, the relationship between New Zealand and Thailand with regards to the build-up of the Vietnam War was largely indirect. Both New Zealand and Thailand were reluctant starters in the conflict, although both made minor force contributions, and from the beginning of the American involvement in the war in the early 1960s the Vietnam War was not discussed by the SEATO members due to disagreements on the issue.42 But the American withdrawal from the Vietnam War, which altered the strategic balance in the region, was to have a major impact on New Zealand–Thai relations.

Aid as Stability New Zealand’s aid contribution, along with those of other Western nations, was designed to help undercut the conditions that favoured dissent, particularly in the poorer rural hinterland of Thailand. On 24 May 1967, Prime Minister Holyoake, when discussing New Zealand’s Colombo Plan contribution to Thailand in the House of Representatives, revealed something of the motivation behind assistance in Thailand’s case: There is no doubt of course, that the Communist insurgents have become more active in North-East Thailand. Naturally this is a matter of very grave concern both to the Thai Government and to all countries concerned with the stability of Thailand and the whole of the South-East Asian area. I am happy to report that the Thai Government has acted with commendable vigour, both by tightening up its security, and by embarking upon long-term programmes of rural development. … New Zealand under the Colombo Plan is engaged … in building a road [in the northeast], and New Zealand’s contribution will cost over £500,000. I just mention that because it is indicative of what other countries as well as the local Government and ourselves are doing in that area.43

Wellington targeted its aid programme on those areas of Thailand that were the most prone to insurgency. The four areas that featured the greatest opposition to the Thai government were: northeast Thailand, especially around the Mekong on the border with Laos; north Thailand,

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which borders both Burma and Laos; the Kra Isthmus region to the south of Bangkok; and the southern Muslim provinces that border Malaysia. The northeast was, and still is, particularly poor. In 1968, for example, rice crops in the area yielded only 40 per cent of that of other areas.44 Estimates of communist insurgents in the northeast, the most heavily affected area, hovered around 1,500 to 2,500, although only a small number were thought to be doctrinaire communist party members. New Zealand’s longest-standing contribution to Thailand’s infrastructure was the assistance to Khon Kaen University in the northeast. New Zealand provided both capital and technical assistance when the university was first established in January 1966. Khon Kaen University was established with the purpose of being the focal point of the Thai government’s efforts for the economic, social, and intellectual development of the northeastern region.45 The Khon Kaen University project saw New Zealand provide for a number of different aspects of the tertiary institution. New Zealand is credited with having established the Agricultural Faculty, and helping to expand Arts, Nursing, and Science through the purchase of books, equipment and by sending expert advisers and teachers. Starting in 1965 the New Zealand government provided aid for the construction of a 144 km. highway from Borabu to Buriram, known as the Mahasarakham road project. This project was designed to construct an important feeder road in northeast Thailand in keeping with New Zealand’s aid focus. Prime Minister Holyoake declared in 1965 that this project was designed to support the Thai government in uplifting the status of the northeast so that communism could not gain a foothold.46 Extremely poor conditions for the New Zealand Army Engineers caused some delay in the project; however, it was completed in 1971 at the cost of $1 million.47 New Zealand’s agricultural expertise was utilized in various projects in Thailand. The lack of a stable water supply meant that the northeast either suffered from drought or flooding, both of which amounted to the inability to crop twice. Smaller projects relating to this involved assistance for the Ubolratana Dam and the Nam Ngum Dam to provide hydroelectric power and irrigation. By the 1960s the numbers of New Zealand sponsored Colombo

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Plan students rose dramatically and by 1970 300 Thais had studied in New Zealand under the plan. To supplement development projects in Thailand, New Zealand sent a number of experts to help run assistance programmes, most of whom worked with pastoral production or associated projects. Health and education experts were also sent. The New Zealand technical staff who worked in Thailand as part of New Zealand’s aid programme helped to ensure that development goals were more effectively carried out.

Establishing Trade In the 1950s Thailand suffered from poor economic performance and there was little that New Zealand could sell on the Thai market with the exception of some milk products. Prior to the 1960s New Zealand was also primarily focused on the British market which remained by far the largest destination for New Zealand’s pastoral exports. During the 1950s the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs failed to view the Thai market as having any significance for New Zealand trade. That view altered in the 1960s when New Zealand knew it would have to diversify its export destinations. During this time Thailand was seen by Wellington as a market of real potential — it was larger than Malaysia and by the 1960s was registering high economic growth rates. During this decade External Affairs attempted to establish long-term plans to develop the Thai market and encouraged New Zealand business to take a punt on the seemingly opaque world of Thai business. However, a clear divergence of views between External Affairs and the New Zealand Dairy Board emerged over the importance of the Thai market. The Dairy Board found Thailand difficult to operate in and was reluctant to risk losses to gain a foothold. With strong encouragement from the New Zealand Embassy, the Dairy Board forged a joint venture with a Thai company in order to cut through bureaucratic red tape and handle distribution. After a number of problems the Dairy Board pulled out of the arrangement in 1964 when Britain introduced a quota system for New Zealand products. This agreement guaranteed 170,000 tons of butter and unlimited access for beef, veal, lamb, cheese, skim milk powder, and butter milk powder.48 In fact, the Dairy Board were having trouble filling quotas for the British

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market and, as a result, difficult and fledgling markets like Thailand became less attractive,49 as did Hong Kong and Singapore. The New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok was very disappointed by what it saw as the Dairy Board’s short-term thinking on the issue, accusing the Board of lacking “dynamism and imagination”.50 Nonetheless New Zealand’s exports to Thailand during the 1950s of dried milk powder, butter, and tallow were diversified during the 1960s to include butter, cheese, animal feed, antlers, and others. On the other hand, Thai exports to New Zealand for 1960 remained in the established areas of rice, teak, kapok, silverware, and a few other miscellaneous items.51 For the financial year (FY) 1965, New Zealand’s exports to Thailand were valued at a modest $135,000.52 There was a rapid expansion of trade over the next two years; in 1965 the amount reached $600,000, in 1967 it was a little over $1 million, and in 1968 the value was $1.7 million. At the same time Thailand’s exports to New Zealand were on a downward spiral. In 1965 Thailand exported $371,000, in 1966 the value declined to $314,000, and in 1967 it was further reduced to $271,000. Therefore in the mid-1960s New Zealand– Thai trade swung heavily in New Zealand’s favour and this situation was to remain for some time and grew steadily lopsided over the years.

Winding Down SEATO The scaling down of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War had a major impact on the quality of New Zealand–Thai relations. This is not to say that relations soured, but overall strategic events made the defence relationship less intimate, even if the aid and trade aspects of the partnership continued unabated. With the withdrawal of New Zealand forces in Vietnam, and the pending US withdrawal, New Zealand dropped its notion of “forward defence” while Thailand embarked on its diplomacy of accommodation with the communist countries in Asia. Thailand continued to be preoccupied with internal subversion until the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in December 1978. From this time Thailand changed its military doctrine to counter conventional landbased threats to take account of the presence of the Vietnamese army near its border.53 In many respects SEATO had been created to counter

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a Chinese threat, and the Nixon administration’s détente with Beijing seemed to hammer another nail into the alliance’s coffin. The final SEATO Council meeting was held in September 1975, and following the directives of that last meeting, the Bangkok headquarters were closed in 1977. This put the formal gloss on what had been reality for some time. SEATO was dead. (It is worth noting, however, that the Manila Treaty remains in existence and could be legally invoked in the event of a crisis, although this seems unlikely.) As early as March 1970 the New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok noted a marked change in Thai attitudes towards the Western alliance structure.54 The Thai Foreign Minister, Thanat Khoman, was on record as stating that the era of military pacts was over, and that fear of aggression was not the best way to ensure close association. Given the changing times, this was not greeted as the nightmare scenario that it would have been to Wellington in an earlier time period. New Zealand officials were themselves beginning to question the usefulness of the SEATO alliance. The Embassy in Bangkok reminded Wellington that SEATO “had its weaknesses”, notably in that it had failed from the outset to attract adequate regional interest. Furthermore, “[i]n the intervening years it has not been able to take action in any of the major security problems of the region”.55 By the end of 1972 the entire strategic outlook for the region and, therefore, New Zealand’s strategic objectives, were uncertain. The emergence of new Labour governments in both New Zealand and Australia, known to have different strategic perceptions from their predecessor governments with regards to Southeast Asia, saw a declining interest in SEATO from the antipodes. Despite lack of enthusiasm for SEATO, and a growing closeness to China, Thais still judged the relationship on the strength of defence ties: “[I]t should not be forgotten that a very large part of the goodwill New Zealand has earned in Thailand derives from our long-standing and close defence association.”56 What was Wellington to do in order to salvage links with Thailand from the wreckage of SEATO? In 1973 the New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok floated the idea of bilateral military links as a way of reaffirming New Zealand’s interest in the security of Thailand.57 The embassy also recommended that aside from defence cooperation, the formalization of annual or biennial political discussions, which New Zealand had with

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some of the ASEAN countries and Japan at the time, would also help to reconstitute the moribund defence relationship. A reply by the Prime Minister, Norman Kirk, sent on 19 October 1973 confirmed that the importance of SEATO had “diminished”.58 Kirk did reiterate, however, that the New Zealand government would not be “indifferent” to the fears of Thailand and its Southeast Asian neighbours. Kirk also asked the embassy to include political and social developments within the “military oligarchy” in their reports, “which might modify substantially the present governmental structure or policies, for better or for worse”. This political idealism was in line with the changes that Kirk brought into New Zealand foreign policy. But maintenance of New Zealand’s status in Bangkok still motivated attempts to retain defence links. In anticipation of establishing a Mutual Assistance Programme (MAP) in 1973 a new dual role was created in the embassy — that of Defence Attaché and Military Adviser’s Representative to SEATO. Upon the arrival of the Thai Foreign Minister, Chatichai Choonhavan, in New Zealand in August 1975, New Zealand officials were interested in knowing Thailand’s view on the Manila Pact simply because New Zealand was not sure of its status. As Chatichai told the New Zealand press, Thailand intended to pursue an “independent foreign policy taking into account national interests” and peaceful coexistence with its communist neighbours who had not emerged as a “monolithic bloc”.59 This included a new relationship with China. New Zealand then turned its attention to ASEAN as a more appropriate and representative grouping. In June 1975 Prime Minister Wallace (Bill) Rowling told the New Zealand representatives in Bangkok that ASEAN was of “core concern” as a means to strengthening bilateral ties.60 Thailand was seen as a key member of the ASEAN grouping, and therefore relations with both Thailand and ASEAN could be seen as mutually reinforcing because New Zealand had, in Rowling’s words, “moved away from the era of alliance diplomacy to a more balanced view of our relationship with Asia”. This policy had some prescience, as later Thailand was to depend on ASEAN, and ASEAN’s friends, for support on the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia. This change in focus to ASEAN was maintained by the incoming National Government that same year. When Deputy Prime Minister Brian Talboys visited Bangkok

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in November he stated at a press conference that the Manila Pact had been superseded by ASEAN and promised that “New Zealand would not formulate any policy in the region without prior consultation with ASEAN”.61 This represented a fundamental shift in strategic decisionmaking for New Zealand in opting to be involved with the indigenous, less formalized vehicle of regional integration which was concerned primarily with national and regional resilience and not the involvement of larger extra-regional alliance partners. But the idea of renewing military-to-military ties remained. Reviving a suggestion first put forward years earlier, the first Thai officers to undertake training in New Zealand under MAP eventually came in 1978. (One officer attended the RNZAF’s Senior Command and Staff College Course, and two others attended the Army’s Grade III Staff and Tactics course.) The numbers of Thai officers coming to New Zealand were never large, amounting to just several each year. As a way of assisting Thailand during Vietnam’s occupation of Cambodia, Thailand’s old allies, as well as some new friends, opted to establish or increase MAP cooperation. Regular bilateral exchanges between intelligence agencies also began in 1982. New Zealand’s motivation for establishing MAP was also in part due to the fact that the military were so dominant in Thai political life. The New Zealand Defence Attaché argued this point in an annual report, further noting: “The military are so deeply involved in political affairs in Thailand that it is impossible to write an annual report on military affairs in Thailand without making major reference to political affairs.”62 The Defence Attaché was writing at a time when serving military officers were often appointed to the Senate, and the prime minister and ministers were mostly drawn from those appointees. Military officers were involved in commerce and all levels of the bureaucracy. New Zealand’s attempts to revive its status as a trusted friend from SEATO days must have paid off. It was noted: Not withstanding the foregoing, the Thais seem to view the Attaches in three broad groups. Those from US, UK, Australia and New Zealand are given the most favoured treatment. The Attaches from the ASEAN countries appear to have greater difficulty in obtaining information, and those from Communist countries are given as little information as possible.63

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New Zealand had effectively regained its status as an ally to Thailand in spite of SEATO’s demise. New Zealand also saw its military aid as a useful supplement to that of the United States: “Having been exposed to the somewhat spendthrift ways of the US defence establishment, the Thais are particularly impressed by our economical use of resources, a feature of New Zealand defence practice which they see as being directly relevant to their own circumstances.”64 Military-to-military linkages touched on an old controversy about the relationship with Thailand. The Muldoon administration had to answer public critics about its relationship with Thailand’s government. Various government documents from the time show that New Zealand officials were not confident that New Zealand could in any way influence the course of democracy and have the military return to the barracks — and indeed, there were bigger issues at stake from the government’s point of view. In a reply to a letter from a member of the public, Muldoon, in disagreeing with the correspondent’s critical view of events in Thailand, commended the military-installed Prime Minister of Thailand. Muldoon was referring to the ultra-conservative Thanin Kraivichien, whom he described as a man of integrity.65 Muldoon praised Thanin’s two pronged strategy for dealing with communist insurgency — military force and rural development. New Zealand continued to back various administrations in Bangkok — even those short on democratic credentials — as a preferred alternative to the communist threat. Various New Zealand officials did express the desire for a better human rights record in Thailand, but such views were kept private. The prevailing opinion was that it would be culturally inappropriate to impose a western model of democracy and, furthermore, New Zealand was in no position to bring this about. The Secretary of Foreign Affairs, writing to his Minister, advised that Southeast Asia should not be judged in accordance with the “Westminster/New Zealand democratic system”. “The Thai system of government is uniquely Thai”, the official wrote, and it is not democratic “yet it is successful and effective”.66

Aid After SEATO With the effective end of SEATO, the foundation of the New

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Zealand–Thai relationship came to rest chiefly on aid. The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs concluded in a background paper that: “Aid can therefore be expected to continue to form a most important and visible dimension of our bilateral relations with Thailand.”67 This reflected the observation of the New Zealand embassy in Bangkok that the relationship was flagging in other areas: “Certainly the record of the last two years makes it difficult to single out any one area, with the notable exception of the aid programme, where sustained efforts have been made to extend the scope and depth of the bilateral relationship.”68 Establishing goodwill in the relationship had become a major motivation of the aid programme. New Zealand’s bilateral aid assistance, as modest as it was, still entitled New Zealand to be privy to security briefings and high-level meetings. When Allan McCready, New Zealand Minister of Defence, visited Thailand in April 1976, New Zealand’s aid was judged by the Embassy as giving the Minister access to the highest levels of the Thai military. Richard Taylor, the New Zealand ambassador to Bangkok from 1975 to 1979, noted that as a direct result of New Zealand’s aid programme, New Zealand got privileged access over and above the majority of foreign diplomatic missions in Bangkok: “If I wanted to go and see the foreign minister I wouldn’t be held up.”69 Cold War imperatives remained, with aid still going to the northeast and north of Thailand. But in the 1970s a subordinate goal in the aid programme emerged — the promise of Thailand’s commercial potential. The embassy’s Annual Report for the year to 31 March 1970 noted that a further increase in aid to Thailand was generated by New Zealand’s policy to associate the private sector in New Zealand with Colombo Plan projects.70 Through the 1970s, New Zealand continued funding for Khon Kaen University. A number of smaller projects were undertaken in the northeast, for example a group of engineers from Khon Kaen University, under New Zealand leadership, devised water schemes for the villages of the area in 1978.71 They helped set up a series of weirs, wells, pumps, and irrigation schemes for the villages surrounding Khon Kaen University. As a way of trying to reduce opium-growing amongst the Hmong, New Zealand also took a keen interest in crop substitution and attempted to support the main effort undertaken by the Americans.

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While New Zealand gave modest amounts to this project — in the late 1970s this amounted to around $20,000 — the crop substitution project was an important aspect of the relationship. The project was dubbed “the King’s project”, to reflect the King of Thailand’s personal interest.72 But New Zealand’s involvement in crop substitution came to an end in 1981, as it was not viewed as cost effective. In 1973 the Kirk administration decided that aid to Thailand should be increased — most likely a reflection of Kirk’s idealism and the realization of aid’s growing importance in solidifying the relationship. The annual level of aid in 1973 to Thailand grew from the 1972 level of $800,000 to $1.3 million per annum.73 It generally remained at this level through to the end of the decade, although 1977 was at $2.3 million. In 1975 Thailand ranked fifth as a recipient of New Zealand aid to Asia, after Indonesia, the Philippines, India, and Malaysia.

Expansion of Trade in the 1970s In the decade beginning with 1960, New Zealand’s exports to Thailand had rapidly grown from around half a million dollars to nearly $10 million in the early 1970s, in spite of high Thai tariffs on imported goods and a per capita GNP of less than US$250.74 But the growing demand for imports was not matched by Thai exports, and Thailand continued to develop a massive negative trade imbalance. Trade with New Zealand, although not greatly significant, came under the spotlight in November 1979 when the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs, Brian Talboys, visited Thailand.75 Talboys was asked to explore ways and means to make it easier for Thai goods to enter the New Zealand market. Pressure on New Zealand officials to facilitate Thai exports into the New Zealand market ran concurrently with negotiations between New Zealand and Thailand to sign a trade agreement. The agreement made little headway in bilateral trade, but was always intended as a means of enhancing the diplomatic relationship. Although first mooted in 1972 the agreement was not signed until 1981, following changes of government in Thailand and a lengthy row over Thai shipping laws. At the time New Zealand exports to Thailand were worth $27.3 million76 and imports worth $11 million.77

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Crisis in Cambodia The Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia re-injected a new of sense of common interest into New Zealand–Thai relations (a more detailed account appears in the chapter on Cambodia). Vietnam upset the delicate regional balance, from the Thai point of view, when in December 1978 it invaded Cambodia. Vietnam underestimated the ability of the Khmer Rouge to withstand their invasion, and failed in their December campaign to completely crush them as a military force. However, on 7 January 1979, the Vietnamese were able to establish a new government under Heng Samrin.78 Thailand then lobbied a number of countries to support the ousted government, the notorious Khmer Rouge — also known as Democratic Kampuchea. Although a coalition of anti-Vietnamese resistance forces was formed in 1982, the Khmer Rouge continued to hold Cambodia’s UN seat. A number of New Zealand officials, including senior political leaders, seemed to detest the idea of supporting such a government, but judged that their concerns should only be aired privately while at the same time supporting the ASEAN position. As one New Zealand government document noted: “The Security of Thailand, the most exposed of the ASEANs, is important to its ASEAN partners and to the West in general.”79 A cable from Wellington to its Bangkok Embassy noted that while New Zealand preferred a negotiated settlement in Cambodia, not sharing the Thai “optimism” of an impending Vietnamese withdrawal, “you should not of course give the impression that we were about to part company with the ASEANs or to reduce our support for the agreed ASEAN position”.80 The crisis of Vietnam’s invasion, which lasted almost a decade, saw a flurry of high-level diplomatic contact between New Zealand and Thailand — Thailand was most concerned that New Zealand remain supportive. All of these meetings focused almost exclusively on Cambodia. For the purposes of keeping New Zealand on track, particularly in light of the Australian decision to derecognize Democratic Kampuchea (DK), New Zealand received two high-profile visits in 1981 — Foreign Minister Siddhi Savetsila (February) and Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanond (August). The focus on Cambodia in dicussions with Thailand was also evident in June 1983, when Cooper met with

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Siddhi for one-and-a-half hours and, as with previous bilateral meetings, discussion focused entirely on Cambodia.81 Siddhi thanked Cooper for New Zealand’s firm support over the years on the recognition issue, and the New Zealand Foreign Minister pledged continued support.82 In the aftermath of the ANZUS dispute over nuclear ship visits between the United States and New Zealand, Thailand expressed some concern that a rift might be occurring between two. The New Zealand Ambassador called on Foreign Minister Siddhi to assure him otherwise: “I noted that New Zealand’s basic foreign policy was fundamentally unchanged.” 83 The Ambassador also noted New Zealand was a good friend and did not change its policy suddenly “not like Australia” — no doubt in a reference to Australia’s earlier policy shift on the Cambodian issue. New Zealand’s Cambodian policy suddenly changed on 19 July 1990, when the Minister of External Relations and Trade, Mike Moore, stated that New Zealand would no longer back Democratic Kampuchea at the UN credentials vote.84 Coming when it did, however, the surprise announcement had no real impact on relations with Thailand or ASEAN. With the winding down of the Cold War, and international support for a negotiated settlement, times had changed. New Zealand went on to provide a substantial contribution (relative to New Zealand’s size) in the peace-building process in Cambodia.

Democracy in Thailand With the end of the Cold War, an old issue that had at times harried the relationship re-emerged. The involvement of the Thai military in domestic politics had become increasingly less acceptable, both internationally and in Thailand itself. New Zealand officials sensed that the wider international community now viewed military dictatorships as archaic. The 1991 coup saw wide international condemnation and New Zealand expressed its displeasure by cancelling the official visit to New Zealand by three senior Thai officers, led by General Vijit Sookmark.85 Foreign Affairs Minister McKinnon took the opportunity to declare that: It would not be appropriate for the New Zealand Defence Force to host a senior delegation from the Thai military two days after Thailand’s armed forces

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supreme command had overthrown the elected Government and established martial law.86

This was the first time that New Zealand had taken a very public stance against military interference in Thai politics. In April 1992, after General Suchinda took power after not even having been elected to office, with the support of pro-military parties, McKinnon visited the new Prime Minister saying that Thailand had a long history of civil and military governments “which we are generally able to get along with reasonably well”.87 But Suchinda’s government soon fell after clashes with democracy demonstrators in May 1992. Amongst the hundreds of dead was the New Zealander Ian Neumegen, while another New Zealander, Brendon Mahoney, was wounded — both were accidental casualties. McKinnon wrote to the Thai government to ask for an investigation, and later admitted that the incident had placed the relationship under some strain, despite the willingness of both sides to keep the relationship intact. In a gesture of goodwill, the Thai Foreign Minister, Pongpol Adireksarn, attended the funeral of Mr Neumegen. The funeral was also sponsored by the King and conducted by the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand. The Thais agreed to pay out 200,000 baht ($15,957) in compensation to the Neumegen family.88 McKinnon, at the time of Neumegen’s funeral, added New Zealand’s voice to those countries calling for an end to military rule: Clearly the Thai people want a democratic government and justice to be done after last week’s demonstrations. The demands have put considerable pressure on the Thai Government. There does seem to be a move towards the re-establishment of a politically stable and democratic government. That is something New Zealand would also welcome.89

In a letter that McKinnon sent to his Thai counterpart asking for a full explanation of how Neumegen died, he added: “I also want you to know of the dismay and anger New Zealanders have felt that the demand for political reform in Thailand should end in such confrontations. I fear a legacy of bitterness and division if a dialogue is not resumed to work through Thailand’s present political difficulties.”90 New Zealand’s policy had become more bold by the time of the events of 1992. In concert with the international community, the New Zealand Foreign Minister

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openly condemned the Suchinda government and added Wellington’s voice for greater democracy in Thailand.

Aid in the 1980s and Beyond New Zealand’s aid programme to Thailand has continued in the same fashion as it did prior to the 1980s, despite substantial changes to the strategic environment and New Zealand’s motivation. New Zealand continued to engage in agricultural assistance in the northeast, and aid to Khon Kaen University, based on the rationale of maintaining old New Zealand programmes which with were deemed to have had great impact for the minor amounts of money spent. On 15 December 1983, the King of Thailand opened the Srinagarind Hospital at Khon Kaen University. It was, to that date, New Zealand’s largest aid project in Thailand costing $7.6 million over a ten-year period.91 The amount of aid given to Thailand in FY1986/87, for example, was $1.6 million. To this day New Zealand continues its association with Khon Kaen University, through funding of the Mekong Institute, but the overall aid budget for FY2003/2004 was at $0.52 million — especially when taking inflation into account, this is a vastly lower sum than New Zealand gave from the 1960s through to the end of the Cold War. Thailand is no longer a priority recipient in Southeast Asia for New Zealand assistance, in fact the Thaksin administration has stated that Thailand no longer requires foreign aid.

Contemporary Trade Patterns After the Cambodia issue, a dramatic expansion of trade became the most important facet of the relationship from New Zealand’s point of view. Statistics from the following years show how rapid the increase in New Zealand exports was: 1989, $106 million; 1990, $131 million; 1991, $149 million; and 1992, $177 million.92 Between 1983 and 1991, this represented a 305 per cent increase in exports and a 362.7 per cent increase in imports — by 1991 imports of Thai goods equalled $83 million.93 More recent figures show a change in trading fortunes and in the types of products traded. For the year ending December 2002, New Zealand’s exports totalled $353 million, while imports outstripped this

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figure at $558 million. New Zealand’s trade with Thailand was effected by Thailand’s financial crisis, which dampened Thai consumer demand, but equally, New Zealand’s trade remains dominated by primary products — mainly whole milk powder — while Thailand’s exports to New Zealand are no longer “traditional” products — mainly motor vehicles and electronic goods. But it is in services that New Zealand has found new markets. Thailand is a major source of foreign university students — in 2002 there were 3,414, the most from a Southeast Asian country. Tourism from Thailand also boomed — 26,000 visitors came to New Zealand in that same year. (Evidence that the Thai elite are amongst the number of Thai visitors can be seen from the visits of members of the royal family including the King’s children — Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, Princess Chulabhorn, and Princess Sirindhorn.) New Zealand and Thailand have also found common cause in trade liberalization, which both countries champion through the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC). It was Thailand that in the 1990s actively promoted a linkage between AFTA and CER, seeking to forge a free trade area between Australasia and Southeast Asia. In 2004 New Zealand and Thailand began negotiations to establish a Closer Economic Partnership (CEP) agreement, which is due to be complete by November 2004. Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra visited New Zealand in July 2004 for talks on the CEP, which included provisions for a joint business council and arrangements for student exchange and a working holiday scheme.94

Transborder Issues Another type of trade, that of illegal narcotics, added another aspect to the New Zealand–Thai relationship. By the late 1970s, with large quantities of heroin coming into New Zealand, narcotics cooperation evolved. However, it was an aspect of the relationship that was left to the law enforcement specialists, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs only involved as the facilitator of contact and the provider of consular services. New Zealand officials were not unaware of the fact that the drug problem was the unfortunate legacy of a deliberate strategy by New Zealand’s allies:

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It has suited previous Thai Governments (and even their American advisers) to turn a blind eye to the opium trade run by the minority groups over the northern border since these groups provide a useful buffer-zone and counterthreats the Governments hostile to Thailand.95

Now, the United States too was attempting to stamp out the problem. After working through America’s large DEA contingent, New Zealand officials decided it was important to establish their own narcotics liaison. While recognizing that New Zealand could not hope to match the resources available to the Americans, or to take over all aspects of the work they have been doing on New Zealand’s behalf, they felt that some aspects of the US liaison had been less than satisfactory. In August 1978, Detective Chief Inspector Brian D. Duncan, as New Zealand Drug Liaison Officer, was seconded to the New Zealand Embassy in Thailand for a three-year term. The high rank of the police officer selected by the New Zealand Police surprised Foreign Affairs and served to highlight the priority given by the police to this posting.96 During the 1970s and early 1980s organized groups, like the so-called Mr Asia Syndicate, had established a large network. Subsequently, heroin importation is under control and mainly the domain of the “individual entrepreneur”.97 Another factor that emerged in the relationship involved illegal aspects of tourism and immigration, revolving around concerns of the “sex trade” and sweatshop labour from Thailand. The New Zealand government, in 1990, placed visa restrictions on Thais entering New Zealand in an effort to stem prostitutes coming into the country, especially those in their teens.98 The New Zealand Ambassador to Thailand was summoned to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs to explain the new restrictions. But sex tourism to Thailand also drew attention from the New Zealand government. In 1993, the New Zealand Police revealed plans to gather information on paedophiles who travelled to Asia — a move that was supported by the Thai government.99 On 2 August 1995, extra-territorial legislation was passed into law and specifically targeted sexual conduct with children and the organization of child sex tours. The new legislation was included in the Crimes Amendment Act (No. 2) and while the intention remains general, Thailand and Sri Lanka were the two countries in mind when the bill was first drafted.

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Conclusion New Zealand’s close relationship with Thailand grew out of mutual Cold War interests, from the establishment of Colombo Plan aid, SEATO and eventually deep concerns over the actions of Vietnam in Cambodia. But Thailand, from New Zealand’s strategic point of view, always ranked second to the “more important” countries of Southeast Asia — Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia. Support for Thailand’s security was largely about shoring up the defences of the Malayan penninsula and was thus once described as a “once removed” relationship. 100 New Zealand’s interest in Thai security was a facsimile of London’s perspective at the time. The changing security dynamics in the region, and the effective end of SEATO, left a major gap in the relationship. One New Zealand document later described relations with Thailand as “long-standing … [but] currently rests rather lightly on both partners”.101 Bilateral military-to-military ties were established after SEATO folded, and currently around ten Thai officers a year come to New Zealand under MAP. The New Zealand and Thai militaries also worked together in UN peacekeeping in East Timor. The most consistent element of the relationship was New Zealand’s ODA programme. Motivated initially by a desire to assist, in a minor way, in the undermining of communist infiltration, New Zealand’s ODA was largely directed at the poorest region of Thailand — the northeast. It also played to New Zealand’s technical strengths in agriculture, health and education. New Zealand’s historic association with Khon Kaen University, a major educational institution in the northeast of Thailand, continues to this day. With Cold War concerns a distant memory, New Zealand’s aid — albeit much reduced — continues to follow the same pattern established soon after WWII. Having foreseen the potential of the Thai market for New Zealand goods and services, New Zealand diplomats and trade officials attempted to develop commercial access as early as the 1960s. Starting at a very low level, two-way trade grew exponentially up until the late 1990s, when it levelled off. While Thailand’s exports to New Zealand have gone from primary products to finished manufacturing goods, New Zealand’s trade remains largely in agricultural commodities. However, New Zealand’s “good news story” is its ability to earn foreign exchange from a lucrative market in foreign students from Thailand and

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growing numbers of foreign tourists. People-to-people contact, generally desired by both governments for tangible and intangible benefits, also brings transnational problems. New Zealand and Thailand have, in the past, coordinated efforts to limit drugs and the illegal sex trade. The emergent threat of international terrorism is now another area of mutual concern, and both countries are working on the development of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on counter-terrorism and intelligence sharing. A visit by the current Thai Foreign Minister, Dr Surakiart Sahtirathai, to New Zealand in October 2003 is indicative of the fact that there are still common interests. The relationship between New Zealand and Thailand has altered dramatically since it was first formed. Changes in regional circumstances mean that the relationship is clearly less intimate than it once was, but it remains important to both sides. NOTES The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, US Pacific Command, the US Department of Defense, or the US government. 1. In 1939 the official name of Thailand was changed from Siam to Muang Thai, meaning the “land of the free”. The name “Thailand”, now in current usage, was a hybrid combination of the indigenous word “Thai” and the English word “land”. Therefore, from 1939 Thailand can be considered the correct name but use of the word “Siam” is still to be found in official documents after World War II. 2. The New Zealand Gazette, no. 16 (16 February 1942), p. 529. 3. The New Zealand Gazette, no. 5 (31 January 1946), p. 76. 4. Cable, PM to High Commission, London, no. 20 (10 January 1946), 58/315/1, part 1. 5. Department of External Affairs, Annual Report of the Department of External Affairs 1 April 1951 to 31 March 1952, p. 17. 6. Telegram, High Commissioner, London to Minister of External Affairs (MEA) (for PM), 17 October 1946, no. 2144, 315/5/1, vol. 1B. 7. New Zealand External Affairs Review, vol. IV, no. 6 (June 1954), pp. 18–20. 8. Background paper, “Security Council: Thailand Request for United Nations

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Observation (Summary of Munro’s Memo 15 July 1954 to MEA)”, 14 March 1956, 115/5/30, part 1. 9. New Zealand External Affairs Review, vol. IV, no. 6 (June 1954), p. 20. 10. Statement, Minister of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Hon. F.W. Doidge, 9 March 1951, in External Affairs Review, no. 1 (April 1951), p. 18. 11. T. Na Nagara, “New Zealand’s Participation in the Colombo Plan (1950–1960), and in the South-East Asia Treaty Organization (1955–1960)” (MA thesis, Department of History, University of Otago, 1964), p. 84. 12. Cited in Mark Pearson, Paper Tiger: New Zealand’s Part in SEATO, 1954–1977 (Wellington: New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, 1989), p. 28. 13. Dennis McLean (Secretary of Defence), “New Zealand’s Future Defence Role in Southeast Asia”, in New Zealand and Its Southeast Asian Neighbours, edited by Terence Wesley-Smith (Wellington: New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, 1980). 14. External Relations Laos General, 58/479/1, vol. 1, February 1950 to December 1977. 15. MFA to Ambassador Harle Freeman-Greene, “Letter of Policy Guidance: Ambassador to Thailand, Vietnam, Burma and Laos”, 28 June 1988, 58/315/1, vol. 10. 16. New Zealand External Affairs Review, vol. XI, no. 8 (August 1961), p. 21. 17. Memorandum, Foss Shanahan, Office of the Commissioner for New Zealand in Southeast Asia to MEA, 16 December 1955, 5/T/1/1, 315/2/1, part 3. 18. Cable, Bangkok to Wellington, no. 114 (17 September 1957), 315/2/1, part 4. 19. Cable, Wellington to Bangkok, no. 122, [n.d.] 315/2/1, part 4. 20. George Modelski, “The Asian States’ Participation in SEATO”, in SEATO: Six Studies, edited by George Modelski (Melbourne: F.W. Cheshire, 1962), p. 103. 21. Ian McGibbon, “Forward Defence: The Southeast Asian Commitment”, in New Zealand in World Affairs, Volume II, 1957–1972, edited by Malcolm McKinnon (Wellington: New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, 1991), p. 25. 22. Embassy, Bangkok to DEA (89) and Reply (110) 28–29 April 1961; High Commissioner, London to DEA (875) 28 April 1961; “Laos: Notes for Cabinet”, 1 May 1961, PM 120/15/2, cited in Pearson, Paper Tiger, p. 87. 23. US Security Agreements and Commitments Abroad, Kingdom of Thailand

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Hearings, Subcommittee on US Security Agreements and Commitments Abroad, of the Committee on Foreign Relations, US Senate, Ninety-first Congress, First Session (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1970, pp. 676–77, cited in Justus van der Kroef, The Lives of SEATO, Occasional Paper no. 45 (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, December 1976), p. 11. 24. Cable, Wellington to Bangkok, no. 81, “Thailand and SEATO”, 9 March 1962, 120/1/24/1, part 1. 25. Cable, MFA to Bangkok, no. 82, 12 March 1962, 120/1/24/1, part 1. 26. Cable, Wellington to Bangkok, no. 81, “Thailand and SEATO”, 9 March 1962, 120/1/24/1, part 1. 27. SEATO Record: 1954–1977: A Survey of the Activities of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization (Bangkok: South-East Asia Collective Defense Treaty, 1977), p. 12. 28. New Zealand External Affairs Review, vol. XII, no. 5 (May 1962), p. 26. 29. Cable, Washington to MEA, no. 300, 15 May 1962, 120/1/24/2, part 1. 30. PM Office to All Ministers, “New Zealand Forces in Thailand”, 12 June 1962, 120/1/24/2, part 2. 31. “No Permanent Commitment to Thailand”, Dominion, 4 June 1962. 32. Memo, Bangkok to MEA, no. 158, “Forces in Thailand”, 5 June 1962, 120/1/24/2, part 2. 33. Item 7 of the Minutes of the Meeting (COS(62)M.25) of the Chiefs of Staff Committee held on 6 June 1962, “Defence of Thailand”, 17 May 1962, 120/1/24/2, part 2. In fact, New Zealand’s logistical needs were supplied by the American forces at cost plus 17 per cent to cover transport costs. 34. Cable, Bangkok to MEA, no. 327, “Forces in Thailand”, 22 October 1962, 120/1/24/2, part 2. 35. “SEATO ‘Must Not Bolster Outmoded Regimes’”, New Zealand Herald, 21 May 1964; “Thailand and Democracy”, The Marlborough Express, 24 May 1964. 36. Address by Hon. Dean Eyre, Minister of Defence, New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, 4 September 1965, on file 434/8/1, part 10. 37. New Zealand External Affairs Review, vol. XV, no. 4 (April 1965), p. 15. 38. “Annual Report: New Zealand Embassy, Bangkok, 1 April 1965–31 March 1966”, 315/5/1, part 5.

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39. Memo, Ambassador, Bangkok to SEA, “Thailand: Internal Security Situation”, 21 December 1965, 315/5/1, vol. 1B. 40. Note of a discussion held in the New Zealand Cabinet Room on 18 February 1966, 315/5/1, vol. 1B. 41. In the Background paper prepared by the MFA for the 14th SEATO Council Meeting, Bangkok, 20–21 May 1969, it is stated that the Ministry believed that grievances in provincial areas were social and not political (ideological) as the communists were able to exploit poor social conditions rather than ideological arguments. Therefore, social conditions would have to be improved to solve the problem (58/315/1, part 1). 42. Sir Leonard Thornton, Chief, SEATO Planning, Bangkok, 1958–59; Chief of New Zealand General Staff, 1960–65; and Chief of Defence Staff, 1965–71; New Zealand Ambassador to Vietnam, 1972–74 (telephone interview, 2 July 1996). 43. New Zealand Parliamentary Debates (NZPD), vol. 350 (24 May 1967), p. 798. 44. Michael Leifer, “Insurgency Exists but Is Not Yet Dangerous”, Financial Times, 2 December 1968, p. 16. 45. Letter, R. Taylor, Ambassador, Bangkok to Secretary of Foreign Affairs (SFA), “Visit to Khon Kaen University”, 24 June 1975, 58/315/1, part 1. 46. External Relations Review, vol. VX, no. 8 (August 1965). 47. NZPD, vol. 358 (28 November 1968), p. 3482. 48. Bruce Brown, “‘Foreign Policy Is Trade’: Trade Is Foreign Policy — Some Principal New Zealand Trade Policy Problems since the Second World War”, in Fifty Years of New Zealand Foreign Policy Making, edited by Ann Trotter (Dunedin: University of Otago, 1993), p. 68. 49. Memorandum, Bangkok to SEA, “Condensed Milk Project”, 11 August 1964, 40/44/1, part 1. 50. Memo, Bangkok to SEA, “Condensed Milk Project”, 8 September 1964, 40/44/1, part 1. 51. Background paper, “Exports to New Zealand From Thailand — 1960”, 40/44/1, part 1. 52. Background paper, “Thailand: New Zealand’s Exports to Thailand”, 30 August 1968, 40/44/1, part 1.

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53. J.N. Mak, ASEAN Defence Reorganisation; 1975–1992 the Dynamics of Modernisation and Structural Change (Canberra: Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Research School of Pacific Studies, ANU, 1993), pp. 76–77. 54. New Zealand Embassy, Bangkok, “Annual Report, 1 April 1969–31 March 1970”, 104/315/1, vol. 6. 55. New Zealand Embassy, Bangkok, “Annual Report: Survey of Political and Economic Affairs 1972; Thailand”, 104/315/1, vol. 7. 56. Memorandum, Embassy, Bangkok to SFA, “South-East Asia — Bilateral Cooperation — Thailand”, 2 October 1973, 58/315/1, part 1. 57. Ibid. 58. Memorandum, PM to Ambassador, Bangkok, 19 October 1973, 58/315/1, part 1. 59. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand at National Press Club Luncheon Wellington, 5 August 1975, 59/315/3, vol. 2. 60. Memorandum, PM to Ambassador, Bangkok, 17 June 1975, 58/315/1, part 1. 61. Cable, Bangkok to Wellington, no. 1269, “Minister’s Visit: Manila Pact”, 6 November 1979, 59/315/10. 62. Memorandum, Defence Attaché (DA), Bangkok, to Secretary of Defence (SD), “New Zealand Defence Attaché, Bangkok: Annual Report for Year Ending 31 October 1981”, 29 October 1981, 315/5/1, part 5. 63. Memorandum, DA, Bangkok, to SD, “Defence Attaché Bangkok: Periodic Report for Quarter Ending 31 March 1980”, 315/5/1, part 4. 64. Visit by Minister of Foreign Affairs to Thailand and Vietnam June/July 1989, “New Zealand-Thailand Defence Cooperation”, [n.d. 1989], 58/315/1, vol. 11. 65. Letter, PM to Mr and Mrs R.M. Thorpe, 52 Norton Park Avenue, Lower Hutt, 18 August 1977, 58/315/1, vol. 2. 66. SFA to MFA, “Types of Democratic Countries in the ASEAN Countries”, 18 February 1983, 58/315/1, vol. 5. 67. MFA, “Brief for the Visit to New Zealand of the Foreign Minister of Thailand; 4–10 August 1975”, 31 July 1975, 59/315/3, vol. 2. 68. Memorandum, Chargé d’affaires, Bangkok to SFA, 7 February 1975, 58/315/1, part 1.

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69. Interview, Richard B. Taylor, New Zealand Ambassador to Thailand, 1975 to 1979, Rotorua, 30 July 1995. 70. New Zealand Embassy, Bangkok, “Annual Report: 1 April 1969–31 March 1970”, 104/315/1, vol. 6. 71. Development: New Zealand’s Cooperation with Developing Countries (Wellington: Ministry of Foreign Affairs), vol. 3, no. 2 (June 1980), p. 10. 72. Interview, Richard B. Taylor, 30 July 1995. 73. Memorandum, PM to Ambassador, Bangkok, 17 October 1973, 58/315/1, part 1. 74. Memo, Ambassador, Bangkok to PM, 19 October 1973, 58/315/1, part 1. 75. Cable, Bangkok to Wellington, no. 1251, “Minister’s Visit to Thailand: Trade Matters”, 5 November 1979, 59/315/10. 76. Mainly dairy products, aluminium, pulp, and waste paper. 77. Mainly tobacco leaf, textile articles, and sugar. 78. One immediate impact of these events was that the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) quickly came apart. It chose to support the Maoists, which not only meant it was the enemy of the governments of Vietnam and Laos, but its main benefactor, China, was now the government of Thailand’s new best friend in the struggle against Vietnam. Not only did the CPT lose outside support, but the enormous flow of refugees pouring out of Cambodia, and to a lesser extent Laos, appears to have undermined years of CPT propaganda. 79. Visit by the Minister of Defence to Thailand, December 1984, 58/315/1, vol. 6. 80. Wellington (SFA) to Bangkok, “Thailand: Call on Foreign Minister”, 24 October 1985, 58/315/1, vol. 6. 81. Cable, Bangkok to Wellington, no. 683, “Thailand: Minister’s Visit”, 20 June 1983, 59/315/10, vol. 2. 82. “Thailand Is Grateful for Support”, New Zealand Herald, 4 July 1983. 83. Cable, Bangkok to Wellington 1340, “Thailand: Call on Foreign Minister”, 22 October 1985, 58/315/1, vol. 6. 84. “Policy Change on Cambodia Likely”, Dominion, 20 July 1990. 85. “Thai Visit Ended”, New Zealand Herald, 26 February 1991. 86. Ibid.

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87. “NZ Man Killed in Bangkok Protests”, Dominion, 20 May 1992. 88. “Thais Pay Compo to NZ Family”, New Zealand Herald, 4 September 1992. 89. “Thai Govt Minister at Funeral”, New Zealand Herald, 28 May 1992. 90. Letter, McKinnon to Pongpol Adireksarn, Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs, 20 May 1992, 58/315/1, vol. 13. 91. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 33, no. 4 (October–September 1983), p. 30. 92. Overseas Trade Section, Department of Statistics. 93. Speech to Thai Defence Staff by Ministry of External Relations and Trade, “NZThai Relations”, May 1992. 94. “NZ–Thailand Hope for Closer Economic Ties”, New Zealand Press Association, 7 July 2004. 95. Memorandum, Ambassador, Bangkok to SFA, “Narcotics Work in Thailand and South-East Asia”, 11 July 1977, 58/315/1, vol. 2. 96. Background paper, New Zealand Embassy, Bangkok, “New Zealand Relations with Thailand”, October 1979, 59/315/10; and Correspondence, Richard B. Taylor, Former New Zealand Ambassador to Bangkok, 1975–79, to the author, 5 August 1995. Taylor also writes that in conversations with a police emissary in the Bangkok embassy, he had been led to believe that the officer selected would be a detective inspector. 97. Letter, Detective Inspector, Mike Crawford, New Zealand Police Liaison Officer, New Zealand Embassy, Bangkok to the author, “Narcotics Co-operation with Thailand from 1970s”, 13 December 1994. 98. “Thais Call NZ Envoy”, Dominion, 7 July 1990. 99. “Police Eyes on Child Sex Travellers”, New Zealand Herald, 23 November 1993; and “Thais Back NZ Child Sex Move”, New Zealand Herald, 20 August 1994. 100. Memorandum, Embassy, Bangkok to SFA, “South-East Asia — Bilateral Cooperation — Thailand”, 2 October 1973, 58/315/1, part 1. 101. Visit by the Minister of Defence to Thailand, December 1984, 58/315/1, vol. 6.

Reproduced from Southeast Asia and New Zealand: A History of Regional and Bilateral Relations, edited by Anthony L. Smith (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2005). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at 369 12. In the Shadow of War: New Zealand and Vietnam < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

12

IN THE SHADOW OF WAR: NEW ZEALAND AND VIETNAM R O B E R T O

R A B E L

Introduction The history of relations between New Zealand and Vietnam since 1945 is punctuated most dramatically by the period in the 1960s and 1970s when New Zealand was drawn into direct military participation in the Vietnam War. As a consequence, Vietnam is the only country in Southeast Asia which, for a time, provoked heated domestic debate about some of the most fundamental features of New Zealand foreign policy. It is also the only nation in the region whose existence in its current political form as a unified communist-led state was actively opposed for several decades by the New Zealand government. Yet, for all the drama associated with participation in the Vietnam War, interaction between the two countries after 1975 reverted to the mutually limited interest which had generally characterized bilateral relations prior to the early 1960s. Indeed, from 1978 to 1989, the only prominent issue in the bilateral diplomatic relationship related to a third country, because of Vietnam’s invasion and ongoing occupation of Cambodia. As had

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occurred during the Vietnam War, New Zealand’s policy on this issue was not driven by bilateral concerns but by alliance considerations — in this instance, principally relations with the ASEAN states. Since the 1990s, the relationship has settled into a more common pattern of New Zealand’s evolving interaction with Southeast Asia, involving more diverse forms of engagement which are centred not so much on politics and security but primarily on trade, investment, export education, and immigration.

The First Indochina War: 1945–54 As was the case generally for Southeast Asia, developments in Vietnam drew little interest from New Zealand in the immediate post-war years. Even after the First Indochina War broke out in 1946 between the communist-dominated Viet Minh and France and its local allies, there was no discernible New Zealand policy towards Vietnam for several years thereafter.1 Only from 1949 did New Zealand policy-makers begin paying closer attention to the fighting there. This burgeoning interest in France’s colonial war in Indochina reflected broader shifts in Wellington’s thinking about regional security and coincided closely with American and British concerns about the conflict, though tempered by practical qualms about direct New Zealand involvement. Officials in the New Zealand Department of External Affairs opposed communist control of Vietnam, but they were dubious about the strength and legitimacy of indigenous non-communist forces there. This early assessment of the Vietnam problem continued to inform subsequent New Zealand views of that conflict — and would be modified only when more compelling alliance pressures obliged the government to set aside its wariness about closer involvement. The first intimations of such pressures came in the 1950s as the Cold War in Asia intensified in the wake of the creation of People’s Republic of China, the outbreak of the Korean War and increasing American intervention in Asia. The United States regarded Vietnam as a crucial point on the frontline against communist expansion in Asia and was bearing almost 80 per cent of the financial costs of the French War in Indochina by 1954. Although New Zealand had joined its major allies

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in recognizing the French-sponsored Bao Dai regime in 1950,2 its only military contribution to the First Indochina War was to send the French two shipments of surplus weapons and ammunition.3 These token measures of solidarity with the anti-communist cause in Indochina were of a piece with New Zealand’s general reluctance to seek an active security role in Southeast Asia at a time when the prevailing assumption was that the nation’s primary contribution in the event of a major war would be alongside Australia in support of Britain in the Middle East.4 It was during the early 1950s, nonetheless, that New Zealand first confronted the dilemmas raised by the particular trajectory of the Vietnamese struggle for national independence, posing as it did for other countries a difficult choice between supporting anti-colonial nationalism and opposing communism. In wrestling with those dilemmas, policy-makers in Wellington adopted working assumptions about the Vietnam conflict which endured with remarkable consistency for over two decades. Despite their early (and long-lasting) reservations about the strength and legitimacy of indigenous non-communist forces in Vietnam, two central considerations came to dominate those assumptions during the 1950–54 period: a recognition that the perceived role of the United States as the ultimate guarantor of New Zealand’s security required paying appropriate alliance dues when necessary; and the belief that a communist triumph in Vietnam would carry adverse consequences for Southeast Asian stability and, by implication, New Zealand security. Even in the 1950s, these assumptions were sufficiently powerful for New Zealand to give serious consideration to a combat contribution in Vietnam as part of a coalition of Western powers when American Secretary of State John Foster Dulles called for “united action” in March 1954 to avert a French collapse in Indochina. As it happened, that possibility was foreclosed by British opposition and by the ending shortly thereafter of the First Indochina War. There was no reason to suppose, however, that in different circumstances where American (and Australian) pressure was more overt and where British opinion was irrelevant, New Zealand would not respond in accordance with the underlying principles adopted in official circles during the early 1950s. In that sense, the First Indochina War was an overlooked but crucial prologue to New Zealand’s response to developments in Vietnam in

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1965 when policy-makers in Wellington would be confronted with precisely those circumstances. Moreover, the outcome of the First Indochina War coincided with a significant shift in New Zealand’s approach to Southeast Asian security. Shortly after the French withdrawal and the Geneva conference’s “temporary” partition of Vietnam at the seventeenth parallel, New Zealand joined the United States, Great Britain, France, Australia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Pakistan in signing the South-East Asian Collective Defence Treaty (SEACDT) in September 1954 and in forming the South-East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). A protocol to the treaty designated South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia as states which could request the protection of treaty members if threatened. Though sceptical about the merits of having Asian allies, policy-makers in Wellington embraced the new alliance as a means of securing a joint British and American commitment to the defence of Southeast Asia, which they hoped would deter threats to regional stability. In so doing, they also accepted a New Zealand security commitment in the region, most clearly articulated in a strategy of “forward defence” in Southeast Asia.5

Towards the Vietnam War: 1954–64 This major regional reorientation in New Zealand security policy did not immediately bring closer involvement in Vietnam. The conflict there abated during the late 1950s, as the non-communist and communist regimes led, respectively, by Ngo Dinh Diem and Ho Chi Minh consolidated power in their respective parts of the partitioned country. Nevertheless, developments in the decade after the ending of the First Indochina War served to reinforce the likelihood that New Zealand would support American intervention in Vietnam when the call to do so eventually came. During the second half of the 1950s, New Zealand steadily intensified its commitment to a forward defence strategy in Southeast Asia, with the aim of containing communism there through participation in alliance activities under Anglo-American leadership. This general commitment to regional security meant that, despite scepticism about

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the Diem regime, New Zealand joined other Western powers in backing the cause of an independent, non-communist South Vietnam. Other than in terms of principles and rhetoric, however, the depth of this support was not really tested in the 1950s. New Zealand did provide small scale economic assistance, but the relative calm in Vietnam meant that policymakers in Wellington needed to do little more than pay lip service to the importance of sustaining a non-communist regime in Saigon. This remained the case even when a Labour government was in power from 1957 to 1960, with an avowedly more idealistic approach to foreign policy than its predecessor. When crisis threatened in Laos in 1959–60, Prime Minister Walter Nash’s response foreshadowed a more critical response to American policy towards Indochina, but electoral fortunes in New Zealand meant that the extent to which Labour might have resisted American pressures to lend military support to South Vietnam went untested. What is indisputably clear is that, during the 1950s, both Labour and National governments concurred in regarding participation in British Commonwealth efforts in Malaya as New Zealand’s primary military contribution to security in Southeast Asia.6 In contrast, Vietnam was a relatively minor and distant concern. It fell to Keith Holyoake’s National government to respond when the situation in South Vietnam began to deteriorate in the early 1960s, with Diem’s regime increasingly threatened by a serious insurgency mounted by the National Liberation Front, backed by North Vietnam.7 From late 1961, President John F. Kennedy’s administration increased American military and economic assistance to South Vietnam and encouraged its allies to follow its example. Even then, the focus of New Zealand’s military contribution to regional security remained firmly fixed on the defence of Malaya (Malaysia from 1963), which conveniently involved operating in a familiar British Commonwealth context. The primacy of this commitment was only strengthened when Indonesia’s President Sukarno adopted his so-called policy of Konfrontasi (Confrontation) against the new federated state of Malaysia. Given New Zealand’s scarce military resources, the priority assigned to Malaysia was a significant reason why the Holyoake government proved more impervious than its Australian counterpart to American entreaties for a New Zealand military presence in South Vietnam.8

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There were other reasons too. While the degree of New Zealand pessimism about the Diem regime had waxed and waned during the late 1950s, there was little cause for optimism from 1961 onwards. The chronic political instability in Saigon, which was not ameliorated after Diem’s downfall, made officials chary of the possibly counterproductive impact of an escalation of American-led external military intervention. Though sharing American concerns, officials in Wellington were sceptical that external intervention could bolster the unstable regime in Saigon and feared a widening of the war, possibly to include China. Compounding their doubts, there was Holyoake’s wariness of any issue which might needlessly raise domestic controversy, not to mention the ingrained pragmatism and parsimony which were the hallmarks of his general approach to foreign policy and defence matters. While Australia sent a small team of military advisers in 1962, Holyoake was only willing to dispatch a civilian surgical team.9 On the other hand, these were essentially practical concerns and not objections in principle to the broad thrust of American policy towards the Vietnam problem. The Holyoake government was genuinely supportive of American efforts to avert the fall of South Vietnam to communism. Dubious as they were about external military intervention, New Zealand policy-makers understood how difficult it was for the Americans to develop effective policies towards Vietnam and they themselves had no clear alternative policies to offer. Even more importantly, there was a strong feeling in Wellington that what mattered most for New Zealand, as the Chiefs of Staff Committee put it in 1961, was “not the need to restore stability in South Vietnam, but to preserve our position with the United States as our major ally”.10 Such was New Zealand’s dilemma as pressures mounted from Washington for allied support on the ground in Vietnam. In the short term, the best solution to this dilemma seemed to be a token non-combatant presence, as was agreed in principle by Cabinet in May 1963.11 This decision was made without enthusiasm and there was more relief than regret in Wellington when domestic political turmoil in South Vietnam and other developments in 1963 fortuitously delayed implementation of this decision. Eventually, further pressure from Washington and a more “robust” Australian response prompted

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deployment of a small detachment of 25 Army engineers in 1964.12 It was nevertheless a token involvement intended to meet the American desire for “more flags”. Vietnam remained very much a secondary focus of New Zealand activity in Southeast Asia. But the deployment of the engineers proved a fateful step. It had been taken primarily to demonstrate alliance solidarity with the United States and Australia, notwithstanding New Zealand’s shared concern about South Vietnam falling to communism. Consequently, while the engineers constituted a non-combatant contribution, the reasons for sending them could apply as easily to a combat contribution. As long as the presence of American ground forces remained limited and essentially non-combatant, this was not a problem. If, however, the situation in Vietnam deteriorated to the extent that the United States felt compelled to send combat troops, New Zealand was likely to face renewed pressure for a proportionate combat contribution. In those circumstances, the government would either have to send such a contribution or revisit the principles on which its alliance-based approach to regional security was based. Within a year of sending the engineers, New Zealand had to confront precisely such a choice.

New Zealand Involvement in the Vietnam War: 1965–72 By the end of 1964, the plight of the South Vietnamese regime was such that US President Lyndon Johnson reluctantly concluded that the United States would have to escalate its military involvement. Anxious for “more flags” alongside the Stars and Stripes, he asked New Zealand and Australia in December 1964 to consider combat assistance. 13 Holyoake’s response was unenthusiastic, advising Johnson that New Zealand had limited military resources and considered the defence of Malaysia its regional priority.14 Moreover, in contrast to their counterparts in Canberra, New Zealand officials discouraged American preparations to introduce ground forces.15 During early 1965, pressure mounted for New Zealand to emulate Australia’s more “robust” approach. Policy-makers in Wellington nevertheless remained apprehensive that the debility of the Saigon regime meant that Vietnam could become a quagmire for the Western powers,

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sapping their military power to little purpose. Even when Australia decided in April to send a battalion, the New Zealand government did not follow suit. It was not until 24 May 1965 that Cabinet formally approved the dispatch of an artillery battery of approximately 120 men.16 The decision was based on a recommendation from the Department of External Affairs highlighting the potential alliance costs of not supporting the United States (and Australia) in Vietnam and emphasizing New Zealand’s own national interests in countering communism in Southeast Asia, in line with its strategy of forward defence.17 To have acted otherwise in mid-1965 would have required the Holyoake government to question the basic assumptions on which New Zealand’s post-war national security policies were founded. Once the decision had been made to commit combat troops, it was largely a matter of managing the commitment within an alliance framework. Consequently, the diplomacy of New Zealand involvement in the Vietnam War over the next seven years merits little comment. Its most noteworthy feature was the Holyoake government’s studious effort to keep that involvement at the minimum level deemed necessary to meet its allies’ expectations. One reason for doing so was persistent scepticism in Wellington about the likely success of external military intervention in Vietnam. The scope for practical military involvement, moreover, was distinctly limited by New Zealand’s meagre military resources, the significant troop contribution in Malaysia, and the absence of any political will to use conscripts. Anxieties about financial costs and domestic criticisms also played a restraining role, especially on Holyoake’s part. While these concerns served to contain New Zealand’s combat effort in Vietnam, they had to be weighed against pressures from Washington for further contributions. Accordingly, after Confrontation ended and after Australia expanded its Task Force, the government sent two infantry companies from Malaysia to join the artillery battery in 1967. Additional minor contributions kept New Zealand troop strength in South Vietnam at over 500 for the next few years.18 After 1970, as the United States proceeded with “Vietnamization”, the pressure on its antipodean allies eased. Australian and New Zealand forces were gradually withdrawn, on a coordinated basis for operational reasons during 1970 and 1971.

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When the National Party lost office in the November 1972 election, only two small training teams remained, which were abruptly withdrawn by Norman Kirk’s incoming Labour government — occasioning a short, but forcefully worded, expression of consternation by the Nixon administration.19 Thereafter, New Zealand engagement with Vietnam and its problems would steadily diminish, but the legacies of combat involvement in the Vietnam War would be significant, as a result of the controversies generated by that experience.

The Vietnam Debate and Its Impact New Zealand’s limited military involvement in the Vietnam War was overshadowed by the wide-ranging debate about the conflict which erupted at home following the rise from the mid-1960s of an organized anti–Vietnam War movement.20 This movement was influenced strongly by its American counterpart in terms of protest style and in many of its criticisms of Washington’s policies. At the same time, by highlighting broader issues raised for New Zealand by the Vietnam War, the anti-war movement challenged to an unprecedented extent the alliance-based security doctrine on which official Vietnam policy was based, thereby inaugurating a new era of public debate about foreign policy. Much of the anti-war movement’s critique echoed international condemnation — and especially criticisms made within the United States itself — of Western intervention in the Vietnam War. As elsewhere, there was opposition on moral grounds for reasons ranging from pacifist convictions to objections to the weapons being used or to the undemocratic character of the South Vietnamese government. The charge was also made that the United States and its allies were interfering in a civil war. To some extent, criticisms of American policy varied according to the critic’s ideological stance. Moderates and radicals alike chastised the United States for failing to observe the 1954 Geneva Accords, for using excessive force, for alleging that China was behind the war and for denying that there was widespread support in South Vietnam for the National Liberation Front. Moderates were more likely to ridicule the domino theory, while radicals accused the United States of outright imperialism in propping up a repressive puppet regime in

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Saigon and suggested most Vietnamese desired a unified nation under some sort of socialist system. There were also those who argued that American policy was less immoral than ill-conceived and would have the counterproductive result of strengthening communism in Asia.21 Of more distinct and enduring significance for New Zealand was the tendency for local opponents of the Vietnam War to go beyond criticizing the government for supporting the United States in this particular case. They also mounted a broader assault on the government’s general alliance policies, which they depicted as fundamentally misguided. They rejected the government’s strategy of forward defence in Southeast Asia, disputed the anti-communist assumptions on which it rested and denied communism in that region posed a threat to New Zealand.22 More pointedly, they championed an alternative, more “independent” foreign policy, which was not subservient to that of the United States.23 Although this critique failed to deflect official support for American policy, rising domestic criticisms did prompt the Holyoake government to mount an elaborate public defence of its stance on Vietnam. For almost a decade after the decision to send non-combat military assistance in 1963, the government was remarkably consistent in depicting New Zealand’s Vietnam policy as a principled response within an alliance framework to a case of external communist aggression in Southeast Asia.24 After deciding to send combat troops, the government stressed that it was acting in conformity with treaty obligations and was upholding the principles of collective security to which New Zealand had committed itself since World War II.25 While taking every opportunity to express his hope for a negotiated settlement, Holyoake repeatedly argued thereafter that, as long as communist aggression persisted against South Vietnam, only military action could preserve the small nation’s freedom. The Prime Minister often noted that New Zealand was acting alongside its most important allies in Vietnam, but he did not place the same emphasis in his public statements as his advisers did privately on the importance of maintaining healthy alliance relations with the United States and Australia. Nor did he ever publicly refer to his government’s misgivings about the viability of the whole enterprise. He and his supporters did, however, curtly reject the anti-war movement’s criticisms of official policy and vigorously defended the alliance-based policy of forward defence in Southeast Asia.

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It is difficult to assess which side had the better of this debate over the course of the Vietnam War. The government initially appeared to enjoy high levels of public support for sending combat forces to Vietnam and the National Party did not suffer unduly adverse electoral consequences, being returned to office twice — in 1966 and 1969 — during the Vietnam period.26 Nor was the government ever sufficiently concerned by domestic criticism to change a policy it had adopted largely for alliance reasons.27 On the other hand, despite having no decisive impact on official policy-making and arousing hostility from some New Zealanders, the anti-war movement did draw growing support, especially during the closing stages of the Vietnam War. This support was illustrated most visibly during the “mobilizations” of the early 1970s when thousands marched in protest against the war in all the country’s major centres. The Vietnam conflict thus brought with it a polarization of opinion and a rejection by many New Zealanders of the assumptions on which the government’s alliance policies rested, especially amongst younger people in higher education during these years — the so-called Vietnam Generation.28 Another significant domestic effect of the critique championed by the anti-war movement was that by 1972 one of the two major political parties had accepted many of its premises. The Labour Party was initially more cautious than the anti-war movement in opposing official policy on the Vietnam conflict.29 The party had stressed humanitarian and economic aid as more important than military action in helping to resolve Vietnam’s problems from the early 1960s. Yet once New Zealand combat forces were sent, party leaders were reluctant to advocate immediate withdrawal, perhaps because of concerns about electoral consequences. Labour’s policy on Vietnam firmed considerably after 1966. By 1969, its leader, Norman Kirk, had made an unequivocal commitment to withdraw if victorious in that year’s election, but National was re-elected. Thereafter, Labour asserted its opposition more confidently, sensing it was now on the more popular side of issue and seizing upon the Americans’ own progressive disengagement from Vietnam as vindication of its policy. Since almost all New Zealand troops had left Vietnam before the

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November 1972 election, the incoming Labour government’s prompt withdrawal of the remaining training teams caused little controversy. If of limited practical significance after 1973, Labour’s and National’s divergent policies on Vietnam were symbolic of wider differences about foreign policy. While National continued to accept the orthodoxies of alliance reasoning on which its Vietnam policy was based, Labour leaders called for “new thinking” in foreign policy that would allow New Zealand to pursue a more independent course in world affairs, that would incorporate a “moral” dimension and that would better reflect the country’s character as a small, multi-racial nation in the South Pacific. Having rejected the Vietnam policy of New Zealand’s major alliance partner, Labour’s leaders did not repudiate ANZUS — as many anti-war activists and party members urged.30 Instead, they sought to sanction a position of dissent within the alliance framework, adopting a line of argument which would later be used to justify both the third and fourth Labour governments’ policies on nuclear ship visits. Such qualifications notwithstanding, Labour’s stance on the Vietnam War broke the previous bipartisan, Cold War consensus on foreign policy. The Vietnam War marked a turning point in the evolution of New Zealand’s post-war foreign and security policies. It raised wider questions about the nation’s place in the world and became entangled with other issues — domestic and international — which had arisen in the turbulent 1960s. In terms of national security doctrine, involvement in Vietnam represented the culmination of a line of official thinking based on the primacy of the ANZUS alliance, the acceptance of stark assumptions about the menace of Asian communism and the cogency of forward defence in Southeast Asia. While disagreeing tactically with its allies behind closed doors about the wisdom of a massive military effort in Vietnam, the Holyoake government showed that it was fully committed to the shared alliance strategy of containing communism in Southeast Asia. It offered public support for American policy and contributed token combat forces in Vietnam as the price of continued participation in that strategy. In the event, the Vietnam War created a crisis for the alliance policy and several of its elements — most notably a strong forward defence posture in Southeast Asia — were gradually adjusted

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in the aftermath of that conflict. In large part, that readjustment was due to the re-evaluation of American regional strategy in the form of the Nixon Doctrine. The Vietnam experience was thus also important as a phase in the country’s interaction with its major post-war ally. For National, its loyalty in supporting the United States on Vietnam seemed to bring few tangible rewards, with the possible exception of minor leverage on trade issues. The alliance with the United States remained intact at the end of the Vietnam conflict, but it had been strained and was less firmly rooted, with significant numbers of New Zealanders opposed to unstinting support for the United States in security matters. The Vietnam War thereby stimulated unprecedented levels of polarization on foreign policy. Growing public acceptance of the antiwar movement’s critique of official policy challenged the presiding Cold War consensus and meant that foreign policy could no longer be the exclusive domain of politicians, diplomats, and bureaucrats. Labour’s stance on Vietnam further undermined that consensus.31 The divisiveness stimulated by the Vietnam War would linger because the domestic debate which it precipitated was not only about a tragic conflict in a distant Asian country or the correctness of American policy. Intertwining issues of foreign policy, domestic politics, generational conflict and national mythology, the debate brought to public prominence competing visions of the role New Zealand should play in the world. In that sense, New Zealand’s Vietnam involvement was most significant as the catalyst for a larger ongoing debate about the relationship between national identity, national security and “independence” in foreign policy.

From the Vietnam War to the Present Ironically, the impact of the domestic Vietnam debate, though significant in domestic terms, had little to do with bilateral relations between Vietnam and New Zealand. Indeed, once the Kirk government withdrew New Zealand’s few remaining forces, the war did not figure prominently as either a diplomatic or domestic issue during Labour’s term of office from late 1972 to 1975 — unlike in Australia.32 It did help symbolize a new approach to foreign policy at the beginning of Labour’s term because

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of Kirk’s prompt withdrawal of the training teams and his subsequent forthright criticism of Nixon’s Christmas bombing offensive.33 But the ensuing strain in New Zealand–United States relations was brief and without enduring repercussions. Despite the wishes of some on the left, the third Labour government went on to enjoy reasonably smooth relations with the United States. Given its stance on the Vietnam War for almost a decade before achieving office in 1972, the most noteworthy feature of Labour’s time in office proved to be its moderation. The final stages of the war in 1975 only confirmed the government’s pragmatism on the issue as it adopted an essentially hands-off policy to the rights and wrongs of the way in which the conflict ended. For some of its critics in the press and on the opposition benches, that approach betrayed a cynical and hypocritical unwillingness to criticize a resolution achieved by military force — something Labour had insisted to the end was not desirable.34 On the other hand, most of those critics were themselves conspicuous by their silence on Vietnam from later 1972 until the early months of 1975. The National Party was the most striking in this respect, given that for so many years it had defended the essential justice of the South Vietnamese cause to which it had committed New Zealand military, economic and political resources. Its virtual silence on Vietnam once in opposition may have reflected a sense that National was now on the wrong side of the issue. On that level, the party’s behaviour foreshadowed its pragmatic repositioning in later years to reflect public opinion on the anti-nuclear dispute with the United States. In the case of the Vietnam issue, another factor behind the party’s silence may have been that supporting regimes such as President Nguyen Van Thieu’s in Saigon had never been a task which National welcomed. Once the American presence in Vietnam was removed, it no longer seemed a cause worth risking political capital on. National would speak out towards the end of the war — opportunistically in Labour’s view — on the emotive question of rescuing war orphans,35 but even then its leaders did not seek to rekindle a full-blown debate on what had clearly become a lost cause. On the face of it, when the war ended with the triumph of the communist forces in 1975, it provided a long-awaited vindication for the anti-war movement — especially for those in its ranks who had always

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looked to the creation of a unified, socialist Vietnam. But the period between the election of the Labour government and the fall of Saigon did not fully meet the expectations of those activists who remained interested in the Vietnam conflict. Despite their satisfaction with Kirk’s withdrawal of the training teams, many became increasingly disillusioned as Labour adopted an even-handed approach to the opposing Vietnamese groups after the signing of the Paris peace agreement. Their efforts to arouse interest in such issues as the plight of political prisoners in South Vietnam were hampered by rapidly fading public interest in Vietnam once direct New Zealand and American involvement ceased. Apart from a few committed activists, the anti-war movement gradually faded away in this period and, perhaps not surprisingly, dissolved entirely by 1976. Well before then, many activists had shifted their focus to other causes such as opposition to nuclear weapons, the anti-apartheid movement or the women’s movement. While those who had protested for so long against American and New Zealand involvement in the war could take satisfaction that the fighting was finally over in 1975, the inherently repressive regime that would rule Vietnam thereafter was not necessarily what most of them had hoped might emerge from the ashes of the whole tragic affair. In general, the final phases of the Vietnam War were anti-climactic in their impact on New Zealand when compared to the heated controversies and debates generated by the conflict in earlier years. While Labour’s handling of the issue certainly differed from National’s, the actions in practice of both parties from 1973 to 1975 suggested that the foreign policy consensus which Vietnam had splintered was not necessarily irreparable. Thanks to the American withdrawal, the proposition that New Zealand could express dissent on a particular issue without jeopardizing the general security alliance with the United States was not robustly tested in the 1973–75 period. Their differing views on the validity of that proposition had, of course, been the underlying source of bipartisan separation between National and Labour during much of the Vietnam War. But the way in which the final stages of that conflict unfolded meant that the country’s two major parties were able to avoid confronting the full implications of the bipartisan divergence first exposed during the

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Vietnam era. The real test of that unresolved legacy of New Zealand’s Vietnam debate would be postponed until another Labour government came to power in 1984 confronting very different domestic circumstances and a very different international environment. If the legacies of the Vietnam War would arguably have an enduring impact on New Zealand foreign policy, the same was not true for relations with the nation of Vietnam. Once the communist side in the conflict achieved victory there in 1975, Vietnam ceased to be a symbol and once again became just another distant Southeast Asian country — and not one of the most significant for New Zealand at that. The development of a meaningful bilateral relationship would be hampered thereafter for several reasons until the 1990s. In the aftermath of the war, Vietnam was mainly preoccupied with economic reconstruction and the political and administrative reintegration of the South and North. Perceiving few political affinities or trade prospects, New Zealand policy-makers took little interest in Vietnam in the late 1970s. New Zealand did provide some modest amounts of aid to Vietnam, mainly in the form of shipments of milk powder. For the most part, though, bilateral contacts were distinctly limited — to the extent that Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials concluded in 1981: “There is little of substance to the relationship.”36 By then, another development had ensured that the bilateral relationship would continue to lack substance for some time to come. In late 1978, Vietnam invaded Cambodia. New Zealand joined most of its allies in condemning the invasion and cancelled all project aid to Vietnam in 1979, though maintaining a little training assistance. It also supported the ASEAN stance of recognizing the government of Democratic Kampuchea, even though it was dominated by the Khmer Rouge. The government was uneasy about lending any succour to the murderous Khmer Rouge and hopeful of maintaining a dialogue with Vietnam, but the reality of supporting the avowed ASEAN quest for a political settlement of the issue meant there was little to discuss with Vietnam.37 As a result, contacts with Vietnam in the next few years were “dominated … by refugee matters” and diplomats admitted privately in 1982 that the bilateral relationship was “not in good shape”.38 When a new Labour government assumed office in mid-1984,

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officials opined that it might be time “for putting out some lines to Hanoi”, even though it would not sit well with the ASEAN states.39 The following year, one long-running issue in discussions with Hanoi was resolved when Vietnam offered to pay $40,000 as compensation from Vietnam in full settlement for property owned by the New Zealand Embassy in Saigon before the change of government in 1975. The Vietnamese also commended Labour’s anti-nuclear policy.40 But there was little progress in more general terms. When Bruce Brown, New Zealand’s Ambassador to Thailand who was also accredited to Vietnam, visited Hanoi in December 1985 to present his credentials, there was mutual acknowledgement of differing views on Cambodia. Brown reiterated New Zealand support for an immediate withdrawal and the need for a political settlement, noting the Cambodian issue was a real impediment toward progress on bilateral relations.41 Thus when the Minister of Overseas Trade, Mike Moore was contemplating a visit to Vietnam in 1986, officials were quick to advise against it, pointing out that there were no substantial trade opportunities, that the Vietnamese would exploit such a visit as “as a political gesture toward Vietnam” and that it would not be welcomed by “our friends, particularly China, the ASEAN countries and the United States”.42 Little would change in the following two years. Finally, in 1989, the possibility of a thaw in relations emerged when the Vietnamese announced that they would withdraw from Cambodia in 1990. The Embassy in Bangkok promptly recommended that New Zealand begin adjusting its policy towards Vietnam.43 In April 1989, Foreign Minister Russell Marshall, publicly announced that an upcoming visit of a Vietnamese trade delegation was the first step in warmer relations with Vietnam.44 Marshall himself visited Hanoi that year and officials mooted the possibility of opening an embassy there.45 New Zealand exports also began to expand, growing from $150,000 in 1988 to $4.2 million in 1989.46 National’s return to government in late 1990 did not impede the slow but steady improvement in relations. The Vietnamese Prime Minister Vo Kan Kiet visited Wellington in 1993, marking the beginning of a new phase in the relationship.47 His visit was followed by increased aid to Vietnam in agriculture and forestry.48 When Foreign Minister

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Don McKinnon visited Hanoi in July 1994, he announced that a new diplomatic post would be opened there in 1995. A bilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement was also signed during his visit, giving each country most favoured nation status.49 With two-way trade growing — heavily in New Zealand’s favour — the Trade Development Board opened an office in Ho Chi Minh City in 1996.50 Since then, diplomatic, trading and other linkages have continued to grow at a modest pace. In 2003, Vietnam opened its own Embassy in Wellington.51 Bilateral trade in goods reached over $200 million in 2002 and Vietnam currently looms as a potentially significant market for New Zealand export education services.52 New Zealand has also maintained a bilateral aid programme, with $3 million budgeted for Vietnam in the 2003/2004 financial year.53 In general, after being overshadowed by the vicissitudes of war in one form or another for most of the period from 1945 to 1990, the bilateral relationship has been normalized and is not essentially different from New Zealand’s relationship with any number of Asian states.

Conclusion More than three decades have now passed since New Zealand involvement in the Vietnam War ended. Notwithstanding the domestic controversy engendered by that involvement, interest in Vietnam has receded from public consciousness over that period. Most of those who so passionately protested New Zealand’s combat commitment during the late 1960s and early 1970s have paid scant attention to Vietnam’s political and economic development since then. Nor, for that matter, have those who supported military involvement in the war wasted many words in criticizing the absence of democracy in post-1975 Vietnam or in actively defending the Holyoake government’s Vietnam policies. The exodus of so-called boat people from Vietnam in the late 1970s after the fall of Saigon also had little national impact, with many of the relatively small number of refugees who entered New Zealand at the time subsequently gravitating to the larger Vietnamese communities in Australia. Nor, despite some growth in student numbers, has there been a particularly large Vietnamese presence amongst the groups of Asian migrants entering New Zealand in more recent years. Bilateral economic, diplomatic and cultural links

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have also been limited to date, even though Vietnam’s 80 million people make it the second most populous nation in Southeast Asia. This relative lack of bilateral interaction does not mean that the Vietnam conflict was of little significance for New Zealand. Rather, it serves to underline how the Vietnam debate of the 1960s and 1970s was not ultimately about that country but about divergent visions of how New Zealand foreign and security policies should reflect national interests, ideals, and identity. (The same point holds true broadly for corresponding debates in the United States and Australia. 54) Accordingly, although the bilateral relationship has not in itself been especially important, “Vietnam” will always have historical resonance in symbolizing a critical phase in the development of New Zealand foreign policy in the twentieth century. NOTES Some of the material in this chapter has previously appeared in Roberto Rabel, “The Vietnam War”, in The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History, edited by Ian McGibbon (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 561–66. 1. Departmental files in Wellington on Vietnam for the late 1940s consist of little more than information reports on events there, mainly from British and Australian sources. See, for example, 316/1/6. The first two parts of this file series are missing but there is no reason to believe that they differ from the surviving files because New Zealand had no direct diplomatic representation in the whole of Asia at the time. In general, the files of the New Zealand Department of External Affairs concerning Indochina are sparse for the 1940s, reflecting New Zealand’s relative lack of interest in the issue at that time. 2. For an analysis of this decision, see Roberto Rabel, “A Forgotten First Step on the Road to Vietnam: New Zealand and the Recognition of the Bao Dai Regime, 1950”, New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 2, no. 1 (June 2000): pp. 65–77. 3. See files 316/1/6, 316/4/6, 316/4/7, and 316/4/8/2. 4. For the most comprehensive analysis of New Zealand defence planning in the decade after World War II, see W. David McIntyre, Background to the ANZUS Pact: Policy-making, Strategy and Diplomacy, 1945–55 (New York and Christchurch: Macmillan and University of Canterbury Press, 1995). For shorter accounts of New Zealand security policy in these years, see Ian McGibbon, “The Defence of New

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Zealand 1945–1957”, in New Zealand in World Affairs, Volume I: 1945–1957, by Sir Alistair McIntosh et al. (Wellington: New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, 1977), pp. 143–76; McGibbon, New Zealand and the Korean War, Volume I: Politics and Diplomacy (Auckland: Oxford University Press in association with the Historical Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, 1992), pp. 15–33. 5. On New Zealand policy towards collective defence arrangements in Southeast Asia in this period, the formation of SEATO and related developments in Indochina, see Ian McGibbon, “Forward Defence: The Southeast Asian Commitment”, in New Zealand in World Affairs, Volume II: 1957–1972, edited by Malcolm McKinnon (Wellington: New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, 1991), pp. 9–39; Malcolm McKinnon, “From ANZUS to SEATO”, in McIntosh, New Zealand in World Affairs, Volume I: 1945–1957, pp. 130–42; Mark Pearson, Paper Tiger: New Zealand’s Part in SEATO, 1954–1977 (Wellington, 1989), pp. 16–37; R.M. Mullins, “New Zealand’s Defence Policy”, New Zealand Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 22 ( July 1972), pp. 12–16. 6. For New Zealand military involvement in Malaya in the 1950s, see Christopher Pugsley, From Emergency to Confrontation: The New Zealand Armed Forces in Malaya and Borneo 1949–1966 (Melbourne: Oxford University Press in association with the New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage, 2003). 7. For a more detailed reconstruction of New Zealand policy towards South Vietnam from 1961 to 1964, see Roberto Rabel, “‘The Most Dovish of the Hawks’: New Zealand, Alliance Politics and the Vietnam War”, in Vietnam: War, Myth and Memory — Comparative Perspectives in Australia’s War in Vietnam, edited by Jeffrey Grey and Jeffrey Doyle (Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1992), pp. 14–30. 8. John Subritzky, Confronting Sukarno: British, American, Australian and New Zealand Diplomacy in the Malaysian-Indonesian Confrontation, 1961–5 (London: Macmillan, 2000), pp. 98–99, 106–8, 111–13. 9. For the background to this decision, see Minutes of Chiefs of Staff Committee — Joint Planning Committee, JPC (62) 41, 30 May 1962; Draft Cabinet paper, Annex to JPS (62) 25, 13 June 1962, 478/4/6; Minutes of Chiefs of Staff Committee, COS (62) M.26, 14 June 1962, 478/4/6. 10. Minutes of Chiefs of Staff Committee, COS (61) M.46, 14 December 1961, 478/4/6. 11. Joint Planning Committee: Report on “New Zealand Military Assistance to South Vietnam”, JPC (63) 42, 19 April 1963, 478/4/6; Secretary of External Affairs to Prime Minister, 10 May 1963, ibid.; Cabinet Minute CM (63) 19, 28 May 1963, 478/4/6.

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12. Cabinet minute CM (64)20, 27 May 1964, ibid.; Press statement by the Prime Minister, 25 May 1964, 478/4/6. 13. Lyndon Johnson to Keith Holyoake, 12 December 1964, 478/4/6. 14. Holyoake to McIntosh, n.d. [probably 15 December 1964], 478/4/6; Minister of External Affairs to Ambassador, Washington, 22 December 1964, 478/4/6; Laking to Prime Minister, 23 December 1964, 478/4/6; Prime Minister to Laking, 24 December 1964, 478/4/6. 15. See, for example, Minister of External Affairs to Ambassador, Washington, 26 February 1965, 478/4/1; Policy brief for Chief of Defence Staff: “Contingency Planning for Vietnam”, 26 March 1965, 478/4/1. 16. Cabinet minute, CM 65/18/53, 31 May 1965, 478/4/6. 17. Secretary of External Affairs to Prime Minister, 1 May 1965, 478/4/6. 18. For the precise numbers of New Zealand service personnel in Vietnam at different times, see Brief History of the New Zealand Army in South Vietnam, 1964–1972 (Wellington: Army Public Relations, Defence Headquarters, 1973). 19. President Richard Nixon to Prime Minister Norman Kirk in Chalmers Wood, United States Chargé, to Kirk, 27 December 1972, 478/4/1. New Zealand officials described Nixon’s note as “sharp and aggrieved”. See Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Embassy in Tokyo, 28 December 1972, 478/4/1. 20. For an overview of the significance of the anti–Vietnam War movement in New Zealand, see Roberto Rabel, “The Vietnam Anti-War Movement in New Zealand”, Peace and Change, vol. 17, no. 1 (January 1992), pp. 3–33. For studies of the anti-war movement in three of New Zealand’s major cities, see P.R.H. Jackman, “The Auckland Opposition to New Zealand’s Involvement in the Vietnam War, 1965–72: An Example of the Achievements and Limitations of Ideology” (MA thesis, Department of History, University of Auckland, 1979); Anthony Haas, “A Study in Protest: The Wellington Committee on Vietnam, May 1, 1965–March 6, 1967” (BA Honours research essay, Department of Political Science, Victoria University of Wellington, 1967); Peter Bell, “The Protest Movement in Dunedin Against the Vietnam War, 1965–1973” (BA Honours research essay, Department of History, University of Otago, 1989). 21. For examples of these arguments, see A.R. Entwisle, “Our Business in Vietnam”, Landfall, vol. 19, no. 3 (September 1965), pp. 261–74; J.O. Gamby, ed., Vietnam: Question and Answer Booklet (Wellington: Committee on Vietnam, 1965), pp. 5–7; T. McGee “Some Considerations of New Zealand Foreign Policy in South-East

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Asia”, in Intervention in Vietnam (Wellington: Committee on Vietnam, 1965); W.H. Oliver, “Moralism and Foreign Policy”, Landfall, vol. 19, no. 4 (December 1965), pp. 375–82. 22. See, for example, McGee, “Some Considerations of New Zealand Foreign Policy in South-East Asia”, pp. 13–14. 23. As a contemporary study of the anti-war movement noted, their arguments “represented an attempt at a New Zealand foreign policy determined by her, and not made through the eyes of the United States”. Haas, “A Study in Protest”, p. 4. See also A Source Book on Vietnam: Background to our War (Wellington: Research Sub-Committee, Wellington Committee on Vietnam, 1965). 24. See, for example, New Zealand Assistance to the Republic of Vietnam (Wellington: Government Printer, 1965); Vietnam: Question and Answer Booklet (Wellington: Committee on Vietnam, 1965). 25. New Zealand Parliamentary Debates, vol. 342, pp. 7–11. 26. The only national public opinion poll evidently held during the Vietnam period (in 1965) suggested that 70 per cent of New Zealanders approved the decision to send combat troops to South Vietnam (Otago Daily Times, 15 September 1965). An opinion poll of 533 people in Christchurch in August 1966 found that 56 per cent of those surveyed supported keeping New Zealand troops in Vietnam and only 26 per cent favoured withdrawal, with the remainder undecided. Austin Mitchell, Politics and People in New Zealand (Christchurch: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1969), pp. 146–47. 27. The main Department of External Affairs file on New Zealand military involvement confirms that policy on Vietnam between 1965 and 1967 was determined almost exclusively by alliance considerations and that domestic concerns had no significant influence on official decision-making. See 478/4/6. 28. Frequently used in the United States, the term has been applied in a New Zealand context by Colin James. See Colin James, The Quiet Revolution: Turbulence and Transition in Contemporary New Zealand (Wellington, 1986), pp. 35–36. 29. For more detailed analyses of Labour’s policy on Vietnam, see Jack A. Elder, “The New Zealand Labour Party and the Vietnam War: Traditions and Policy Until 1973” (MA thesis, Department of Political Studies, University of Auckland, 1973); James R. Murphy, “The New Zealand Labour Party and Vietnam: 1963 to 1972” (MA research paper, Department of Political Studies, University of Canterbury, 1973). 30. While advocating new approaches to regional foreign policy, Norman Kirk explicitly

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rejected non-alignment. See Norman Kirk, New Zealand and Its Neighbours (Wellington: New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, 1971), p. 14. 31. These consequences of the Vietnam years were publicly acknowledged by the recently retired Secretary of Foreign Affairs in a 1973 address discussing the issue of public support for foreign policy. Observing that “decisions in the field of foreign policy can no longer be taken in the expectation that they will not be scrutinized and criticized by the public”, he argued that a return to bipartisanship and “a continuing process of public education” were essential to ensure an effective foreign policy which would “in the future serve the best interests of New Zealand”. G.R. Laking, “Throwing off Our Colonial Shackles”, New Zealand Listener, (17 September 1973), pp. 18–19. 32. For the more controversial domestic and diplomatic impact of the Vietnam War on Australia during the term of the 1972–75 Whitlam Government, see Peter Edwards, A Nation at War: Australian Politics, Society and Diplomacy during the Vietnam War 1965–1975 (Sydney: Allen & Unwin in association with the Australian War Memorial, 1997), pp. 318–39. 33. Kirk to Nixon in Secretary of Foreign Affairs to Ambassador, Washington, 22 December 1972, 478/4/1. 34. For the Labour government’s stance on the issue, see Secretary of Foreign Affairs to Ambassador, Saigon, 25 March 1975, 478/4/1. For contemporary criticism of that stance by Robert Muldoon, Leader of the Opposition, see New Zealand Parliamentary Debates, vol. 396, p. 115. See also the editorial commentaries in New Zealand Herald, 3 April 1975; Press, 2 April 1975; Dominion, 27 March 1975 and 2 April 1975. 35. New Zealand Parliamentary Debates, vol. 396, pp. 411, 414–17. See also Dominion, 11 April 1975; New Zealand Herald, 11 April 1975. 36. “New Zealand/Vietnam Relations”, 14 May 1981, 58/521/1. 37. Ibid. 38. Briefing paper, “Contacts with Vietnam”, 28 May 1982, 58/521/1. 39. Briefing paper, “Vietnam”, July 1984, 58/521/1. 40. Ambassador, Bangkok to Secretary of Foreign Affairs, 20 December 1985, 58/521/11. 41. Ibid. 42. Secretary of Foreign Affairs to Minister of Foreign Affairs, 20 February 1986, 58/521/11.

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43. Ambassador, Bangkok to Secretary of Foreign Affairs, 12 January 1989, 58/521/11. 44. Newspaper clipping on file 58/521/11: Dominion, 18 April 1989. 45. Ambassador, Bangkok to Secretary of External Relations and Trade, 3 September 1990, 58/521/11. 46. Ambassador, Bangkok to Secretary of External Relations and Trade, 3 May 1991, 58/521/11. 47. Summary record: Meeting between Prime Minister Bolger and Vietnamese Prime Minister, 26 May 1993, 58/521/11. 48. Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 14 July 1993, 58/521/11. 49. “Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Country Paper”, July 1995, South and Southeast Asia Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 58/521/11. 50. Ambassador, Bangkok to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 12 July 1995, 58/521/11. 51. See www.mfat.govt.nz/foreign/regions/sea/vietnamopen/text.html. 52. The bilateral trade balance comprised $129 million in exports to Vietnam and $73 million in imports from Vietnam, and there were 888 Vietnamese students in New Zealand in 2002. See www.mfat.govt.nz/foreign/regions/sea/economicupdates/ vietnamfacts.html. 53. See www.mfat.govt.nz/foreign/regions/sea/countrypapers/vietnampaper.html. 54. A telling observation made in a leading study of the American anti-war movement is worth noting in this context: “The critical issue was the purpose of the American people. The anti-war movement did not force the United States to quit the war. Its political significance was, instead, that it persistently identified that choice as the essential issue of American foreign policy and national identity”. Charles DeBenedetti and Charles Chatfield (Assisting Author), An American Ordeal: The Antiwar Movement in the Vietnam Era (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1990), p. 408.