An Act of Free Choice

Pages: 928
Subject: History
Imprint: Oneworld Academic
Illustrations: Illustrations, map

An Act of Free Choice

Decolonisation and the Right to Self-Determination in West Papua

Pieter Drooglever

Introduces the history and people of West Papua, tracing the origins of the international conflict surrounding their struggle for self-determination following the Second World War. This title focuses on the sham referendum of 1969, which Indonesia dubbed 'The Act of Free Choice', an election rigged to legitimize Indonesian control over West Papua.
9781851687152 (25 Dec 2009)
RRP £125.00 / US$195.00

The Book

This important study introduces the history and people of West Papua, tracing the origins of the international conflict surrounding their struggle for self-determination following the Second World War. Based on three decades of exhaustive research and focusing particular attention on the sham referendum of 1969 - which Indonesia dubbed 'The Act of Free Choice', an election rigged to legitimize Indonesian control over West Papua - Droogleever highlights the continuing impact of this injustice on Indonesia's most underdeveloped and poverty-stricken province.

Additional Information

Subject History
Pages 928
Imprint Oneworld Academic
Illustrations Illustrations, map


About the Author

Pieter Drooglever was the lead researcher on a government-sponsored, 27-year study of the decolonisation of Indonesia at the Institute of Netherlands History at The Hague. He also served as chairman of the historical committee for Indonesian Studies, and was a lecturer in Indonesian History at the University of Nymegen, where he held the L.J. Rogier chair.


"Nowhere else can one find a fuller or more creditable account."

- International Institute for Asian Studies Newsletter

"it is a book for politicians, historians, legal experts and, above all, for those who want to know about the weight of the weak in the events of the modern world. "

- Inside Indonesia

“There is always merit in setting the record straight, no matter how much time has passed. For the Indonesian province of Papua, it has been a long and bloody 36-year wait. The Papuans have refused to accept the ‘Act of Free Choice’ by which they supposedly voted to join Indonesia in 1969. [This book], commissioned by the Dutch government, the former colonial ruler in Indonesia, unequivocally vindicates their stance.”

- The Sydney Morning Herald

Table of Contents



Map: Netherlands New Guinea c. 1960


1 A Distant Corner of the Netherlands East Indies

The Dutch East India Company (DEIC), Tidore and New Guinea

The eastern frontier of the Netherlands East Indies

Establishing control and exploring the interior

Administrative policies up to the Second World War

The Protestant and Catholic Missions

The ‘mise en valeur': business and colonists

Looking back


2 The Shock of War

West New Guinea during the Second World War

The way back

New Guinea under the Japanese occupation

The restoration of government under Van Eechoud

Echoes of the revolution


3 New Guinea as a Bargaining Tool

Indonesia becomes independent

   The nationalists take the helm

   Political relations in the Netherlands

   The federal response

   Linggadjati; talks and clashes

   A poker game between Bandung, Yogya and The Hague

Claims on New Guinea

   The Republicans' wishes

   Malino and the Moluccan Commonwealth

   The Indo-European option and the Papuan cause

   Passing the Papuans from player to player

   Dutch moves

   East Indonesian aspirations

   Republican reactions

Two Dutch pickets

   New Guinea and the Decree on the Government of Indonesia during the Period of Transition

   The removal of Tidoran home rule on New Guinea


4 Separation from Indonesia

Minister Van Maarseveen steps into the limelight

The covert hand of Hollandia

The Round Table Conference

Players from the side-lines

Arguments, circumstances and motives


5 Locking Horns

The Netherlands and Indonesia in the ‘status-quo' year

New Guinea in cold storage

The Supomo mission

Ali Sastroamidjojo's offensive

The Geneva Conference


6 Direct Rule from The Hague

A new system of government

Regaining momentum under Van Waardenburg

Two Calvinist comrades in power

For the sake of the Papuans' education

   Changed conditions in Protestant circles

   The arrival of the American and Australian missions

   A new place for the Roman Catholics


   Language policy

The hesitations of big business

A development project under the colonial flag

   Territorial extension of the administration


7 The Dispute in an International Perspective

The hounds are loose

The superpowers and the place of the United Nations

Consultations with Australia

American guarantees

An arms race at the equator

   The points of departure

   The Indonesian military build-up from 1958 onward

   The Karel Doorman's odyssey


8 The Turning Tide in The Hague and Washington

The crumbling home front

De Quay takes office

The first steps on the path to internationalization

   Minister Luns and the General Assembly of 1960

   Tunku Abdul Rahman's mediation attempt

   Bright boys in Washington

Further commotion on the home front

The conception of the Luns plan

The Luns plan in the General Assembly of 1961


9 The Metamorphoses of the Luns Plan

The Dutch Cabinet's definition of its position

Talking under pressure

   The military situation

   American diplomatic assistance

   The dispute about the preconditions

Washington's ‘knock on the head'

   Kennedy nails his colours to the mast

   Ambassador Bunker's plan

   Back to Middleburg

The New York Agreement

   The Indonesian approach

   Van Roijen and Malik get down to business

   The making of the New York Agreement

   The last hurdles


10 Democratization Under Bot and Platteel

New Guinea; reactions of the government and the population

The democratization of the administration

   Town and Regional Councils

   The New Guinea Council

Forming Parties


11 Papua Blues

The New Guinea Council and the political parties

   The forming of the National Committee: Flag and Anthem

   The Luns Plan in the New Guinea Council

   Bitter travel experiences

Jitters in New Guinea

The political stance of the Papuans in 1962

   Contacts with the Eastern neighbours

   Contacts with African countries

   Members of the New Guinea Council visit The Hague

   A proclamation of independence?

   The final months under the red-white-and-blue


12 Under Jakarta's Thumb

The entry of the UNTEA

Under one roof with the UNTEA and Indonesia

Indonesia as temporary administrator

Build-up to the plebiscite

Between Delft, Manokwari and New York


13 The First Phase of the Act of Free Choice

Preliminary manoeuvres

   The task of the United Nations

   The appointment of Ortiz Sanz

   Defining positions in The Hague, Jakarta and Washington

   Ortiz Sanz's first steps

   Interim consultations in The Hague and New York

   The further development of the Indonesian plans

Papuans in action




14 The Second Phase of the Act of Free Choice

Luns, Udink and Malik to Rome

The composition of the consultative councils

Self-determination in practice

Reporting to the United Nations

Looking back in the Netherlands