Indonesia salutes Canadian nation-builder

IEEE Canada remembers, through the A.G.L. McNaughton Medal award, General McNaughton’s contributions to the engineering profession in Canada. Recipients of the McNaughton Medal are outstanding Canadian engineers recognized for their important contributions to the engineering profession. The IEEE Canadian Foundation also remembers General McNaughton by naming the approximately thirty Learning Resource Centres in his memory - these centres are located in Student Branches across Canada. The first such branch was created at the University of Manitoba in 1979 by then Region 7 Director Ted Glass.
Listing and biographies of all McNaughton Medalists (since 1969)
Listing of IEEE McNaughton Learning Resource Centres by date of formation

The following tribute, published on CANADA DAY, 2004, attests to his international stature.

McNaughton helped to create UN panel that led to full sovereignty for Asian state

Special to the Globe and Mail
Thursday, July 1, 2004 - Page A14

McNaughton Photo JAKARTA -- Indonesians are honouring one of their national heroes today -- Canadian general and diplomat Andrew McNaughton, whose work at the UN Security Council in 1948 helped create their country. "He is a hero to Indonesians. . . . Without McNaughton, our independence war against the Dutch and British would have gone on for many more years," says Eki Sjahrudin, Indonesia's ambassador to Canada.

This morning, Indonesian Foreign Minister Hasan Wirayuda bestowed the country's highest civilian award on Gen. McNaughton, honouring him in a posthumous Canada Day ceremony for his contribution to the modern Indonesian state with the Bintang Jasa Utama (Meritorious Service Star).

"My grandfather was decorated in World War I and World War II, he received many medals and honorary degrees, but this is one of the highest awards from one of the largest countries in the world," said Tom McDougall, Gen. McNaughton's grandson, who accepted the award on behalf the family.

"I know that he would be enormously honoured by this gesture," the Ottawa lawyer said.

By all accounts, Gen. McNaughton, a native of Moosomin, Sask., (then NWT) was a formidable man. In his 79 years, the father of five made his mark as an engineer, war hero, parliamentarian and diplomat. He graduated from McGill University with a master's degree in electrical engineering in 1912. Within two years, he had eloped with his fiancée and joined tens of thousands of other young Canadians serving overseas in the First World War. He was twice wounded, won the Distinguished Service Order and finished the war with the rank of brigadier-general. After the war, he became president of the National Research Council, overseeing scientific research, but when the Second World War broke out, he returned to active service. Within three years, he was commander of the First Canadian Army, but it was a short-lived assignment. Fiercely nationalistic and a vocal advocate of the Canadian Armed Forces, he clashed often with Ottawa about civilian decisions that would place his soldiers under Allied command, leading to his abrupt resignation in 1943.

It was five years later, as Canada's envoy to the United Nations Security Council, that he crossed paths with representatives of the nascent Southeast Asian state whose history books now remember him. For 300 years, the 5,000 kilometre-long archipelago now known as Indonesia was ruled by an often-brutal Dutch colonial administration. When the Second World War broke out, Japanese forces quickly rolled up the length of the Malay peninsula to Singapore, through what is now Indonesia. The Javanese initially welcomed the Japanese as liberators but euphoria was quickly quashed when their "Big Brothers" proved as brutal as the Dutch. When the Japanese occupiers finally surrendered, nationalist forces seized their weapons and declared their independence from the Netherlands. Attempts by British, and later Dutch troops to reimpose the colonial order sparked a three-year war of independence.

In Gen. McNaughton, they found a champion.

"His support for a country like this, a country that could not support the return of its colonial masters is entirely consistent with the man," his grandson said. "It's easy to see how a Canadian nationalist would consider it completely legitimate and understandable that a colonial power not be allowed back in after the war." Along with the Dutch, Russia was also interested in the region. And in 1948, there was an attempted communist coup, eventually quelled by Javanese fighters. Against this turbulent background, Gen. McNaughton presented what became known as the Canadian Proposal, which created the UN Commission on Indonesia that led, in December, 1949, to the full transfer of sovereignty from the Dutch. The Indonesian crisis was just one of many before the UN in the postwar years; the Palestinian question, disputes between India and Pakistan and mounting Cold War tensions also loomed large. "It's interesting to see that so many of the issues my grandfather was dealing with at that time are still with us," Mr. McDougall said. "But here we are in the independent state of Indonesia. I think he would have been very proud of what the people here have accomplished."

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Related Links: General McNaughton's Biography , Canadian Military Journal , International Joint Commission , United Nations

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Last update / 2004-07-01 / la dernière mise à jour