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Cablegate: Islamic Party Values Public Diplomacy Programs

VZCZCXRO7656
OO RUEHBC RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHDT RUEHGI RUEHHM RUEHJS
RUEHKUK RUEHLH RUEHPW RUEHROV
DE RUEHJA #0054 0091013
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 091013Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7599
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY
RUCNISL/ISLAMIC COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 4631
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1857
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1396
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 2224
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHHJJPI/USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS JAKARTA 000054

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, EAP/PD, R, ECA, IIP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KISL KPAO ID
SUBJECT: ISLAMIC PARTY VALUES PUBLIC DIPLOMACY PROGRAMS

1. (U) This message is Sensitive But Unclassified -- please
handle accordingly.

3. (SBU) SUMMARY: Leaders of Indonesia's largest Islamic
party (PKS) told the Ambassador that separatism, climate
change and transnational crime were the greatest threats to
Indonesia's security. PKS officials said they appreciated
USG public diplomacy programs, especially exchanges. END
SUMMARY

4. (SBU) Ambassador Hume paid a January 8 introductory call
on Tifatul Sembiring, President of the Prosperous Justice
Party (PKS), Indonesia's largest Islamic political party.
Taufik Ramlan Wijaya, head of the PKS International Relations
Division, and Zulkieflimansyah (one name only), a PKS member
of the National Assembly (DPR) also participated. PKS burst
onto the national political scene in the 2004 elections, in
which it captured more than seven percent of the popular vote
after highlighting its anti-corruption credentials and
downplaying its commitment to sharia law. Since 2004, the
party has continued to build its infrastructure by expanding
its community outreach, especially to university students.
The party has had strong showings in local elections,
including this summer's gubernatorial race in Jakarta, but
nation-wide polling shows that PKS' support has dropped to 5%
since 2004. PKS, which is an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim
Brotherhood, backed SBY in the second round of the 2004
presidential race, has three ministers in the cabinet
(agriculture, housing, and youth and sports).

5. (SBU) PKS PRIORITIES: Tifatul explained that the PKS had
identified the key top threats to Indonesia's security
regional separatism; climate change; and transnational crime
(including terrorism, trafficking in persons and money
laundering). The Ambassador said this was a good set of
priorities and urged PKS to work with other elements of
President Yudhoyono's ruling coalition to counter these
problems.

6. (SBU) PUBLIC DIPLOMACY PAYS OFF: Tifatul thanked the
Ambassador for USG public diplomacy programs, which had
greatly benefited PKS officials. Tifatul noted he had
visited the U.S. in 2006 through the International Visitor
Program and said the experience had given him a greater
understanding of U.S. politics, culture, and society. PKS
legislator Zulkieflimansyah also noted the value of
USG-sponsored programs in making available to Indonesian
audiences translations of books about the United States. USG
PD programs also helped PKS officials better understand
America's democratic process, a lesson they hoped to put into
practice in their own political campaigning. The
interlocutors repeatedly stressed their appreciation for
these opportunities to understand the U.S. better and urged
that USG continue to include PKS candidates in the exchange
programs.

7. (SBU) The Ambassador underscored the USG's commitment to
public diplomacy and to engagement with PKS. He noted that
he would host an event for Super Tuesday to engage
Indonesians on the U.S. elections and would invite Indonesian
political parties to attend. He also explained that he was
working to bring a National Basketball Association (NBA)
exhibition to Indonesia. The PKS interlocutors welcomed the
program and said sports offered an excellent way to build
understanding across cultures. (Note: the Minister of Youth
and Sports in the Yudhoyono administration is a PKS member.)

8. (SBU) DECENTRALIZATION AND DEMOCRACY: Parliamentarian
Zulkieflimansyah reiterated PKS's support for Indonesia's
process of decentralization, calling it a critical factor
shaping the country's democratic transformation. Outsiders,
particularly multinational companies, frequently did not
understand Indonesia's decentralization, Zulkieflimansyah
said. It was important that companies establish good
relationships with local politicians in order to cope with
Indonesia's increasingly decentralized democracy.

HUME

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