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Cablegate: East Java: Decentralization and Accountability

VZCZCXRO6920
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0008/01 0200536
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 200536Z JAN 08
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHWR/AMEMBASSY WARSAW 0001
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0129
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0065
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0067
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0146

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SURABAYA 000008

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON PREL EAID ID
SUBJECT: EAST JAVA: DECENTRALIZATION AND ACCOUNTABILITY

REF: 07 SURABAYA 89

SURABAYA 00000008 001.2 OF 002


This message is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: During a wide ranging lunch discussion with
visiting DCM January 16, six Surabaya-based political observers
-- representing the media, academia, NGOs, and religious
communities -- offered their frank assessments of the successes
and limitations of decentralization in East Java. While their
opinions varied on many issues, they collectively agreed
decentralization was crucial to Indonesia's democracy and
stability. None could name East Java's representatives in the
national parliament, commenting that their members of parliament
made little effort to advance local interests at the national
level. Performance ratings of individual East Javanese
regencies were sparking competition among regents and offering
communities the opportunity to reward strong performers. End
Summary.

2. (SBU) On January 16, the visiting DCM engaged in a lively
lunch-time discussion with six influential members of Surabayan
society: Indra Nur Fauzi, Director of Regional Economic
Development Insistute; Syafig Mughnie, Chairman of East Java
Muhammadiyah; Prof. Kacung Maridjan, Professor of Social and
Political Sciences at Airlangga University; Nany Wijaya, women's
activist and Director or Jawa Pos Group; Sirikit Syah, women's
activist and Director of Klub Guru (an education NGO); and Prof.
Indrasurya B. Mochtar, Professor of Civil Engineering at the
Surabaya Institute of Technology. The participants offered
their frank assessments of developments in Indonesia, the
limitations and successes of decentralization, and the influence
of performance ratings on local regency elections.

Decentralization: Province versus Regency
--------------------------------------------- -----

3. (SBU) Asked for their opinions on the decentralization
process, Prof. Kacung Marijan and Indra Nur Fauzi, expressed the
view that it was most important to bring decentralization to the
levels closest to the people -- at the regency and city level
rather than at the provincial level. They argued that the
central government worried that decentralization to the
provincial level would weaken government control and trigger
separatist tendencies. Prof. Indrasurya B. Mochtar disagreed
somewhat arguing that the government seemed focused on uniting
the country through decentralization. He criticized the central
government for being unwilling to give greater authority to the
regencies to address economic issues, noting that the central
government limited local authorities' ability to spend money to
improve local conditions. As an example, he stated that a
regent cannot decide to build a much need power plant with local
funds because only the state-owned power company (PLN) has the
authority to build power plants.

4. (SBU) Prof Kacung added that decentralization also came with
increased costs. Candidates for East Java's gubernatorial
election in mid-2008 can expect to spend Rp 425 billion (USD 45
million). Sirikit Syah added that too often local officials
seemed to believe that decentralization gave them the authority
to spend money to support their own interests rather than
working to improve services, strengthen education, or build
communities. In one example, MPs from Batam's parliament are
eager to travel to Surabaya for consultations at Airlangga
University about human resource development, but unwilling to
fund expert travel to Batam to train large numbers of local
officials. Prof. Indrasurya suggested Indonesia would do better
to offer microcredits for the development of small companies to
promote business opportunities for the poor instead of giving
money to the regencies where it would be wasted.

Competition Between Regencies Increasing
--------------------------------------------- ------

5. (SBU) Nany Wijaya explained the Jawa Pos Group's efforts to
support decentralization by giving awards to those regencies and
cities that perform well. The awards are given based on the
results of surveys conducted by the Jawa Pos Institute of Pro
Autonomy (JPIP) on performance in economic, education, and
service sectors. All the guests agreed that the JPIP survey
results were strong indicators of the local government's overall
performance and public satisfaction. Notably, a number of
regents who performed poorly in these surveys had lost recent
reelection bids (reftel), although Nany stressed that there was
not enough data to make a direct correlation between the ratings
and the election results.


SURABAYA 00000008 002.2 OF 002


6. (SBU) The participants noted that JPIP's research was
sparking competition amongst East Java's regencies. Other
surveys which compared regencies throughout Indonesia had less
impact because what happened in West Java, for example, had
little correlation to what was happening locally. When the
performance of Kediri's regent was compared with the performance
of neighboring Sidoarjo, the competition between regents could
become quite intense because differences were obvious to both
communities. JPIP intends to expand its survey activities into
Central and West Java and East Kalimantan.

East Java's MPs? Who?
---------------------------

7. (SBU) The participants laughed when asked about the
performance and influence of East Java's MPs in Jakarta. None
of the guests could name a single MP from East Java or remember
an occasion when any Jakarta-based MP had visited East Java to
meet with constituents or discuss local issues. They agreed
that governors and regents, who were directly elected by the
voters, had much greater interest in meeting the needs of their
constituents. MPs in the national DPR simply were accountable
to national parties, not local communities. Prof. Kacung
suggested that in 2014 well-respected governors from the
regions, such as Gorontalo's Fadel Muhammad and Yogyakarta's
Sultan Hamengkubuwono, could play influential roles in national
politics.
MCCLELLAND

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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