Search

 

Cablegate: Codel Price Works to Strengthen Indonesian

VZCZCXRO6214
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #0372/01 0560940
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 250940Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8094
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 4744
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2044
RUEHKU/AMEMBASSY KUWAIT 0423
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1597
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY 3675
RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI 0031
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1556
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 2349
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 2433
RUEHPT/AMCONSUL PERTH 0575
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHHJJPI/USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 JAKARTA 000372

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, INR/EAP
H FOR DRICH
NSC FOR EPHU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV OVIP EAID KDEM BM ID
SUBJECT: CODEL PRICE WORKS TO STRENGTHEN INDONESIAN
DEMOCRACY

REF: JAKARTA 218

JAKARTA 00000372 001.2 OF 003


1. (U) This message was coordinated with Consulate Medan.

2. (U) SUMMARY: From February 17-21, CODEL Price visited
Indonesia as part of the legislative strengthening program of
the House Democracy Assistance Commission (HDAC). CODEL
Price toured Aceh, met with President Yudhoyono, and held
meetings with top legislators from the Indonesian House of
Representatives (DPR). U.S. Representatives on the trip
consistently stressed the importance of legislative autonomy,
accountability, and constituent outreach. Chair Price and
DPR Speaker Laksono signed a Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU) formalizing the HDAC-DPR relationship. In meetings
with key interlocutors and during a press event, CODEL Price
also urged the GOI to work to convince the Burmese regime to
reform. END SUMMARY.

USG ASSISTANCE TO ACEH

3. (U) During a February 17-18 visit to Banda Aceh, CODEL
Price witnessed first hand the remarkable role U.S.
assistance has played in helping Aceh recover from roughly 30
years of violent conflict, as well as the devastating tsunami
of December 2004. After visiting a memorial site to pay
respects to the tens of thousands who perished in the
tsunami, the delegation inspected one portion of the West

SIPDIS
Coast Highway construction site, where USAID is re-building a
vital 96-mile transport corridor. CODEL Price also toured a
progressive Islamic school supported by U.S. funding. (Note:
The CODEL consisted of U.S. Representatives David Price,
D-NC, John Boozman, R-AR, Sam Farr, D-CA, Mazie Hirono, D-HI,
Michael Conaway, R-TX, and Jim McDermott, D-WA.)

4. (U) During February 18 meetings with Aceh Governor
Irwandi and local legislators from the provincial parliament
(DPRD), CODEL Price and interlocutors discussed the ongoing
challenges facing Aceh, while taking stock of the tremendous
reforms already underway. CODEL Price underscored to
Governor Irwandi and the DPRD the USG's long-term commitment
to rehabilitation and peace building in Aceh, and praised
Aceh's firm embrace of democracy.

WITH YUDHOYONO: BURMA, AVIAN FLU

5. (U) During a February 19 meeting with President
Yudhoyono, CODEL Price congratulated Indonesia on its success
in hosting the historic COP-13 climate change conference,
registered concerns about the alarming spread of the avian
influenza epidemic, and pushed for a more forceful Indonesian
role in Burma. Members of the delegation expressed their
admiration for the speed and scope of Indonesia's democratic
transformation and noted that Indonesia had become a model
for the region. Chairman Price explained HDAC's legislative
strengthening mandate and history of collaboration with the
DPR, before urging the President to support greater
legislative independence.

6. (U) President Yudhoyono thanked the group for its work
with the DPR and emphasized that democracy had reached the
point of no return in Indonesia. In response to a question
from Representative McDermott about Indonesia's avian
influenza sample sharing policy, SBY underscored that the
GOI's policy was one of partnership, fairness and
cooperation. The President emphasized that Indonesia sought
to solve the avian influenza problem, and had issued open
invitations to the United States and the World Health
Organization to work in tandem with the GOI towards this
goal.

7. (U) With respect to the GOI's Burma policy, SBY
acknowledged CODEL Price's concerns and pointed to Burma's
plans for a 2010 election as a potential sign of progress.

JAKARTA 00000372 002.2 OF 003


SBY emphasized that Burmese Senior General Than Shwe was
afraid of quick change and opined that sanctions would not
work with the regime. Yudhoyono added that as a fellow
member of ASEAN he could not endorse punitive measures that
would seek to isolate the regime, and he expressed hope that
through engagement and working with its ASEAN partners the
GOI could help push Burma in the right direction. As a
measure of his personal activism on the issues, SBY noted
that he had met with UN Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari earlier
in the morning (septel reviews S/E Gambari's Feb. 22 meeting
with the Ambassador). Yudhoyono also told CODEL Price that
he communicated directly with Than Shwe with some frequency.
In his conversations with Than Shwe, SBY sought to convince
him that democracy represented the best hope for Burma's
future.

SIGNING A BENCHMARK MOU

8. (U) On February 19, CODEL Price met with Speaker Laksono,
Commission I Chair Theo Sambuaga--the DPR's Foreign Affairs
and Defense Commission--and other senior parliamentarians.
Laksono welcomed the CODEL to Indonesia, spoke about his own
efforts at legislative reform, and agreed with the CODEL's
assessment that a stronger legislature would help expedite
the democratic consolidation process in Indonesia. Chairman
Price noted that HDAC hoped to continue to develop the
friendship between the DPR and the U.S. and described the
partnership between the two institutions as one of HDAC's
most successful relationships. Chairman Price also
emphasized HDAC's belief that if the DPR wanted to be fully
independent of the executive, it would need to take control
of its own budget and bolster the number of expert staff
available to help Indonesian legislators conduct the nation's
business. He further stressed that the DPR's staffing
structure, currently under Executive Branch oversight, should
be reformed to develop a staff cadre that would report
directly to the Legislative Branch.

9. (U) Speaker Laksono and Chairman Price closed the meeting
by signing an MOU between HDAC and the DPR. (Note: Mission
will forward the document to EAP/MTS.) The MOU formalizes
assistance between the two institutions by encouraging
periodic staff and member exchanges, technical assistance,
and continued cooperation. The MOU is the first such
agreement that the DPR has ever signed with another
legislature. The signing ceremony was well attended by the
local media and received positive press coverage throughout
Indonesia.

CODEL PRICE ENGAGES WITH THE DPR

10. (U) The six Representatives and six staffers in CODEL
Price participated in an intense series of meetings at the
DPR that stretched out over the better part of two days. The
representatives met at one point or another with the Speaker,
the DPR Reform Implementation Team, the Legislative Council,
the DPR House Affairs Committee, the DPR Budget Committee,
Commission I, legislators from all ten party factions, the
U.S. Indonesia Caucus, the Inter-Parliamentary Caucus, the
Myanmar Caucus, and USAID's legislative strengthening
partners.

11. (U) CODEL Price staffers participated in many of the
same meetings and also engaged in a staff specific program
with members from the Speaker's office and expert staff from
the Legislative Council. Library of Congress staffers held
three training workshops, including two large sessions for
over 40 DPR research staff members on the issues of
accountability, constituent outreach, legislative autonomy
and impartiality in providing assistance to members. One
measure of the intensity of the program was the fact that at
several points during the visit, the Representatives and
staffers participated in three concurrent meetings at the DPR.

JAKARTA 00000372 003.2 OF 003

12. (U) In meetings with the DPR's Budget Committee,
Legislative Council and its Reform Implementation Team,
Indonesian parliamentarians consistently highlighted the
issue of budget autonomy as the DPR's most pressing concern.
A number of DPR members explained the budget process in
Indonesia and noted that until the DPR controls its own
financial fate, its scope and authority would remain limited.


13. (U) Representative McDermott captured the essence of the
importance of budget autonomy when he noted that: "he who has
the gold rules." Chairman Price explained that HDAC sought
to assist other legislatures by way of example and through
the exchange of information and experiences. Several members
of CODEL Price conceded that even with the benefit of over
two hundred years of experience, the United States Congress
was also still a work in progress. In a meeting with the
House Affairs Committee, Congressman Conaway underscored the
importance of accountability in a professional legislature
and stressed the distinction between representing one's party
versus representing one's constituents.

PRESSING THE GOI ON BURMA

14. (U) CODEL Price raised the issue of Burma at every
possible turn, urging President Yudhoyono and DPR Speaker
Laksono to leverage Indonesia's access to the regime to
effect change. During a reception at the Ambassador's
residence that included several members of the DPR's Myanmar
Caucus, CODEL Price lauded the Caucus' role in raising the
visibility of the Burma issue in Indonesia and urged the
Caucus to continue to press the GOI to play a more active
role on the issue.

15. (U) In a lunch with Commission I, responsible for
foreign affairs and defense, Chairman Price praised members
of the Commission for using the ratification process of the
ASEAN Charter to press the regime to undertake needed
reforms. Price also emphasized the need for civilian
oversight of defense. Djoko Susilo, a member of Commission I
and also the Myanmar Caucus Chair, emphasized that the ASEAN
Charter was central to the Caucus' Burma engagement strategy.
Finally, in a February 20 press conference, Chairman Price
used his opening statement to call for an immediate end to
human rights abuses in Burma. Price told the media that the
delegation had raised the issue throughout their visit.

16. (U) CODEL Price reviewed and cleared this message.
HUME

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO: