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Cablegate: Eastern Indonesia: Prosperous Justice Party (Pks) Tries To

VZCZCXRO9957
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0033 0700714
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 100714Z MAR 08
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0176
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0163
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0090
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0088
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0181

UNCLAS SURABAYA 000033

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KIRL ID
SUBJECT: EASTERN INDONESIA: PROSPEROUS JUSTICE PARTY (PKS) TRIES TO
EXPAND BEYOND ITS ISLAMIC PARTY BRAND


This Message is Sensitive but Unclassified. Please Protect
Accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: In the regions beyond Java, the Prosperous
Justice Party (PKS) are focused on attracting new members beyond
the Muslim students and professionals who makeup the party's
backbone. On the Hindu island of Bali and the Muslim-majority
province of Gorontolo, local PKS leaders highlight the party's
emphasis on public service and respect for local cultures as the
party's primary attractions to voters. The party also strives
to promote local candidates who represent community interests
rather than Jakarta-based cadres who are perceived as putting
party first. Regional party leaders are confident that PKS's
focus on service will overcome suspicions about its Islamic
party brand. End Summary.

Public Services Promote Party's Image
---------------------------------------

2. (SBU) The Chairman of PKS Bali, Heri Sukarmeini, explained to
visiting Surabaya Principal Officer what makes PKS different
from other political parties: Established in 2002, the party's
membership is young and has no ties to the old order; and PKS
creates a new "paradigm" among political parties which brand
themselves as "Islamic parties." Heri admitted that Islamic
culture and values dominated the party's organizational culture
and that non-Muslim voters remained skeptical of PKS because of
its strong image as an Islamic party. He argued, however, that
PKS's emphasis on public services regardless of religion or
ethnicity was successfully challenging those images throughout
Bali and Eastern Indonesia.

3. (SBU) PKS's emergency humanitarian response unit PKPU (Pos
Keadilan Peduli Umat) has helped the party reach out to local
communities. Gorontalo's PKS Chairman Abdul Rahman Bahmid
observed that PKS usually received more votes in areas where
natural disasters or conflict had occurred because of PKPU's
activities. He explained that PKS made significant electoral
gains in Jakarta after widespread flooding and in Maluku and
North Maluku following inter-ethnic conflicts. PKS Bali's Heri
noted that a number of large companies were channeling their
donations to aid the victims of natural disasters through PKPU
because of its reliability. He added that PKS's community-based
programs supporting education, healthy mothers, and other
services were also strengthening the party's image amongst local
communities.

Party Membership and Candidates
-----------------------------------

4. (SBU) As with most areas, PKS supporters in Bali are
primarily private company professionals and Muslim university
students who are recruited to the party through a student
organization KAMMI (Kasatuan Aski Mahasiswa Muslim Indonesia) --
an acronym that matches the Indonesian word (kami) for "we" or
"us." Heri observed that PKS Bali is getting increasing support
from civil servants, fisherman, and farmers who have experienced
PKS's community services. Heri added that PKS is an "open"
party and that non-Muslims could become party leaders, although
few have done so. The Chairman of PKS in Papua is one example.

5. (SBU) Unlike the major Indonesian political parties, PKS has
a reputation for promoting local party members as candidates
rather than Jakarta-based cadres. In Bali, PKS is planning to
nominate a priest as its legislative candidate. There are
exceptions. The PKS candidate in West Sumabawa, Nusa Tenggarra
Barat (NTB), was a PKS cadre from Banten because PKS was
relatively new in NTB and had yet to identify strong local
candidates. A small party, PKS is also forced into coalitions
with the bigger political parties to nominate a candidate, and
thus will support a "compromise" candidate.

Respect for Local Cultures
---------------------------

6. (SBU) The Gorontolo PKS Chairman Abdul Rahman Bahid observed
to visiting Pol-Econ Officer that the party's Islamic
credentials did not guarantee support in Muslim-majority areas.
Many in Gorontolo still perceive PKS as a closed and exclusive
party that did not try to accommodate local traditions. In an
effort to overcome this perception, Gorontolo PKS plans to host
a cultural appreciation week and present awards to local
cultural leaders. In Bali, Heri said PKS is well-respected and
received because the Hindu community knows from experience that
PKS supports local cultures.

MCCLELLAND

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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