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Cablegate: Public Outreach in South and East Kalimantan

VZCZCXRO1786
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #0869 1210904
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 300904Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8887
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR 2472
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
RHHJJAA/JICPAC HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

UNCLAS JAKARTA 000869

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS; EAP/PD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO PGOV ECON PREL ID

SUBJECT: Public Outreach in South and East Kalimantan

Ref: A) Jakarta 837; B) Jakarta 847

1. (U) SUMMARY: Embassy Officers conducted two public outreach
events in Kalimantan during an April 22-24 reporting trip (see
reftels). In Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, Embassy Officers
delivered a presentation and presented PAS materials on the 2008
U.S. Presidential Election. In Tarakan, East Kalimantan, Embassy
Officers met with prominent business leaders and the Rotary Club of
Tarakan for discussions which focused primarily on U.S. - Indonesian
relations, including both countries' current economic situations.
END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Embassy Officers gave a presentation on the 2008 U.S.
Presidential election and the U.S. election process at Lambung
Mangkurat University in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, on April 23.
The 40 faculty and students posed a variety of questions to the
Officers, many focusing on whether a new U.S. President would be
capable of implementing "a fair approach to the Israeli issue and
towards Islam" and how the "invasion of Iraq" could be considered
consistent with democracy. Students expressed surprise that the
U.S., which they called the role model for a perfect democracy, was
still undergoing change and improvement and asked detailed questions
about the Electoral College. Officers explained that democracy is a
constantly evolving process that includes ongoing debates among the
population and lawmakers on foreign policy.

3. (U) In Tarakan City, East Kalimantan, Embassy Officers met with
local Jawa Post newspaper Radar Tarakan's Manager Anny Susilowati
and journalists, and a group of 10 Rotarians and business leaders,
including a professor from Tarakan City's Borneo University, and a
leader of the Red Cross in Tarakan. The conversation focused on
economic issues and questions about the U.S.-Indonesian bilateral
relationship.

4. (U) The Rotarians held a positive attitude towards the local
government, citing progress especially in the area of health,
education, and income improvement. The Tarakan Red Cross
representative noted that the maternal death rate in Tarakan was 72
per 100,000 births, while nationally it was 307 per 100,000.
General Manager of Bumiputera Bank Tarakan, Deny Wirawan, said that
his bank had Rp 3 trillion in savings and Rp 800 million in credit.
Tarakan Rotarians reflected national concerns about economic
conditions, but did not sound any alarms on local economic
conditions.

5. (U) The interlocutors highlighted the close relationship the
region has with Malaysia. This relationship is especially close
when compared to the relationship with the southern part of East
Kalimantan, supporting the rationale behind the local effort to
create a new province of North Kalimantan (Ref B). They noted that
food prices in Tarakan were double that in East Kalimantan's capital
Balikpapan due to high transportation costs. Consequently, many
people in the region preferred to cross into Malaysia to purchase
basic food stuffs. Another Rotarian mentioned that increasingly
people in the area are choosing to send their children to school in
Malaysia, including his family.

Hume

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