Search

 

Cablegate: East Java -- Some Listen to Allah, Some to the Polls;

VZCZCXRO5502
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0051/01 1141020
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 230927Z APR 08 ZDS
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0199
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBD/AMEMBASSY BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN 0001
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 0008
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS 0001
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0102
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0001
RUEHCN/DTS CHENGDU
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 0001
RUEHCHI/DTS CHIANG MAI
RUEHDT/AMEMBASSY DILI 0016
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI 0001
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 0001
RUEHHM/DTS HO CHI MINH CITY
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0186
RUEHKUK/REO KIRKUK 0001
RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR 0008
RUEHPF/AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH 0001
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON 0005
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 0005
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0204
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0044
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0003
RUEHVN/AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE 0001
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0100

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 SURABAYA 000051

SIPDIS

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y - Paragraphs 8 and 9 garbled in transm

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, INR/EAP, DRL, DRL/AWH, EAP/PD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KDEM SOCI KISL ID
SUBJECT: EAST JAVA -- SOME LISTEN TO ALLAH, SOME TO THE POLLS;
POLITICS IN EAST JAVA'S LARGEST MUSLIM ORGANIZATION

REF: JAKARTA 488

SURABAYA 00000051 001.4 OF 003


1. (SBU) Summary: What role will the world's largest Muslim
organization play in the run up to Indonesia's 2009 Presidential
election? The East Java governor's race could provide a preview
of the declining role of large Muslim organizations like
Nadhlatul Ulama (NU), with some 40 million members nationally.
Several current and former high-level NU cadres have declared
their candidacy for vice governor with their campaigns claiming
at least notional NU support. Observers tell us that the
refusal of the Chair of East Java NU to either stop his campaign
or resign from NU suggests that he sees little risk in
alienating his membership. Moreover, the party created to bind
the apolitical NU membership into a cohesive political force,
the National Awakening Party (PKB) is in total disarray (many
would argue that the last leadership battle in PKB was equally
contentious.) Whether the declining impact of organizations
like NU on political races will create opportunities for a
growing Muslim political party like the Prosperous Justice Party
(PKS) remains to be seen. End Summary

Does NU Matter?
---------------------

2. (U) NU was founded in 1926 in Surabaya by Kiai Hasyim
Asy'ari -- grandfather of Abdurahman Wahid or Gus Dur, who would
later become the national chairman of NU and President of
Indonesia. Since its establishment in 1952, NU struggled to
preserve its original character as a religious and social
organization. However, its leaders have been invariably tempted
to enter political life. Under Sukarno, NU became one of the
biggest political parties in Indonesia by 1955. NU's political
activities declined subsequently under Suharto, and in 1973 NU
politicians were forced to join a single amalgam of Islamic
parties, the United Development Party (PPP). Representing the
NU heartland, East Java NU announced a commitment to return to
its original status as a religious and social organization (and
to stay out of politics) at its 1984 Congress. Having come full
circle, NU officially maintains a distance from electoral
politics, but allows its membership to join parties as
individuals.

3. (SBU) Today, NU is distinguished by the religious and
socio-economic profile of its membership. Its membership is
largely drawn from rural areas and "kampung" or working-class,
urban neighborhoods. With no membership cards, no dues and
self-financed meetings, for those who consider themselves
members, NU is tantamount to the practice of Islam itself. NU
accepts pre-Islamic beliefs and practices, mixed with Islamic
rituals. Members are guided in their religious practice by the
Kiai, local religious leaders and respected figures, who are
consulted concerning a wide range of religious and social
matters.

4. (SBU) When Suharto stepped down, Gus Dur, as the chairman of
National NU, established the National Awakening Party (PKB).
PKB's appeal was based on being the true political heir to NU,
according to Prof. Aribowo, the Dean of Humanities and Social
Sciences at Airlangga University in Surabaya. From its
inception, Gus Dur intended the PKB to give voice to the
political aspirations of NU members. In 1998, the year Gus Dur
became President, PKB gave voice to NU adherents and garnered
their full support. Since then, NU politicians and voters have
routinely scattered their support among various political

SURABAYA 00000051 002.4 OF 003


parties. Recent squabbling over the leadership of PKB itself
demonstrates the difficultly of party building among this
constituency (reftel). The multiple party allegiances of East
Java gubernatorial candidates, who also claim to be NU
favorites, further highlights this disunity.

A Study in Miscalculation, Ali Maschan Moesa
--------------------------------------------- ------------

5. (SBU) If there was a blurred line between political
participation and NU bylaws, it just got a lot clearer for Ali
Maschan Moesa, the current chairman of East Java NU. Ali
Maschan has taken a hit in the press for "listening to the
polls, instead of Allah" and trying to parlay his East Java NU
leadership into a successful candidacy for East Java Vice
Governor. According to the East Java NU hierarchy, Ali Maschan
must choose between NU leadership and the election. But he
wants it both ways. His acceptance of a spot on the ticket with
current Vice Governor and East Java Golkar Chairman Soenarjo and
refusal to relinquish his chairmanship provoked the ire of East
Java NU's rule-making clerics, the Syuriah Council. Since Ali
Maschan had signed a contract foreswearing political candidacy,
East Java's NU Council found Ali Maschan Moesa in breach of
contract.

6. (SBU) Ali Maschan maintains he is still nominally chairman
and will return after a leave of absence, or quit altogether if
he wins. In the meantime, the Council has replaced Ali Maschan
with NU cleric Muttawakil Allah, leader of an Islamic boarding
school in Probbolingo, East Java. Prof. Aribowo, a personal
acquaintance of Ali Maschan Moesa, told the Consulate that the
dispute has deeply wounded Ali Maschan politically. By showing
a lack of respect for the Council's decision, Ali Maschan failed
to finesse East Java NU and turned them against him. In short,
while NU support cannot be counted on to help a candidate, NU
antipathy can be counted on to hurt his chances.

National NU Carpetbaggers in East Java
--------------------------------------------- ----

7. (SBU) While Ali Maschan has been forced to resign, candidates
from National NU's top echelon, some also former cabinet
ministers, have no such restrictions. To date, two pairs of
candidates have tried to lay claim to NU votes based on their
current national NU leadership positions. East Java Provincial
Secretary Soekarwo is teamed with Syaifullah Yusuf (aka Gus

SIPDIS
Ipul). Syaifullah is head of National NU's Youth Organization,
is former State Minister for Development in Undeveloped Regions,
(he is also Gus Dur's nephew and was forced to flee PKB after a
falling out with Gus Dur). Their ticket is supported by the
Democratic Party (PD) and National Mandate Party (PAN).Qhofifah, head of the Women's Division of National NU and former
Minister of Women's Empowerment, is teamed with Mujiono, former
Chief of Staff of East Java's Military Command. They are
supported by a coalition of 12 smaller parties. Khofifah took a
leave of absence from NU when announcing her candidacy. Another
East Java gubernatorial candidate promises to fragment notional
NU votes further still. Running with the endorsement of Gus Dur
and the PKB party, at least for now, Mojokerto Regent Achmady
has told local media that NU votes will go to his camp because
the "pro Gus Dur NU community will definitely back his
candidacy." Achmady is off to a dismal start as PKB infighting
has only added to his problems locating a suitable and willing

SURABAYA 00000051 003.4 OF 003


running mate, according to local media. If he fails to name a
vice governor candidate by April 27, he will be lose his PKB
endorsement.

Politics Tempt the Weak and Weaken NU
--------------------------------------------- -----

8. (SBU) Haryadi, a professor and political observer at
Surabaya's Airlangga University, told the Consulate that even if
NU's membership were cohesive, the number of top echelon NU
cadres running for office have hopelessly split potential NU
support. This has further fragmented NU and complicated efforts
by political parties and their candidates to reach out to these
Muslim 'values voters' during the election. Haryadi suggested
that if NU were to seek political unity it could become a
formidable party machine, but concludes that it has not and is
unlikely to do so. Haryadi speculated that many NU elite are
running in the governor's election because they can't resist
trying to convert their credentials into the power and wealth
promised by elective office.

9. (SBU) Taufikurahman Saleh, an NU cadre and national
parliamentarian, told the Consulate that other candidates would
benefit from NU's internal divisions and in the end NU would get
nothing from the race. Echoing this, Krisnugroho, a lecturer in
political science at Airlangga University, told local media that
confusion among NU voters would again lead them to elect the
current leading "non-NU" candidates Sucipto (Deputy Chair of the
Indonesia Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and Ridwan Hisyam
(Deputy Speaker of the East Java Parliament and former Chair of
East Java Golkar). This result would mirror the 2004
presidential election when NU votes were split between competing
NU-linked candidates. Voters rejected vice presidential
candidates Kiai Hasyim Muzadi, National Chairman of NU and
Megawati's running mate and Kiai Sholahudin Wahid, Gus Dur's
younger brother, and General Wiranto's running mate. President
Yudhoyono and Yusuf Kalla, with no NU pedigree, garnered 60% of
the total vote in East Java.
MCCLELLAND

© 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:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC