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Cablegate: Supreme Court Chief Justice Set to Retire; Search

VZCZCXRO1268
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #1631/01 2410320
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 280320Z AUG 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9907
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2961
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 1233
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 1207
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 2161
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 4855
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 6318
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 2423
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 3000
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 2917
RUEHPT/AMCONSUL PERTH 1081
RUEAWJB/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP 0068
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 001631

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, INL FOR ROSS
DEPT FOR EEB/IFD/OMA
DOJ/OPDAT FOR LEHMANN/ALEXANDRE
SINGAPORE FOR TREASURY/BAKER
MCC FOR LONGI
NSC FOR EPHU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KJUS KCOR KMCA PREL ID
SUBJECT: SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE SET TO RETIRE; SEARCH
ON FOR SUCCESSOR

REF: A. JAKARTA 1509
B. JAKARTA 956
C. 07 JAKARTA 514 AND PREVIOUS

JAKARTA 00001631 001.3 OF 002


1. (U) This message is Sensitive but Unclassified -- Please
handle accordingly.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Chief Justice of the Indonesian
Supreme Court will retire in November. The selection process
for his replacement has started in the Indonesian House of
Representatives (DPR). Although Chief Justice Bagir Manan
has generally disappointed initial expectations of
modernization, the court has worked to achieve some
substantive reforms under his leadership.

3. (SBU) SUMMARY (Con'd): The Chief Justice recently
provided an update on the Court,s ongoing modernization
program, much of which is funded through the Millennium
Challenge Corporation (MCC). President Yudhoyono has pledged
his support for these reforms. Along with the Constitutional
Court, the Supreme Court is at the apex of the Indonesian
judiciary, and its chief justice position is crucial for
leadership on reform. END SUMMARY.

PICKING A NEW CHIEF JUSTICE

4. (SBU) Having reached the mandatory retirement age (which
is 67), long-time Supreme Court Chief Justice Bagir Manan is
scheduled to retire on November 1. The process to select his
replacement has already begun. (Note: Manan has been in
office since 2001 and is bound to be a continuing presence on
the legal scene even after his near-term retirement. Along
with other important Indonesians, he participated in a USG
leadership program focused on corruption earlier this year.)


5. (SBU) The replacement process is a bit complex. In early
September, the DPR committee which deals with judicial issues
(known as "Commission III") will conduct hearings into the
qualifications of the 18 short-listed candidates selected by
the Judicial Commission, an independent body. (Note: The
Judicial Commission was formed by the DPR in 2005 with a
mandate to strengthen the integrity of the judiciary. So
far, it has not had much of an impact.) While the selection
process and candidate list to fill vacated positions on the
Constitutional Court were widely discussed (see Ref A), the
selection process for the Supreme Court has been much less
transparent. Based on the DPR's recommendation, all the
justices on the Supreme Court--there are about 50--will then
vote and make the final decision as to who will be the next
chief justice. (Note: Judges on the Constitutional Court
recently chose a new chief justice for that court, Md.
Mahfud. Mahfud has already made a mark on the judicial
scene, asserting during a recent speech that Sharia-based
laws put in place by localities are unconstitutional--see Ref
A.)

ANNUAL MEETING SIGNALS FURTHER REFORM

6. (SBU) Separately on August 4, the Supreme Court held its
annual meeting in Jakarta. President Yudhoyono opened the
meeting by pledging his continued support for court
modernization, the meeting,s predominant theme.

7. (SBU) In order to achieve the goal of court
modernization, the Chief Justice--in pro-reform remarks given
at the meeting--announced that in 2009 the court would
conduct a staffing assessment. In addition, it would conduct

JAKARTA 00001631 002.2 OF 002


training on court administration, court budgeting and
discipline. Moreover, all courts would collect court fee
payments through financial institutions. To facilitate the
reform process, he called for more work to socialize Court
Administration Guidelines plus the recently enacted Judicial
Code of Conduct and a new Court Transparency Decree among
court officials and staff.

USG: A KEY CONTRIBUTION

8. (SBU) Along with the Constitutional Court, the Supreme
Court is at the apex of the judiciary and its chief justice
position is crucial for real reform. Unfortunately, the
current occupant has not always earned widespread confidence
about his ability to manage court reforms, though he has been
more vocal on the need for positive movement. (Note: This
is perhaps due to his participation in the in-depth U.S.
program mentioned above which took place earlier this year.)

9. (SBU) That said, the Chief Justice and other members of
the Supreme Court have repeatedly expressed to Mission their
thanks for U.S. assistance to the courts and their desire for
continued and increased cooperation. Most of the activities
and goals outlined in the Chief Justice,s recent speech
would be funded through USG MCC Threshold Program assistance.
The Chief Justice,s statements during the recent meeting
signal that court reform is still very much on the agenda.
That is good news since the judicial sector needs a lot of
work to ensure that proper standards are followed and that
corruption is cut way down.

HUME

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