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Cablegate: Surabaya Welcomes a New President in East Indonesia

R 061042Z NOV 08
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0325
INFO AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
AMCONSUL SURABAYA
AMEMBASSY DILI
AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY
AMEMBASSY CANBERRA
AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE
AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR
AMEMBASSY MANILA
AMEMBASSY BEIJING
AMEMBASSY TOKYO
AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON
AMEMBASSY SEOUL

UNCLAS SURABAYA 000129


STATE FOR R -U/S GLASSMAN, DRL - A/S KRAMER, EAP/PD -
RFERGUSON-AUGUSTUS, EAP/MTS, IIP/PUB - GCLACK, PA/OBS -
GSANTULLI, IIP/W, IIP/S - RADAMS, PA/FPC - SMACTAGGART

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO SCUL OIIP ID
SUBJECT: SURABAYA WELCOMES A NEW PRESIDENT IN EAST INDONESIA

REF: A) JAKARTA 1805, B) JAKARTA 1996


1. (U) Summary: Consulate General Surabaya welcomed over 100
guests to the CG's residence November 5 to observe live results
of the U.S. Presidential Election. Local government officials,
NGOs, prominent academics, students, and many members of the
media attended the event. The CG, other Consulate staff, and
guests gave live media interviews and discussed the election
process and results with attendees. END SUMMARY.

All-American Celebration
-------------------------------

2. (U) Some eager guests arrived an hour early and all received
a welcome packet with candidate profiles, buttons, stickers, and
a sample ballot. Visitors were eager to cast their votes and
the ballot box became the focus of many media pictures, some of
which appeared in local newspapers. Voter participation among
attendees almost exceeded that of participation in the East Java
Governor's election, held the previous day. Not surprisingly,
Senator Obama, who lived for a time in Jakarta as a child and is
extremely popular in Indonesia, came out ahead in the contest,
although Senator McCain garnered some votes as well.

3. (U) Six television monitors, including a large projection
screen, showed live results from various U.S. and international
networks including CNN, Fox News, BBC, and Al Jazeera. Guests
enjoyed traditional American foods that started with a breakfast
menu of pancakes and hash browns and moved on to hamburgers
straight off the grill with all the fixings for lunch.
Invitations to the event described it as an open house, but most
guests stayed for several hours and remained enthralled until
both candidates had delivered their speeches.

Media Interest High
------------------------

4. (U) Media interest in the campaign and the Consulate's
Election Open House was intense. National and local television
networks broadcast from the event and pictures of noted guests
at the ballot box and the CG filling in a large electoral map
were featured in newspapers. Surabaya's Public Affairs Officer
did a live radio interview in Indonesian just after the results
were announced. The CG and several guests were also interviewed
by various media outlets. A number of attendees had
participated in election outreach programs that the Consulate
had been holding in the weeks leading up to Election Day. Many
of these programs had also been highlighted by the media.

Gracious in Defeat
----------------------

5. (U) In an interesting coincidence, East Java, Indonesia's
second largest province with a population roughly equal to
California's at over 35 million, held its governor's election on
November 4. "Quick count" results suggest less than 1 percentage
point separates the candidates. The final results are not
expected for another week, creating concerns about potential
fraud (Septel). Some guests noted with admiration how quickly
U.S. results were tabulated, even for tight races in
battleground states. Despite an overwhelming preference for
Obama, a number of guests expressed admiration for McCain's
concession speech. For many Indonesians, this was the first
time they had been exposed to Senator McCain. After his speech,
some attendees said they now understood why so many Americans
supported him and how they wished politicians here could be as
magnanimous in defeat.

6. (U) This campaign and Senator Obama's rise to prominence in
the American political landscape has captivated the imaginations
of large segments of Indonesian society. His ties to Indonesia
and multi-ethnic heritage have resonated with people across the
archipelago. Never before have Indonesians followed an overseas
democratic process as closely and it has inspired them to
contemplate all the possibilities inherent in a democratic form
of government. Guests at the Consulate watched in wonder as
scenes of jubilation in front of Obama's former elementary
school in Jakarta were beamed via satellite around the world. A
proud moment in American history is universally welcomed as a
triumph of democracy in this developing democratic state.

MCCLELLAND

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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