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Cablegate: Brunei Briefing: Ambassador Todd Talks with Brunei, A

VZCZCXRO9177
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHBD #0295 3400803
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 050803Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4385
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN 000295

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT PASS FOR EAP/MTS/COPPOLAMG, EAP/PD/FERGUSON-AUGUSTUSR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR KTIP BX

SUBJECT: BRUNEI BRIEFING: AMBASSADOR TODD TALKS WITH BRUNEI, A
POLITICAL PARTY RALLY, AND NEWS AND NOTES

AMBASSADOR TODD TALKS WITH BRUNEI
----------------------------------
1.(U) In a new public diplomacy outreach initiative, Embassy Brunei
teamed up with the country's most widely read newspaper, the Borneo
Bulletin, in introducing an Ask the U.S Ambassador weekly editorial
column. Ambassador Todd responds to questions sent by email or
poised to him directly.

2. (U) To date, most questions have focused on higher education and
studying in the United States. The questions correspond well to
Ambassador Todd and Embassy's ongoing efforts to publicize and
encourage increased educational exchanges and attendance at U.S.
colleges and universities. Other topics and questions have ranged
from the why is the consular waiting room so small to policy
questions on the transition process between U.S. presidential
administrations.

3. (SBU) COMMENT: Post has received extremely positive feedback on
the column. Bruneians have expressed appreciation to the Ambassador
and Embassy staff for the column. Interestingly, many in the
diplomatic corps in Brunei have express grudging admiration for the
expanded public outreach, which has focused more attention on US
interests and policies. We hope to use the column as a stepping
stone into more public outreach via blogs and other interactive
media. End Comment.

THE POLITICAL PARTY HAS A RALLY, SORT OF
-------------------------------------
4. (SBU) On December 1, 2008, DCM and POL/MIL Assistant attended the
National Development Party (NDP) official Flag-Hoisting ceremony at
NDP Headquarters. (NOTE: The NDP is the only registered and legal
political party in Brunei. End Note.) During his official address,
NDP President Yasin Afendi, revealed there are currently over 30 NDP
branch offices across Brunei. Afendi also spoke Malai Hassan Malai
Othman - Chairman of NDP International Relation Bureau -
participation of the USG IVLP during the Election 2008. Attendance
was officially estimated at 400.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: Other than the U.S. Embassy attendance, the
world's democracies were not out in force for the event. Burma,
Vietnam, Laos, and Iran were all present. All Western embassies
chose not to attend. Most told us they just did not feel like
sitting in the hot sun for the event. NDP officials tried their
best to put on a political rally within the constraints of Brunei's
political system. Loyalty to the His Majesty, the Sultan, was the
key theme of the event. The NDP pins much of their hopes on growing
as a political party in support of the Sultan. They believe they are
carrying out the wishes of the Sultan in expanding "democratic
opportunities." NDP has aspirations of being a true political party
and members truly do believe in their cause. To date, their work
echoes that of an NGO and they acknowledge they have much progress
to make to become a true political party. END COMMENT.

NEWS AND NOTES
--------------
6) (SBU) Over the past weekend, local police broke up a
prostitution ring operating out of two hotels in the capital. 21
Chinese national women were arrested, along with various men of
differing nationalities. Post has learned that the women and men
who are not Bruneian would be deported. There were no minors amongst
those arrested.

7) (SBU) Customs and Religious Affairs officials continue to raid
private parties. They have focused on the Empire hotel, amongst
other gathering places. The context is in the search for "illegal"
alcohol. The raids normally never result in arrests or
confiscations. In one case, Post has learned that the Vienna
Operetta who was in town for one of the rare public classical music
concerts has vowed never to return after their private function at
the Empire Hotel was raided. Post has read with interest about
plans to develop the riverfront area across from the Embassy into a
boardwalk to "improve nightlife."


TODD

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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