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Cablegate: South Sulawesi: Playing Politics with Shariah Law

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R 210840Z SEP 07
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0054
INFO RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0051
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SUBJECT: SOUTH SULAWESI: PLAYING POLITICS WITH SHARIAH LAW

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1. (SBU) Summary: The November 5 gubernatorial election in
Indonesian Vice President Yusuf Kalla's home province of South
Sulawesi is both a battle within the local Golkar party and a
referendum on the implementation of Shariah law in the province.
An internal local Golkar dispute now pits the current governor
against the current vice governor, with a third challenger
advocating implementation of Shariah law. Local observers are
concerned that the candidates are playing politics with an issue
without understanding the potential ramifications. End Summary.

2. (SBU) The November 5 gubernatorial election in South
Sulawesi originally shaped up to be a battle of local Golkar
heavy weights: current Governor Amin Syam, the Chairman of the
South Sulawesi Golkar Party against current Vice Governor
Syahrul Yasin Limpo, former Secretary of Golkar in the 1990s.
A civil servant considered to be a "Golkar man," Syahrul `s
decision to break ranks and run against Amin Syam, with the full
support of the National Mandate Party (PAN), highlights
divisions within Golkar in the home region of Indonesia's Vice
President and Golkar National Party Chairman Yusuf Kalla.

The Candidates and the Intrigue
--------------------------------

3. (SBU) The internal Golkar intrigue reached its height when
Agus Arifin Nu'mang, the house speaker of the South Sulawesi
House of Representatives (DPRD), joined Syahrul's campaign as
his running mate. As the result of an internal party dispute,
in August 2007, Governor Amin Syam had demoted Agus from Golkar
Secretary to Deputy Chairman of Religious Affairs. In response,

SIPDIS
Agus joined Syahrul's campaign to replace Amin Syam. Agus had
strongly objected to Amin Syam's decision to break Golkar's
commitment to nominate candidates from within the party when he
selected Prof Mansyur Ramly as his running mate.

4. (SBU) Prof. Mansyur Ramly is the founder of KPPSI, the Komite
Persiapan Penerapan Syariah Islam di Sulawesi (Preparation
Committee to Implement Islamic Shariah in Sulawesi -- KPPSI).
Ramly established KPPSI several years ago to lay the legislative
groundwork for the implementation of Shariah law throughout the
province by 2008. KPPSI members include academics at prominent
South Sulawesi universities, including Hassanuddin University
and Muslim University of Indonesia (UMI), as well as
representatives on the local Islamic Council. Prof. Ramly was
previously the Rector of UMI. Although not a Golkar party
member, Prof. Ramly is Yusuf Kalla's brother-in-law. Amin Syam
and Mansyur Ramly have been endorsed by Golkar, the Prosperous
Justice Party (PKS), The Democratics Party, and the National
Awakening Party (PKB).

5. (SBU) Amin Syam also faces a challenge from Abdul Aziz Qahhar
Mudzakkar, a founding father and the current chief of KPPSI, and
his running mate businessman Mubyl Handaling. Aziz initially
tried to join Syahrul as his vice gubernatorial running mate,
but was rejected by PAN so decided to run for governor himself.
Aziz is the son of rebel Kahar Mudzakar, who led a rebellion
against the newly independent state of Indonesia in an effort to
establish Sulawesi as an Islamic State. This rebellion kept
South and Southeast Sulawesi in a state of civil unrest for
years. Kahar was eventually killed by Indonesian troops and the
rebellion squashed in the 1950s. Abdul Aziz's candidacy is
supported by the United Development Party (PPP), the Crescent
Star Party (PBB), the Freedom Bull Nationalist Party (PNBK), and
assorted smaller parties.

Shariah as a Political Tool
--------------------------
6. (SBU) In a wide-ranging conversation with Surabaya Principal
Office on September 7, Nurman Said, a lecturer of at Ushuluddin
Faculty of State Islamic University of Alauddin, and Wahyuddin,
a Fullbright grant recipient currently teaching at Makassar
Islamic State University of Alauddin, criticized the candidates
for using implementation of Shariah law as a political tool in
the gubernatorial elections. They noted that Islamic
organizations, such as NU, Muhammadiyah and Darul Da'wah wal
Irsyad (DDI) advocate strengthening the Islamic ummah through
cultural, social and education programs rather than through the
implementation of Shariah law.

7. (SBU) They described current efforts in the Bulukumba
district of South Sulawesi to implement Shariah law through
local bylaws (peraturan daerah -- perda). The local government
passed a regulation requiring all Muslim couples to read the

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Koran in Arabic before they can be married in Bulukumba. The
district is also trying to implement an economic system based on
"zakat (tithing), infaq (monetary charity), and sadaqah (all
charity)" and requiring Muslim women, especially government
employees, to wear the "hijab." Both Nurman Said and Wahyuddin
questioned how the local government could enforce these
regulations beyond the government sector. The Bulukumba
government deducts 2.5% from the salaries of government
employees every month for zakat, but has no method of requiring
private sector employees to make similar payments. They
suggested that absent any tangible enforcement capacity, the
local government relied on the community's moral sanction to
force compliance.

Is Implementation Likely?
--------------------------

8. (SBU) Looking at the governor's race, Nurman Said and
Wahyuddin speculated that while Amin Syam would give every
appearance of supporting the implementation of Shariah law in
order to attract KPPSI voters, he would be unlikely to follow
through. Abdul Aziz would undoubtedly try to implement Shariah
law throughout South Sulawesi, although they suggested that
Abdul Aziz himself did not believe following through on this
commitment would be easy. Supported by PAN, the National
Awakening Party (PKB), and the Indonesian Democratic Party of
Struggle (PDI-P), Syahrul Yasin would be unlikely to support
efforts to implement Shariah law. According to the Chief Editor
of Fajar, part of the Jawa Pos Group, Governor Amin Syam is the
front runner in recent polls, but given Golkar's divided
loyalties, the election's outcome remains unclear.
MCCLELLAND

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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