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Cablegate: Outreach at Key Public Policy Institute

VZCZCXRO9732
PP RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #3198/01 3230942
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 190942Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7107
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 4502
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1595
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1453
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY 3554
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1141
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 2033
RUEHPT/AMCONSUL PERTH 0452
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHHJJPI/USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 003198

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, INR/EAP, EAP/PD
NSC FOR E. PHU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINS KPAO ID
SUBJECT: OUTREACH AT KEY PUBLIC POLICY INSTITUTE

REF: A. JAKARTA 2996

B. JAKARTA 2146

JAKARTA 00003198 001.2 OF 002


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

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: During a November 15 visit to the Habibie
Institute--a public policy think-tank--POL, PAS and USAID
officers held a lengthy dialogue with Institute officials
about public opinion polling. Emboffs described Mission
polling projects, offered to bring a visiting polling speaker
to the Institute early next year, and exchanged thoughts on
the limitations of polling. The outreach event came in
response to a request from former president Habibie to the
Ambassador for more information about Mission's activities in
this area (Ref A). END SUMMARY.

KEY CENTER EYES POLLING PROJECT

3. (SBU) On November 15, officers from the Political and
Public Affairs Sections, and USAID held an in-depth
discussion about public opinion polling with 15 senior
officials from the Jakarta-based Habibie Institute. The
Institute--founded in 1999 by former president Habibie--is a
non-profit think-tank known for its symposiums and scholarly
articles on democracy, human rights, and technology issues.

4. (SBU) Habibie Center officials underscored concerns about
the prevalence of poverty and the rise in unemployment in
Indonesia. Executive Director Ahmad Watik Pratiknya asserted
that even if macroeconomic indicators were "moving in the
right direction," the average Indonesian was having trouble
meeting his or her basic needs. According to Pratiknya, as a
result, Indonesian society was becoming "confused" and
Indonesians needed an objective way to determine whether
democracy was on the right track.

5. (SBU) In Pratiknya's judgment, one such way to gauge the
overall fitness of democracy in Indonesia would be to develop
a "happiness index"--a systematic, quantifiable statistical
analysis of satisfaction with government services based on
extensive polling. The index would allow Indonesians to see
how far the country had come (or needed to go) and better
understand what was working and what was not.

U.S. POLLING

6. (SBU) USAID Emboff outlined the basic parameters of a
three-year USAID financed national survey that measures
Indonesian attitudes towards democracy. Among other items,
the survey looked at national perceptions about security, the
role of religion, as well as political parties and local
governments. Emboff distributed copies of the 2006 survey
results and noted that the 2007 polling responses were being
tabulated. Mission would transmit a copy of the 2007 results
as soon as they were available and would happily provide
another briefing to discuss them. Emboffs underscored that
while the Mission survey provided useful data points, it was
a perception survey, and not the type of performance index
project the Habibie Institute sought to embark upon.

SPEAKER PROGRAM

7. (SBU) Cultural Affairs emboff announced that Mission would
welcome a speaker on polling in January of 2008 (the speaker
will be in Jakarta January 21 through February 8). Noting
the Habibie Center's ongoing interest in polling, emboff
offered to arrange for the speaker to visit the Institute for
a comprehensive roundtable discussion of polling. Habibie
Institute officials gratefully agreed to the suggestion.


POLLING AS A TOOL

8. (SBU) Emboffs underscored the importance of recognizing
the limitations of polls. If conducted properly, polls could
be useful tools for policy-makers or voters, but they were
inherently imperfect. Polls could not scientifically gauge

JAKARTA 00003198 002.2 OF 002


the strength of leadership, or grade performance, though they
could be used to measure an electorate's perception in
snapshot fashion of those two issues. Successful political
parties and politicians generally used polls to help tailor
their message and focus their political efforts, but polls
amounted to little more than a barometer of a particular
snapshot in time.

THINK-TANKS AND DEMOCRACY

9. (SBU) Many Indonesian think-tanks work actively--and
creatively with limited means--to help advance democracy in
Indonesia. Mission will continue to dialogue closely with
the Habibie Institute and other organizations within the
Indonesian think-tank community regarding such efforts (Ref
B). While it is not the most important Indonesian
think-tank, the Habibie Institute has a positive record and
has done serious studies on democratization.

HUME

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