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Cablegate: Madura -- Dominant Political Role of Nahdlatul Ulama (Nu)

VZCZCXRO8377
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0079 3330127
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 290127Z NOV 07
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0116
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0049
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0051
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0118

UNCLAS SURABAYA 000079

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SOCI EAID ID
SUBJECT: MADURA -- DOMINANT POLITICAL ROLE OF NAHDLATUL ULAMA (NU)

REF: A. SURABAYA 78 (SURAMADU BRIDGE)

B. SURABAYA 71 (EAST JAVA NU CONFERENCE)

This message is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: The moderate Islamic organization Nadhdlatul
Ulama (NU) enjoys widespread support among the conservative
Muslim population of Madura. Although not officially involved in
politics, NU religious leaders "Kiais" are influential community
leaders, running larger educational institutions, working with
international and local NGOs to address health concerns, and
supporting candidates. While decentralization has disrupted
coordination among regencies, NU fosters coordination through
parliamentary representation and regular inter-NU meetings.
PKNU, a splinter party from Gus Dur's National Awakening Party
(PKB) reportedly has substantial support within Madura's
population and among the Kiai. The PKNU vice-regent candidate in
Pamekasan described PKNU as "more democratic" than PKB, although
non-Muslims cannot serve on the board. End Summary.

The People Will Follow NU
--------------------------------

2. (SBU) In the course of a November 20-21 visit to three
regencies on the island of Madura, Surabaya Principal Officer
and Pol/Econ Assistant met with 20 Kiai from NU in the Sampang
regency. These Kiai operate religious schools (pesantrens)
educating 1,000-2,000 students each. An estimated 96% of the
Sampang regency are NU members, with the remaining 4% members of
Indonesia's second largest Islamic organization Muhammadiyah,
Christian, or Chinese. The Chairman of the Sampang Election
Commission described ethnic Madurese as "fanatical about their
religion and maintaining their culture, and loyal to their
leaders." NU plays a leading, influential role in all aspects
of life in Sampang and the three other regencies on Madura. One
Sampang NU Kiai commented that "the people will do what NU
instructs them to do."

Insufficient Emphasis on Education and Health
--------------------------------------------- -

3. (SBU) Sampang NU criticized local officials for failing to
establish educational and training programs to prepare the
population for the economic development that will follow the
late-2008 completion of the Surabaya-Madura bridge (REF A).
Without such preparation, NU worries, local Madurese will be
observers rather than participants in economic opportunities.
They blamed limited budgets and a failure to plan for the
government's inability to provide suitable skills training.
Sampang NU suggested that Madura would benefit from the
establishment of a new Madurese province, in order to cut down
on the levels of bureaucracy between Madura and central
government funding sources. The Kiais explained that Madura's
oil and gas exploration revenues were being held by the East
Java provincial government and not equitably distributed.

4. (SBU) Sampang NU described education and health as the
primary problems facing Sampang. The Kiais explained that NU
had tried to work with the local health department to improve
the health sector, but any cooperation had been undermined by
government corruption. They commented that Sampang NU had a
good track record and experience working with international and
local NGOs on humanitarian projects. They recommended that
foreign assistance agencies and NGOs work directly with NU on
local programs rather than working with government officials.
Sampang NU also stressed that NU had established networks for
coordination across regencies, and had the ability to encourage
local government action through parliamentary representation.

PKB vs PKNU
-----------------

5. (SBU) Madura's NU members may not be united in their support
of Gus Dur's National Awakening Party (PKB). According to
Suhaib, the rector of Madura Islamic University and a
vice-regent candidate in Pamekasan's March 2008 election, the
PKB splinter party Ulama National Awakening Party (PKNU) is
supported by 75% of key leaders within Madura's NU community.
He added that 20-30,000 people attended a PKNU August 2007
political gathering in Pamekasan. Suhaib explained that PKNU
was "more democratic" than PKB and is open to members from all
religious groups. He stressed, however, that non-Muslims could
not become PKNU board members. PKB's effectiveness, he
explained, had been undermined by conflicts created because
board members were from various religions.

MCCLELLAND

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