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Cablegate: East Java: The Tangled Web Surrounding the Sole Female

VZCZCXRO0979
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0094/01 2140813
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 010813Z AUG 08
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0268
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0254
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0141
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0141
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0273

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SURABAYA 000094

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS, INR/EAP, DRL, EAP/PD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KWMN KDEM SOCI KISL PREL ID
SUBJECT: EAST JAVA: THE TANGLED WEB SURROUNDING THE SOLE FEMALE
GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE

REF: A. SURABAYA 88 (EAST JAVA GOVERNOR'S ELECTION)
B. SURBAYA 51 (POLITICS IN EAST JAVA'S LARGEST MUSLIM ORGANIZATION)

SURABAYA 00000094 001.2 OF 002


This message is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: East Java's female candidate for governor,
Khofifah Indar Parawansa, succeeded in reaching the second round
of the election, but faces strong criticism from women's issues
activists in Surabaya. While her critics acknowledge that the
Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama's (NU) willingness to
support a female candidate opens doors, they express concern
about Khofifah's money-driven ties to the Patriot Party and
Pancasila Youth (Pemuda Pancasila) and her commitment to
advancing women's issues as governor. While the women's NGO
network Forum Perempuan Peduli (FPP) previously pledged to
support her candidacy, many changed their minds before the
election. Most predict that her opponent, Soekarwo supported by
the National Mandate Party (PAN), Democratic Party (PD) and The
Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), will win the run-off because of
his reputation for transparency. End Summary.

BEHIND KHOFIFAH'S SUCCESS

2. (SBU) During a regular lunch event on July 29 at the Consul
General's residence, women's issues activists in Surabaya
offered their perspective on the success of Khofifah Indar
Parawansa in the July 23 gubernatorial election (ref A).
Khofifah, the national chairwoman of Muslimat (the Nahdlatul
Ulama women's organization) and Minister for Women's Empowerment
in the Gus Dur administration, had not been endorsed by Gus
Dur's divided National Awakening Party (PKB). Khofifah amassed
the necessary 15% through the support of a coalition of 12
smaller parties, led by the United Development Party (PPP).
The activists emphasized that Khofifah's success signaled an
important change amongst East Java's traditionally conservative
electorate in the NU heartland. They noted that in 2004, NU
members would not accept a woman as a political leader. Indeed
PPP, with substantial NU membership, had distributed a letter
that specifically prohibited supporting female candidates. In
this election, NU Chairman Hasyim Muzaidi pledged his support
and the influential NU clerics, Kiais, instructed NU members to
support Khofifah. The luncheon guests praised the positive
impact of Khofifah's success thus far on the attitudes of
students at East Java's Islamic schools (pesantrens) in
particular.

3. (SBU) The women's activist community speculated that many
voted for Khofifah because she represented a new face in East
Java politics. Despite spending more than any other candidate,
Golkar's Soenarjo, who served as vice governor for the past 10
years, placed a disappointing fourth. The PKB candidate
hand-picked by Gus Dur garnered less than 10% and finished a
distant fifth. The activists expressed concern, however, that
in reality Khofifah is entrenched in old money politics.
Khofifah clearly benefited from the unified support of Muslimat
members and rewarded them accordingly. According to press
reports, Khofifah's campaign team gave a car to each Muslimat
branch in East Java before the first round, and intends to give
a car to each of the 44 branches of NU before the runoff.
(Note: Because the cars were given to organizations rather than
to individuals, these "donations" are not considered in
violation of campaign rules.)

WHO'S FINANCING KHOFIFAH AND WHY?

4. (SBU) Because Khofifah lacked the support of any major
parties, she needed the financial backing of the Patriot Party.
Led by Yapto Suryosumarno, the Patriot Party has a reputation as
a corrupt party of gangsters, or "preman", with links to
national business interests and the Suharto regime. Tomy
Winata, the wealthy businessman and owner of Artha Graha Bank
who has been questioned on allegations of corruption, reportedly
plays an important financing role. Yapto is also the chairman
of Pemuda Pancasila, an organization known for attacking
political opponents and instigating violence on behalf of
Suharto during the New Order. The Patriot Party's East Java
leader, La Nyala Mattaliti , campaigned alongside Khofifah
heavily, and the Patriot Party's role in her campaign was seen
to overpower that of PPP. This reportedly caused grief within
PPP ranks. With the Patriot Party's financial assistance,
Khofifah was able to afford an ambitious advertising campaign
that some analysts say contributed to her success.

A QUESTION OF COMMITMENT


SURABAYA 00000094 002.2 OF 002


5. After reviewing the platforms of all five candidates, the
activist from FPP initially decidedto support Khofifah as the
best candidate to advance women's issues in East Java. However,
after a meeting with three of the governor and vice-governor
teams, they said they changed their view, disliking her
personality and finding her to be more concerned with the
demands of the business community than with advancing women's
issues. They also expressed concern that civil society's
concerns would take a back seat to NU priorities.

6. (SBU) The activists concluded that Soekarwo, with his
reputation for transparency as provincial secretary, would be a
better governor than Khofifah and predicted a Soekarwo victory.
An HIV/AIDS activist recounted that Soekarwo was the first
candidate to respond to a letter asking for a commitment to open
budgeting and community participation. They surmised that
Golkar voters will vote for Soekarwo in retaliation for Hasyim
Muzadi's public support for Khofifah (in opposition to the
Golkar ticket which included the former East Java NU Chairman --
Ref B). It's unclear who PDI-P voters, whose candidate came a
close third, would support in the runoff. While ideologically,
PDI-P should be more inclined to support Soekarwo, press reports
suggest that Hasyim Muzadi is arranging a deal with PDI-P
chairwoman Megawati Sukarnoputri to support Khofifah. The
activists agreed, however, that the contest would be close.
MCCLELLAND

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