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Cablegate: Legislators Ask for U.S. -Indonesia Cooperation At

VZCZCXRO9435
OO RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHJA #1399/01 2360839
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 240839Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3145
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 001399

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, EAP/RSP, H
NSC FOR J. BADER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM ECON ID
SUBJECT: LEGISLATORS ASK FOR U.S. -INDONESIA COOPERATION AT
LOCAL LEVELS

REF: A. JAKARTA 172
B. JAKARTA 2195
C. JAKARTA 1372 AND PREVIOUS

1. (U) SUMMARY: Indonesian legislators told us at a
DCM-hosted lunch that the key to strengthening U.S.-Indonesia
relations was cooperating on issues confronting their
constituents at the local level. A multi-partisan group of
women legislators met with us on August 11 to discuss
bilateral relations and the forthcoming Comprehensive
Partnership. Among the key issues of concern were regional
economic empowerment, improvements in education, and good
governance. U.S. business practices in Indonesia, Mission
activities, and U.S. foreign policy all directly impact our
bilateral relations, they said.

ENGAGING THE 2009 PARLIAMENTARIANS

2. (U) The DCM opened his lunch in honor of Senator
Lugar's Senior Staffer, Keith Luse, by eliciting ideas from
the legislators on the forthcoming U.S.-Indonesia
Comprehensive Partnership. Eight women legislators from six
political parties attended. Half were newly elected during
the April 9 parliamentary elections and half were incumbents.
We explained the Embassy's goal of creating stronger
connections between the incoming parliamentarians and the
USG, both at the Embassy and U.S. congressional levels. The
legislators responded positively, asking for continued
engagement, saying: "if you invite us to Independence Day
Events, it's nice but these substantive discussions are even
better."

U.S. BUSINESS PRACTICES IMPACT CONSTITUENTS

3. (SBU) Many of the legislators noted the impact that
U.S. business practices have on their constituents and
consequently on how the U.S. is perceived in Indonesia. They
asked us to urge U.S. businesses to implement standardized
practices of local employment and benefit packages.
Practices currently vary, they said, by region and company.
One legislator claimed a U.S. oil company in her region does
not employ many locals. This company only talks with the
bureaucratic elite, not the locals, about projects such as
pipelines which crosscut villages. They thus fail to get
crucial buy-in from the villagers. The legislator stated
that this creates resentment among constituents and can cause
legislative resistance to foreign investment.

4. (SBU) U.S. interests would be better served, another
legislator pointed out, by following the example of a foreign
company in her district that has a large geothermal plant.
This company provides employment, education and social
benefits for locals as part of its corporate social
responsibility practices. This gives the employees a sense
of belonging and acceptance of the company as their own.
Keith Luse noted that he would convey these concerns to
Senator Lugar. He added that Indonesian trade union leaders
had told him that American companies were among the best
employers in Indonesia.

PERCEPTIONS THAT U.S. SUPPORTS PAPUAN INDEPENDENCE
POTENTIALLY DAMAGING

5. (SBU) The parliamentarians also raised the sensitive
issue of whether the United States government supports Papuan
separatism. One legislator declared: "Indonesia, like the
U.S., is a multicultural society. We believe this makes the
U.S. strong, and we see the U.S. as a model for us. I heard
that President Obama supports Indonesian unity but Congress
does not. Why?"

6. (SBU) Keith Luse explained that the U.S. supports the
territorial integrity and unity of Indonesia. He does not
believe the U.S. Congress would pass legislation endorsing
Papuan independence, and said that his boss, Senator Lugar,
is opposed to it. He acknowledged, however, that Congressman
Faleomavaega had proposed language on Papua which had "caused
doubts" for some people. (Note: The language in question
had compared the situation in Papua with that of East Timor
before the latter's independence from Indonesia. Many
Indonesians regarded this as a de facto endorsement of Papuan
independence.) Luse explained that Papua is of particular
interest to Congressman Faleomavaega, who is from American
Samoa. His proposed legislation on Papua was later
withdrawn. The DCM pointed out that if the Indonesian
government eases travel restrictions to Papua, this would

JAKARTA 00001399 002 OF 002


help increase transparency and trust.

EDUCATION AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM PRODUCTIVE ISSUES FOR
COOPERATION

7. (SBU) The legislators also raised educational
development as an area of shared concern and cooperation with
the U.S. The DCM suggested that education was possibly the
most productive area for the U.S to contribute to Indonesia's
development through exchanges and long term university
partnerships. One legislator asked for more teacher
exchanges to the U.S. Several expressed their appreciation
for USG-funded National Democratic Institute (NDI) training,
saying that local NDI visits and training were particularly
helpful. They also asked for help with English training.
However, one noted that visa processing time impeded travel
to the U.S. for those with certain names and requested our
help in solving this issue.

8. (SBU) The legislators agreed that there was much common
ground for cooperation on issues central to both U.S. and
Indonesian concerns. For example, they were also committed
to guaranteeing equal rights to education and religious
freedom by continuing the historically tolerant traditions of
Indonesia's pluralistic society. They are also hoping to
improve governance practices and reduce corruption and money
politics. The legislators ended by welcoming more such
discussions with the U.S. Mission and Congress, stating that
"MPs can be a bridge" between the U.S. and Indonesia.

9. (SBU) This message has been cleared by Staffdel Luse.
HUME

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