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Cablegate: Parliamentary Reform -- Strengthening the Regional

VZCZCXRO3510
OO RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHJA #2032 3451004
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 111004Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4113
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS JAKARTA 002032

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, EAP/RSP
NSC FOR D. WALTON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM ID
SUBJECT: PARLIAMENTARY REFORM -- STRENGTHENING THE REGIONAL
VOICE

REF: JAKARTA 1866 AND PREVIOUS

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

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: Indonesia's Regional Representatives
Assembly (DPD), the country's legislative upper chamber or
"Senate," is taking steps to bolster its credibility and
power. The DPD, which was established in 2004, was designed
to give Indonesia's diverse regions a more direct voice at
the national level. It has fallen short of that goal because
it lacks the authority to pass laws, among other items. It
continues to press for a stronger voice for the regions as
they gain influence under Indonesia's ongoing
decentralization of powers program. USAID is currently
providing support to the DPD as part of its program on
improving regional governance. END SUMMARY.

INDONESIA'S "SENATE" STRUGGLING TO FORGE IDENTITY

3. (SBU) Indonesia created the Assembly of Regional
Representatives (DPD) in 2004 as an 'upper house' which would
function to bring the concerns of Indonesia's diverse regions
to the national level. Like the U.S. Senate, it is
representative but not proportional, and consists of four
members from each of Indonesia's 33 provinces. DPD members
consider themselves the purest representation of the people's
interests because they are elected directly rather than as
part of a party ticket. However, the DPD has little
legislative power. Although it drafts and consults on
legislation, only the House of Representatives (DPR) may pass
legislation.

TRYING TO EXPAND POWERS

4. (SBU) DPD members have recently pressed to expand their
powers. The DPD sued in the country's Constitutional Court
for its members to be allowed to run for speaker of the
People's Consultative Assembly (MPR). (Note: In Indonesia's
somewhat complex legislative system, the MPR consists of both
the DPD and DPR and has its own, largely symbolic,
leadership.) This backfired, because although the Court
ruled that DPD members could be considered for Speaker, it
also overturned legislation stipulating that two DPD members
be assured MPR Deputy Speaker roles. As a result, only one
DPD member became Deputy Speaker this session, while the
coveted Speaker role went to a DPR member.

5. (SBU) The DPD has also pushed for a new constitutional
amendment which would allow it to pass legislation (such acts
would have to be reconciled on an equal basis with the DPR).
Political party elites from every party, who are the backbone
of Indonesia's political establishment, are unlikely to
support this proposal since they would gain little from a
stronger and apolitical DPD. President Yudhoyono also seems
unlikely to concede more legislative power to the DPD, as he
has dismissed calls for constitutional revision in several
recent public speeches.

USG ENGAGEMENT

6. (SBU) The DPD has also been lobbying internationally to
augment its powers. In early December, Deputy Speaker Laode
Ida invited the diplomatic community to a forum to discuss
how the DPD could effectively engage internationally and make
the DPD more useful as a legislative body during Indonesia's
ongoing era of decentralization. The diplomats agreed to
cooperate more closely with the DPD on ways to enhance the
effectiveness of the body.

7. (SBU) While it is unclear how the DPD's role in
Indonesia's legislature will evolve during its second term,
more USG engagement with the DPD would bolster Indonesia's
parliamentary reform efforts. Because the majority of DPD
members are apolitical, they are not constrained by party
considerations. Our cooperation with the DPD will give us
more traction on regional policy issues such as resource
management, anti-corruption and regional investment. USAID
is currently providing limited support to the DPD as part of
its program on improving regional governance.

HUME

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