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07JAKARTA72 2007-01-09 23:43:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Jakarta
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1. (C) On January 8 the Reform Star Party (PBR) exercised its
right to recall member Zaenal Ma'arif from the Indonesian
House of Representatives (DPR). Zaenal, who served as the
Vice Chairman of the DPR, had systematically aggravated the
PBR party leadership by neglecting his constituents in north
Sumatera, skimming party funds, and shining an unwelcome
spotlight on the party by taking a second wife. After
failing in their initial attempt to simply remove Zaenal from
his high profile post as DPR Vice Chairman, PBR leaders later
determined they had no alternative but to recall Zaenal from
the DPR entirely. Zaenal's removal from the DPR opened up a
highly coveted Vice Chairmanship slot and immediately
triggered a hotly contested race among the political parties
to fill the plum post. End Summary.



2. (C) On January 8 the PBR formally pulled the plug on
Zaenal Ma'arif's tenure in the DPR after efforts to call the
renegade parliamentarian to heel had proven fruitless (Note:
In the Indonesian legislative system, political parties have
the power to remove party members from the DPR at the party's
discretion. End Note). According to Ade Nasution, a PBR
parliamentarian, Zaenal had rankled PBR leadership first by
ignoring his constituents in northern Sumatera and then by
pointedly refusing to take steps to address the problem.
Compounding matters, Zaenal showed little interest in
advancing party goals in the DPR, refused to take phone calls
from party leaders, and according to media reports,
repeatedly missed scheduled meetings with his party

3. (C) Ade Nasution told us the PBR's problems with Zaenal
did not end with his public displays of impertinence or even
his apparent contempt for party prerogatives. Zaenal was
also reportedly well known for redirecting party funds into
his own coffers. According to Nasution, during the PBR's
2004 party congress Zaenal squirreled away 2.5 billion rupiah
($277,000) from the PBR campaign budget for his own use.
Nasution told us that even though many in the party were well
aware of this outright theft, the party declined to pursue
the matter out of concern the incident would attract
unfavorable publicity.

4. (C) Media accounts of the recall have highlighted polygamy
as a determining factor in the party's decision to oust
Zaenal. The truth, according to Nasution, was that Zaenal's
decision to take a second wife was of secondary importance to
party calculations regarding his fate. Though party leaders
felt Zaenal's public trumpeting of a second wife did not
necessarily reflect well on the party, as a matter of policy,
the Reform Star Party recognized the legality of polygamy.
Polygamy was not a determining factor in his dismissal, but
it certainly did not help Zaenal's cause with the party.

5. (C) Nasution told us that despite his egregious
misconduct and poor judgment, Zaenal did not seal his fate
with the party until he told reporters a few weeks ago that
he would consider forming his own party if the PBR sought to
recall him. According to Nasution, it was this final display
of disloyalty that ultimately cost him his job.



6. (C) Zaenal's dismissal created an immediate vacancy in one
of the DPR's three Vice Chairmanship positions. The other
two DPR Vice Chairman -- Soetardjo Soegoeritno and Muhaimin
Iskandar -- were from the Indonesian Democratic Party -
Struggle (PDI-P) and the National Awakening Party (PKB), the
second and fifth largest factions in the DPR respectively.
The PBR, on the other hand, held just two percent of the
seats in the DPR and was only the eighth largest party in
parliament, having secured its Vice Chairmanship almost
entirely on the strength its alliance with Golkar, the DPR's
largest party.

JAKARTA 00000072 002.2 OF 002

7. (C) In the coming days the lobbying and political horse
trading for the open Vice Chairman position will reach a
fever pitch. Despite relinquishing the position voluntarily,
the Reform Star Party does not figure to be a major player in
the negotiations to find a new Vice Chairman, and in all
likelihood will not be given a second opportunity to fill the
slot. Speculation surrounding the vacant Vice Chairmanship
has thus far focused largely on SBY's Democratic Party, the
DPR's fourth largest party and an underrepresented presence
in the DPR's leadership ranks.