Viewing cable 06JAKARTA5704
Title: GOI, UNIONS ASSIGN BLAME FOR MAY 3 VIOLENCE

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06JAKARTA57042006-05-05 12:24:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 SECRET Embassy Jakarta
VZCZCXRO5385
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #5704/01 1251224
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 051224Z MAY 06
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3774
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 9401
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 7344
RUEKJCS/DOD WASHDC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 JAKARTA 005704 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EAP/MTS AND DRL/IL 
DEPT OF LABOR FOR ILAB 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/05/2026 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM ELAB ID
SUBJECT: GOI, UNIONS ASSIGN BLAME FOR MAY 3 VIOLENCE 
 
REF: A. JAKARTA 5580 - UNIONS BESEIGE DPR MAY 3 
 
     ¶B. JAKARTA 5486 - MAY DAY PROTESTS AGAINST REFORMS 
     ¶C. JAKARTA 4465 - GROWING WORKER PROTESTS 
     ¶D. JAKARTA 3563 - INVESTMENT CLIMATE PACKAGE 
     ¶E. JAKARTA 1645 - AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES LABOR REFORM 
 
Classified By: POLITICAL OFFICER MARK D. CLARK, REASON 1.4 (B AND D). 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
¶1.  (S) Jakarta is awash in speculation as to the possibility 
or extent of political manipulation behind the massive May 3 
labor demonstrations that turned violent at the Parliament's 
gates (ref A).  In the course of expressing his concern over 
the violence, President Yudhoyono publicly called on those 
who did not accept the 2004 election results to remain within 
democratic bounds; according to a presidential advisor, the 
Megawati-led opposition Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle 
(PDI-P) was the hidden hand behind the protests.  In the face 
of police questioning, union leaders from the labor 
confederation (SPSI) that organized the May 3 protest blamed 
the chaos on "infiltrators."  Privately, our senior labor 
contacts do not rule out outside funding and some instigation 
of SPSI's rally, but they maintain that May 3 remained 
primarily a workers' affair; outside influence was marginal. 
Regardless of whether and to what extent political actors 
stoked the fires of the labor protests, the GOI's tactical 
mistakes in pursuing the labor law amendment have provided 
Yudhoyono's opponents with an opportunity to make mischief, 
if they choose.  End Summary. 
 
YUDHOYONO FINGERS LOSERS OF 2004 
-------------------------------- 
 
¶2.  (SBU) Almost immediately after the police forcibly 
dispersed labor protestors who had assaulted the Parliament's 
(DPR's) gates on May 3, speculation took hold of the capital 
regarding possible political motivations and conspiracies 
behind the violent demonstration.  On the evening of May 3, 
President Yudhoyono, still in Jordan, made a televised 
statement in which he expressed concern and disappointment 
over the day's violence.  Looking glum and quite serious, he 
continued by noting there were individual or groups that had 
not accepted the 2004 election results; nevertheless, he 
called on these parties to remain within the established 
democratic process.  The statement represented his clearest 
public reference yet to unconstitutional plotting against his 
administration. 
 
PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR:  WE MEAN PDI-P 
------------------------------------ 
 
¶3.  (S) Presidential advisor Dino Djalal, in a broader 
conversation with the Ambassador May 5, alleged that former 
President Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle 
(PDI-P) had orchestrated the labor protests.  Dino, who had 
just returned with Yudhoyono from the Middle East May 4, 
noted the protests' significant negative impact on Indonesia. 
 
¶4.  (C) Several other contacts in the political class have 
specified with confidence (but not evidence) that Megawati's 
husband, Taufik Kiemas, and retired General Wiranto had 
orchestrated or at least enhanced the protests.  One claimed 
that Yudhoyono's opponents were encouraged by the success of 
rallies in Bangkok in leading to PM Thaksin Shinawatra's 
announced intention not to seek reelection as Prime Minister. 
 
OPPONENTS INDIGNANT 
------------------- 
 
¶5.  (SBU) In response to Yudhoyono's remarks, opposition 
figures reacted quickly with public indignation.  Per press 
accounts, Amien Rais called Yudhoyono's insinuation a 
fantasy.  DPR Deputy Chair Soetardjo Soerjogoeritno, from 
Megawati's PDI-P, termed the President's comments speculative 
and careless.  (Comment:  Soetardjo was one of the senior DPR 
leaders to receive the labor leaders on May 3 and to concede 
in writing to their demands.  End Comment.)  PDI-P member 
Permadi said the labor protests resulted from the Yudhoyono 
administration's failure to uphold its campaign promises, not 
from manipulation by those who lost the national election. 
Megawati's vice presidential running mate and current 
 
JAKARTA 00005704  002 OF 003 
 
 
Nahdlatul Ulama leader Hasyim Muzadi along with former 
President and would-be 2004 presidential candidate 
Abdurrahman Wahid joined in criticizing Yudhoyono's remarks. 
 
 
SPSI DENIES POLITICAL AGENDA, BLAMES OUTSIDERS 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
¶6.  (SBU) Police called in and questioned senior leaders of 
the All-Indonesia Trade Union Confederation (SPSI), which 
organized the May 3 protest, about the violence and property 
destruction.  SPSI Secretary General Sjukur Sarto, in various 
pronouncements May 3-5, denied SPSI has acted out of an 
anti-government political agenda, beyond opposition to 
amendment of the Manpower Act, or received external political 
funding for the demonstration.  He also denied that SPSI was 
to blame for the violence.  Instead he claimed, in separate 
statements, that a "national figure" had been amongst the 
protestors (implying the figure's involvement) and that 20 to 
30 infiltrators had instigated the chaos.  Information 
quickly emerged that identified two "national figures" among 
the May 3 crowd:  former People's Democratic Party (PRD) 
leader Budiman Sudjatmiko, now a member of the opposition 
Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P); and political 
gadfly Sri Bintang Pamungkas.  Budiman admitted to the press 
that he had been in the vicinity, but was only attempting to 
pass through the crowds.  (Comment:  PRD was a favorite 
scapegoat for political violence during the final years of 
Suharto's New Order.  End Comment.) 
 
¶7.  (C) We spoke on May 5 with SPSI Deputy Secretary General 
¶M. David, who helped lead the protest two days before.  David 
insisted that SPSI had acted on its own, and funded the 
demonstration using internal resources and small 
contributions from individual workers.  Nevertheless, 
outsiders were present during the rally, including Budiman 
and Sir Bintang.  David said that a small aggressive group, 
as yet unidentified, led the charges against the gate and 
seemed to instigate much of the confrontation at the DPR. 
SPSI itself, however, did not intend or provoke violence. 
SPSI had released a press statement to this effect and 
specifically rejected the allegation of collusion with any 
political party.  David voiced suspicions that Vice President 
Jusuf Kalla might be intentionally stirring trouble through 
statements viewed as inflammatory by the trade unions (see 
below). 
 
RIVAL LABOR LEADERS DOWNPLAY POLITICAL MANIPULATION 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
¶8.  (C) Indonesian Prosperity Trade Union (SBSI) Chairman 
Rekson Silaban and SBSI founder Muchtar Pakpahan, in separate 
May 5 conversations with us, downplayed the role of outside 
political influence behind the May 3 protest.  Rekson, who 
has not hesitated to criticize rival SPSI in the past, 
believed it highly likely that PDI-P elements and possibly 
retired generals led by former Armed Forces Chief Wiranto had 
contributed funding and possibly organized some protestors to 
join the May 3 rally.  (Rekson on May 3 had expressed 
certainty that SPSI received outside funding for the cost of 
buses to transport the protestors.)  However, this was done 
without any clear understanding or agreement from SPSI, and 
the impact on the protests was marginal.  (Comment:  As 
Indonesia's largest labor confederation, SPSI contains 
various factions and its leaders have ties to a number of 
political parties.  End Comment.)  PDI-P may have worked 
through Budiman, while a former Army Chief of Staff from the 
end of the Suharto era (based on the description, one 
possibility would be retired General Subagyo Hadi Siswoyo) 
was the likely facilitator of any Wiranto actions with labor. 
 Rekson added that the third major confederation, the 
Indonesian Trade Union Congress (KSPI) had links to Amien 
Rais' National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Islamist 
Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).  KSPI-affiliates marched on 
the DPR May 1. 
 
¶9.  (C) Muchtar Pakpahan told us that blame for the violence 
at the DPR gates rested with VP Kalla.  After the May 1 
protests "convinced" DPR's Commission IX to pledge to reject 
the labor amendments, Kalla stated publicly that this did not 
represent a formal DPR position and the Yudhoyono 
Administration would continue to examine changes to the 
Manpower Act.  This raised emotions among workers, and set an 
 
JAKARTA 00005704  003 OF 003 
 
 
angry tone to the May 3 demonstrations, the aim of which was 
then to obtain a more formal declaration from the DPR as a 
whole.  Claiming to be aware of the internal organization and 
planning of SPSI's massive rally, and noting the practice of 
workers contributing small amounts of money to cover 
transportation costs, Muchtar dismissed rumors that 
opposition political forces had helped finance the May 3 
demonstrations.  Nevertheless, Muchtar believed it very 
possible that politicians would attempt to take advantage of 
the protests. 
 
UNIONS CONSIDER NEXT STEPS 
-------------------------- 
 
¶10.  (C) Still undergoing police investigation, SPSI leaders 
called off a planned May 5 demonstration.  According to 
Rekson, the major union confederations intended to meet 
jointly May 6 to map out a strategy for the near term.  On 
May 8, Muchtar Pakpahan would gather labor leaders and 
parliament members for a dialogue in Jakarta.  Most major 
political parties would be represented, though Golkar was not 
invited due to its ambivalent position, Rekson noted.  Rather 
than revising the labor law, the unions intended to lobby for 
other measures that would improve the investment climate, 
such as regulatory changes, streamlining bureaucracy and 
fighting corruption. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
¶11.  (S) For most of our interlocutors, the question is not 
whether, but to what extent Yudhoyono's opponents supported 
the labor protests.  Backdoor financing of street protests to 
support unstated political objectives is a tried and true 
practice in Indonesia, and many politicians are skilled in 
the art.  Wiranto, for example, has a history of such 
manipulation.  We also recognize that it would be to 
Yudhoyono's advantage to suggest opposition parties' 
instigation of the demonstrations, thereby linking his 
opponents to violence and putting his labor critics on the 
defensive.  In addition, union leaders stand to gain by 
blaming the May 3 chaos on outside provocateurs.  We note 
that unions' anger at the proposed amendments is genuine; the 
issue is an emotive one with the rank-in-file; and a 
political conspiracy is not necessary in order for a massive 
and emotionally charged protest to turn violent.  Regardless 
of the extent to which political actors stoked the fires of 
the labor protests, the GOI's tactical mistakes in pursuing 
the labor law amendments have provided Yudhoyono's opponents 
with an opportunity to make mischief, if they choose. 
PASCOE