Friday, March 11, 2011

Furious Indonesian Response to WikiLeak Cables

Yudhoyono spokesmen, others, denounce questions over SBY’s integrity, summon US ambassador

The Indonesian government has launched a furious, multi-pronged response to stories emanating from leaked US diplomatic cables purporting to call into question the integrity of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife, Kristiani.

A recount of the cables, provided by the WikiLeaks organization, was published Friday in Asia Sentinel and The Age in Melbourne.

Despite the denials, much of what the cables allege has been circulating on the rumor mill in Jakarta for months as Yudhoyono has increasingly lost his gloss as a reformer. Although, as the story points out, the WikiLeaks cables are "ambiguous" about whether Yudhoyono himself is corrupt.

Teuku Faizasyah, the palace presidential staff member for international relations, told reporters "The fact is that the diplomatic cables were only raw data taken from shoddy meetings and sources. The information was raw, it was only rumors and twisted facts."

Another Yudhoyono spokesman, Denny Indriyana, said that "What Wikileaks wrote was a result of chitchat from US Embassy wires and not intelligent data. It's sexy for news but that's all. The Age wrote their story without investigation and based the story entirely on Wikileaks."

Coordinating Law and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto told reporters in Jakarta that Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa would summon Scot Marciel, the US Ambassador to Indonesia, "to express Indonesia's strong protest against the diplomatic reports that were obtained through WikiLeaks," and would demand that Marciel make a public statement regarding the case.

For its part, the embassy issued a statement on its website saying that "as the Secretary of State has said, the United States deeply regrets the disclosure of any information that was intended to be confidential, including private discussions between counterparts or our diplomats’ personal assessments and observations. Our official foreign policy is not set through these messages, but in Washington. Our policy is a matter of public record, as reflected in our statements and our actions around the world."

The US response called the Wikileaks publication "extremely irresponsible and we express our deepest regrets to President Yudhoyono and the Indonesian people." It went on call Yudhoyono a "very strong partner..Indonesia’s first directly elected president, and a leader who has guided Indonesia through its journey into democracy."

The statement added that "Indonesia and the United States are bound together by a web of historical, cultural, and economic ties that span the Pacific and by our shared values and aspirations, and our partnership is one of equals, grounded in mutual interests and mutual respect."

Meanwhile, Indonesian Vice President Boediono, on a working visit to Canberra, met with Indonesian journalists to deliver a statement saying that "The accuracy of the information taken from WikiLeaks about President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono which also appeared in some media must be questioned. The sources were unconfirmed and unverified raw notes from diplomatic cables. I have complete confidence in the personal integrity and credibility of my President. President SBY and I share the same conviction to develop our nation and its people through continuing our commitment to reforms, eliminating corruption, and ensuring good governance."

In Djoko Suyanto’s text to reporters, he said that the President and First Lady Kristiani Yudhoyono denied the accusations, and said they did not commit corruption or abuse their power. "Let alone influence the judicial process. That’s not true."

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