USINDO Report on the 12th Congressional Staff Delegation Visit to Indonesia
USINDO sponsored its 12th congressional staff delegation to Indonesian during the period August 28th to September 5th. The delegation consisted of 5 staff people, specifically selected on the basis of their members’ relevance to Indonesian affairs. This delegation included two staff members from the House Indonesia Caucus; one from the influential Senate Foreign Operations Subcommittee, one from the House Subcommittee on East Asia and the Pacific; and one from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The itinerary of the visit involved three and one half days in Jakarta, one day in Jogjakarta, and two days in Bali.
The program was a comprehensive series of events that covered all aspects of the U.S. –Indonesia relationship. In Jakarta, the delegation participated in an tightly packed schedule of meetings and appointments that included group sessions such as a breakfast with the American Chamber of Commerce, a late afternoon meeting with KADIN, a lively exchange with human rights NGOs; a meeting with prominent jurists, including a Supreme Court judge, regarding legal reforms; and a luncheon with leading media personalities. Appointments with government officials included the Finance Minister, the Foreign Minister, and the National Police Chief. During the Jakarta segment, the delegation participated in four breakfast meetings, three luncheon meetings; three office calls; a morning visit to a USAID project and a half day briefing by the country team. Additionally, the delegation attended four evening social events.
In Jogjakarta the principal theme was education and culture. The main features were a visit to Gajah Mada University, including the “American Corner” resource center there, and to the Pesantren Sunan Pandaranan located on the outskirts of Jogjakarta. These activities were important people-to-people experiences and there were particularly enlightening discussions with students at both the Pesantren and University. The Bali program was comprised of discussions with the U.S. Ambassador to East Timor, Joseph Grover Rees, and Police General Pastika, head of the National Police in Bali and leader of the investigation into the Bali bombing.
The members of the delegation were active participants in each day’s events. For this visit we established the practice of identifying a “Chairman” for the day, that staff member who was responsible for moderating the exchanges between the delegation and the other participants.
Without exception, the delegation expressed their satisfaction with all aspects of the visit, including transportation arrangements and lodging facilities and the substantive content of the program. The tangible benefits from this experience are already emerging. Since returning to the Washington, House delegation participants have succeeded in recruiting three new members for the Indonesia caucus and an additional co-sponsor of a draft House resolution congratulating Indonesia on the successful conduct of its national elections in April and July. On the Senate side, the two participating staff members will investigate the feasibility of establishing a Senate caucus or the expansion of the House caucus into a bicameral organization.
As a result of past staff delegation visits, there are now over 60 staff people from both houses who have participated in this program. The Indonesian Embassy is moving to cement relations with these influential congressional staff members by organizing a “reunion” of past participants in October.