Three-year-old Indonesia’s plan to move its capital to Jakarta to the island Borneo is drawing criticism for everything, from its environmental impact to its very existence.
The nation’s House of Representatives voted to make the move law last week. It chose what critics refer to as the Java-centric name of Nusantara according Nikkei or the Associated Press.
This is not to mention the negative impact of building a city on 1,000-miles in Borneos East Kalimantan Province, home for leopards and orangutans. It’s not even to mention the negative impact it will have on Borneos native people, the spiraling price tag, and the potential for corruption.
Global warming, urban management, and population growth are all reasons why Java, Indonesia’s most populous island is moving. Jakarta, home to 11,000,000 people, may be the most rapidly sinking city in the world. It could be submerged by as much as one third by 2050, five year after the move is completed. Many blame uncontrolled groundwater extraction, which has been made worse by climate change.
Groundwater and air quality in the city are severely polluted. It floods often. Its streets are so jammed that the economy is liable for $4.5 billion in annual congestion. And it’s prone to earthquakes.
President Joko Jokowi Widodo believes a new capital will solve many of the world’s problems. It would be able to house fewer people in a new, sustainable city with excellent transportation. It would also mean a city that is integrated into the natural environment of a region that is not susceptible to natural disasters.
Widodo stated last week that the construction of the new capital is more than a move of government offices. The main goal of the project is to build a smart and competitive new city.
The plan would involve moving 1.5 million civil servants over 1,200 miles from Java Sea to Borneos northeast coastline. Brazil, Myanmar and Pakistan have also moved their capitals.
There is also that name. The term “nusantara” was introduced by the Majapahit kingdom, a Java-based empire from the 13th to 15th centuries that conquered the archipelago of more than 17,000 islands.
“There is nothing more Javanese colonialist than Nusantara as the name of the capital city,” read one viral tweet.
Others believe the decision was taken too quickly. The committee deliberated for six weeks with little public input before reaching a decision.
It also means that $34 million will be devoted to the ambitious project, which is happening amid a global pandemic. Widodo indicated that roughly a fifth would be paid by the government. Private investment will make up the rest.
Potential investors such as Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, SoftBank Group Chairman Masayoshi Son and SoftBank Group Chairman Masayoshi Son have not been mentioned. The state website declared, then rescinded, that the nation would pay half of the cost.
Concerns have been raised about the vulnerability of large infrastructure projects to corruption after the arrest of a Borneo regent for alleged bribery. Nikkei claims that such graft has happened in the past, leading the abandonment of expensive projects.
“Jokowi has been weakening law enforcement institutions and neglecting bureaucratic reform principles that would help implement the capital move with lower corruption risks,” consultant Eurasia Group said in December. “Under current conditions, there are risks that the capital move would create conflicts of interest, markup and kickback scandals, legal recriminations, and delays.”[Nikkei Asia, AP] – Dana Bartholomew