Amid controversy and widespread criticism.. For these reasons, the Indonesian parliament approved the transfer of the capital from Jakarta to Nusantara

Despite the agreement that the capital, Jakarta, faces problems that are difficult to solve, there is a great deal of disagreement about ways to solve and build a new capital away from the island of Java, due to economic, environmental and political considerations. What is the nature of this controversy?

Jakarta – The Indonesian House of Representatives approved the “State Capital” law last Tuesday with the support of an overwhelming majority, and only the Islamist “Justice and Welfare” party bloc (50 deputies out of 575 members of Parliament) opposed the law.

The law provides for the transfer of the Indonesian capital from Jakarta, on the island of Java, to the East Kalimantan region on the island of Borneo, which is the third largest island in the world and the largest island in Asia. Malaysia and Brunei share the same island with Indonesia. The new capital will be called “Nusantara” (meaning the archipelago).

The Indonesian parliament approved the transfer of the capital from Jakarta on the island of Java to the geographically remote eastern Kalimantan province (the island)

Where did the name Nusantara come from?

The idiomatic and historical meaning of the word Nusantara has changed since the era of the Majapahit Kingdom, before the religious and political conversion of the island of Java to Islam, and its meaning was “between the islands” or “between the islands outside the island of Java”.

But the meaning changed during the expansion of the Kingdom of Majapahit, so it means “Southeast Asia” or the area ruled by the Kingdom of Majapahit, and the name appeared again before independence as the name of the Indonesian islands or the archipelago that was colonized by the Netherlands until the middle of the last century, so it was suggested that the name Nusantara is the name of this The islands upon their independence, but the name Indonesia was chosen, a relatively recent designation as well.

In contemporary literature and Malay-Indonesian studies, the word Nusantara idiomatically refers to the islands inhabited by Muslims in Southeast Asia in general, not only Indonesia.

Therefore, the launch of the name Nusantara with all the accumulation of these meanings over 5 centuries sparked an intellectual and idiomatic controversy before it was political.

Traffic congestion on the streets of Jakarta is a normal sight at most hours of the day (Getty Images)

Why move the capital?

Chairman of the Special Committee for the “State Capital” Bill, Ahmed Dooley Cornia Tanjung, says that moving the capital from Jakarta to “Banajim Pasir Utara” district in East Kalimantan province comes for motives that the state considers necessary, the most important of which is that Jakarta – a coastal city with low lands – is prone to drowning due to Global warming and sea level rise, the cost of transporting it is estimated at 35 billion US dollars.

And he explained, in his speech to Al-Jazeera Net, that “the first phase of the transfer process will start before 2024, when the office of the head of state and his deputy will be transferred first, followed by the offices of strategic government institutions such as the Ministry of Interior and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense, with 7,000 government employees in the first phase.”

Regarding the fate of Jakarta after the transfer of the capital, Tanjung says, “It is our right to learn from America’s transfer of its capital from New York to Washington, and New York remained a center for finance, business and the economy, as well as Australia, which moved its capital from Melbourne to Canberra, where the old capital remained a city of education.”

Most areas of the capital, Jakarta, are flooded during the heavy rains (Reuters)

government justifications

“There are dozens of justifications and strategic motives for taking this important step in order to achieve development for the whole of Indonesia, and to get out of the tunnel of outstanding crises for decades, which is the inequality in development between the Indonesian islands in Infrastructure and human resource development focused in Java.

Chaniago adds that the problems of floods, pollution, traffic crises, waste and other social problems in Jakarta are difficult to solve due to overcrowding and the presence of random population centers, except by breaking the attraction in Jakarta, as it is the capital, to a new attraction in another region.

The former minister continues to explain that the project aims to preserve the fertility of agricultural lands on the island of Java, and to save it and its inhabitants from the environmental risks caused by the concentration of construction for decades on this island at the expense of the forests and soil on the island. from other regions.

Orangutans or “jungle people” on the island of Clementine of the endangered animals due to damage to the environment (Getty Images)

negative reactions

The hasty approval by the government and parliament faced widespread partisan and popular criticism, for not taking enough time to discuss with specialists and political forces.

Member of Parliament from the opposition Justice and Welfare Party Mardani Ali Sera says that the law to move the capital was not necessary in light of the economic crisis due to the effects of Corona, and foreign debts amounting to 416 billion US dollars,” considering the urgency of the legislation and without the participation and discussion of experts and intellectuals, and it is expected to file a complaint with the Constitutional Court. against this law.

Speaking to Al Jazeera Net, Serra confirms that the problem of pollution, overpopulation and threats of flooding can be resolved by managing the crisis seriously, and that the state in the current circumstances cannot afford the high transportation costs ($35 billion), and it is better to spend it in other more feasible development projects.

Serra believes that the location of the new capital in Kalimantan is dangerous from a geopolitical perspective, because it is close to the conflict zone in the South China Sea, which requires building the defense field for state security at additional costs of more than $8 billion.

The representative continues to explain the justifications for rejecting the law by saying that the construction of the new capital will harm the environment and the forest areas surrounding the capital, as the Ministry of Environment and Forests estimates that the mentioned area includes more than 800 species of animals and plants that will inevitably be damaged.

Opponents: The costs of building a capital from scratch are stressful for the economy and are supposed to be directed to other more important development sectors (websites)

Head to the Constitutional Court

For his part, historian Gigi Razal believes in his speech to Al-Jazeera Net that the transfer of the capital is the project of the ruling minority with financial and political influence, and this is evidenced by saying, “Therefore, the ruling coalition did not participate with anyone in discussing the issue of transferring the capital until the local government in East Kalimantan.”

As for the coordinator of the Alliance of Activists and Director of the Indonesian Environment Forum in East Kalimantan, Yohana Teko, he tells Al Jazeera Net that “the procedures for ratifying the law were hasty and incorrect, as it did not take more than 40 days since the beginning of its discussion until its approval, which is a very short period to take a step of this importance and danger to the people.” Population and environment in the new location of the capital.

Dean Shams El-Din, the former head of the Muhammadiyah Association (which includes more than 30 million members), also rejects the plan to move the capital, and has confirmed that he will file a lawsuit in the Constitutional Court against the law.

Speaking to Al Jazeera Net, Shams El-Din believes that the timing of the start of the big project comes in light of the Corona pandemic and its human and material losses and risks to the national economy.

In the same context, economic expert Emil Salem believes that the capital transfer project will not achieve its stated goal of achieving justice in development and reducing the economic gap between the Indonesian regions, because the project starts from scratch to build a new city on a remote and remote island, and that the budget allocated for this project (32 billion dollars) can be Employing it in other projects to confront the Corona pandemic, address its effects, and develop human resources, such as developing schools and universities.

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