Jokowi’s reasons to move capital city to East Kalimantan

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Jokowi picks North Penajam Paser and Kutai Kartanegara (Kukar) Regency as the place for the new capital city of Indonesia. (photo: IO/Yoga)

IO, Jakarta – President Joko Widodo has finally chosen East Kalimantan Province as the place for Indonesia’s new capital city. Specifically, Jokowi has picked North Penajam Paser and Kutai Kartanegara (Kukar) Regency. “The government has conducted in-depth studies for the last three years,” stated Jokowi from the National Palace, Jakarta on Monday (26/8).

Jokowi will need a large amount of funds to move the capital from Jakarta to East Kalimantan. The total needed amounts to some IDR 466 trillion. However, the government will only be able to raise around IDR 88 trillion, or around 19% of the estimated total. “Later, 19% will come from the state budget. Even that mainly comes from an asset management cooperation program between the new capital and Jakarta,” said Jokowi.

What about the rest? Jokowi has stated that the remaining funds needed will be supplied by direct investment from both the private sector and state-owned enterprises (Badan Usaha Milik Negara -“BUMN”). The program will be carried out through Government and Business Entity Cooperation (Kerja Sama Pemerintah dan Badan Usaha -“KPBU”). According to Jokowi, the government has carried out in-depth studies relating to the moving of the capital city to a new location. “The government has (done) in-depth studies. The results from the studies have concluded that the ideal new capital city should be partly in North Penajam Paser and Kutai Kartanegara Regency,” he said.

Jokowi gave five reasons as to why the two regions were chosen to be Indonesia’s new capital city. First, Jokowi stated that the two regions located in East Kalimantan had very low risks of experiencing natural disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, forest fires, volcano eruptions, and landslides.

Unfortunately, facts state otherwise. The National Disaster Management Agency (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana – “BNPB”) released data on forest fires for the first six months of 2019 wherein 28 provinces, 135,749 hectares had experienced forest fires by the end of July 2019. Out of these forest fires, Kalimantan contributed 12.5% or 16,892 hectares. More specifically, East Kalimantan added the second highest number of forest fires, with 4,430 hectares. The largest area affected by forest fires was South Kalimantan, with 4,670 hectares. Third, was Central Kalimantan with 3,618 hectares, followed by West Kalimantan and North Kalimantan with 3,315 hectares and 856 hectares, respectively.

However, the Ministry of Forestry and Environment’s Forest and Land Fires (kebakaran hutan dan lahan – “Karhutla”) Monitoring System reported different data. The most significant number of forest fires was instead in West Kalimantan with 2,578 hectares, followed by Central Kalimantan with 1,103 hectares and South Kalimantan with 590 hectares. Only then came East Kalimantan and North Kalimantan with 136 hectares and 40 hectares each. When compared to other regions, area’s, the number of forest fires was still low compared to Riau which had 5,345 hectares affected throughout 2015.

The second reason Jokowi gave was that East Kalimantan was approximately in the middle of Indonesia. Previously the government had indeed planned the moving of the capital to follow an “Indonesia-Centric” (Indonesia Sentris) concept. The third reason was Kutai Kartanegara and North Penajam Paser Regency were close to already-developed cities such as Balikpapan and Samarinda. Fourth, the two regions’ facilities and infrastructure were quite complete, meaning access to the new capital would be better. Lastly, the government already had access to 180 hectares of land in the region.

According to Gerindra Party Chairman Prabowo Subianto’s spokesperson Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, Prabowo agreed with the plan to move Indonesia’s capital city, announced by President Joko Widodo on Monday (26/8).

However, according to Dahnil, there were four things Prabowo wished to convey concerning the plan. The former Kopassus commander asked that the movement of the capital not be done carelessly and in a rush. The movement of the capital, according to Prabowo, must be a long-term program which is carefully thought out.

Prabowo also asked that the studies and research which, according to the government, had been conducted for three years be released to the public. “Studies which truthfulness can be accounted for, are transparent and open to the public,” he said.

Second, Prabowo asked that the moving of the capital take into account opportunity costs. “Apart from financial costs, that which is foundational should be a priority. The plan must not ignore foundational issues,” he continued.

Third, Prabowo stated that there were other fundamental issues to be solved before moving the capital. According to Prabowo, a nation’s purpose is to address poverty, unemployment, and economic sovereignty, such as that from food sovereignty, energy sovereignty to the issues of national defense and safety. All of these issues, according to Prabowo, had to be solved before moving the capital, a task which would take a large amount of energy and funds.

Fourth, Prabowo touched on the effects of that from the cultural, social, to issues of economic inequality, which would emerge when the capital was moved from Jakarta to East Kalimantan. “Moving the capital is not just about economic issues, but there are anthropological issues and geopolitical, defense, safety issues, and also environmental issues,” he said. “So, the moving the capital cannot just be viewed from an economic perspective,” he continued.

Apart from these four notes, according to Dahnil, Prabowo supported Jokowi in all his government’s positive efforts.

A different view was held by House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat – “DPR”) Deputy Speaker Fahri Hamzah. Fahri believes that the president had not collected enough input from experts in administrative law on the stages in moving the capital. This was conveyed by Fahri after the announcement to move the capital to East Kalimantan was made by President Joko Widodo. “Frankly, I regret the lack of experts in administrative law around the President, resulting in a lack of proper administrative process, officially. A proper administrative process has stages,” said Fahri from the Parliamentary Complex, Senayan, Jakarta on Monday (26/8/2019).

Fahri stated that moving the capital after proper research would mean a change in the old rules, through examination of the 1945 Constitution and related laws. According to Fahri, research on the 1945 Constitution should be done by the People’s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat – “MPR”). “Then he can talk to the commissions in the DPR about what laws must be revised. This is because the laws which must be revised in order to move the capital total more than eight according to the little research I have done,” he said.

Further, Fahri regretted Jokowi’s unilateral announcement to move the capital. He also lamented that the president’s circle did not give input pointing out that there must be studies and academic papers first. “I’m sorry Mr. President, that isn’t how it is done, laws must be created first, studies must be done, academic papers first. Nothing. I have seen all the various papers; there are none,” he said. (dsy)