Rais exhorts government to delay capital city relocation

Rais exhorts government to delay capital city relocation

National Mandate Party (PAN) patron Amien Rais. ( ANTARA PHOTO/Aprillio Akbar/rn)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - National Mandate Party (PAN) patron Amien Rais has appealed to the central government to delay its plan to move Indonesia's capital city from Jakarta to Kalimantan Island.

In its place, the government must tackle pressing issues in the provinces of Papua and West Papua.

"Over the past several days, we have been shaken up by the turmoil in Papua and West Papua," he remarked here on Friday.
While conversing with journalists on the sidelines of a ceremony marking PAN's 21st anniversary, Rais said in no mean terms that the government must not undermine the problems in these two easternmost provinces to prevent Indonesia from disintegrating.

Indonesia should take a cue from big nations, such as the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia that had borne witness to disintegration despite their economy, military, intelligence, and police being relatively powerful.

Hence, he put forth a suggestion to the government to give priority to its efforts to seek solutions to problems afflicting the provinces of Papua and West Papua rather than going ahead with its policy on relocating the capital city to Kalimantan Island.

Rais expressed deep concern over witnessing foreign interventions in Papuan issues while affirming that the government should adopt a multi-dimensional approach in resolving them.

On August 19, several thousand people in Manokwari, West Papua Province, and Jayapura, Papua Province, had rallied to vociferously agitate over alleged racist action against Papuan students in Surabaya and Malang, East Java.

A local parliamentary building in Manokwari was set ablaze during the demonstration. The rioters also lit tires in several parts of the city and main streets.

However, National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian affirmed that normalcy had been restored in Manokwari. He also ordered the police chiefs of Papua and West Papua to adopt security measures and avoid the use of excessive force.

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In the meantime, speaking in connection with the capital city relocation, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) had made an official announcement regarding his decision during a state address that he delivered before the members of parliament and VIP guests on August 16, 2019.

The new capital city will not only be a symbol and an identity of the nation, but it will also signify national advancement. He further countered that relocating the capital city will additionally increase the equity and equality of the country's economic development.

"This move is for 'Indonesia Maju' (Onward Indonesia) Vision. Long live Indonesia," he noted in his state address.

The Indonesian government's decision to relocate the country's capital city from Jakarta to Kalimantan Island had triggered pros and cons in society.

Indonesians not in agreement with the central government's decision contend that the Joko Widodo-Ma'ruf Amin administration must tackle several critical issues currently besieging Indonesia rather than pool its efforts and resources into relocating the capital city.

The serious problems that elicit prompt solutions from the government include the high rate of youth unemployment, economic growth remaining stagnant at some five percent, high stunting rates, and financial woes of the Healthcare and Social Security Agency.

Taking into account the significance of relocating the capital city for the entire nation, former Jakarta deputy governor and former vice presidential candidate, Sandiaga Uno, highlighted the need for greater public involvement in the government's decision-making process.

To this end, Uno was quoted by Republika as proposing a referendum for gaining greater clarity on whether most Indonesians concurred with this decision since relocating the country's capital city to Kalimantan Island was not "crucial."

The government and political elites, who favor the decision to relocate the capital city to Kalimantan, viewed as the center of the Indonesian archipelago, believe that it will boost regional development outside the densely populated island of Java.

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