Jakarta (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo shared his plan for relocating Indonesia’s capital to Eastern Kalimantan during the first year of his second term in power.

Although reports, information, and preparatory studies seemed to have been overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic that swept across the world in early 2020, it was revealed earlier this year that the President’s administration is still firm on the plan.

At an online seminar in March, Presidential spokesperson Fadjroel Rachman had said that the President has continued to work hard on materializing the plan to relocate the country’s administrative capital to East Kalimantan, although he has not been able to visit the location in the past year as he focused on mitigating the pandemic in Indonesia.

It is worth mentioning that the plans to relocate the capital to parts of East Kalimantan’s Penajam Passer and Kutai Kertanegara districts have entered the finalization phase.

Minister for National Development Planning and head of the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), Suharso Monoarfa, had revealed this during an end-of-year meeting in 2020, according to deputy district head of North Penajam Passer, Hamdam.

The drafting of the bill on the capital city relocation has been completed, and it has been pending to be discussed in the national legalization program as a priority issue in the parliament.

Key issues

Issues with the existing capital, Jakarta, were among the factors considered when deciding on relocating the capital to East Kalimantan, Rachman said. The issues included overpopulation in Jakarta that has led to problems regarding land for housing, environmental matters, and social aspects, he added.

Centrality around Jakarta has also bred inequality in terms of development and economic robustness across the country, he said.

The relocation of the capital is an important step towards restructuring an outdated system and forming a new one that can contribute to efforts to materialize an Onward Indonesia, Rachman said.

Although the plan has sparked hopes for a more equal development, it is not one without issues. And those issues have raised concern among a number of parties.

One of the issues concerns security in the area. In 2019, shortly after President Widodo officially announced his plans to relocate the capital city, members of the parliamentary special committee on the new capital city review highlighted security and defense concerns in the new capital city, saying that the government needs to be able to ensure that there will be no security challenges in the area.

One of the committee’s members, Sarmudji, raised questions based on geostrategic studies in East Kalimantan.

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“If we relocate to East Kalimantan, there are a number of matters that we have conveyed but what needs to be clear here is what the anticipatory measures will look like should threats arise,” he said at a working meeting of the special committee.

Sarmudji highlighted the geographical position of East Kalimantan, which is considerably closer to the North Natuna Sea. Although there is no existing geostrategic conflict in the area, he said he believes that the government needs to be well-prepared.

It is especially important, he said, as the area for the new capital city is considerably open and is close to other countries’ territories, including Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei Darussalam.

Meanwhile, Chief Commander of the Indonesian Military Force, Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, had earlier said that the security system for the new capital city needs to be prepared well, considering that in a war situation, the area will be targeted by enemies.

“In a crisis or a war, the capital city will be the center of gravity that will be targeted by enemies with full power. For that reason, the security system in the administrative capital is a matter of utmost importance,” he stressed.

He highlighted a number of issues in the defense sector that need to be addressed, including the activation of the Air Defense Identification Zone and restricted and prohibited area policy, in accordance with Presidential Regulation number 4 of 2018 on Indonesian Air Territory Security.

He also highlighted the need for a military approach that allows mobilization through air, land, and sea for VVIP evacuation routes and contingency plans.

He further explained that military personnel, task forces, and bases will be relocated to North Penajam Passer, along with the Presidential Palace, parliamentary buildings, and other vital properties and offices.

As talks over the plans to relocate the capital city continue to highlight its potential for elevating the economy and ensuring equal development across the nation, matters on security are one that have perhaps been overshadowed not only by reports on the pandemic, but also by the economic and development aspects of the plan.

It is perhaps worth underlining that security issues need to be updated further and highlighted more as the plans for relocating the capital continue to take shape.

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Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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