Critics slam Indonesian green capital move – ‘heaven surrounded by hell’

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An artists impression of the new Indonesian capital Nusantara
An artists impression of the new Indonesian capital Nusantara in East Kalimantan ... a green city surrounded by coal mines, oil refineries and palm oil plantations. Image: Istimewa

Asia Pacific Report newsdesk

A number of national figures in Indonesia have criticised the project to move the state capital (IKN) from Jakarta to East Kalimantan as envisaged by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, reports CNN Indonesia.

Among the figures who have loudly criticised the project are economist Dr Faisal Basri and former Vice-President Jusuf Kalla.

Dr Basri has questioned Widodo’s dream of building a “green capital” city. In reality, said Dr Basri, the new capital city Nusantara would be surrounded by coal mines, oil refineries and palm oil plantations.

“This is unique, they (the government) want to build a green city, a smart city, but what surrounds it is totally different,” the economist said.

“So it will be a heaven surrounded by hell. In time this heaven could also become hot,” said Dr Basri during a virtual discussion at the Mulawarman University.

Dr Basri said that it was not a matter of not being allowed to move the capital, but he warned that the current economic conditions were not supportive of such a mega-project.

He also warned of the economic transformation which would stall and the issue of half of the population currently being categorised as extremely poor, poor, almost poor and vulnerable to falling into poverty.

Many problems
Speaking separately, former Vice-President Kalla predicted that moving the capital city would encounter many problems. He is pushing the government to fully resolve the problems which would emerge in the future.

“It is these complex issues which must be addressed together because later there will be problems, there will definitely be problems, budgetary problems, location problems, and the like”, said Kalla during a Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) national working meeting in Jakarta.

Kalla said that moving the capital city would not be easy. He added, however, that this was no longer the time to debate the issue because the decision had already been taken by the government and the House of Representatives (DPR).

Sharp criticism has also come from former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Chair Busyro Muqoddas who said that the process of deliberating and enacting the law on the state capital city by the DPR was “reckless”.

“And this is an irony which has profoundly injured the dignity of the ordinary people. The people have been positioned like the oligarchy’s cash cows in an election cycle, an election of regional heads,” said Muqoddas during the virtual discussion.

“This also in fact represents layers of disloyalty. In Arabic, durhaka murokab against the people,” he said.

New law to move capital
Earlier, the government and the DPR agreed to move the capital city from Jakarta to the new location in East Kalimantan.

The two parties embodied this agreement in the Law on the State Capital City (UU IKN).

The process of moving the state capital will not be done immediately following the enactment of the UU IKN.

Jakarta will continue to carry the status of the capital city until the president issues a presidential decree on moving the capital.

Translated by James Balowski for IndoLeft News. The original title of the article was “Tokoh Kritik Keras IKN: Dikelilingi Neraka, Rakyat Jadi Sapi Perah”.

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