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Capital Relocation Policy, Between Idea and Realization

Presiden Joko Widodo (tengah) didampingi sejumlah pejabat terkait melihat peta kawasan salah satu lokasi calon ibu kota negara saat peninjauan di Gunung Mas, Kalimantan Tengah, Rabu (8/5/2019). ANTARA FOTO/Akbar Nugroho Gumay/foc.

Can President Joko Widodo really implement the plan to relocate the capital, considering that this idea has actually been pushed by several previous presidents but only ended up with an idea? Let’s wait together, whether the policy of moving the capital can really be pinned as a legacy from the seventh president.

Apart from the Soeharto Hill area in East Kalimantan, it is worth mentioning two other regions as strong candidates. Yes, Gunung Mas Regency and the Segita Region are names that have recently been widely referred to as alternative areas for relocating the capital.

Gunung Mas Regency is the result of the division of Kapuas Regency in 2002. The regency whose capital is Kuala Kurun has an area of ​​about 10,804 square kilometers and is currently inhabited by 109,947 people.

Meanwhile, what is referred to as the “Segita Region” is the name of the area located between Palangkaraya City, Katingan Regency, and Gunung Mas Regency, where all three are included in the Central Kalimantan Province.

Referring to the statement of the Head of the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) Bambang Brodjonegoro, using the quickest scenario, at least relocation activities can only be carried out in 2024.

 “Using the fast scenario, at least 2024 relocation activities have started. At least, if not entirely, part of the government will be moved from Jakarta to the new nation’s capital,” said Bambang.

Jakarta’s inability to overcome the problems of flooding and congestion is often one of the considerations for moving the capital from Jakarta. However, the real problem may be very complex.

The development of Jakarta as the capital has an impact on economic development that is too concentrated in this urban city. Like the proverb “there is sugar there are ants,” this causes Jakarta to be increasingly crowded with migrants from various regions and encourages the high flow of urbanization. As a result, the population density in Jakarta is relatively high.

Meanwhile, the large population itself certainly causes various demographic problems such as high unemployment, poverty, illegal settlements, crime, and various other derivative problems such as environmental pollution which has an impact on decreasing water and air quality conditions which are getting worse.

If this condition drags on, it is predictable that Jakarta’s population will swell and exacerbate demographic problems such as worsening traffic congestion and inefficiency, poor ecological quality, which will eventually lead to the threat of a decline in the quality of life of the people of Jakarta.

Yes, in short, Jakarta can be said to have failed in carrying out its responsibilities in the areas of spatial management, natural resources and the environment, population and settlement control, and transportation, as the capital city of Indonesia.

In addition, talking about the policy of relocating the capital from Jakarta is actually also based on the spirit of the state to carry out a process of balance and development justice for all people.

However, Jakarta’s multifunctionality as a center of economy, finance, business, politics, and education is the result of a centralized government, as well as a manifestation of development policies that have been concentrated in Jakarta so far.

Since the days of Dutch colonialism, the Indonesian economy has been dominated by the island of Java. Unfortunately, this pattern continued during the Old Order and was further sharpened during the New Order. The direction of this centralization policy was marked by the concentration of various social, cultural, economic, and political facilities on the island of Java. As for the island of Java itself, development is concentrated in Jakarta.

The result is that there are regional disparities in Indonesia and this fact has been going on for a long time. The “development cake” has been estimated to be concentrated in Java Island to reach 52 percent of GDP and Sumatra Island at 28 percent, and the remaining 20 percent is distributed to other regions. Even 1/5 of GDP, is said to be concentrated around Jabodetabek.

The existence of disparities between regions certainly hurts the sense of justice of the Indonesian people, and this high disparity in growth between regions must not be allowed to drag on.

Taking into account the context of the background above, many analyzes have come to the conclusion that Jakarta’s burdens cannot be solved without a solution to relocating the capital. Meanwhile, relocating the capital at the same time will be a powerful instrument to overcome the problem of disparity between regions in Indonesia.

The History of the Discourse on the Transfer of the Capital

Talking about plans to move the capital is actually not a new discourse. Since the days of Dutch colonialism, the idea has actually emerged. The planned relocation of the capital city from Jakarta was due to the fact that Jakarta is located in a low-lying coastal area and is familiar with various infectious diseases such as malaria and diarrhea.

President Joko Widodo walks in a forest area while inspecting one of the locations for the candidate for the national capital in Gunung Mas, Central Kalimantan, Wednesday (8/5/2019). Photo source: Antara Foto

In 1906 the Dutch East Indies government had a discourse on moving the capital from Jakarta to Bandung. Although the Volksraad lacked support , this policy began to be implemented during the reign of Governor-General JP Graaf van Limburg Stirum (1916-1921).

This idea stems from the results of HF Tillema’s study on the health of coastal cities on the island of Java. As an Environmental Health Specialist based in Semarang, Tillema concluded that “the port cities on the coast of Java tend to be unhealthy”.

With the exception of Batavia, this port city did not meet the requirements as the seat of the Dutch East Indies government. In his final recommendation, Tillema suggested, Bandung be chosen as the new capital of the Dutch East Indies to replace Batavia.

The idea of ​​moving the capital of the Dutch East Indies from Batavia to Bandung received support from Prof J Klopper, Chancellor of the Magnificus Bandoengsche Technische Hoogeschool (now ITB), and began to be implemented in 1920. An area of ​​27 hectares in Bandung has also been prepared to become the center of civil administration.

Since then, both government and private offices have been moved. Gradually several offices have been moved to Bandung, such as the Mining and Energy Office (1924), the Geologisch Laboratory building (1928), the Pension Building (1940), Perum Bio Farma (1923), the Great Post Office (1928), and the Railway Headquarters. (1928).

However, on the land prepared for the central area of ​​civil administration, only two buildings were completed, namely the Department of Verker en Gemeentewerken (1920) and the Hoofdbureu Post Telegraf en Telefoon (1920). Meanwhile, the other 12 buildings that were planned were not built because the Dutch government experienced a recession and caused the failure of the project to move the capital to Bandung.

Besides Bandung, Palangkaraya has also been asked to be a destination city for the relocation of the capital. Long ago in 1957 President Soekarno had declared this city as a new location related to the policy of moving the capital city of Jakarta. The geographical position of Palangkaraya is considered unique because it is located right in the middle of the Indonesian archipelago.

This idea surfaced during the inauguration of Palangkaraya as the capital of the province of Central Kalimantan. Even though at that time, if you still had to ride river transportation to Palangkaraya from Banjarmasin, the first two visits by the president signaled the seriousness of the plan to move the capital there.

However, after the issuance of the Decree of 5 July 1959, President Soekarno seemed to abandon the idea of ​​moving the capital. Bung Karno, as he is usually called, is seen again focusing on development in Jakarta, which he intends to make as a symbol of Indonesia’s rise as a Third World leader.

Now the Soekarno Monument is remembered by people as a memory of President Soekarno’s discourse on moving the capital. Located near the Isen Mulang Palace and only 50 meters from the lips of the Kahayan River, this is where Soekarno laid the first stone for the construction of Palangkaraya City, July 17, 1957.

The discourse of moving the capital city continues. Referring to the article “Moving the State Capital” written by Deden Rukmana, entering the New Order era the idea of ​​​​relocating the capital had appeared. President Suharto also initiated the relocation of the capital city from DKI Jakarta to Jonggol, West Java through Presidential Decree No. 1 of 1997 concerning the Coordination of Development of the Jonggol Area as an Independent City.

This decision supports Jonggol’s development plan as an independent city of 30 thousand hectares. The plan to move the capital to Jonggol did not continue with the fall of the Suharto government in May 1998.

Still referring to the same article, it was said that during the era of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the discourse of moving the capital was also recorded to have resurfaced. This idea was presented by the sixth president at the National Working Meeting of the Association of Indonesian Provincial Governments (APPSI) in Palangkaraya in early December 2009. On that occasion, President SBY emphasized that the burden of service functions and the feasibility of Jakarta as the nation’s capital was getting heavier.

In early September 2010, President SBY suggested the formation of a small team. This team was tasked with reviewing the idea of ​​moving the national capital. There are three recommendations as a scenario, namely, first, maintaining Jakarta as the nation’s capital and making improvements to all problems. Second, moving the center of government from Jakarta to a new location that remains on the island of Java. Third, moving the state capital and administrative center to a new location outside Java.

But unfortunately in the era of President SBY, the plan to move the capital city is still only a plan and has not been followed up further. Now at the end of President Jokowi’s administration, the idea of ​​moving the capital city is again strong.

Interestingly, now it is almost certain that the relocation destination is outside Java. One of the arguments raised is the effort to create equitable distribution of economic growth among regions in Indonesia.

That is, speaking of one of the objectives of relocating the capital to the outside of Java Island is to boost the regional economy and at the same time carry out economic equality between regions. According to Bappenas’ calculations, at least 466 trillion is needed.

Yes, relocating the capital will obviously have an economic impact on the destination. Not only will the attention of the world and the world economy be on him, this policy will certainly become a lever for the regional economy, creating new pockets of investment destination, and a new center of economic growth on a national scale.

On the other hand, the relocation destination must also be prepared for the emergence of externalities, both in positive and negative terms. At a minimum, at least the local people who live in the city must really have been prepared to grow in the form of life as an urban and metropolitan city at the same time.

Within this framework, this means not only that local communities must not stutter when accepting the presence of a very large number of diverse populations of other communities, but also culturally potential to grow into a culture that is open, pluralist, and cosmopolitan.

Let’s wait together. Will President Joko Widodo actually implement the relocation plan for the capital, and where will the choice of destination city be anchored? Let’s also wait together, can the policy of moving the capital be pinned on the shoulders of the seventh president as a legacy in his second term of leadership?

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