National figures criticises capital city move – a heaven surrounded by hell

CNN Indonesia – February 1, 2022
Artists impression of new capital city in East Kalimantan – Undated (Istimewa)

Jakarta – A number of national figures have criticised the project to move the state capital (IKN) to East Kalimantan as envisaged by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo  Among the figures who have loudly criticised the project are economist Faisal Basri and former Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

Basri has questioned Widodo's dream of building a green capital city. In reality, said Basri, the new capital city Nusantara will 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. So it will be a heaven surrounded by hell. In time this heaven could also become hot", said Basri during a virtual discussion at the Mulawarman University on Monday January 31.

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

He also warned of the economic transformation which will 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, Jusuf Kalla predicted that moving the capital city will encounter many problems. He is pushing the government to fully resolve the problems which will 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 on Monday.

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

Reckless legislation

Sharp criticism has also come from former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Chairperson 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 on Monday.

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

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.(dhf/asa)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Tokoh Kritik Keras IKN: Dikelilingi Neraka, Rakyat Jadi Sapi Perah".]