Good economic, security prospects for Sarawak with relocation of Indonesian capital

Dr Lee Kuok Tiung

KUCHING: The relocation of the Indonesian capital to Kalimantan promises good economic and security prospects for Sarawak, said political analyst Dr Lee Kuok Tiung.

He said this when commenting on recent views expressed by Tawfik Ismail, former Sungai Benut MP during an online forum.

Tawfik had pointed out that a shift in political and economic power from Malaya to Sarawak and Sabah was on the horizon and that Sarawak was likely become a boom area with the establishment of the capital of Indonesia in West Kalimantan.

“From an economic point of view, it is certain that the economic overflow from the relocation will benefit Sarawak and Sabah.

“For example, Sabah has discussed the benefits to Sabah’s tourism sector when the Indonesian capital moves to Kalimantan,” said Lee when contacted on Saturday (Sept 11).

He said the market size for products from Sabah and Sarawak had increased with the rise in the population of Kalimantan.

“The question is: are we ready to take advantage of that opportunity?” he said.

Lee noted that the relocation of the Indonesian capital to Kalimantan would involve the relocation of the Indonesian navy to Kalimantan, pointing out that this would benefit Malaysia in terms of border security pertaining to the problems posed by the Southern Philippines to Sabah all this while.

“It does not solve the problem but somehow it helps to reduce the problem,” said the senior lecturer at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS).

He said the government needed to improve the security of the Sarawak-Kalimantan and Sabah-Kalimantan borders as well.

Lee added that while economic development had been concentrated in Selangor and Johor, it was not impossible that this might shift to Sabah and Sarawak in the future.

“Sarawak has the Bakun hydroelectric power plant and can consider selling electricity supply to Kalimantan.

“Sabah and Sarawak are oil producers. It is certain that the use of petrol in Kalimantan will increase sharply with the relocation of the Indonesian capital to Kalimantan,” he said.

At the same time, he said the states or nation must be prepared in terms of the clash of civilisations stemming from cultural differences.

“The people of Kalimantan at this time seem to be much more tolerant and live peacefully like Sarawak as well, but when the Indonesian capital moves to Kalimantan, will it bring together fanatical Islamic values and culture such as street demonstrations?” he said.

However, Lee said it was understood that just like China, Indonesia had Resident Cards which controlled movements and property ownerships.

“In Sarawak, we also have the same concept which is control over land ownership in Sarawak by outsiders, but we do not have the concept of the Resident Card,” he added.