Indonesian capital shift good for Sarawak

Relocation to Kalimantan will bring massive economic benefits to us: Santubong MP

KUCHING: The relocation of Indonesia’s capital city from Java to Kalimantan, if realised, is expected to have enormous economic benefits for Sarawak.

Santubong Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the move would enable border cities and settlements in the state to be developed for cross-border trade, tourism and cultural exchange.

“The dream of building several roads across the border at several strategic locations would become a reality,” he said when interviewed by the New Sarawak Tribune on how the decision would affect the state in general.

The former home affairs deputy minister said the move would certainly boost Kalimantan’s economy, adding that “a rich Kalimantan is good for Sarawak”.

Wan Junaidi, however, expressed concern over security along the 1,100-km border between Sarawak and Kalimantan.

Wan Junaidi

“Both Sarawak and Kalimantan would have to strengthen security along the border,” he said.

Wan Junaidi said economy-wise, the move would also demand players in small-medium enterprises (SMEs) and small-medium industries (SMIs) to be prepared for stiffer competition and bigger market.

“Sarawakians in the SMEs and SMIs will have to be creative and innovative in preparing for the bigger market in Indonesia, and also deal with price competitiveness.

“Any trade imbalance would not be good for us. Indonesia is like China with enormous potential. We have to be able to raise the ceiling in terms of technology and skills otherwise we would drown in the products from our neighbour.

“Kalimantan would usher into a new era of fast development and newly found prosperity in all aspects for which it has not had a fair share of for many years.

“Banjarmasin and Balikpapan are rich in minerals but the benefits have not been enjoyed by the people. President Jokowi intends to change this and enrich the distant and surrounding provinces,” he said.

Wan Junaidi said relocating capital cities is not new to many countries around the world.

“Putrajaya was mooted and agreed upon after Kuala Lumpur had become overcrowded and plagued with traffic jams with no option to expand without incurring enormous amounts of money for land acquisition. Although it did not change its capital city, Malaysia moved its administrative headquarters in 1993,” he said.

“Over several thousand years China shifted her capital from one place to another. So did England from Canterbury to Landonium. Among the earliest in modern history are Washington DC in USA in 1790 after independence and Canberra after the unification of Australia’s districts,” he said.

Wan Junaidi viewed that relocation of capital cities may be due to factors such as defence, economy and/or even the establishment of their legacies by certain leaders.

“Jakarta is overcrowded and traffic jams are well-known. To re-plan a greater Jakarta city is not easy and might be even costly. It’s one of the most populous cities in Indonesia and ultimately Southeast Asia.

“They couldn’t find a better position to build a new capital with their new wealth other than Kalimantan as it is almost at the crescentic centre of Indonesia, the equidistance to Sulawesi and to Jakarta and from Acheh to Irian Jaya,” he expressed.

Political analyst and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) lecturer Dick Lembang Dugun echoed Wan Junaidi’s views.

“The proposal to move the Indonesian capital should bring about more advantages than disadvantages,” he said.

Dick Lembang Dugun

“Firstly, this will strengthen the relationship between Sarawak and Indonesia. This will especially benefit the Dayaks in Kalimantan more than others as cultural exchange between Dayaks in Kalimantan and Sarawak would be more pronounced.

“The economic prospect between Sarawak and Indonesia can be stimulated following the move. One thing that they can work together on is to develop the Indonesia-Malaysia border.

“This would benefit people from both sides of the border and the constant engagement with one another can facilitate development for both parties.”

Dick pointed out that should the move take place, the illegal movements of people must be taken into consideration.

“The laws must be strengthened to deal with this. It should be done without sacrificing the economic benefits generated by the move,” he said.

“Bilateral relationships can boost the economy along the border. More development mean more economic activities which in turn would be a win-win situation for both sides.”