Nusantara move will enhance ties with Sarawak

Date:

KUCHING: Indonesia’s new capital, Nusantara is set to be inaugurated in August 2024.

The planned city which will replace Jakarta as the nation’s capital is located on the east coast of the island of Borneo which is part of the East Kalimantan province.

Consulate General to the Republic of Indonesia in Kuching, Raden Sigit Witjaksono, disclosed that works are underway for the new capital.

Raden shared with New Sarawak Tribune and its sister paper Suara Sarawak on some of the latest developments for Nusantara.

NST: How are you finding Sarawak so far?

SIGIT: I have been here for about five months, and I am trying to go around Sarawak as much as possible – so far, I’ve been to Miri, Sibu and Ba’kelalan among others.

I have also been monitoring and looking at possible collaborations with Sarawak for our new capital.

NST: Can you share on the progress for the new capital?

SIGIT: Earlier in June, President Jokowi Widodo officiated the ground-breaking for the main area in the new capital.

The 6,000 hectares which is the Ibu Kota Negara (IKN) or central government area will consist of several buildings like the presidential palace, parliamentary building and three to four ministerial offices.

The development of its surrounding area of 56,000 hectares will followed suit and it will consist of other facilities.

It cannot be denied that we need to prepare a lot for the new capital and our president had mentioned that he wants to start office in August 2024 and the independence celebration for that year to be celebrated at there.

Hopefully with all the hard work and efforts put in by everyone especially from the central government and East Kalimantan provincial government, this can be achieved.

NST: What are the biggest challenges of building the new capital?

SIGIT: One of the challenges is budget as up to now, we are preparing about 20 per cent of the total projection of the budget which is USD35 billion.

We will also go for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and foreign investors as well.

Some of the countries interested to participate in the development of the new capital are China, Japan, Korea, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Finland.

Secondly, we are developing the new capital from zero so there are no infrastructures yet.

Therefore, we are making use of the advancement of cities like Balikpapan and Samarinda to build the necessary infrastructures as it is the main thing that assist in further development of the new capital.

NST: What would be the impacts of the nation’s capital relocation?

SIGIT: One of the main purposes for the move to East Kalimantan is to spread the nation’s economic distribution and development to the region.

East Kalimantan is a good location because it will connect to areas like Sulawesi, Maluku, East Timor, and Papua.

Our population is currently 273 million and of this, approximately 160 million or 57 per cent are living in Java.

So, the economic distribution and focus of development are in Java where we have our big cities like Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, and Yogyakarta.

As such, we need to split and redistribute our economic wealth and population to develop the eastern part of Indonesia because there are so many developments in Java, some in Sumatra, then our icon of tourism, Bali.

There are many good natural tourist attractions that have yet to be tapped into or developed in those area.

NST: With the establishment of Nusantara, how do you see the development of bilateral ties between Indonesia and Malaysia, particularly Sarawak?

SIGIT: The relocation of Indonesia’s capital to East Kalimantan will certainly have significant impacts and influences on the island of Borneo.

This is because the government will move and bringing about infrastructures as well as facilities such as roads, telecommunications, airport, economic centres and supporting industries among others.

Sabah and Sarawak as well as Burnei Darussalam are the closest neighbouring countries to Indonesia which are located on the same Borneo Island as the new capital.

I believe the bilateral relations with Sarawak will be further strengthened especially when we share borders.

For instance, trade, tourism, socio-cultural, education, health as well as transportation and logistics are some of the areas with potential for further collaboration between Indonesia and Sarawak in the future.

Moreover, with the transfer of IKN to Kalimantan it will invite large investors from foreign countries to Kalimantan thus Sarawak will also get the attention of these investors.

The state can become a hub or transit point for these investors before entering IKN.

NST: On average, what is the value of export and import between Sarawak and Kalimantan?

SIGIT: During the pandemic from April 2020 to April 2022, external trade activities between Indonesia decreased quite drastically – especially trade on the borders of the two regions which was greatly affected by border closures between the two countries.

Since the opening of borders in April this year, Sarawak recorded exports of 24.7 tonnes of packaged food and products through the Entikong-Tebedu border post; 16 tonnes of agricultural products through the Aruk-Biawak border post; and 14 tonnes of palm sugar.

Indonesia’s agricultural product exports to Sarawak were recorded at Rp.2,017,022,400 or RM630,320 whereas fishery products were Rp.1,169,286,000 or RM365,402 between June and July this year.

However, this export values do not include crude palm oil (CPO) exports which are quite large at the Nanga Badau border post and Kapuas Hulu to the Lubuk Antu border.

NST: Any statistics of Sarawakians and Malaysians visiting Kalimantan for the first six months of this year or since the border reopened?

SIGIT: The number of tourists or Sarawakians entering and visiting West Kalimantan through the Aruk border post is about 1,988 people while through the Entikong border post it is 1,224 people.

Medical tourism is a sector that we are seeing an increase from the Indonesia side – during the pandemic and with movement restrictions, there weren’t any but now it has started to pick up.

Most who are from West Kalimantan, they would come to Sarawak because it is geographically more convenient in comparison to them travelling to Jakarta or Surabaya which are considered far.

Meanwhile, those who are from Java, they would travel to Penang and Johor Bahru.

With more flight connectivity, I believe we can explore more for tourism that would benefit both Sarawak and Indonesia.

NST: Lastly, what do you think of Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg?

SIGIT: Abang Johari is very much supportive of the bilateral relationship between Sarawak and Indonesia.

When I first arrived in Kuching, making courtesy calls to Head of State Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and Abang Johari was among the top priorities for me.

I believe that Abang Johari truly understands the significance of how we are living on the same island, how we share so many similarities – borders, cultures, family backgrounds and economic ties that go way back.

He has mentioned on several occasions how there are many potentials and collaborations not only for Sarawak but the whole Borneo Island to reap from Indonesia’s new capital.

Therefore, the leadership of Abang Johari is really on the right track – hopefully while I am here, I will do my best to work for further cooperation between both sides for the benefit of all.

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