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Politics

Indonesians split on Jokowi's plan to move capital to Borneo

Jakartans and bureaucrats against move, with people on Kalimantan in favor

A regular traffic jam in Jakarta's business district.   © Reuters

JAKARTA -- Indonesians are split over President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's plan to move Indonesia's seat of government to East Kalimantan province on the island of Borneo, with those living in the current capital of Jakarta strongly opposed to the relocation.

Some 39.8% of respondents to a nationwide survey conducted by KedaiKopi disapproved of the plan, while 35.6% supported the move. The poll was conducted Aug. 14-21, overlapping with Widodo proposing the relocation to Borneo to parliament on Aug. 16, but before the announcement of exact location on Aug. 26.

The survey showed that 95.7% of Jakarta residents were against the plan. Kunto Wibowo, executive director at KedaiKopi, said that this was down to a lack of clarity on the future of the city after the relocation and the government's plans to mitigate negative effects.

Hashtags such #IbuKotaPindahUntukSiapa (Capital Move For Who) and #IbukotaPesananCukong (Capital ordered by capitalists) trended on Twitter after the president's announcement last week. While many netizens welcomed the move, people also questioned the amount being spent on the move and whether local or external workers would build the site.

About 48% of respondents from Kalimantan said they agreed with the plan, while nearly 29% opposed it. The highest support rate of 68% was on the neighboring island of Sulawesi, which may gain from higher flows of goods and people.

Jakarta will remain the economic center of the country, while the site in East Kalimantan will become the administrative capital, housing a new presidential palace, a House of Representatives building and new national police and military headquarters. An estimated 200,000 public servants from Jakarta will move in the first relocation phase.

Citing a survey by Indonesia Development Monitoring, local media reported that 94.7% of bureaucrats did not approve of the relocation. Kowantara, a community for wartegs (small privately owned streetside restaurants) also released a statement rejecting the plan.

The president now needs parliamentary approval of the relocation. The legislature could technically vote down the plan, but is likely to rubber-stamp it as Widodo's coalition enjoys a strong majority.

The government is hoping to obtain parliamentary approval, complete the regulatory framework and the city's new design this year. Public works are expected to start next year and be completed in 2023, when the construction of government offices and other facilities is set to begin. The actual move is slated to start in 2024.

Nikkei staff writer Erwida Maulia contributed to this report.

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