Protecting military, national police resources key to Indonesia’s capital move

Protecting military, national police resources key to Indonesia’s capital move

Indonesia’s plan to move its capital from the port city of Jakarta to an inland province creates the need for new military and police facilities, experts said.

The move from Jakarta on the island of Java to the province of East Kalimantan on the island of Borneo will take five years and cost about U.S. $33 billion. It is designed to make the center of government more secure from natural disasters and remove it from the overcrowding and pollution of Jakarta, which scientists said is a city rapidly sinking into the Java Sea.

“TNI [Indonesian Armed Forces] and national police will not move directly to the new capital. Instead, the transfer will occur in stages,” Dr. Muradi, a defense and military analyst at Indonesia’s Padjadjaran University, told FORUM. “Only the regional command centers for TNI and the national police will initially be moved to the new capital while the rest remain in position. The most important step is to set up the critical offices for defense and security purposes for the new capital.”

Muradi, who advises the Indonesian government, goes by a single name. Moving the capital to the center of Borneo, 2,000 kilometers northeast of Jakarta, is based more on concerns about natural disasters than vulnerability to attack, he said.

“Nowadays, threats are taking different forms — no longer invasion or physical attack by another country, but newer forms such as cyber attack,” he said. “This is why I advised TNI and the police to work for the immediate establishment of a new cyber law to protect Indonesia.”

Indonesia’s Bandung Institute of Technology reported in 2018 that parts of Jakarta could be submerged by 2050, based on the rate with which it is sinking. This phenomenon, along with pollution, overcrowding and the threat of earthquakes, tsunamis and severe storms, motivated Indonesian President Joko Widodo to announce the capital’s planned move to East Kalimantan on August 26, 2019. (Pictured: One of the world’s most densely populated cities, Jakarta is also one of the fastest-sinking cities in the world due to rampant development and the overuse of groundwater.)

Muradi estimated that building the necessary infrastructure in a currently forested area to support TNI and the national police will take about five years. “They need to be ready before the end of 2023 or early 2024, as that’s when I’m told the president hopes to take office in the new capital.”

Land acquisition will begin in 2020, Indonesian Planning Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro told Reuters. The new capital will be a “forest city,” he added, with inspiration drawn from Seoul, Singapore and Washington. Steps will be taken to protect the native forest with its population of orangutans, sun bears and long-nosed monkeys, he said.

Tom Abke is a FORUM contributor reporting from Singapore.