Ongkili and delegates visit Indonesia’s future capital city

by BERNAMA / pic by TMR FILE

MINISTER in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili (picture) and some 40 senior officials are the first Malaysian officials to step into Indonesia’s new capital city.

They walked around excitedly at “Titik Nol”, referring to “Zero Point” of the new capital city territory, called Nusantara, an old Javanese term meaning archipelago, about 2,000km away from Jakarta.

Nusantara sits on a 256,105ha site, roughly four times larger than Jakarta, presenting a wide range of business opportunities for investors.

“We’re equally excited about the move because obviously the economic spill-over will benefit neighbouring Malaysian states — Sabah and Sarawak.

“The delegation visited the proposed site for the presidential palace, where Indonesian President Joko Widodo camped with his top officials just weeks before,” said Ongkili in a statement yesterday.

The minister was accompanied by Sarawak Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan and Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Dr Joachim Gunsalam. Also present were Adlan Mohd Shaffieq, the Chargé d’Affaires of the Malaysian Embassy in Indonesia, and Sarawak stakeholder Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum.

It is anticipated that the presidential palace, legislative buildings and key national government departments will be opened in the new capital before the next presidential handover in 2024.

The chosen location is an area split between North Penajam Paser Regency and Kutai Kartanegara Regency in East Kalimantan, which is roughly between Balikpapan and Samarinda.

Work was supposed to start in the new city in 2020, but then Covid-19 happened, forcing the project to be put on hold, then planning resumed in 2021.

“However, as much as we’re excited with this new development on the Malaysian side, we need to be fully prepared for the huge change,” Ongkili said.

Among the issues that need to be looked into include economic border trading, logistics and security.

There is also a need for the federal government to speed up the establishment of Immigration, Customs, Quarantine and Security centres at all entry points into Malaysia.

The Malaysian delegates are currently on a week-long official visit to Indonesia, beginning March 26, and are currently in Tarakan, their fourth stop after Jakarta, Samarinda and Balikpapan.

Later, the delegation visited the PT Bayan Resources Tbk, which is engaged in open cut mining with various coal mines in East and South Kalimantan.