Byline: Julia Suryakusuma
I have almost always lived in capital cities. I was born in New Delhi, resided in London, Prague (before Czechoslovakia split in 1993), Budapest, Rome, Bonn (long before the capital moved to Berlin in 1991), when my parents were posted there as diplomats. When in Indonesia, it's always been in Jakarta. So am I a capital city snob? In connection to the uber-densely populated, polluted, badly planned, garbage-filled, flood prone, traffic-choked, sinking city that Jakarta is? Hah! Not likely.
Jakarta is Indonesia's gateway to the world, Southeast Asia's most dynamic metropolitan area, and the nation's economic, political, cultural and intellectual center. It provides all sorts of opportunities unavailable elsewhere in the country, which is what draws migrants in. Jakarta proper hosts about 11 million in an area of 661.5 square kilometers, while the entire metropolis is home to over 30 million people across 6,400 sq km. Pretty squeezy huh? Furthermore, Jakarta could also be hit by a powerful earthquake, not just the tremors we've been experiencing.
Then we wouldn't have a capital. Oh boy! So when I heard about the plan to move the capital from Jakarta to Kalimantan, I thought, hmmm (read: thinking hard!). A recent survey (posted in Coconuts Jakarta) unsurprisingly found that 95.7 percent of Jakartans were against the move.
They suggested the new capital be called "Jokograd" or "Saint Jokoburg", mocking what they consider President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's overly ambitious plan. Megalomania? Overly enthusiastic? Or just like all leaders, wanting a legacy? Pak Jokowi, you have left legacies aplenty already! Yeah, sure, some failures, misguided policies, and many unmet promises as well, but no one's perfect! So what and who is behind Jokowi's burning ambition? Could former president Megawati Soekarnoputri be one of them? Her father had also wanted to move the capital to Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan (Jokowi decided on North Penajam Paser regency and part of Kutai Kertanegara regency in East Kalimantan).
Moving the capital was one of first president Sukarno's unmet goals, so is "Mama Mega" passing it on to Jokowi? Those who are for the move say it's courageous and revolutionary. Not really. Besides Sukarno, almost every president - certainly Soeharto and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, wanted to do it. But Jokowi is typically the Nike guy who says "just do it!" Since independence in 1945, we've always been too Java-centric...