Indonesia confirms capital move

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, dressed in a traditional outfit from West Nusa Tenggara, gestures during his state-of-the-nation address at a general assembly at parliament in Jakarta on August 16, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 16 August 2019

Indonesia confirms capital move

  • President Joko Widodo formally proposed the plan to move the capital to the island of Kalimantan during his speech on the country’s 74th Independence Day
  • Moving the capital to Kalimantan island is expected to narrow the development and economic gap between Java, the country’s most populated island where Jakarta is located, and other areas in Indonesia

JAKARTA: The Indonesian government is moving ahead with its plan to relocate the seat of government from flood-prone, traffic-choked Jakarta to an undisclosed location in Kalimantan island.

In his state of the nation speech before the parliament on Friday, delivered a day before the country’s 74th Independence Day anniversary on Aug. 17, President Joko Widodo formally proposed the plan.

“I hereby ask for permission and support from members of the parliament and the Indonesian people to move our country’s capital to the island of Kalimantan,” Joko said.

Indonesia shares the island, also known as Borneo, with Malaysia and Brunei.

Joko, who was re-elected in the April presidential election and is set to be sworn in as president for the second term in October, did not specify a time plan to move the capital.

“The new capital is being designed, not just as the symbol of a nation’s identity, but also a representation of its progress, based on a modern, smart and green city concept that uses new and renewable energy and is not dependent on fossil energy,” Joko said in a separate speech to propose next year’s state budget delivered later on Friday.

He also said that the government would minimize the use of state funds to finance the estimated 466 trillion rupiah plan, and instead would encourage participation from the private sector, state-owned enterprises and public-private partnership.

In a nod to the capital move plan, Regional Representatives Council Speaker Oesman Sapta Odang said in his speech that the council endorses a plan to build a nuclear power plant in Bengkayang, a district in West Kalimantan, to reduce the use of fossil energy.

Oesman added that based on recent research, 87 percent of Bengkayang people support the plan to have a nuclear power plant in their area to support industrialization and economic growth.

Moving the capital to Kalimantan island, where about 6 percent of Indonesia’s population lives, is expected to narrow the development and economic growth gap between Java, the country’s most populated island where Jakarta is located, and other areas in Indonesia.

According to data from the National Development Planning Agency, Java contributed 58.5 percent, and the Greater Jakarta area contributed 20.6 percent, in economic activities to the national GDP.

“If we let this situation continue to happen without a serious effort (to address it), the disparity would only worsen. The plan to move the capital to Kalimantan island is within this context so that it would drive new economic growth, and to stimulate economic equality and justice outside Java,” Joko said.

Another consideration for choosing Kalimantan, with its three provinces Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, and East Kalimantan as the candidates, is because the island is not part of the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire that makes Java prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Java is also facing a shortage of freshwater, and Jakarta could completely run out by 2040.

However, Kalimantan is prone to forest fires, which generate a choking haze and cause residents to suffer from respiratory diseases.

As the dry season reaches its peak and is estimated to last until October, hot spots have emerged on the island with Central Kalimantan and South Kalimantan among the worst affected by the forest fires.

Joko first proposed the on-and-off idea to move the capital in mid-2017 and made another announcement about the plan in late April, around the same time that Vice President Jusuf Kalla returns from the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.


Indian woman who alleged gang rape dies after burn attack

Updated 07 December 2019

Indian woman who alleged gang rape dies after burn attack

  • The woman was attacked in the state of Uttar Pradesh by a group of men that included two of the five she had accused of gang rape last year
  • The 23-year-old woman suffered extensive injuries and was airlifted Thursday from Uttar Pradesh to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, where she died late Friday of cardiac arrest

NEW DELHI: An alleged rape victim in northern India who was set on fire while heading to a court hearing in the case has died in a New Delhi hospital, officials said Saturday.
The woman was attacked in the state of Uttar Pradesh by a group of men that included two of the five she had accused of gang rape last year, police said. The two were out of custody on bail.
Five men were arrested in connection with the burn attack, police said.
The 23-year-old woman suffered extensive injuries and was airlifted Thursday from Uttar Pradesh to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, where she died late Friday of cardiac arrest, said Dr. Shalab Kumar, head of the hospital’s burn unit.
Yogi Adityanath, the state’s chief minister, said that the case would be heard in a fast track court and that the “strictest of punishment will be given to the culprits.”
Priyanka Gandhi, general secretary of the opposition Congress party, faulted the Uttar Pradesh government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, for failing to provide the woman with security, even after a similar case in the state in which a woman who accused a BJP lawmaker of rape was severely injured in a vehicle hit-and-run incident.
Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, is known for its poor record regarding crimes against women. According to the most recent available official crime records, police registered more than 4,200 cases of rape in the state in 2017 — the most in India.
Government figures for 2017 also show that police registered 33,658 cases of rape in the country. But the real figure is believed to be far higher as many women in India don’t report cases to police due to fear.
Indian courts also seem to be struggling to deal with these cases. Data shows that more than 90% of cases of crimes against women are pending in city courts.
The burn victim’s death came on the same day police in the southern state of Telangana fatally shot four men being held on suspicion of raping and killing a 27-year-old veterinarian after investigators took them to the crime scene. Their deaths drew both praise and condemnation in a case that has sparked protests across the country.
The woman’s burned corpse was found last week by a passer-by near the city of Hyderabad, India’s tech hub, after she went missing the previous night.
Police took the four suspects, who had not been charged with any crime, to the scene to help them locate the victim’s phone and other items, officials said. They said the men grabbed police firearms and began shooting, and were killed when police returned fire.
The Telangana High Court ordered authorities to preserve the bodies of the suspects and submit a video of the autopsies ahead of a court hearing set for Monday.
Separately, the National Commission on Human Rights, an autonomous body within India’s Parliament, sent a fact-finding mission to the crime scene and mortuary where the suspects’ bodies were held on Saturday amid questions from opposition lawmakers about the circumstances of the suspects’ deaths.