Various capital sites proposed by past presidents

The plan to relocate Indonesia's capital is not new.

The country's first president Sukarno and his successors had repeatedly floated the idea.

Sukarno, an architect by training, revealed his intention to move the capital of the young republic to Palangkaraya when inaugurating the city as the provincial capital of Central Kalimantan in 1957. He mentioned the idea again in 1965, but could not make it happen - he stepped down from power that year.

Later, strongman president Suharto revived the plan to move the capital, picking Jonggol district in Bogor, West Java, about 60km away from Jakarta, as the site.

He issued a presidential decree to develop the area. Unfortunately, the plan could not proceed because of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, which hit the country's economy hard.

Suharto's successor B. J. Habibie had a similar idea, but the aircraft engineer set his sights on the town of Sidrap in South Sulawesi.

In his view, the designation could help develop the eastern part of the vast archipelago. But the Sulawesi native did not get the chance to execute his plan as his tenure ended in less than 11/2 years.

President Joko Widodo... floated the idea of moving the administrative capital away from Jakarta. A team led by the National Development Planning Agency has been assessing the feasibility of the plan... and has come up with several options, including Palangkaraya and other regions in Kalimantan.

It was Indonesia's sixth president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who gave a new lease of life to the capital relocation plan. In 2013, he tasked a special team to study it and proposed to have a separate administrative capital and economic centre.

Purwokerto, a laid-back town in Central Java, emerged as one option for the new government centre as it was strategically situated at the heart of Java Island.

President Joko Widodo, who is on course to win re-election based on the official interim result, floated the idea of moving the administrative capital away from Jakarta.

A team led by the National Development Planning Agency has been assessing the feasibility of the plan in the past 11/2 years and has come up with several options, including Palangkaraya and other regions in Kalimantan.

Linda Yulisman

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2019, with the headline 'Various capital sites proposed by past presidents'. Print Edition | Subscribe