A faded and worn poster in the style of vintage travel posters is peeling off a wall. The poster shows the planned Garuda-like national palace in Nusantara with light rays streaming from it. In the foreground, smiling men, women and children wave Indonesian flags.

Peeling Back the Facade of Indonesia’s Colonial New Capital

On 18 January 2022, Indonesia’s House of Representatives passed a bill allowing for the relocation of the country’s capital from Jakarta to Borneo’s East Kalimantan Province. The day before the Undang-Undang Ibu Kota Negara—the IKN Law—was passed, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced that the new capital will be called “Nusantara”.

According to the IKN Law’s academic paper, a government-produced supporting document, the new capital will occupy more than 250,000 hectares—more than three times the size of Jakarta—and will accommodate up to 1.5 million new residents by 2045. The paper also argues that Jakarta is no longer suitable as a capital city because it is overpopulated, congested, polluted and sinking up to 10 centimetres every year. 

“This move is to equalise distribution—distribution in infrastructure, economy and social justice,” Jokowi said in a speech on 22 February, adding that Nusantara will comprise 70% green space, will offer public transit options for 80% of all transportation in the city, and will be 80% powered by “green energy”. 

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