JAKARTA-SAMARINDA, December 17th, 2019 – An in-depth study of official government documents reveals several names of national and local politicians who are strongly suspected of benefiting from President Joko Widodo’s megaproject idea to move the capital. Jokowi put forward the idea on April 29, 2019, before the presidential election dispute in the Constitutional Court (MK), only 12 days after the presidential election on April 17, 2019. The names of politicians who were revealed were directly or indirectly related to the land ruler in the prospective mother’s area state city (IKN) in East Kalimantan.

The study for more than three months was conducted by a civil society coalition namely National JATAM, East Kalimantan JATAM, National WALHI, East Kalimantan Walhi, Asia Trend, Forest Watch Indonesia, Pokja 30, and Coastal and Fisheries Working Group. This report was released at the YLBHI offices in Jakarta and Samarinda, to coincide with President Joko Widodo’s visit to East Kalimantan to determine the point of construction of the palace and the inauguration of the Balikpapan-Samarinda toll road.

In report 1) revealed a number of names that could potentially be beneficiaries of this megaproject: national and local politicians and their families who have extractive industry concessions, namely coal mines, palm oil, timber, coal power plants and large-scale hydropower plants and property entrepreneurs. More than that, it is strongly suspected that this will only be a way to bleach the company’s sins over environmental destruction and the seizure of community land in East Kalimantan.

The three rings of the IKN area, which totals 180,965 hectares, are not empty space. In this area, there are 162 mining, forestry, oil palm, coal power plant concessions to property. A total of 158 of these 162 concessions are coal concessions that still leave 94 gaping mine holes. Famous names in Indonesia’s political landscape lie behind the ownership of the company’s concessions.

There are names Sukanto Tanoto and Hashim Djojohadikusumo who are the younger siblings of Prabowo Subianto. There is also Rheza Herwindo, Setya Novanto’s son. The names of Lim Hariyanto and Rita Indriawati related to the tax escape scandal in ICIJ documents and related to the Brata Bhakti Polri Family Big Family Foundation business also appear in the list of share ownership. There is also Thomas Aquinas Muliatna Djiwandono treasurer of the Gerindra Party and nephew Prabowo Subianto, also the name Yusril Ihza Mahendra and many other names.

“Corporations and oligarchs have the first opportunity to ensure their investments are safe and in line with the IKN megaproject. On the contrary, the voice of the indigenous people of Paser Balik was ignored after their living space was taken by PT ITCI when they entered the area in the 1960s, “said Merah Johansyah, Coordinator of the National JATAM.

“This is just a mega (for-sharing) project, with a thick political oligarchic aroma, given that political supporters are set in the coal business. The fulfillment of IKN’s estimated energy needs of 1.5 GW gives room and reason to build a bigger dirty energy industry (coal-fired power plant) in East Kalimantan, which ultimately only duplicates the problem of Jakarta to IKN and Kalimantan, “said Yuyun Indradi, Executive Director of Trend Asia.

He added that now as many as 150 Paser Balik families in Pamaluan Village or ring 1 IKN in Penajam Paser Utara Regency were worried again because Jokowi’s decision to move the capital city had never asked for their opinion. In fact, as soon as the new capital city project was announced, PT ITCI Hutan Manunggal became even more violent and quickly expanded land tenure at the expense of their customary territories.

Not only the survival of indigenous peoples, the existence of mangroves as the community’s living space and food source for the surrounding fauna is also threatened.
“The results of the study show that more than 16 thousand hectares of mangrove ecosystems are threatened to be lost due to the IKN development plan and the development plan due to the RTRWP. The mangrove ecosystem is the right land cover at this time, because from our study along the coast of the bay has a high Flood Hazard Index and Flood Vulnerability Index, not suitable for conversion-built or used as settlements or even industrial areas, “said Anggi Prayogi Putra, researcher Forest Watch Indonesia.

Forest Watch Indonesia has been intensively conducting studies in Balikpapan Bay since 2016. Together with coastal communities in the bay, they propose that the area be used as a protection area (conservation area).

“The burden on the environment in East Kalimantan which is already heavy by natural resource extraction will increase to a multidimensional crisis by the expansion of the capital buffer, and expand economic inequality because the concessionaires will soon become landlords of expanding capital development,” said Zenzi Suhadi, Head of the Executive Advocacy Department National WALHI.

With these facts, a big question arises. Is it true that the decision to relocate the capital city is in the public interest or is it in the interests of the elite?