New Indonesian capital will benefit Sabah, Sarawak, says Shafie

Shafie Apdal says Indonesia’s proposed new capital in Kalimantan will create major economic impact for the region, especially Sabah and Sarawak.

KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Shafie Apdal is looking forward to the relocation of the Indonesian capital to Kalimantan, saying Sabah and Sarawak are strategically positioned to benefit the most from the economic spin-off.

Shafie noted that while the federal government will play a key role in how the whole matter develops, Sabah can ensure that bilateral relationships, including cultural ties, are maintained and nurtured with Indonesia.

“I am confident that their move will benefit this region, especially Sabah and Sarawak. As an economic powerhouse, they will be able to create major economic impact,” he said here today.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo had last month formally proposed to parliament a plan to move the capital from Jakarta, on the crowded island of Java, to Kalimantan on the island of Borneo.

Earlier today, Widodo announced that the location of the new capital would be in East Kalimantan province.

According to Indonesian news agencies, the new capital will be located in two regencies – Penajam Paser Utara and Kutai Kartanegara in East Kalimantan province.

A report by Nikkei Asian Review further said the site is located in a forested area owned by the government and that natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and flooding seldom take place.

Shafie said the timing of the move is opportune for Sabah as the state has enhanced its barter trade guidelines involving activities with, among others, Kalimantan and the Philippines’ southern Mindanao.

Besides the economy, he said barter trade activities will see the exchange of cultural benefits between Sabah and Sarawak and Kalimantan.

He said 43 licences have been approved in Sabah’s barter trade zones in Kudat, Tawau and Sandakan. Among the guidelines are that no limit will be set on the trade volume and that goods must be itemised and declared.

Shafie said security authorities also have a big role to play to ensure the passage of goods and trade activities are safeguarded.

He said the Pan Borneo Highway project may also be expanded into Kalimantan from the state through Kalabakan in Sabah’s east coast, which is seen as the gateway to the future Indonesian capital.