Adrian: Surabaya and East Java Can Be Option for New Capital City

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JALAN Basuki Rahmat is one of the elite areas in Surabaya crowded with office and entertainment centers. (Photo: By courtesy )
JALAN Basuki Rahmat is one of the elite areas in Surabaya crowded with office and entertainment centers. (Photo: By courtesy )

UNAIR NEWS – Last April, the discourse of moving capital city outside Java was all over the news. The alternative was chosen to reduce the burden of Jabodetabek, an effort toward development equality, to improve competitiveness at global and regional levels, and to manage central government efficiently.

The government has also reviewed some possible locations as the next capital city. One of them is Kalimantan. Although it is not something new, the news did not fail to bring a diverse reaction from many parties including a History Science lecturer at Universitas Airlangga, Adrian Perkasa, S.Hum, M.A.

“Speaking about the Indonesian context today, the problem cannot be solved only by moving the center of power. This is not a solution, “explained Adrian.

According to him, the government also needs to consider other regions in Java to replace Jakarta. For example, Surabaya or other cities in East Java because he believes that until now Java is still popular, in development, infrastructure, geopolitics, geostrategic and geocultural aspects.

“We can see the maps or centers of power in Java since ancient times. Like it or not, people say, Java is the key, and indeed it is, “said the alumnus of UNAIR Historical Science.

Adrian explained that the capital city had happened long before the era of revolution, in the ancient Javanese or Hindu-Buddhist period. It happened in several kingdoms, Kingdom of Kahuripan led by King Airlangga and the Islamic Mataram Kingdom during the reign of Panembahan Senapati. The transfer of power is usually caused by the existence of natural disasters and wars.

“In Javanese tradition, the center of power is identical to where the king throne is. The rulers at that time had a conception that in the palace, there should not be three kings, “added the man.

The transfer of the center of power was also done by the colonial government as initiated by Jan Pieterzen Coen. However, these efforts are carried out solely to make profits. Daendels had done something similar. He moved the center of power from Batavia to Weltevreden – now Gambir – because of a chaotic condition after the bankruptcy of Veerenigde Oost Indische Compagnie (VOC).

Surabaya Can Be an Option

As mentioned earlier, Adrian said that the government needs to review or at least consider other regions in Java, such as Surabaya to be a capital city. The City of Heroes is well established in terms of infrastructure, economy, and demographic conditions.

” Surabaya has always had slow growth. Demographically, it continues to remain at 3.5 million. But it grows economically, “he explained.

From a historical aspect, Surabaya was one of the cities that were in Daendels’ mind to replace Batavia. At that time, Surabaya’s position was quite strategic as the two largest rivers in East Java ends in Surabaya. They are Kalimas and Pegirian River. The infrastructure is sufficient. However, due to the accumulated VOC debts, Surabaya only became a military center.

“Although Surabaya had lost the prestige as a prospective capital city, in the late 19th century it became the largest city in Dutch East Indies due to the advancement of trade and plantations. It was bigger than Singapore and equal with Hong Kong,” he said.

Another indicator that makes Surabaya worth considering is the geocultural side. The people here have a spirit of cooperation and are known for their unity,  in religious tolerance, ethnicity, and togetherness. Communities merged well, but they still hold on to their respective identities.

“The people of Surabaya swears a lot, but they are friendly. I think it is a power that should be acknowledged. East Java has its cultural inheritance or intangible cultural power,” he said.

Community Planning and Engagement

Kalimantan is one of the provinces currently considered to be the capital city. However, keep in mind that the majority of the land is peat. Therefore, the government must also consider the impact of construction on ecological conditions. Even so, the development of cities on peatland is indeed not the first time this has happened. The Dutch have done it before.

“The Dutch once built a city on peatland. The name of the city is Wageningen. The city was designed to have many plantations but was only made on a small scale. And, there are no more cities around it, to maintain ecological balance, “he said.

Another aspect that must be considered by the government is the importance of all elements of society’s involvement. There was news of rejection by the Dayak tribe when Palangkaraya was chosen as an option for the capital city. As indigenous people, they are concerned that the relocation will make them lose their tribal identity.

The government needs to make a thorough approach with the community in every decision making. There must be no antagonism between the two parties. Do not let the goal of achieving prosperity in development result in the emergence of social disparities and the sacrifice of other elements in society.

“Political elites in Surabaya in the past seemed to have more responsibility to bridge their way of thinking to the people. This can be a lesson for the government. The decision to move the capital city must not only be discussed by the president, ministers, and those who are considered experts. But also the people, “he concluded. (*)

Penulis: Nabila Amelia

Editor: Feri Fenoria Rifa’i

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