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Abandoning Jakarta, Moving Capital to Borneo - Cynicism, Corruption, Murder
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Jakarta polluted, unloved

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It is wrong, totally wrong to abandon Jakarta and try to build some Potemkin village in the middle of Borneo, an island known in Indonesia as Kalimantan.

There are many reasons why, and we will be addressing at least some of them here.

But before we begin, let us state the obvious: the cowardly and spineless Indonesian city planners, architects and recent graduates of thoroughly useless schools, are accepting this, so far, the most ridiculous and vile idea of President Jokowi’s regime. And not only that: they are competing for a piece of the pie, advancing their ‘ideas’, justifying their collaboration with statements like: “Well, the government already decided to do it, so at least we should try to create the best design possible”.

Needless to say, that the Indonesian city planners have already created some of the most monstrous, unlivable cities on earth. These individuals generally fall into two categories: either they work for private, thuggish companies, or for the government, which had already, a long time ago, abandoned the entire urban design to the “market”. It is a vicious circle. In fact, the Indonesian government serves private business and military interests, and so do, by extension, the Indonesian government officials, including ‘academics’ and mass media.

The results are clear: those nihilist and corrupt Indonesian elites and their monstrous cities, where nothing is public, where there are almost no green areas, but plenty of worshipped slums (artificially glorified shantytowns – kampungs), and millions of repulsive buildings and houses designed by talentless architects, a desperate lack of an urban. Cities which are desperately lacking culture and beauty; cities with almost no public transportation, with open sewers, and privatized utilities.

 

Jakarta is dying. It is collapsing, sinking.

For decades, these facts used to be denied, hidden, covered up. Often it felt that I was the only writer ready to expose the horrors of Indonesian cities. Now, suddenly, even the Western media, always so supportive of the Indonesian fundamentalist capitalism, cannot hide the truth, anymore. Recently, article after article are being published, exposing the nightmare.

From the left, Socialist Worker, wrote:

“Jakarta is a capital city that is literally sinking. Under the weight of pollution and rising sea levels, Indonesia’s government has decided to simply pack up and move elsewhere.

They, along with 1.5 million government workers, will soon be headed for the island of Borneo.

The rest of Jakarta’s 30 million residents will be abandoned to live in a hugely polluted, impoverished and sinking city.

It’s a horrifying illustration of how our rulers want to preserve “business as usual” while they leave ordinary people to suffer the reality of climate crisis.

Jakarta is sinking—in some areas by up to 20 centimeters a year—because not enough people have access to clean drinking water.”

But even the super mainstream newspaper, The Sun, exposed the reality:

“Jakarta is SINKING as scientists warn climate catastrophe could plunge half of city underwater by 2030 – and the entire capital may have to be abandoned…”

“Unfortunately for Jakarta, there is no time or room for error as experts are predicting that the continued sea level rise will see the north of the city underwater by 2030.

This area includes the international airport.”

That doesn’t seem to worry too many Indonesian officials, planners, and rulers. The cynicism of the Indonesian so-called elites and their pawns, seems to have no boundaries.

In Indonesia, experts are known to overlook the urban horrors, for a fee, refusing to admit the total collapse, cynically concentrating on tiny technical details. Masters degrees and doctorates are made by blurring reality, refusing to say and write in simply language, that hundreds of millions of people have been condemned to live, all over the archipelago, in tremendous destitution.

What is obvious, is rebuked. Say “clear disaster”, even horror, and you will be told, arrogantly, to your face: “give us data. Show us the results of academic research”. But almost no real data is produced. Research is conducted in a way that it hides the truth. I worked with leading UN statisticians, and was told how in Indonesia, data gets massaged and concealed.

Point at some monstrous slum, or at a river clogged with garbage, and you will be reprimanded: “No. It is not what you think it is. Show us the studies!”

But it is; it is precisely what you see. And the country, together with its monstrous capital city, it falling, irreversibly, into pieces.

 

Now, moving the Indonesian capital city to Borneo is totally immoral. The move clearly exposes the essence of the corrupt Indonesian regime.

In summary: the government is prepared to use billions of dollars from public assets, while it is also trying to attract private “investment” (the impoverished public will have to eventually pay for it, as always in the modern history of the country). Those tens of billions will, as always, disappear in corruption. Original plans will be ‘modified’, getting rid of public spaces and public transportation, in order to maximize the profits of construction companies, politicians and obedient ‘public employees’. Already devastated, the thoroughly ruined Island of Borneo, will deteriorate even further. With the new capital in place, the last hopes for independence, of the native Dayak people, will vanish forever.

In the meantime, 30 million of the people living in greater Jakarta, will be left unprotected, defenseless, ruined and facing the most horrible demise.

But fascist Indonesia does not care about 30 million of its, mostly poor, citizens. As it does not care about the fate of the inhabitants of Borneo; people who are dying slow deaths, from mercury poisoned rivers (result of gold mining), monstrous chemicals that are accompanying vast palm oil plantations as well as coal (and other) mining.

And, as always in Indonesia, nobody really fights against this approaching nightmare.

ORDER IT NOW

It is because the population is uninformed, or more precisely, thoroughly brainwashed. The mass media is repeating the lies of the government and its ‘experts’. Academia is bought and repeats all that it is ordered to utter by the government. A few uncomfortable activists get killed, without much coverage. Soon, new legislation is expected to make the president and the government untouchable, beyond criticism; a law similar to that of lesse majeste.

President Jokowi, a megalomaniac from the provincial city of Solo (Central Java) is at war with anything socialist. He is fully determined to sell his country to the West. He is getting rid of almost all remaining labor protection laws, and he is inviting Western companies to “invest” in Indonesia, giving them tax holidays and many other incentives. Recently he met President Donald Trump, behaving embarrassingly, like a boy scout, begging him to visit Indonesia, and to invest.

While people all over the world are fighting and dying, trying to defeat outrageous turbo-capitalism, Jokowi is falling head over heels in love with long time discredited Thatcherite and Reaganite dogmas.

The price is horrendous. The country is reaching, socially, educationally and health-wise, the hard, sub-Saharan African bottom.

People are being robbed of everything, including their land, their environment, as well as public spaces, beaches, rainforests, cities, villages and rivers. And even economy is collapsing (hushed fact), because Indonesia is hardly capable of producing anything.

Without any doubt, the new capital city will be a symbol of Indonesia’s downfall (which is also the title of my upcoming 120 minutes long documentary film about Indonesia’s collapse, from the 1965 coup, to now).

 

To be fair, the initial plan to move the Indonesian capital from Jakarta to Borneo, existed before, during the government of the socialist, anti-imperialist President Sukarno. The site was called Palangkaraya, in the middle of the jungle of Central Kalimantan (now a provincial, spread-out unattractive city). Its construction began before the US-backed coup (1965-66), which overthrew the left-wing government, and murdered millions, including members of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), which in those days was the third largest in the world.

But that was a totally different era. The Soviet Union was heavily involved in the construction. There were supposed to be many elements of a socialist city: huge theatres, research institutes, libraries, art galleries, even a metro and water transportation.

J.J. Kusni, a renowned Borneo-born writer who spent many years in Paris before returning to his native island, explained during our encounter:

“While the idea to move the capital to Borneo, by Sukarno, was correct, to do it now would be totally wrong. The reasons have changed, and the goals are different. By building a new capital, Sukarno was confronting British imperialism, and British client state – Malaysia. It was a political as well as a strategic decision.”

Now, Mr. Kusni explained, moving the capital to Borneo, would only help to harden Javanese colonialism.

Also, Palangkaraya is not the place that is now being designated as the future site for the capital. Instead, construction is supposed to begin in the middle of nowhere, between the cities of Balikpapan and Samarinda.

And it is said that many government officials and business tycoons of Indonesia, have already made huge investments in the land in that area, knowing that the price will appreciate tremendously. Therefore, enormous profits will soon be made, by those who are already wealthy. And what is left of nature, will be ruined.

While, as mentioned above, millions of Jakarta-dwellers will be abandoned, left unprotected, and forgotten. Their lives will be ruined.

The water will swallow their city. There will be no compensation. Billions of dollars will be made, and ‘recycled’ into lavish condominiums in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and the United States.

 

If built at all, the quality of the future Indonesian capital will be, predictably, and forgive my language, total shit.

Nothing good is ever constructed here, except malls and 5-star hotels, but those are erected by foreign constructors, and for the profits of multi-national companies and local tycoons.

In Indonesia, which has not managed to give birth to even one single great scientist, thinker or architect in several decades, even two tiles usually cannot be put together, properly. Sidewalks, if built at all, are of terrible quality. Parks are essentially non-existent. Waterways, are the most clogged and polluted on earth, even according to local experts.

Officially, new projects are promising parks, walkways, even fountains and green areas, but when construction ends, all the ‘extras’ miraculously disappear. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is given to the people for free.

Why, one could ask, would the new capital be different?

And the frank answer is: it would not be.

As in the old fairytale, written by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, the Indonesian public will see void, destroyed nature and filth; it will sense the evaporated tens of billions of dollars, but it will be repeated thousand of times: “What a great capital city that has been built for you! How proud you should feel, to be Indonesian!”

And no one would even mention the old Danish author and his story, in order to draw the parallel; because in Indonesia, almost no one knows him: it is all bloody Disneyland, Hollywood and modified US fast, junk food. Forget about Hans Christian Andersen!

According to The Jakarta Post, regime’s official English language newspaper:

“President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has revealed that he has dreams for the new capital bigger than those of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), he wants the soon-to-be developed city in East Kalimantan to be “the best on earth” …

“It will provide the residents of the city with the best services, environment and opportunities that can boost their life quality, ranging from world-class educational institutions and modern hospitals to high-tech centers similar to Silicon Valley, he said.”

Those who are reading Jokowi’s words in November 2019, should recall spectacular failure of another megalomaniac Indonesian project, already covered by this journal (Batam Island – Indonesia’s Sorry Attempt to Create Second Singapore). Batam began with similar ludicrous promises, and ended up as a horrid urban area, polluted, with no public transportation or public areas, full of slums, prostitution and hardly any production.

Miraculously, obedient Indonesian mass media never recalls Batam, when dreaming about new capital in the middle of jungle.

Jokowi did not stop “dreaming”, or more precisely, misleading public:

“It will provide the residents of the city with the best services, environment and opportunities that can boost their life quality, ranging from world-class educational institutions and modern hospitals to high-tech centers similar to Silicon Valley, he said.”

What he does not clarify is, where will the teachers for these “world-class educational institutions” and “Indonesian Silicon Valley” come from? After 1965, all intellectuals and creative people were either murdered, or silenced. Country cannot count on one single renowned scientist, thinker or writer. Full stop.

 

ORDER IT NOW

And Jakarta keeps sinking. Because people keep digging for water. Piped water is overpriced, privatized, and absolutely filthy. Even officially potable stuff pumped to houses is so repulsive, that when I brought several liters of samples to the European Union (Czechia) for analyses, the testing organization almost called the police on me, suspecting that I am producing poison. “Do not even touch it, no clothes washing. Boiling and drinking? Are you out of your mind?!”

And so, people are digging for their own backyard water supplies. Officially, 40% do. But it is a lie, like all local “massaged” statistics. Much more than 50% do. The rivers are clogged. Nothing works, except graft and privately-owned commercial activities. Jakarta is irreversibly going down the drain; literally. And no one does anything.

Why? Because there is no business, no profits in saving the capital, and its 30 million people. Because the Indonesian system has lost all morals. There is no enthusiasm, no zeal. Just graft.

 

The elites should be forced to save Jakarta, instead of being allowed to escape like rats to Borneo. Because that horror that they created, is their personally manufactured horror! In fact, all cities and villages, all over the archipelago, are. Let them clean it with their own hands, or at least with the hundreds of billions that they have stolen.

But they are aiming to make huge profits even from disaster, even from their flight. And no one is stopping them. As there is no opposition in Indonesia, and no democracy.

It all can be done, reversed, but it will not. The nation could mobilize. Rivers could be cleaned. The water supply re-nationalized and clean water could be pumped, for free, into all dwellings. Private water pumps could be banned, confiscated and destroyed: in the name of the people. Huge condominiums in North Jakarta could be declared illegal and dynamited, as is being done even in Kerala, India. Slums could be converted to public parks and people relocated far away, to the outskirts, and given both housing and public transportation (better solution than letting them die in future floods). Powerful walls would have to be erected, to protect the capital.

No “new city” for those few chosen ones! They should all stay, and eat crap, together with other citizens. And fight for their capital! Until final victory.

No huge, major city of such importance and size, anywhere on our planet, has ever been ruined and abandoned, as Jakarta is being right now.

I have lived or worked in approximately 160 countries on earth, on all continents, but I never saw such moral downfall as in Indonesia.

People are squatting at almost every corner, next to clogged open sewers, smoking poisonous clove cigarettes, commenting, pointing fingers at passer-byes, and many of them basically doing nothing. Laughing. It is insulting, unhappy laughter. Put them to work! Make them fight for their city.

Like this, nothing can ever change. Instead of huge public works, instead of the tremendous mobilization of millions of people, which was something usual during the socialist era of Indonesia, all this nation is doing now is falling deeper and deeper into religious traps, into renewed witch-hunting of “Communists”, and atheists. That’s what the West instructed the Indonesian elites to do – like in Afghanistan – in order to purge all progressive, socialist thoughts.

And so, the theft of the 21st century is about to begin. A theft that could convert itself, as is just so common in Indonesia, into a mass murder.

Before it is too late, Indonesian citizens should wake up from their slumber!

 

[First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook – a journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences]

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Four of his latest books are Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism, a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter. His Patreon

 
• Category: Economics, Foreign Policy • Tags: Indonesia 
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  1. Svevlad says:

    Demolish them all, start from scratch

    If cities aren’t 100% perfect they should be Carthaged, end of story

  2. A123 says:

    From the left, Socialist Worker

    Jakarta is sinking—in some areas by up to 20 centimeters a year—because not enough people have access to clean drinking water.”

    So much for socialism and science.

    For this type of rapid subsidence, California provides a useful case study. (1)

    Since the 1920s, excessive pumping of groundwater at thousands of wells has caused land to subside, or sink, by as much as 8.5 meters (28 feet) in sections of California’s San Joaquin Valley. This subsidence is exacerbated during droughts, when farmers rely heavily on groundwater to sustain one of the most productive agricultural regions in the United States.

    It is the extraction of fresh water that is causing Jakarta to subside. The only solutions are:

    — Rationing fresh water per person. Something that will make Jakarta a less desirable place to live.
    — Reducing the population of Jakarta. So less water is required even if per person consumption remains the same.

    While who goes and who stays may be controversial, the basic idea is sound. Reducing Jakarta’s population by 10-20% will do much to reduce overall demand on local resources, both natural and man made. If water depletion in the aquifers is stopped, so will land subsidence. It may even be partially reversible if the aquifers recharge and store additional water.

    PEACE 😇

    _____

    (1) https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/89761/san-joaquin-valley-is-still-sinking

  3. TG says:

    The big problem with Indonesia has been the explosive population growth. And probably the biggest single reason for that, are all these journalists and academics who insist that rapid population growth is irrelevant. Sure, you would think that people all having more children than they can reasonably support will lead to continued poverty, that’s basically a tautology, but with all these intellectual whores screaming that people MUST breed like cattle because “people are the ultimate resource,” (like cattle?) well, who can blame them?

    But on a lighter side, when the ancient Roman Empire fell, the ruling class stripped Rome of all the gold and other wealth, purged their security forces of all non-ethnic Romans (take that, diversity!), and moved to the walled city of Constantinople, leaving their fellow Roman citizens left behind to rot. There the wealthy ex-Romans, and their descendants, lived in comfort for 1000 years. Sound familiar?

  4. Only 30 million? Wanna bet in 2027 Liz Warren or Hillary brings them here?

    • Replies: @Hannah Katz
  5. Vinnie O says:

    It’s INDONESIA. Who CARES?

  6. Avianthro says:

    Based on my experience here in Indonesia for about 13 years, Andre’s assessments are more accurate than not, but I definitely don’t agree in calling Jokowi a megalomaniac…He’s a good guy doing his best to walk the tightrope here, to rollerskate in a buffalo herd. It would be valid criticism though to say that he, like the majority of government officials here, do tend to do a lot of wishful thinking and are lacking in the ability to think in original ways, to see outside of the envelope and to make leaps in the nation’s development instead of just emulating in lockstep the broken-down examples from the West. The neocolonialization of the country, and I suspect to a large degree also, the failure to make English language education a high-enough priority, has led to this.

    On the bright side there are many in the millennial generation who are aware and creative, and they are growing in influence/political-economic power. The old guard’s power is on the wane and the younger folks are a force that may transform this nation’s future. They are not going to tolerate the corruption and foolishness of the past. Yes, this could very well be too little and too late for the current situation’s inertia to be halted fast enough, but it’s at least a source for future hope. The writing above the gate to the Inferno may not be “Abandon all Hope”, not yet at least.

    As to the fate of Jakarta: Let the government move while there’s still a window of opportunity…Not only do we have the subsidence and sea-level rise closing in, but also the economic power needed to do it may not be around much longer as the fossil energy crisis looms on the horizon. After that, one can only hope there would be roller-bearing, self-adjusting shambles, yet ultimately successful, process to get the majority of the inhabitants cleared-out and factories that employ them distributed out to other parts of the country…a de-urbanization and industrial redistribution process. It would be nice if the government could do a competent job of coordinating this process, but that’s a lot to hope.

    Indonesians, like all other humans on the planet will probably not awaken from their slumber until it’s just too late to make a smooth transition to a modern civilization built on earth-resource-sustainable technologies, but Indonesians are very smart, adaptable, patient, and determined people…At worst, they’ll slip back into the 19th-century for a while (really, most are still there even now), not really such a bad fate, and they’ll eventually make the transition, somewhere out there in a few generations.

  7. Seriously says:

    Seriously is it any different to Western Countries??!!!! Cesspits like Washington,San Fransisco Yet it i s easy to blame those countries that imitate us.

  8. @Jim Christian

    Count on it, Jim. As long as the Indonesians are willing to vote Democrat as soon as they set foot in America, the Dems and of course their public relations arm, the mainstream media, will demand that we let them all in. For the sake of the children. Non-white and Muslim. What could be better?

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