Farfetched that Sarawak’s future hinges on Indonesia building a new capital in Kalimantan

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I was taken aback upon reading the heading of a recent report “Sarawak’s future hanging on upcoming polls, new Indonesian capital: observer”.

It is a given that results of the state election will have a great impact on Sarawak. but it is farfetched to think that relocating the Indonesian capital to Kalimantan will have a similar effect.

Mohamad Marzuki was reported to have said “When the capital of Indonesia moves to Kalimantan, it will be good for Sarawak as we are able to send our people to work there. Besides job opportunities for professionals, it also caters to employment for the labour sector,”

He believes that the move will provide employment opportunities for Sarawakians as there are now insufficient jobs for the state’s inhabitants, including the 3,000 to 10,000 new graduates emerging every year.

What on earth made him think that there will be a shortage of local workers to construct the new capital located between Samarinda City and the port city of Balikpapan in East Kalimantan?

If at all Malaysians, whether documented or undocumented, are to be found working in construction sites there, they are more likely to be from Sabah than Sarawak.

This is because it is much easier to take a boat ride from Tawau into Kalimantan and then travel overland as there is a 770-km road linking Malinau to Samarinda.

On the other hand, the boat trip from Kuching to Liku in Kalimantan may be shorter, but the road journey from here to Samarinda is a protracted 2,089 km!

The proposed new capital will be located between the most populous city in the whole of Borneo Island, which is Samarinda, and the fourth most populous at Balikpapan.

It would affect Sarawak greatly if the chosen site were near Pontianak, the fifth most populous and relatively near to Kuching, the third biggest city in the third biggest island in the world.

If so, it would indeed be a game-changer for Sarawak as well, as it would be feasible to build a highway and rail line connecting Kuching, which is only 209 km by air.

The combination of road, rail, sea, and air corridors would greatly boost the growth of economic, educational, medical, and tourism activities in Borneo.

If West Kalimantan was chosen, it may be fair to say that Sarawak’s future hangs on the new Indonesian capital. But not if it is between Samarinda and Balikpapan in East Kalimantan.

Sarawak is a tropical paradise occupying 38 percent of the land in Malaysia. It is blessed with natural resources and could emerge as one of the most prosperous regions in Southeast Asia.

This could only be achieved through good governance and holistic education, with students mastering more than one language and graduates equipped with technical and social life skills.

The views expressed here are strictly those of The True Net reader YS Chan from Petaling Jaya.