A MORE CONFIDENT INDONESIA
While there are security and economic benefits to be derived from the shifting of the capital, the act itself hints at the emergence of a more confident Indonesia.
ASEAN member states tend to be wary of such behaviour, be it from China or its own members, fearing that it might negatively impact the intricate balance of regional ties. But such concerns are likely to prove unfounded considering that Indonesia has not pursued an aggressive stance in its foreign policy behaviour since the 1960s.
Project Nusantara however is still at an initial stage, marred by delays including the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, there is also the question of financing this monumental task.
Indonesia had approached Japan, but is now reported to be turning to the Middle East nations, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. China stands as a potential partner too, with the Governor of East Kalimantan stating Indonesia is open to foreign investments, including from Beijing, to help it build infrastructure in its new capital. That prospect raises other challenges that Indonesia may need to consider carefully, too.
Rahul Mishra is a Senior Lecturer at the Asia-Europe Institute, University of Malaya, Malaysia. Peter Brian M Wang lectures at the National Institute of Public Administration, the training arm of the Public Service Department, Malaysia. This commentary first appeared on Lowy Institute’s blog, The Interpreter.