JAKARTA: Indonesia’s planned new capital in eastern Kalimantan will be named Nusantara, said National Development Planning Minister Suharso Monoarfa on Monday (Jan 17).
The name Nusantara, meaning archipelago in Indonesian, was instructed and confirmed by the president, said Mr Monoarfa.
“I just received confirmation and direct orders from the president, namely on Friday.
“He said the new capital is Nusantara," Mr Monoarfa said during a meeting with a special committee for the establishment of the new capital.
He added: “The reason is because Nusantara has been known for a long time. And it is iconic internationally, simple and describes our archipelago, the Republic of Indonesia. I believe we all agree with the name Nusantara,” he said.
Some members of the meeting said the name Nusantara could potentially be confusing since it is a word used to describe the country. There were some who suggested referring to the new capital as special administration Nusantara in order to avoid confusion.
"This is not simple. So we can't play around with the names," said Mr Agustin Teras Narang, who is a representative from the Regional Representative Council (DPD).
The minister revealed that they had consulted linguists and historians, and submitted about 80 suggested names to the president, including Negara Jaya (glorious country), Nusantara Jaya (glorious archipelago) and Nusa Karya (homeland creation).
It has also yet to be decided whether the new capital will be a province or a city but the meeting said it should be equivalent to the provincial level.
In 2019, President Joko Widodo announced that the country’s capital would move from megacity Jakarta to the remote regency of Penajam Paser Utara and Kutai Kartanegara in East Kalimantan province.
The move is deemed necessary to save sinking and congested Jakarta and develop Kalimantan as well as the eastern part of Indonesia, since most of the economic activity in the country has been centred in Java where the current capital is.
The construction of the 466 trillion rupiah (US$32 billion) new capital project was supposed to start in 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced authorities to put the project on hold.
Discussion about the new capital continued last year and renowned Balinese sculptor Nyoman Nuarta was announced as the designer of the state palace.
Mr Nuarta said in his Instagram account earlier this month that Mr Widodo has approved the final design inspired by the country’s emblem mythological bird Garuda.
Finance Minister Sri Mulyani and Minister of Public Works and Public Housing Basuki Hadimuljono visited the new capital site this month to inspect the preparations for the construction.
The parliament is expected to pass the draft law of the new capital this month so construction can soon start and the relocation can begin in 2024.