The new state capital law (IKN Law) No. 3/2022 was officially signed by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on February 15, 2022, with many public objections being ignored.

Online petitions that have reached 33 thousand signatures are calmly brushed aside. In fact, 45 of the petition initiators were President Jokowi’s supporters in the last presidential election. Those figures merely wish to deliver their warnings and aspirations of expertise, convinced that now is not the time to move the state capital.

A weak narrative in the form of an academic paper to legitimize capital relocation has also been refuted by intellectuals from many disciplines. This shows that the IKN Law is full of coercion and suppression of aspirations for the sake of political party domination.

The President said that the IKN Law is already finalized in terms of political law, but actually, it is not final in terms of a judicial review at the Constitutional Court. The Court will decide whether the IKN Law violates the Indonesian Constitution or not. If it does, the IKN Law will face the same fate as the Omnibus Law on Job Creation which is declared “conditionally unconstitutional.”

What will happen if the IKN Law is declared unconstitutional?

The President had better postpone the new capital construction and wait for the results of the Constitutional Court trial, which is now being challenged by the petitioners and other communities.

Imagine if the state budget funds in the public works and housing, allocated at around Rp 45 trillion for IKN’s basic infrastructure in 2022, are declared unconstitutional. There would be costs the taxpayers have to bear. That Rp 45 trillion would benefit more if used for direct sales of subsidized food commodities, also known as “operasi pasar,” to suppress the increasing prices of fuel and cooking oil and support tofu producers in sourcing soybeans at a more reasonable price.

The president seems to project an attitude that IKN Law is finalized, and this does not give an impression of good statesmanship, because he is ignoring the public’s wishes and aspirations and the priorities of the state budget.

While on the outside, he appears to be welcoming people’s expression of their opinions, in reality his actions show no intention to listen and consider the aspirations of the community.

So, even though Indonesia declares itself as a democratic country, what is really in place is a pseudo-democracy – a democracy of “courtesy” in which the substance of people’s aspirations goes unheeded.

The dire economic condition coupled with the prolonged impacts of the pandemic and the rise of Omicron need to be earnestly addressed for the country to recover. However, the recovery may be hampered because potential distortions will occur due to budget allocation for new capital development. This would cripple the nation’s ability to deal with various obstacles. 

In addition, the Government cannot prove its capacity to cope with existing problems, such as the soaring price of cooking oil and soybeans and the delayed completion of the high-speed rail project. Imagine cooking oil scarcity in the world’s largest palm oil-producing country and the failure to control soybean prices, causing tofu and tempeh producers to halt their operations. Then how about managing a mega-project like the new capital? The future of this nation will be grimly at stake.

Now the only hope is to apprise the president of the legitimacy of the IKN Law through a Judicial Review at the Constitutional Court. Hopefully, the Court will side with the interests of the people and not the elites.

Do not let democracy today be half-hearted and banal: it looks like democracy but void of actual public aspirations.

The best advice is for the President to stop rushing new capital construction until the Constitutional Court stipulates that the IKN Law is in line with the country’s constitution.

Mr. President, this is not the time to relocate the state capital; be patient, until the Constitutional Court announces its verdict.