It’s a word that means ‘archipelago’ in Malay, a language spoken in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, East Timor, Singapore, parts of Thailand and the southern Philippines by a quarter of a billion people, give or take, with lots of regional variations.
It’s also the name of the new capital of Indonesia.
Jakarta, which was the capital, a city with 11-12 million people, 1 million of whom live in the kind of shithole poverty that you can only achieve in the tropics (more diseases, I’m saying), is sinking. Not like New Orleans. Like Jakarta. Thanks to corruption and non-regulation, it’s not illegal to pump out groundwater, and… sag. Subsidence runs 1.5 to 11 cm PER YEAR depending on where you are. The subsidence is also a consequence of the complete fucking failure of the colonizer Dutch (who actually know how to handle low lying areas menaced by the sea, but obviously not on colonized land har har) to do anything about building a capital in a swamp.
Jakarta is also close to Krakatau, in an earthquake zone. Just a reminder that it was built where you can drown in ash or get crushed by your house, on a bad day. Mt Merapi is the most active volcano, and it’s further away, but hey, volcanoes are a fact there, so also to get away from the worst threat of an ashfall, they’re moving the capital from Jakarta on the island of Java to Nusantara on the island of Borneo.
Just think about the amount of graft and corruption this will bring up. The Pres says it’ll all be done and dusted by 2025 but even his press secretary doesn’t believe that.
It’s in a relatively unspoiled part of the island so they’ll have to cut down ALLLL the trees. And build highways to connect it to the closest port (Balikpapan, a pleasant coastal city) and an airport and ALLLL those amenities.
I predict an economic, population and environmental disaster with almost all aspects of the move, but hey, what are you supposed to do when you’re living with bad history and worse decisions since?
Also, the pres of Indonesia picked a name for the new capital that betrays his total lack of imagination. Would you like to live in a relocated capital called ‘archipelago’? Calling it Widodo’s Folly or Jokowi’s (Pres’s nickname) Folly works better for me thanks.
In other disastrous news from the Pacific, Tonga is buried under ash, there’s no internet, one of the tsunami waves was 15 m high and an international relief effort is being gently restrained by the locals because hey, we’re in the middle of a pandemic and they want full control over and the ability to quarantine incoming goods. Eighty thousand people are thought to have been affected by the blast from the no longer visible volcano, Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai; there may be more coming. The wind’s blowing westerly right now.
The only officially sanctioned (by Tonga) relief effort fundraiser is here.
The direct death toll is apparently tiny, but the knock on effects of hunger, thirst, disease and a poorly coordinated rescue/response remain to be seen.