By Jessica Damiana
JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesians leapt in with suggestions of a name for their future capital on Tuesday after the long-awaited announcement of the new city’s location gave no clue what it would be called.
“Saint Jokoburg” and “Jokograd” were among 11 suggestions from Twitter user @Enggalpm after President Joko Widodo revealed the planned location of the new capital on Monday.
“Hopefully they can be taken into consideration,” the user wrote.
Suggestions, serious and lighthearted, swept social media after Widodo – known as Jokowi – said the capital would move in 2024 to the forested island of Borneo from the traffic-clogged, sinking megacity of Jakarta on the island of Java.
The new site in the province of East Kalimantan will straddle the regions of North Penajam Paser and Kutai Kartanegara, but there was broad agreement that combining those names would be too much of a mouthful.
“Mandalanusa”, which loosely translates as centre of the archipelago, was suggested by Twitter user @IdThalamus.
That reflected the fact that the site is much nearer than Jakarta to the geographic centre of a country of 17,000 islands that stretch across an area of more than 5,000 km (3,100 miles) – wider than the continental United States.
A spokesman for the national development planning agency said the name has not been decided. A spokesman for the home ministry could not immediately comment.
In identifying a site for the new capital, Widodo has got closer than any predecessor to realising an idea first mooted after independence in 1945.
But names are a sensitive matter in the world’s fourth most populous country, whose 260 million people encompass more than 300 ethnic groups.
Muslims form around 90 percent of the population, but minorities of Christians, Hindus and others still number in the millions.
Independence leaders carefully coined the neutral term “Pancasila” – five principles – as the foundation for the new Indonesian state.
“Sri Mahendrakerta”, a combination of Sanskrit words that mean a city that is blessed by the Gods to carry wisdom, uphold justice, and create prosperity, was suggested by Twitter user @AnugrahArgaS6.
On Facebook, where Indonesia has 130 million users, users suggested the name Kartanegara. Kutai Kartanegara region – in East Kalimantan – was home to a 4th-century Hindu kingdom in what is now the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
Part of the justification for the move was also to get away from Java, where more than half Indonesia’s people live and which has long been politically dominant.
“The name should reflect the unique characteristic of East Kalimantan, because the government has been making an effort to make the capital not Javanese-centric,” said Kunto Adi Wibowo, executive director of pollster Kedai Kopi.
“The new capital should also not contain Joko Widodo’s name because history will remember him as the president who moved the capital. That is enough to be his legacy,” he told Reuters.
Jakarta, 2,000 km (1,250 miles) southwest of the site of the new capital and home to more than 10 million people, was named Batavia by Dutch colonists and renamed after independence. In Sanskrit, Jakarta can be translated as “Victory Achieved”.
(Editing by Matthew Tostevin and Clarence Fernandez)