Telly Nathalia, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has promised to build a new presidential palace in Papua, despite difficulties to find suitable land for such project.
"Palace construction will start next year," Jokowi told civil society leaders from Papua and West Papua at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Tuesday.
He made the promise in response to a request from the leaders, following the government's recent decision to relocate the Indonesian capital to East Kalimantan by 2024.
"If Mr. President moves the palace to Kalimantan, I also want to request you to build a new presidential palace in Papua, so that you could within five years, work from Papua for the first time," said Abisai Rollo head of the Jayapura Legislative Council.
Abisai said the Papua provincial capital would provide 10 hectares for the new palace.
Indonesia currently has two presidential palaces in Jakarta, one in Bogor, West Java, one in Cipanas, West Java, one in Tampak Siring, Bali, and a sixth in Yogyakarta.
Jokowi also promised at the same occasion to use his authority to ensure that state-owned enterprises and private companies employ at least a thousand Papuans to work on the first phase of the capital relocation project.
"This afternoon, I want to open [job opportunities] at state-owned enterprises and big private companies by force. It would take a long time if done in accordance with standard procedures. So I use my authority [to force them] to accept new graduates from Papua," the president said.
Jokowi, who has visited Papua and West Papua at least 12 times this year, said he had met some Papuan students who studied abroad and that many were highly qualified.
He also vowed to appoint civil servants of Papuan origin in top posts in his administration.