Tika Ayu, Yogi Eka Sahputra, Jakarta – Muhaimin Iskandar, a vice presidential candidate endorsed by the Coalition for Change, said he had been informed that the temporary shelters for the people of Rempang Island, Batam, Riau Islands, were inappropriate. He urged the government to provide a good place for those affected by the relocation.
"I've received information from the locals that the transition place is a slum, cramped apartment, which is different from their previous environment," Muhaimin said when met after a national gathering with interfaith figures at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, East Jakarta, September 14, 2023.
The National Awakening Party (PKB) chairman opined that the government should find a replacement zone with a similar character to the one the community currently occupies. He pointed out that it is not easy to relocate people who used to live in landed houses to apartments.
The man who will run with Anies Baswedan in the upcoming election also said that the new place must ensure that the Rempang people can live as before and that their customs, culture, and livelihoods are guaranteed.
"It's not difficult to find the same place with the same customs. Look for areas where migration or transmigration is possible, with the same livelihood, culture, and neighbors," he said.
Such efforts have been successful in Indonesia, for example in the disaster-stricken regions, Yogyakarta and Aceh. "It was successful in Yogya, in Aceh. [The government] managed to relocate villagers to the neighboring area that shares the same culture. Their rights are guaranteed and even enhanced. There shouldn't be any suspicion that the investment project is only for a certain group of people," he added.
Muhaimin Iskandar also agreed with President Jokowi's statement that the conflict in Rempang should be resolved by prioritizing dialogues.
The conflict on Rempang Island erupted between security officers and the locals who rejected the relocation. Rempang residents said they did not oppose the construction of Rempang Eco-City, but the relocation of 16 old villages that have existed since 1834, long before the Indonesian independence.
The Batam Concession Agency (BP Batam) aimed to clear Rempang Island and hand it over to the developer by September 28, 2023. As of last Thursday, only 87 of the 650 families had agreed to be relocated.