KOTA KINABALU: The relocation of Indonesia's capital to Kalimantan may not bode well for Sabah, says a think tank.
Institute of Strategic Analysis and Policy Research (Insap) deputy chairman Dr Pamela Yong said this was because of several factors such as lack of facilities and connectivity to the new capital.
She said it was natural to think that the relocation would benefit Sabah, Sarawak and the rest of Borneo.
"But this notion has to be taken with a pinch of salt. Sabah is somewhat lacking in infrastructure and connectivity between the two states," she said in a video posted on Facebook.
She said the people of Borneo often have to use connecting air transport despite the close proximity with one another.
"There is also no proper highway connecting Sabah to Kalimantan, so how can we truly benefit from the relocation of Indonesia's capital?" Dr Yong asked.
She said the final 35km stretch of road from the border town of Serudong, Tawau to Simanggaris, North Kalimantan was still a dirt road.
With this, she said Sabah had to play the lead – or at best a supporting role in development in tandem with or ahead of Kalimantan – in order not to become insignificant.
She noted that development in Kalimantan is expected to require more manpower, and this would lure more Sabahans over.
"These talents – skilled, unskilled, local and foreign – from Sabah will move to Kalimantan in search of a better life and with this labour, talent and brain drain, Sabah will face a labour shortage," she said.
Dr Yong said Sabah would be left with an ageing population and there would be a need for a mechanism to curb the outflow of workersm, which could affect Sabah's productivity.
As such, she said the relocation of the Indonesian capital did not truly guarantee the development of its neighbouring states, especially Sabah.
"I believe more needs to be done by the Sabah government to ensure that the benefits of the relocation of (the capital from) Jakarta to Kalimantan will outweigh the negative," Dr Yong said.
She also hopes that the Government would engage different stakeholders to study any mechanisms that can be suggested for a win-win situation for the entire Borneo region.