August 3, 2023
JAKARTA – Jakarta is expected to see a series of festive celebrations for the 78th Indonesian Independence Day, which falls on Aug. 17, marking the first time since the country was hit by the COVID-19 outbreak, and possibly the last time before the capital moves to the new capital of Nusantara in East Kalimantan.
All the main events of the Independence Day celebration will be held in Jakarta, starting with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s annual State of the Union address at the House of Representatives on Aug. 16 and ending with the flag ceremony at the State Palace on Aug. 17.
This year’s celebration is expected to be watched by bigger crowds compared with the celebrations in the past three years. The three previous ceremonies needed to be minimized due to health protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19, forcing organizers to invite as few people as possible and restrict the crowd of general spectators.
“We have flexibility for a livelier celebration of the independence month than in previous years after the pandemic,” the State Secretariat’s secretary, Setya Utama, said during a press briefing on Monday.
Members of the general public interested in attending the Aug. 17 ceremony at the State Palace can sign themselves up through the Palace’s website, Setya added. The organizers will then pick 8,000 applicants, four times the 2,000 selected to attend last year’s ceremony.
This year’s Independence Day will be the first after President Jokowi declared the end of the COVID-19 national emergency status in June. The government has also revoked crowd restrictions and requirements to mask up in public spaces, allowing people to congregate for public activities.
Aside from the main events from Aug. 16 to 17, the celebration organizers will also hold several side events, including a mass angklung performance involving 15,000 players at the Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) stadium in Senayan, South Jakarta on Aug. 5. The performance will attempt to break the Guinness World of Record’s world record for the largest angklung performance.
Other side events in Jakarta include a kebaya fashion show initiated by the Jakarta provincial administration and a video-mapping show at the National Monument (Monas) in Central Jakarta.
“We invite everyone to come and enliven the events,” said Deputy Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Angela Tanoesoedibjo during Monday’s press briefing.
Last in Jakarta?
This year’s Independence Day celebration might also be the last one held in Jakarta as the nation’s capital. The government aims to hold next year’s celebration in Nusantara.
“We hope and are working hard so the target of next year’s Independence Day ceremony at Nusantara led by the President will be realized,” Nusantara Capital City (IKN) Authority deputy for funding and investment Agung Wicaksono said on Sunday as quoted by Antara.
The new capital city is Jokowi’s flagship project. Sitting on a 256,000-hectare site, the new city is an alternative to the overcrowded and rapidly sinking Jakarta.
The early stages of construction kicked off in 2022, focusing on the building of the new State Place, House of Representatives compound and housing for civil servants, among other public facilities.
Some investors, however, have expressed concern that the development for the new city might lose momentum and will not be finished by the end of Jokowi’s term next October, due to the US$32 billion price tag and COVID-19 pandemic delaying the progress.
But the President has been persistent and is “optimistic” about seeing next year’s Independence Day celebration held in Nusantara. Jokowi’s administration has introduced several initiatives, including tax cuts for foreign companies, to hasten the Nusantara construction.
Progress has reached 36 percent, Agung said, which is still according to plan. The new State Palace building is currently at 23 percent, he added.
Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono is looking to finish the work on the new palace field, which will be used for the flag ceremony, by December this year. Meanwhile, the construction for the palace and presidential office is expected to wrap up by next July.