Jakarta. Former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama is among four candidates to lead the special authority agency of the yet-to-be-built capital city in East Kalimantan, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said on Monday.
The offer adds a new episode on Ahok’s roller-coaster career as a politician, although he is now a business executive as chief commissioner of state-run oil company Pertamina.
"There are several candidates, including Mr. Bambang Brodjonegoro, Mr. Ahok, Mr. Tumiyono and Mr. Azwar Anas," the president told reporters at the State Palace in Central Jakarta.
Bambang now serves as research and technology minister, but he was instrumental in the early preparations to select the area and calculate the budget for the new capital while he was the national development planning minister during the final months of Jokowi’s first presidential term.
Tumiyono is chief executive of state-run construction firm Wijaya Karya, while Azwar is the Banyuwangi district head in East Java.
"I will sign a presidential regulation on the authority agency of the capital city, which has a CEO. The CEO is yet to be named, but hopefully we can decide this week,” Jokowi said.
Ahok, 53, started his political career as East Belitung District head that he served only in around a year until he resigned in 2006 for his unsuccessful bid to become the Bangka-Belitung governor.
He was elected as member of the House of Representatives representing Golkar Party in 2009. His first collaboration with Jokowi came in 2012, when he became a running mate in the Jakarta gubernatorial election. Ahok became governor of Jakarta by default after Jokowi ran for president in 2014 and won.
The former governor is slowly returning to public life after enduring his annus horribilis in 2017, when he lost the Jakarta gubernatorial election to Anies Baswedan, was convicted of blasphemy amid pressures from Muslim hardliners and divorced his wife while in prison.
Since his release in January last year, Ahok has kept a low profile although he sometimes attended public events.
He returned to public office after Jokowi appointed him as Pertamina’s chief commissioner in November.
Jokowi has announced the plan that the capital will move from Jakarta to the new city in East Kalimantan by 2024.
The authority agency will be in charge of the construction and investment licensing, as well as the relocation process from Jakarta.
The government is currently preparing a bill on the new capital city to be submitted to the House later this month.
The new capital city will encompass parts of North Penajam Paser and Kutai Kartanegara districts, occupying an area of 256,000 hectares. The construction works will be centralized in an area of 56,000 hectares while the rest is designated as green zones for environmental preservation.
The capital city’s architectural and landscape plans break down the center of the capital into several “clusters” of particular areas, including health services, education and research and technology.
Jokowi has recruited three prominent figures in the steering committee to increase confidence among global investors willing to take part in the $33 billion project. They include former U.K. prime minister Tony Blair, Softbank chief executive Masayoshi Son and Abu Dhabi's crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.