The House of Representatives agreed on the formation of the new “North Kalimantan” province on Monday during a Commission II meeting establishing the new province and four new districts.
The addition of North Kalimantan brings the total number of Indonesian provinces to 34.
The House also voted through four new districts — Pangandaran in West Java, South Coast in Lampung, and South Manokwari and Arfak Mountains in West Papua — in the first such move since the Indonesian government issued a moratorium on the creation of new regions in 2009.
The moratorium was passed after North Sumatra Legislative Council speaker Abdul Aziz Angkat died of a heart attack as an angry mob demanding the creation of a new Tapanuli province assaulted him.
In the three years that followed Abdul’s death, Indonesia’s regional makeup, with 33 provinces and 497 districts, remained static.
The creation of five additional regions was motivated by political and geostrategic needs, said Agun Gunandjar Sudarsa, head of the House’s Commission II, which oversees home affairs and regional autonomy.
The government rejected proposals to create new districts in South Sumatra, East Kalimantan, East Nusa Tenggara and West Sulawesi.
North Kalimantan will cover five districts in what is currently considered East Kalimantan, including Tarakan, Nunukan, Malinau, Bulungan and Tanah Tidung.
The House considered the creation of a new province in Kalimantan an urgent matter to support the development of a swath of land as large as Java that borders the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak as well as the city-state of Brunei.