A government committee is proposing that Indonesia launch a single time zone for the entire nation — from Sabang to Merauke — on Sunday, Oct. 28.
“We can start the policy at midnight,” Edib Muslim, the spokesman for the Committee for the Expansion and Acceleration of Indonesian Economic Growth ( KP3EI ) said in Jakarta on Friday.
The date, which must be approved by the central government, was chosen to merge the nation’s current three time zones since financial markets would be closed and businesses less active, he added.
An initial plan to launch the single time zone on Independence Day on Aug. 17 was rejected to reduce confusion in advance of the observance of Idul Fitri, which is scheduled for Aug. 19 and 20 this year, according to Edib.
A single time zone was needed before the ASEAN Economic Community came into force in 2015, Edib said. “We have less than 700 days to improve our competitiveness among ASEAN countries.”
Businesses and government officers throughout the archipelago would share identical working hours after the switch, he said, thus improving coordination.
The central government, Edib said, had the final say on the decision and was currently evaluating the KP3EI’s request.
Luky Eko Wuryanto, a senior deputy for infrastructure development at the Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister, said that the minister, Hatta Rajasa, would begin meeting with relevant stakeholders in June to discuss the switch.
“He [Hatta] wants to receive input from all stakeholders on the potential effects of the policy if it is implemented. All input will be taken into consideration and reported to the President. Afterward, the government will determine all the necessary steps to be taken,” Luky said.
Several institutions were backing the new time zone, Luky said, although some asked for 90 days to fully implement the change once it was launched.
Indonesia is currently divided into three time zones.
Sumatra and Java, including the capital city of Jakarta, and western part of Kalimantan, are on Greenwich Mean Time ( GMT )+7.
Meanhile, Bali and Sulawesi islands, as well as the West and East Nusa Tenggara, are on GMT+8, while the easternmost part of the country, which includes the provinces of Maluku, North Maluku, West Papua and Papua, is on GMT+9.
The single time zone would be pegged at GMT+8, which is the time zone used by Brunei Darussalam, China, Malaysia, Mongolia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Western Australia.
Implementing a single national time zone has been a common practice, conducted by several large countries with geographical scopes similar to that of Indonesia’s.
China, for example, previously unified its five time zones into one. In late 2009, Russia also considered unifying its 11 time zones.
Indonesia has changed its time zones nine times. During the three years of Japanese occupation during the World War II, Indonesia also had a single time zone, based on Tokyo’s.
—JP/ Hans David Tampubolon