New proposal could put Indonesia on same time

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A proposed merged time zone would put an end to residents of the eastern part of the country showing up red-eyed for work after watching prime-time television shows broadcast from Jakarta.

The advantages for businesses -- operating in the same work hours instead of dealing with a one or two-hour difference -- also could be considerable.

"We have proposed a common time zone, which merges West Indonesia time and East Indonesia time into a central Indonesian time zone," said Moh. Nur Hidayat, an expert from the State Ministry for Research and Technology.

Hidayat told The Jakarta Post the basis for the current proposal was ASEAN Common Time, suggested in 1996 to create a single time zone for the capitals of Southeast Asian countries.

Indonesia's current three time zones, Western (Sumatra, Java, West and Central Kalimantan), Central (East and South Kalimantan, Bali, Sulawesi) and Eastern (Papua, Maluku), each separated by an hour, were created by a presidential instruction in 1987.

"In September 2005, the ministers from each country met and decided that it was up to each individual country to determine whether to adopt the idea," Hidayat said.

Hidayat said the positive aspects of a single time zone outweighed the negatives.

"A big country like China uses a single time zone. The U.S., with its vast stretches of land, is also thinking of adopting a common time zone," he said.

Hidayat said many government institutions and communities in Ambon in Maluku, Ternate in North Maluku, Jayapura in Papua, Medan in North Sumatra and Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam were ready for the time synchronization.

The idea could also bring more foreign currency into Indonesia, especially in relation to tourists coming from Singapore and Malaysia.

He said local institutions might need to adjust, adding he had not yet figured out the total cost of implementing the zone.

As for the negatives, Hidayat said his team was still conducting a study to get a clearer picture.

He said they would soon submit a proposal to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Indonesia has changed its time zones twice, from six zones to three in the 1950s, and once to shift the boundaries of the zones in 1997. "We had no problems then, and we won't have any problems with it now," Hidayat said. (03)
KuKuKaChu: dangerously too sophisticated