Indonesian islands are not for sale, authorities say, after online listings cause controversy

There are nine listings located in Indonesia on the Canada-based website. Photo: Screengrab
There are nine listings located in Indonesia on the Canada-based website. Photo: Screengrab

Are some Indonesian islands up for sale? It’s all a hoax, the country’s authorities have confirmed, after recent online listings suggesting exactly that made national headlines.

In our visit to Canada-based website privateislandsonline.com, which describes itself as “the foremost global marketplace for private island sales and rentals,” Coconuts found nine listings located in Indonesia, including “Gili Tangkong Island” in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) and “Sumba Island Properties” in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT). It’s not immediately clear how much they cost, as prices are only available upon request.

If this sounds remotely familiar, it’s because something similar (with the same website) has happened before. One instance took place in January 2018, when Ajab Island ⁠— located near the famous resort island of Bintan in the Riau Islands province ⁠— was listed for IDR44 billion (US$3.1million). 

Earlier today, the National Police dismissed the Sumba listing as a hoax, while officers from the West Lombok sub-precinct have declared the same for the Gili Tangkong listing.

Authorities have yet to address other listings up on the website, but a special staff to the Minister of Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning, Teuku Taufiqulhadi, said that the sale of any island in Indonesia is illegal. 

“In Indonesia, a big or small island is part of our sovereignty. There is no way we would sell our sovereignty,” Teuku said.

More than 17,000 islands are scattered across Indonesia’s sprawling archipelago, around 6,000 of which are reportedly inhabited.

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