Government denies small Indonesian island is for sale for IDR44 billion

The approximate location of Ajab Island in Indonesia. Photo: Google Maps
The approximate location of Ajab Island in Indonesia. Photo: Google Maps

If you have IDR44 billion (US$3.3 million) lying around that you don’t know what to do with, you might have been tempted to buy your own private island in Indonesia after hearing the news that one has been listed online for just that price.

Recently, Canada-based website privateislandsonline.com, which describes itself as “the foremost global marketplace for private island sales and rentals,” listed Ajab Island, a 74-acre untouched white sand sanctuary near the famous resort island of Bintan in the Riau Islands, on its website. The listing caused quite a reaction in Indonesia as people questioned whether the government had sanctioned the sale of the country’s islands to foreigners.

Today, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan put those concerns to bed by saying that the government does not have a policy allowing the sale of the country’s  islands for private ownership.

“If people want to use the island [privately], then there are existing rules. We’ll see later, but private ownership of an island is not allowed,” he said, as quoted by Detik today.

According to Indonesia’s law on land management of small islands, a citizen or foreigner may obtain the development rights to 70% of an island’s total area, and even then they must comply with zoning regulations set by the island’s regional official. The development rights expire after a number of years with an option to renew. The remaining 30% of the island is controlled by the government and developed for public use.

This goes against privateislandsonline.com‘s listing of Ajab Island, which advertises that the buyer would obtain a freehold title of the island, meaning they would own the property outright in perpetuity.

Ajab is not the only Indonesian island currently on the website’s sales listing. Tojo Una Una Island, a 3000+ acres property off Central Sulawesi is also apparently on sale, with the price available upon request.

Indonesia has approximately 18,000 islands spread across the sprawling archipelago, with only around 8,000 of them named and 922 permanently inhabited.

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