Nicholas Ryan Aditya, Jakarta – Public policy observer Trubus Rahadiansyah says that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's claim that Indonesia is handling the corona virus pandemic well is intended to prevent the public from panicking. Yet the number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise.
"This is inclined more towards self-entertainment, so that the public doesn't panic. Yet this tendency is actually the same as lying to the public", said Rahadiansyah when contacted by Kompas.com on Tuesday January 26.
Rahadiansyah emphasised that the government should not be allowed to lie to the people under any situation, especially in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"It's better to be open about everything. If you lie like this, how can you expect the public to participate in the implementation of Covid-19 measures? If then the government itself isn't being honest, not being open, covering things up", he explained.
And it is not just the central government. Rahadiansyah also highlighted the lack of openness by regional governments.
He gave as an example the public lies perpetrated by the Jakarta provincial government. According to Rahadiansyah, the Jakarta government has on several occasions claimed that it is handling the pandemic well.
"Yet after these claims, the number of cases keeps rising sharply. The hospitals are even collapsing. The hospitals which are most visible, even if they don’t want to admit it, it can be seen, the hospitals full of queuing [patients]", he said.
Rahadiansyah believes it would be better if the government is more open about the handling of the pandemic and not continue to lie to the public. This openness should also be included in public policies which prioritise the public interest.
"It's better to be open. This is so that the public knows better how to understand the pandemic, how to overcome it, the health protocols", said Rahadiansyah.
Earlier, President Widodo claimed that Indonesia has been able to control both the pandemic as well the economic crisis well. With both crises, he said, occurred in 2020 and entering into 2021, Indonesia has suffered various very heavy challenges.
"We are grateful. Indonesia is among the countries that is controlling these two [health and economic] crises well", said Widodo during a full working assembly session of the Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) through the PGI Yakoma YouTube channel on Monday January 25.
But, said Widodo, the test is not completely over. The pandemic still continues and the public must still be vigilant and on the alert.
On January 26, Indonesia hit a grim milestone of 1 million cases – the first country in Southeast Asia to do so. The country reported 13,094 new cases bringing its current total to 1,012,350, including 820,356 recoveries and 28,468 deaths. As of January 25, Indonesia has performed 32,004 tests per 1 million people compared to the Philippines average of 68,776 tests per 1 million, Malaysia at 137,438, and Singapore at 1,031,417. Excluding Indonesia, ASEAN countries have recorded 14,192 deaths – around half of Indonesia's total. As of January 24 the country's positivity rate stood at 33.24 percent, well above the World Health Organization's 5 percent threshold for a lockdown.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Klaim Pemerintah Bisa Kendalikan Pandemi, Pengamat: Cenderung Menghibur Diri".]