We Need Concrete And Comprehensive Action From The State!

Joint Press Release of the Civil Society Organization
Regarding the Settlement of COVID-19 in Indonesia


We Need Concrete And Comprehensive Action From The State!

After the government issued the Presidential Decree No. 7/2020 regarding the Establishment of the Task Force for the Acceleration of COVID-19 Settlement on March 13, 2020 and the stipulation of COVID-19 as a non-natural national disaster on March 14, 2020, the government’s response regarding COVID-19 can still be sought, oversight in the field, worsen by the management of information and communication between the central and local government that is not align.

Responding the outbreak of infection and the increasing numbers of patients with COVID-19 positive (134 persons) also with the morality rate until 5 persons (data from March 16, 2020 at 18:00 GMT+7), the government issued a policy regarding social distancing with “study, work, pray” from home. The central government then allowed the local government to take initiative to deliver information towards the citizen regarding the cases of COVID-19 in their regions and conduct laboratory tests.

Social distancing or taking certain distance from social activities meant to push the infection risks, thus the rate of patient numbers can be prevented, so the healthcare institutions could have more opportunity to conduct the treatment with gaining citizen immunity. Unfortunately, several issues remain happening and should have a special attention:

First, social distancing term is unknown in the rule of law of Indonesia. The establishment of national disaster based on Law No. 24/2007 regarding Disaster Management, but this law do not recognized the concept of social distancing. If social distancing consider as “social limitation”, it is recognized in the Law No. 6/2018 regarding Health Quarantine. Article 59 Law No. 6/2018 stipulated “Big Scale Social Limitation” as a part of “Citizen Health Emergency”. However, that status should firstly be enacted by the government. So far, the government establish “national disaster” status. If the “Big Scale Social Limitation” wants to  be approached, it should include with school and office suspension. Hence, social distancing only formed as a suggestion to some individuals, and not being followed with several offices and companies. Impacted to this social distancing policy cannot effectively implemented as explained below.

Second, social distancing policy implemented partially with a good coordination between the central and local government as well as with the other sectors. For instance, as a matter of fact there were passenger build-up in Transjakarta bus, and MRT on Monday, March 16, 2020 in Jakarta, after the call for social distancing by the President. The passenger build-up occurred with several impacts, such as: firstly, the lack of adherence to the advice to work at home, and secondly, the extreme reduction in Transjakarta bus services. What is worse is that, we see that there is unhealthy communication between the President and the Governor of Jakarta. We urge, in times of crisis where the safety of the people is at stake, leaders hold and postpone any kind of individual/political competition and focus more on jointly in handling disasters. Without solidarity and one-voice attitude, any policy will fail. Humanitarian interests must be above political interests. Thirdly, the social distancing policy has also not been accompanied by an increase in the capacity and availability of hospital services. In various announcements, the government has indeed announced a number of hospitals that are said to be prepared to deal with COVID-19 patients, but the reality on the ground shows things that are totally contradictory. A number of reports have revealed how poor the services and responses of hospitals in Jakarta to residents who intend to have their check-ups. The poor response of the hospital shows how the hospitals are not ready to handle patients, especially patients from middle to lower class.

Fourthly, the government policies and measures have not been accompanied by intense and effective global cooperation. Before COVID-19 arrived in Indonesia, it already attacked in various countries. There are many countries that have successfully dealt with this virus starting from China, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. The government should be able to learn best practices and make responsive efforts in terms of international cooperation including receiving laboratory testing, personnel and medical analysis technology assistance, so that this outbreak can be more quickly resolved in Indonesia. To overcome the crisis and save the citizens, it is not the place to create silly dashing attitudes.

Fifth, social distancing has the political implications of citizenship to encourage the growth of human solidarity. The main message of social distancing is to take care of yourself, you protect the health of others! For this reason, social distancing requires effective and caring leadership to involve the broadest participation of various groups and community leaders.

In particular, we also highlight the absence of crisis sensitive, responsive and effective leadership. Transmission that occurred to officials in the Presidential Palace, shows how dangerous the attitude that takes the spread of this virus lightly. One of the most responsible parties in this matter is the Indonesian Minister of Health. From the beginning, the Minister of Health showed an attitude of arrogance, dismissiveness, and anti-science, which continued to look down on the problem, but resulted in the loss of vigilance. In the last few weeks we noted a number of fundamental mistakes made by the Minister of Health:

The statement that patients who have recovered will be immune, while other countries’ experiences show the opposite;

Failure to coordinate the hospital so that they are swift in conducting checks and handling of COVID-19, including ensuring the availability of funds/budget and tools; and also maintaining the quality of work of health workers, administrative staff, data centres and information in hospitals, especially in the current crisis;

Still in the monopoly of examining sample swab test results at the Jakarta Health Research & Development (Litbangkes) that slowed down the emergency response;

Hold a public event and not participate in implementing social distancing.

We assess that the risks faced by Indonesia at the moment cannot be addressed without the Minister of Health who truly understands public health policies. How can the hospital work seriously if the Minister of Health himself thinks that COVID-19 is the same as the common cold and can heal on its own? We urge President Joko Widodo to replace the Minister of Health, Terawan with a figure who better understands public health, has crisis sensitivity, which will guide us through this worst health crisis.

As a form to support the citizen that facing difficulties in accessing the medical treatment in COVID-19 cases, we provide online complaint platform through email: wargasadarcorona@gmail.com and report by Whatsapp at: 081385412441 and 089697820462.

Jakarta, March 17, 2020

KontraS, Lokataru, Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI), Community Legal Aid (LBH Masyarakat), The Indonesian Forum for Environment (WALHI), Association of Planned Family Indonesia (PKBI), Indonesian Customer Body Foundation  (YLKI), P2D, Migrant Care, AJAR, Amnesty International Indonesia, Law and Policy Study Center (PSHK)


Contact Persons:

Anis Hidayah, Migrant Care, 0815 7872 2874

Ricky Gunawan, LBH Masyarakat, 0812 10 677 657