Friday, September 11, 2020

In push for mass immunization, frontline warriors prioritized by Fardah

Jakarta, Sept 12, 2020 (ANTARA) - As many as 111 doctors, including specialists, have succumbed to the novel coronavirus as of September 11, 2020 in the country while battling on the frontlines against the virus that has affected over 200 thousand Indonesians.


Frontline doctors and paramedics have time and again demonstrated their dedication, professionalism, and hard work in fighting the invisible enemy and saving lives ever since the government announced the country's first COVID-19 cases on March 2, 2020.


President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has extended his condolences to the families of the fallen heroes and lauded their hard work and diligence in fighting COVID-19 infections, which have far from flattened so far.


The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has continued to increase in several regions in the country, leading to many hospitals filling up and healthcare workers working incessantly. 


To cut the chain of the virus spread, Jokowi has urged Indonesians to be disciplined in observing health protocols, particularly, wearing masks, washing hands with soap, and maintaining physical distancing, to ensure hospitals and paramedics do not get overwhelmed by the spike in COVID-19 cases.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

"Fiesta of democracy" requires "no compromise" approach to public health

Indonesia, the world's third largest democracy after the US and India, is once again gearing to hold simultaneous regional head elections (Pilkada) in 270 regions, or nearly half of its territories, on December 9 this year.

Elections are viewed as a "fiesta of democracy" in the country with a population of over 270 million people. Election preparations are usually hectic and the people enjoy the hustle bustle of campaigning, interspersed with parades and musical performances by local artists.

The first simultaneous local elections were held in 2015, and again in 2017 and 2018. All of them were conducted relatively smoothly and peacefully.

But, this year, the simultaneous Pilkada will be different owing to the COVID-19 pandemic that has already claimed 8,336 lives and infected 203,342 people since the government announced the first confirmed cases on March 2, 2020.

As the Pilkada implementation process begins and the dates for the campaigning period draw closer, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country has shown an increase.

In fact, the novel coronavirus disease has become a real threat to local elections as the virus has infected several local election officers despite the implementation of health protocols.

In East Barito District, Central Kalimantan, the head of the local election supervisory office (Bawaslu), identified as F (37), and a member of the the local election office (KPU), identified as Z (44), have tested positive for COVID-19 for the second time.

In Papua, a member of the local KPU has contracted the virus. In Boyolali, Central Java, 69 KPU officers have been infected with COVID-19.

Several prospective candidate pairs participating in the elections in various regions have also reportedly been infected with COVID-19.

Friday, August 28, 2020

NEW YOGYAKARTA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT ENVISIONED TO BOOST TOURISM b Fardah

 

Jakarta, 29/8/2020 (ANTARA) - Yogyakarta, a Javanese sultanate and special autonomous province located in the central of Java Island, currently has a new and modern Yogyakarta International Airport (YIA) that is 13 times bigger than its old Adisucipto Airport.


While inaugurating the new airport on Aug 28, 2020, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) claimed that the construction of YIA, which took just 20 months and cost Rp11.3 trillion (some US$777.4 million), is the best construction practice, so far, in Indonesia.


The new airport has a 3,250-meter runway, longer than the old Adisucipto Airport's runway measuring 2,200 meters. Wide-bodied aircraft, such as Airbus A330 and Boeing 777, can land at the new airport. It has a 219 thousand square-meter terminal, compared to 17 thousand square meters at the old airport's terminal. It has a capacity to accommodate 20 million passengers yearly, as compared to 1.6 million yearly at the old airport.


Jokowi is upbeat about the YAI being crowded once the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control.

"We know that we are still facing the COVID-19 pandemic. However, once we have the vaccination, Insya Allah (God willing), I believe that the airport can become the busiest. That is important," he affirmed.

Located in Kulon Progo District, Yogyakarta Province, the new airport is some 60 kilometers away from the worlds most popular Buddhist temple, Borobudur, designated by the Indonesian government as one of Indonesia's five super-priority tourist destinations.


Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi is optimistic that the YAI would attract domestic and foreign tourists, thereby helping aid economic recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

INDONESIA'S WEATHER IS A STUDY IN CONTRASTS by Fardah

 

Jakarta, 27/8/2020 (ANTARA) - Indonesia is preparing anticipatory measures against extreme weather events as it is prone to hydro-meteorological disasters, such as flooding, landslides, and whirlwinds, in the rainy season and wildfires or severe drought during the dry season.

Rains and dry spells often occur at the same time in different parts of the world's largest archipelagic country, which is spread over more than 16 thousand large and small islands.

These unique weather and climate dynamics can be attributed to Indonesia's territorial location around the equator as well as it being flanked by two oceans (the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean) and two big continents (Asia and Australia), Dwikorita Karnawati, head of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) explained recently.

This uniqueness is apparent from the contrasting weather or climatic conditions witnessed in the country. Even as several areas are experiencing drought, others are receiving extreme rains.

While the dry season has set in in most of Indonesia's southern regions, high rainfall is still likely in the equatorial regions, according to the BMKG.

Monday, August 24, 2020

KOMODO NATIONAL PARK, LABUAN BAJO REOPEN TO DOMESTIC TOURISTS, EXPATS by Fardah

 

Jakarta, 25/8/2020 (ANTARA) - After remaining closed for nearly six months owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the Komodo National Park (TNK) and Labuan Bajo have reopened to domestic tourists and expatriates living in Indonesia, albeit under several restrictions.

No more than 25 tourists are being allowed to visit each destination per day, with the observance of health protocols. Tourists are also being asked to furnish COVID-19 rapid test results showing that they are not infected with the virus.

In addition, the East Nusa Tenggara authorities are asking visitors to register online for entry tickets to Labuan Bajo through the website https://booking.labuanbajoflores.id/.

Tourists planning a trip to the Komodo National Park are being requested to use the services of certified local tour agents, who can be contacted through https://booking.labuanbajoflores.id/export/list-ta-to, according to Muhammad Iqbal, spokesperson for the Komodo National Park office.

Furthermore, the government has designated Komodo Island as a premium tourist destination, with visitors thronging the place to enjoy rare sightings of Komodo dragons in the wild.

The number of tourists visiting the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) habitat will be limited to 50 thousand annually, according to the authorities.

"Komodo Island has been prepared specifically as a conservation island, and we will limit entry to no more than 50 thousand visitors a year," East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) Governor Viktor Bungtilu Laiskodat stated recently.

The NTT government has decided on the policy after the central government agreed to grant the province the status for co-management of the Komodo National Park in West Manggarai district along with the Environmental Affairs and Forestry Ministry.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Health protocols take centerstage in preparation to welcome tourists by Fardah

 Jakarta, Aug 23, 2020 (ANTARA) - Indonesia is gearing towards a transitional period of the new normal amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, following the relaxation of large-scale social distancing (PSBB) measures that still mandate the implementation of strict health protocols.

The pandemic has had an adverse effect on tourism due to the tightening of measures and controls on air, sea, and land transportation to break the chain of transmission of the novel coronavirus disease, or COVID-19.

As of August 22, 2020, the tally of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia had reached 151,498, with 105,198 recoveries and 6,594 deaths.

Even as the nation adapts to new habits amid the ongoing pandemic, the government is endeavoring to revive the tourism sector, while putting measures in place to ensure tourists and other stakeholders consistently practice health protocols.

The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy has implemented technical guidelines and strict health protocols at tourism destinations to ensure safety of travelers.

To regain tourist confidence, ministry has also promulgated Cleanliness, Health and Safety (CHS) protocols, according to Ari Juliano Gema, spokesperson for the ministry’s COVID-19 Impact Handling Task Force.

"That means that, in this period, we are prioritizing cleanliness, health, safety, and environmental aspects. We already have guidelines that we have made with the aim to ensure that all tourism destinations are following the guidelines and can ensure that the CHSE factors are met," he explained.

The ministry has also produced a video on the implementation of guidelines and health protocols, he added.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Come and work from Bali amid lingering COVID-19 pandemic by Fardah

 Jakarta, Aug 22, 2020 (ANTARA) - Bali, among the world's most popular resort islands, reopened to domestic tourists since July 31, 2020, after months of being deserted over the ongoing pandemic of the China-originated novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in late 2019.

However, the opening of tourism is being conducted in stages and limited only to domestic tourists and in certain regions that are ready to apply stringent health protocols to fight the pandemic.

The central government and Bali authorities have formulated health protocols to be applied in several sectors, including tourism. The protocols make it mandatory for people to wear face masks while in public places, maintain social and physical distancing, frequently wash hands with soap and in running water, and avoid crowds, among other things.

Domestic tourists entering Bali must hold health certificates attesting that they are COVID-19 free, and Bali hotel employees are obliged to regularly conduct COVID-19 tests.

On the first day of the opening (July 31), a total of 2,128 people had entered Bali via the Ngurah Rai International Airport, while 1,847 were clocked on the next day, and the figure reached 2,419 on Aug 2, according to Putu Astawa, head of the Bali Tourism Office.

In addition to domestic tourists, some 6,500 foreign tourists, who were “stranded” in Bali since before the pandemic, lauded the opening of the island resort, which also means restaurants, caf├ęs, and hotels are back in operation.

The government has planned to allow foreign tourists to visit Bali from mid-September of 2020 under certain conditions.

Travel planning and booking website Tripadvisor has ranked Bali among the world's best tourism destinations alongside London in the Great Britain and Crete in Greece.

Tripadvisor's Travelers Choice Award for the World’s Best Destination has named Bali, also known as the Island of Gods, among the best tourist destinations globally out of a list of 25.

Recognizing fallen health workers in the battle against COVID-19 by Fardah

Jakarta, Aug 21, 2020  (ANTARA) - It is a tremendous loss when healthcare workers, including doctors and nurses, on the frontline in the battle against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) died while saving the lives of those infected with the ailment.

The governments had yet to release an official figure on the deaths of healthcare workers during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, several organizations have attempted to collect data from various sources, including news reports.

Amnesty International has collated and analyzed a wide range of available data showing that over three thousand health workers died after contracting COVID-19 in 79 countries, though the figure is likely to be a significant underestimate due to under-reporting, the NGO stated in June 2020.

According to Amnesty’s monitoring as of June, countries with the highest numbers of health worker deaths, included Russia, with the count reaching 545; while the number of those succumbing to the disease in the UK (England and Wales) touched 540, including 262 social care workers; 507 in the United States, 351 in Brazil, 248 in Mexico, 188 in Italy, 111 in Egypt, 91 in Iran, 82 in Ecuador, and 63 in Spain.

The International Council of Nurses (ICN), on its official website in June 2020, noted that of the three thousand fatalities globally, some 600 were nurses.

ICN implores governments to collect accurate data on nurse infections and deaths and act immediately to protect healthcare workers and save lives.

Worldwide, there is no systematic and standardized record of the number of nurses and other healthcare workers (HCWs), who have contracted the disease or died from it, according to ICN.

However, ICN’s analysis, based on data from National Nursing Associations, official figures, and media reports from a limited number of countries, indicates that over 230 thousand healthcare workers had contracted the disease.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

AS WAIT FOR COVID-19 CURE EXTENDS, FACE MASKS BECOME PRIORITY by Fardah

 

Jakarta, Aug 15,  2020 -Even as countries race to develop vaccines against COVID-19, face masks — cloth or surgical —  remain an effective and cheap solution to block the spread of respiratory droplets that can carry the novel coronavirus.

Studies have shown that face masks can reduce coronavirus transmission by around 50-85 percent.

In addition, social and physical distancing, as well as frequent hand washing with soap and running water are also necessary for preventing COVID-19 transmission.

The COVID-19 death rate in Indonesia is quite high, and even among the highest in the region. As of August 15, 2020, the nation's total case tally stood at 137,468, the death toll at 6,071, and the number of recoveries was at 91,321.

One of the reasons for this is that public adherence to the health protocols laid down by the government is still less than 50 per cent.

Surveys have shown that about 95 percent of respondents understand the importance of following health protocols, but the level of compliance remains below 50 percent, according to Doni Monardo, head of the Task Force for COVID-19 Handling.

Therefore, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has called for the launch of a two-week, nationwide "wear face mask" campaign to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

The President has also advised a stage-wise implementation of a behavioral change campaign, starting with the"wear face mask" campaign.

"Later, after two weeks, the campaign (focus) should be on social distancing or hand washing, for instance. Do not club together matters on hand washing, social distancing, crowd prevention, or mask wearing," he explained.

Jokowi is keen that the people give serious attention to health protocols and amend their behavior accordingly.

Moreover, the head of state is looking to involve members of the Family Welfare Movement (PKK) to help conduct a door-to-door campaign on wearing of masks.

Monday, August 10, 2020

INDIGENOUS VACCINE IN THE MAKING by Fardah

Jakarta, Aug 11, 2020 - The world is racing against time for developing a vaccine against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which has plagued more than 200 countries since it first emerged in Wuhan, China in late 2019.

 

At least 28 COVID-19 vaccine candidates are being tested in human clinical trials in 13 countries, while 131 other potential vaccines have not made it to the stage of human trials yet.


Indonesia has also entered the fray by developing its own vaccine called Red and White, which refers to the colors of its national flag.


The Red and White vaccine is being entirely developed by Indonesia. The Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT), the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), the Food and Drug Supervisory Agency (BPOM), the Ministry of Research and Technology, and several universities are working on the vaccine.


“For the past three months, we have been developing our own vaccine, specifically from the COVID-19 virus strain that has been spreading in Indonesia,” President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said in Bandung on August 11, 2020.


The animal trials for the Red and White vaccine are expected to be completed in 2020. If it is effective, the seed vaccine will be submitted to Bio Farma for preclinical and clinical trials.


The Red and White vaccine is projected to be fully ready in mid-2021.


The local vaccine candidate was earlier mentioned during the commemoration of the 25th National Technology Awakening Day (Hakteknas) 2020 on August 10, 2020.


The Harketnas offered the right momentum for Indonesian scientists to develop the COVID-19 vaccine, Indonesian Vice President Ma'ruf Amin said at the function.


On the occasion, Minister of Research and Technology/Head of the Research and Innovation Agency (Menristek/Head of BRIN), Bambang Brodjonegoro, confirmed that several studies and innovations were under way in the country for tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.


Research and innovations to handle the COVID-19 crisis cover the production of ventilators, rapid diagnostic tests, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test kits, mobile lab Biosafety level 2 (BSL-2), and the Red and White vaccine.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

ENDEAVORING FOR A BALANCE BETWEEN COVID-19 HANDLING AND ECONOMIC RECOVERY by Fardah

Jakarta, July 29, 2020 (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) opined that handling of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic must be conducted concurrently with endeavors to facilitate recovery of the country's economy hard hit by the impacts of the outbreak. 


The economy is bound to bear the brunt when the focus is chiefly on health through the application of restrictions, while on the other hand, prioritizing measures to bring about an economic rebound by relaxing COVID-19 restrictions will further fuel the spread of the coronavirus disease. 

Hence, Jokowi has offered a midpoint strategy through his “brake and gas pedal” analogy at the right time for fine-tuning efforts to strike a delicate balance between handling the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery.


"In managing this crisis, the brake and gas pedal should be maneuvered in a way to really strike a balance. We cannot mainly use gas for economic interests but then our health gets neglected in the process. However, we cannot also concentrate fully on health aspects since the economy is collapsing," he pointed out.


To materialize his concept, Jokowi signed Presidential Regulation No. 82 of 2020 on the Committee for COVID-19 Handling and National Economic Recovery on July 20, 2020.


The regulation is a manifestation of the "brake and gas pedal" concept voiced by President Jokowi to balance, coordinate, synergize, and integrate the COVID-19 handling and economic recovery efforts.


"This committee is intended to integrate health and economic policies that are often described by the president as (the vehicles’) gas and brake pedals, and both must be handled in a balanced manner," Minister of State Secretary Pratikno remarked.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Safeguarding Indonesian children from violence and COVID-19 by Fardah

Jakarta, July 25, 2020 (ANTARA) - The Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry observed National Children's Day (HAN), celebrated every July 23, with this year's theme: "Children are Protected, Indonesia is Advancing" and bearing tagline "Indonesian Children are Happy at Home."

HAN 2020 was commemorated amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic that has compelled children to stay indoors and study from home, as their schools have remained shut since March 2020 following the government’s announcement of the country's first confirmed cases.

A total of 329 representatives from 34 provinces, 69 representatives of the Children's Forum, and 44 performers at the Happy Concert at Home took part in the celebration held via the Zoom application.

Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister I Gusti Ayu Bintang Darmawati Puspayoga, who led the virtual celebrations, pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic having restricted everyone's activities, though it had failed to dampen the Indonesian children’s enthusiasm to commemorate HAN 2020.

"Today is your day. Today, all Indonesian children must feel a sense of joy and happiness, although a pandemic is sweeping across the world," Puspayoga told the Indonesian children.

The minister, however, pointed out that several problems encumbering Indonesian children in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic range from parenting issues presented on account of either they or their parents having contracted the virus to a reduction in learning and playing times owing to being homebound.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Indonesia committed to simultaneously handling TB and COVID-19 by Fardah

Jakarta, July 22, 2020 (ANTARA) - Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelagic nation, with over 17 thousand islands and a population of some 267 million, is currently not only battling COVID-19 but also other ailments, including dengue fever and tuberculosis (TB).

Indonesia is ranked third for the incidence of TB globally. Some 165 thousand Indonesians succumbed to tuberculosis in 2017 and some 98 thousand people in 2018.

"I need to remind you that Indonesia is listed as the world's third-largest TB-burdened nations in terms of the number of sufferers after India and China," the head of state pointed out while chairing a limited cabinet meeting on the Acceleration of Tuberculosis Elimination at the Merdeka Palace, Jakarta, on July 21, 2020.

Furthermore, the high number of TB cases in the country are observed among people of the productive age group of between 15 and 55 years.

The president has reminded his ranks of Indonesia’s target to become free of tuberculosis by 2030.

In the path to achieving the target, the government remains committed to fighting TB in an integrated manner by involving several ministries and relevant institutions.

Houses that are not properly ventilated and fail to receive adequate sunlight, especially those in an overpopulated area, are among the factors triggering people-to-people transmission. Hence, not only the Health Ministry but also the Social Affairs Ministry and Public Works and Public Housing Ministry must partake in this TB prevention endeavor. To this end, the government will ensure the availability of medications for the treatment of TB.

The government is also intensifying the tracking of TB patients since out of 845 thousand people infected with this disease, only 562 thousand have been identified, thereby translating to the fact that some 33 percent are not registered.

Hence, the president threw his weight behind the simultaneous handling of TB and COVID-19.

"We already had a model for COVID-19 (handling), notably, by aggressively tracing those infected. We might use this COVID-19 (handling model) to also trace (those suffering from) tuberculosis," he explained.

UNESCO tag for Toba Caldera to boost N Sumatra tourism by Fardah

Jakarta , July 22, 2020 (ANTARA) - Located in North Sumatra province, Lake Toba is the largest volcanic lake on Earth.

The ancient lake was formed as a result of a volcanic eruption 74 thousand years ago. The Toba eruption, which is the largest known volcanic event on the planet, produced a steep-walled caldera, which, over time, filled with water to form the largest of Indonesia’s lakes.

When viewed from space, the Toba caldera is one of the most striking volcanic craters on Earth, measuring an impressive 100 x 30 kilometers.

Lake Toba and Samosir Island, which is located in the middle of the huge caldera, offer a complete tourism package — with beautiful views, glimpses into the unique Batak culture and traditions, and an intriguing history.

The inclusion of the Tabo Caldera on the list of UNESCO Global Geoparks (UGGp) has been a proud moment for Indonesia. The inclusion was approved at the 209th Session of the UNESCO executive board in Paris, France, on July 2, 2020. Along with the Tabo Caldera, 15 other geoparks were also put on the UNESCO list, including the Cliffs of Fundy (Canada), Xiangxi (China), Hantangang (South Korea), Rio Coco (Nicaragua), and Granada (Spain).

"With this inscription, Indonesia can develop the Toba Caldera Geopark via the Global Geoparks Network and the Asia Pacific Geoparks Network, especially in connection with empowering local communities," Indonesian Ambassador to UNESCO, Arrmanatha Nasir, said in a statement released from Paris on July 8, 2020.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Government links food security to national defense by Fardah

Jakarta, July 16, 2020 (ANTARA) - The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has cautioned that the COVID-19 pandemic is posing a serious threat to food security and nutrition, and has urged governments and other stakeholders to build more resilient food systems.

As a precautionary measure, the Indonesian Government is developing a food estate project in Kapuas district and Belanti Siam village in Pulang Pisau district, Central Kalimantan province, under the National Strategic Program (PSN), which is to be implemented within the next three years.
 

In 2020, at least 30 thousand hectares of land will be made available for the project, and the land size will be expanded over the next two years.

The President has assigned three ministers — Defense Minister Prabowo Susanto, Public Works and Public Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono, and State Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir — to implement the program, with the support of other ministers.

The Ministry of Defense is leading the program to build food reserves and will be responsible for boosting resilience for food security.

"Yesterday, I told you that the food estate development is being conducted in response to an FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) warning of a global food crisis. Hence, we need to take precautionary measures quickly by preparing strategic food reserves," President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) told the press on July 13, 2020.

Jokowi has justified his decision to task the Defense Minister with leading the implementation of the national food estate program.

"Defense does not only concern 'alutsista' (primary weaponry defense system), but also boosting resilience in the food sector, which is part of it (national security). The Defense Minister has already submitted the cost calculations and the amount of budget required to develop a food estate in Kapuas and Pulang Pisau," Jokowi said. 

"The Minister of Agriculture will back it (the project). Other agricultural and food related matters still come under the authority of the Agriculture Minister," Jokowi noted.

The food estate is not meant as a rice field opening program, but refers to the development of a food center, explained Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, spokesperson for the Defense Minister. 

The food estate will serve as a center for agricultural and strategic logistical reserves, which are crucial for supporting national defense. 

Besides rice, centers of other crops, such as cassava and corn, will also be developed, depending on land conditions, the Defense Minister’s spokesperson said.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Global community's growing chorus against Israel's annexation plan by Fardah

Jakarta, July 4, 2020 (ANTARA) - Israel did not proceed with its planned July-1 annexation of parts of West Bank and Jordan Valley, Palestine, amid fierce rejection by the international community, including its closest allies: the Great Britain, Australia, and Germany.

Vociferous oppositions also arose from the European Union (EU), Arab nations, and Asian countries, including Indonesia, which have been appealing to the international community to reject the plan since the start.

Palestine too has unitedly voiced its rejection of the plan. Both Hamas and Fatah have condemned Israel for attempting to grab more Palestinian land.

International organizations, including the UN, the Arab League, and the OIC, have also called on Israel to abandon settlement plans that run counter to the international laws and UN resolutions. Dozens of UN experts were apprehensive that the proposed annexation plan would create a “21st century apartheid”.


Indonesia, a staunch and consistent supporter of Palestine’s struggle for independence, has proactively kept up the pressure against Israel’s annexation plan through various international forums.

Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi sent letters to dozens of governments worldwide to garner support for the rejection of the plan on May 27, 2020.

“I have received positive responses from many countries, including South Africa, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, China, Japan, Russia, Tunisia, Vietnam, Egypt, Jordan, Ireland, and France, as well as from the UN secretary general and the OIC secretary general,” the minister stated in Jakarta on July 2, 2020.

Those countries mostly voiced their support to Indonesia’s initiative to urge the international community to prevent and reject the annexation plan. Moreover, they voiced the need to pursue a two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A common concern is that the annexation would threaten regional and global stability while also impairing the effective mitigation efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier, Indonesia, along with Tunisia and South Africa, had initiated a ministerial-level meeting of the UN Security Council (UNSC) to deliberate on Israel’s unilateral plan to annex Palestine.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Timely budget spending crucial for economic recovery amid COVID-19 by Fardah

Jakarta, July 3, 2020 (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) delivered a strong rebuke to ministers and leaders of state institutions over the slow handling of the COVID-19 crisis during a cabinet meeting on June 18 this year.

He ordered his aides to improve ministerial budget spending, noting that expenditure in the health sector has only reached two percent of the budgeted Rp75 trillion.

The President also highlighted the need for promptly disbursing social assistance and ensuring that micro-, small-, and medium-scale businesses receive the necessary economic stimulus.

“The atmosphere in the last three months and in the next three months should be one of crisis. ... I see there are still many of us who [are still acting] as usual. I'm annoyed," he said in a video released on June 28, 2020.

He expressed annoyance at the “lack of sense of crisis” among his ministers, and threatened to dissolve certain institutions or carry out a cabinet reshuffle, if necessary.

Jokowi has been repeatedly reminding ministers to move fast in spending their allocated budgets, including for MSMEs, the health sector, and providing social benefits for the poor, so that jobs can be created and the economy, which has been dealt a severe blow by the COVID-19 pandemic, can recover.  

 "I have ordered all ministries and institutions to spend the existing budget, and I am monitoring it every day," Jokowi said on June 30, 2020.

The President said he has been keeping tabs on the budget disbursals of each ministry and state agency on a daily basis.

The head of state highlighted the need to expedite budget disbursals by ministries to increase money supply and stimulate the economy.

After COVID shock, Indonesia moves to make health sector crisis-ready by Fardah

Jakarta, July 4, 2020 (ANTARA) - The coronavirus pandemic, which first emerged in China in late 2019 and then spread rapidly across the globe, has caught many countries unprepared, sparking an unprecedented crisis across the world.  


Lack of planning and preparation in dealing with the crisis has led to a loss of lives, including those of doctors and nurses fighting at the frontlines of the COVID-19 battle, often with inadequate personal protection due to shortage of critical medical and safety equipment, including masks, which are easy to produce and cheap in cost.  
 

As of July 4, 2020, the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide has reached 11,219,696, with 6,363,696 recoveries and 529,601 deaths. 

In Indonesia, 62,142 people have been infected with the virus so far, with the number of patients recovering from the virus climbing to 28,219 and the death toll mounting to 3,089. 


As per data provided on May 6, 2020 by the Task Force for the Acceleration of COVID-19 Response, 55 medical workers — 38 doctors and 12 nurses — have succumbed to the infection in Indonesia.
 

In East Java, 86 doctors and 146 nurses have been exposed to COVID-19, said Dr. Sutrisno, chairman of the province’s Indonesian Medical Association (IDI). Thirteen doctors and 11 nurses have succumbed to the disease, he added. 


In South Sulawesi, Prof. Dr Syafri Kamsul Arif, spokesperson for the local COVID-19 response task force, said 70 health workers have contracted the virus, of whom, 60 percent have made a full recovery.
 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Indonesia strives to win tourist confidence amid COVID-19 by Fardah

Jakarta, July 2, 2020 (ANTARA) - The Indonesian government is taking steps to build tourist confidence, considered vital for the successful recovery of the tourism sector, by putting stringent health protocols and screening guidelines in place for regions planning to reopen to tourists. 

As it gears for the implementation of the new normal, the government is making efforts to ensure only those regions which report a low COVID-19 transmission rate, backed by scientific data, are allowed to proceed with their plans for receiving tourists, and that too under strict protocols advised by the World Health Organization (WHO).    

"We must not push to apply a new normal while it is, in fact, not possible based on the (COVID-19 cases) data. Do not force it. Hence, the stages must be prepared," President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said on June 29, 2020. 

As parts of the efforts to regain tourist confidence, the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry has formulated and socialized health protocols, dubbed Cleanliness, Health and Safety (CHS) protocols.

"Indonesia's success in handling COVID-19 can be a consideration in building the nation’s brand. Hence, a synergy between ASITA (Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies) and representatives of market countries is needed to boost tourist confidence," Nia Niscaya, deputy of the marketing division of the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy said on June 28, 2020.

Learning from several countries that have managed to recover from the COVID-19 outbreak, the ministry plans to first focus on the domestic market.

The ministry plans to launch a campaign dubbed #DiIndonesiaAja (#JustStayInIndonesia) targeting the market segment of families, couples, individual tourists, or fully independent travelers (FIT), and the government.

A digital prescription for MSMEs amid COVID-19 by Fardah

Jakarta (ANTARA) , July 2, 2020 - Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), the backbone of the Indonesian economy, have been particularly vulnerable to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic owing to transport, and supply and demand chain disruptions, and restrictions on movement of people. 

To help them survive amid the near economic collapse caused by the pandemic, the Indonesian government has announced a major economic stimulus package for MSMEs.    

According to Teten Masduki, Minister of Cooperatives and Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs), as much as Rp735 trillion of funding has been allocated for MSME revival.

"We are optimistic that if the Rp735 trillion is channeled for the MSME (revival) budget, the economy can be reactivated," the minister said.

The government, institutions, and state-owned enterprises budget for MSMEs is expected to help boost the national economy. 

"We have to maintain (MSMEs) as our market is rather significant with 250 million people (being served by such businesses). If there is commitment among the people to buy from MSMEs, it will increase the demand for (products made by) MSMEs, he said.

The ministry has granted relaxations on MSME loans through installment delays, credit subsidy, tax amnesty, and provisions for new, more affordable capital for MSMEs to ensure their productivity is maintained. 

At present, the Cooperatives and SME Ministry is preparing a digital catalog and a page specifically for MSMEs with the help of the Government Institution for Provisions of Goods and Services (LKPP).

Indonesia had 64.1 million MSME businesses, as of the first half of 2019. Of the total figure, 63.3 million, or 98.6 percent, are microbusinesses. Of the total MSMEs, only about 13 percent, or 8.3 million, have capitalized on digitalization to conduct their businesses.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

A deep sense of humanity for Rohingya prevails in Aceh by Fardah

Jakarta (ANTARA) , July 1, 2020- The smiles are again back on the faces of Rohingya children after being rescued from a sinking boat and currently being accommodated in an abandoned immigration building in Blang Mangat, Lhokseumawe, Aceh.

The 35 Rohingya children are part of the total 100 Rohingya refugees, who were rescued by three Aceh fishermen -- Faisal, Abdul Aziz, and Raja -- on hearing their audible cries after their damaged boat began sinking in the Malacca Strait waters. 

The three fishermen moved the refugees, including 48 women, to another boat and pulled them near the North Aceh shore on June 24, 2020.

The local authorities, petrified of the spread of the COVID-19 disease, prevented the refugees from disembarking and pushed the boat back to sea after giving them food and drinking water.

The local villagers were moved at witnessing the plight of children and women crying for help while their boat was pushed back from Lancok Beach in Syantalira Bayu Sub-district, North Aceh District, and attempted to reason with several officers. They insisted that the refugees be allowed to disembark on Aceh land.

In the afternoon of June 25, amid extreme weather, strong winds, and dark cloudy skies, several villagers took it upon themselves to evacuate the refugees without awaiting the authorities’ approval.

“We will pull the boat back and feed them here,” Nasruddin, one of the villagers, stated.

With a strong sense of humanity and empathy, the villagers took the bold move, as there were infants, children, and old women aboard the boat. 

Friday, June 26, 2020

COVID-19 ADDING TO CHALLENGE POSED BY FOREST FIRES By Fardah

Jakarta, 27/6/2020 (Antara) - With Indonesia still in the grip of the coronavirus, which is known to cause severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), forest fires and the associated smog could potentially spell a double disaster, suffocating people and animals.

Wildfires are normally known to occur every year on Sumatra and Kalimantan islands during the dry season. They often produce smog that can shroud neighboring countries, particularly Malaysia and Singapore.

This year, the peak dry season is forecast for August and September.

During a limited cabinet meeting chaired by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) in Jakarta on June 23, 2020, Doni Monardo, chief of the Task Force for the Acceleration of COVID-19 Response, cautioned that heavy smoke from forest and land fires, especially peatlands, could adversely impact public health and increase risk of people contracting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

"Heavy smoke can pose a health threat to the community, particularly those ailing from asthma or ARI (acute respiratory infection). The impact could be dangerous for asthma patients when exposed to COVID-19," Monardo said.

Hence, Jokowi has ordered his ministers to take precautionary steps against forest and land fires, Monardo added.

He stressed the need for closer cooperation between all sections of the community in all regions to mitigate forest and land fires, particularly in fire-prone areas.

ON JAKARTA ANNIVERSARY, A 'PRESENT': PANDEMIC SHOWING SIGNS OF SLOWING by Fardah

Jakarta, 27/6 , 2020(Antara) - There has been no grand celebration to commemorate Jakarta's 493rd anniversary this year as the Indonesian capital has been preoccupied with the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, there has been cause for cheer thanks to news of Jakarta finally managing to bring the infection relatively under control. According to a UI report, the effective reproductive number (Rt) for the city has slid to 0.98 in June this year from 4 in March.

"(I have just received) a report from the team of the Public Health Faculty of the University of Indonesia (UI) that shows that during the past two weeks, under the transition period, the outbreak has been brought under control," Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan remarked during a modest commemoration ceremony at the city hall on June 22, 2020.

Home to a population of around 11 million, Jakarta emerged as the country's first COVID-19 epicenter, following President Joko Widodo's announcement of Indonesia's first confirmed cases on March 2, 2020.

On March 16, prior to the governments enactment of large-scale social distancing measures, Jakarta recorded its highest Rt of 4, while the threshold is 1, based on the assumption that every 100 people infected with COVID-19 would transmit the disease to 400 others.

On April 10 this year, the figure dropped to 1.5, and currently, it has dipped below one, thanks to the hard work put in by all Jakartans, Baswedan said.

"This is such a present for Jakarta's people as we celebrate the anniversary, since the pandemic that was rampant is currently being brought under control," he remarked.

On June 24, 2020, Jakarta added 195 fresh COVID-19 cases, bringing its total count of confirmed cases so far to 10,472.

The capital city registered 112 recoveries and three deaths the previous day, Fify Mulyani, head of Jakarta's Public Health Office, said.

The metropolitan city has so far registered 5,434 recoveries, while the death toll has been recorded at 631, she noted.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Clamor grows for ending trafficking, slavery on the seas by Fardah

Jakarta , June 16, 2020 (ANTARA) - On June 5 this year, two sailors — Reynalfi, 22, and Andri Juniansyah, 30 — jumped off Chinese-flagged fishing vessel Fu Lu Qing Yuan Yu 901 as soon as it entered Indonesia's territorial waters in the Malacca Strait.

After about seven hours adrift, they were rescued by local fishermen from Tanjung Balai Karimun,  Riau Island, Sumatra. 

The two Indonesian crew members reportedly decided to jump off the vessel because they could not withstand the treatment they received on board. They cited lack of food and drinking water and being forced to work very long hours as reasons for jumping overboard. They also claimed they were intimidated and physically harmed, either by the ship’s captain or by Chinese crewmen.

The two Indonesian citizens were allegedly victims of human trafficking, according to a report by Destructive Fishing Watch (DFW).

“The allegation of forced labor emerged after we found violations such as unpaid wages, poor working conditions, threats and intimidation, [all of] which Andri Juniansyah and Reynalfi experienced,” DFW Indonesia coordinator M. Abdi Suhufan told the media.

According to DFW data, at least 30 Indonesian crew members have been victims of such violations on board Chinese vessels between November, 2019 and June, 2020. Seven of the crew reportedly died, three remain missing, and 20 have survived. 

With several cases coming to light, the DFW has called for a moratorium and evaluation of the policy of sending Indonesian seafarers to work on Chinese-flagged fishing vessels.

There have been allegations of human trafficking and forced labor against irresponsible perpetrators at home, who have been sending Indonesian seafarers to work on Chinese fishing boats, Suhufan noted.


Reports on the ill-treatment of Indonesian fishermen on Chinese fishing boats have triggered an uproar in the world’s largest archipelagic country.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Collective action urged against Israel plan to annex West Bank by Fardah

Jakarta, June 16, 2020 (ANTARA) - With the colonial regime in Israel expanding its territories by occupying more Arab lands, the international community has been urged to prevent Israel’s planned annexation of the West Bank, and help realize the independence of the Palestinian state, based on the borders drawn in 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

 

The call was voiced by the OIC Executive Committee at the conclusion of its Extraordinary Open-Ended Ministerial Meeting, held virtually on June 10, 2020, some 20 days before Israel is scheduled to implement its planned annexation of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, beginning July 1. 

 

The OIC has called on the international community to take steps against the Israeli occupation and its colonial practices that jeopardize the fundamentals of the rule-based international order, the organization of Muslim majority countries said in a 15-point resolution, which was adopted at the meeting that was also attended by Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi.

The OIC has also asked the international community to take the necessary legal countermeasures, including refraining from dealings with any Israeli government that endorses an annexation agenda, imposing economic and political sanctions on Israel, and boycotting the Israeli colonial system, and illegal Israeli settlements and their products.

 

In addition, the OIC has urged its members to take the necessary political, legal, and economic measures to address the Israeli threat to the occupied Palestinian territory.

The resolution also calls on all states to pressure the Israeli occupation authorities to ensure the release of Palestinian prisoners, especially the sick, the elderly, children, and women, and to protect them from the risk of COVID-19 infection.

 

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Indonesian regions brace for reopening of tourism attractions amid COVID-19 pandemic by Fardah

Jakarta (ANTARA) - The spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has brought the tourism sector to a screeching halt, resulting in the collapse of tourism-related industries comprising aviation, hotel, restaurant, and other travel and hospitality businesses worldwide.

With the COVID-19 pandemic lingering on since early this year, several nations are currently migrating at a measured pace, from crises management to recovery efforts, especially to breathe new life into the tourism sector that has been the foremost and worst affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Indonesia is one of the nations that is keen to initiate efforts to usher in recovery in their tourism and hospitality industries that have been dealt a debilitating blow by the COVID-19 pandemic. In April 2020, Indonesia’s several regions registered no tourist arrivals, thereby leaving hotels, travel agents, and related services with no choice but to close down.

As the government announced a plan to transition from the large-scale social distancing measures (PSBB) to the new normal concept, several regions are also prepping to revive the tourism industry.

Bali, one of the world’s most popular resort islands, in cooperation with the Tourism Creative Economy Ministry, is currently preparing health protocols for tourism in the new normal.

However, the Bali provincial administration is yet to take a decision on when to reopen the island for tourists.

However, if it is decided to reopen it gradually, the local government will be selective in receiving international tourists and will enforce stringent health protocols.

Monday, June 8, 2020

POST-COVID-19 RECOVERY MUST PAVE WAY TO SUSTAINABLE WORLD by Fardah

Jakarta, 9/6/2020 (Antara) - The lingering COVID-19 pandemic has caused serious damage, socially and economically, around the world.

As of June 9, 2020, the novel coronavirus disease has claimed 409,104 lives, with over 7 million people contracting the infection in 213 countries and territories.

Economically, the outbreak has triggered economic collapse, leading to closure of businesses, job losses, and poverty, particularly in developing countries.

The COVID-19 pandemic has served as an unprecedented global shock that has magnified the impact of inequality, hitting the poor the hardest, according to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).

On the other hand, with people forced to lock themselves at home to break the chain of the virus spread, people in big cities particularly have been able to enjoy fresh air as pollution has reduced significantly. The sky in Jakarta is blue and the river is cleaner as there is much less human activity.

The healing seen in nature, however, would be temporary, if people do not change the way they conduct businesses once the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

As governments around the world are racing to implement economic stimulus and support packages to keep individuals, businesses, and economies afloat, IISD has reminded that these measures must pave the way to a more sustainable economy and development.

COVID-19 SHIFTS TOURISM FOCUS TO SAFE, RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL Fardah

Jakarta, 7/6 (Antara) - The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has brought the world to a standstill, with people around the globe confined to their homes over the last three months at least to break the chain of virus transmission.
As countries race to develop vaccines against COVID-19, their tourism and hospitality industries, which have been crippled by the pandemic, are trying to revive and adapt their businesses by implementing stringent health protocols.
Tourism and hospitality industries are now working to ensure guests and clients stay safe, healthy and comfortable by implementing physical distancing measures and stringent health protocols.
Tourists are being advised to stay safe and travel responsibly by following the WHOs simple, but effective, guidelines, such as washing hands regularly and thoroughly, avoiding shaking hands or touching the face, staying away from crowded places, and where possible, maintaining at least one-meter distance from other people.
Indonesia is one of the countries that are eager to initiate a recovery in their tourism and hospitality industries, which have been dealt a heavy blow by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Central Statistics Agency (BPS) head Suhariyanto, foreign tourist arrivals in Indonesia fell sharply by 87.44 percent to 160 thousand in April, 2020 from 1.27 million in April, 2019. Compared with March, foreign tourist arrivals declined 66.02 percent in April.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Police, military roped in to edify public on new normal protocols Fardah

Jakarta, June 1, 2020 (ANTARA) - After imposing large-scale social distancing (PSBB) measures for less than two months, the Indonesian government has switched its focus to the implementation of a new normal amid the prolonged COVID-19 epidemic.

  The decision has been prompted by indications that it may be a while before a vaccine against the deadly virus is developed.


The government has stressed that the new measure does not imply a relaxation, but is being promulgated as it has now become necessary to resume certain office and business activities as the country's economy, particularly the tourism industry, has been hit hard by the continued pandemic.


The novel coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China last year, has forced people across the world to change the way they lead their lives and find ways to co-exist with COVID-19 through the observance of health protocols to prevent an infection till the time a coronavirus vaccine is developed.


Under the new normal, people will be expected to carry out their daily activities while giving priority to personal safety and preventive measures against COVID-19.


In preparation for the transition to the new normal, the Health Ministry has been drafting health protocols to ensure that people stay safe and healthy while carrying out routine and productive activities.
 

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Indonesia strongly opposes Israeli annexation plan of West Bank by Fardah

Jakarta, May 31, 2020 (ANTARA) - Israel’s lust for more Arab land seems endless. They have occupied and colonized most of Palestinian land and unilaterally claimed Syria’s Golan Height, annexed Jerusalem, and now they plan to annex parts of Jordan Valley and West Bank. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a meeting of Likud’s Knesset faction on May 26 that the annexation of West Bank will begin on July 1 this year.

“We don’t intend to change it.” Netnyahu was quoted by Israeli media Haaretz, adding that “this is an opportunity that can’t be missed.”

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, has opined that Israel's plan to annex more land from the illegally occupied West Bank will bring a new calamity for Palestinians, similar to their mass exodus in 1948, known as Nakba, which is commemorated on May 15 annually.

To create the State of Israel, Zionist forces attacked major Palestinian cities, destroyed some 530 villages, and killed approximately 13,000 Palestinians in 1948, with more than 750,000 expelled from their homes and becoming refugees.

At present, the refugees and their descendants number more than seven million. Many still languish in refugee camps in neighboring Arab countries, such as Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, waiting to return to their homeland.

Nakba's 72nd anniversary has come at a time when an extreme right-wing government in Israel looks to expand its territory to the Jordan Valley.

"The annexation of Jordan Valley is an attempt to complete the catastrophe (Nakba) of 1948 and to completely liquidate the Palestinian cause," Hanan Ashrawi, prominent politician and thinker, said as reported by Aljazeera.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Indonesians asked to prepare for new normal by Fardah

Jakarta , May 25, 2020 (ANTARA) -

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has asked Indonesians, and businesses entities in particular, to prepare to coexist with COVID-19, which would necessitate a new normal of social distancing and observance of health protocols.

For the country, which has been battling the pandemic since early March this year, finding ways to coexist with COVID-19 would not imply giving up the fight against the deadly virus, he asserted.

Instead, it would involve carrying out normal activities peacefully, safely, productively, and comfortably by following the new health protocols to safeguard against coronavirus spread, as, currently, no vaccines have been developed against the infection.

The safety of the public must remain priority, the President remarked.

In preparation for the transition toward a new normal amid the lingering pandemic, the government is drafting protocols for various activities to ensure that people stay safe and healthy, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Airlangga Hartarto, said.

"This will be discussed in detail and will be decided by the President. We are now studying the concept technically and comprehensively," Airlangga said, adding that the new normal will demand strong discipline on part of the public.

In Jakarta, the country’s capital and COVID-19 epicenter, Governor Anies Bawesdan has projected that normalcy will be restored and local residents will resume activities after the third round of large-scale social distancing (PSBB) ends.

"If we all remain disciplined, Jakarta can return to a new normal. Many people usually call it a new normal to refer to a new situation instead of a pre-pandemic situation," he remarked at the Jakarta City Hall on May 20, 2020.

However, Jakarta residents are expected to not reduce their adherence to a disciplined lifestyle under new normal conditions, he said.

“This (COVID-19 fight) is not yet over. I want to underscore that there is no relaxation. Do not think it is relaxed. Do not feel that it is over," he cautioned.

Indonesia braces for extreme dry season amid COVID-19 by Fardah

Jakarta , May 25, 2020 (ANTARA) -

As it battles the coronavirus pandemic, Indonesia, which is currently entering the dry season, is bracing for a possible prolonged drought.

The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has forecast that 30 percent of the country’s regions entering the dry season in the next three months will experience drier-than-usual weather conditions.

This year, the dry season started in April, and is forecast to be dominant in May, June, and July, and peak during the period from August to September.

The hydrological drought is forecast to chiefly impact 10 provinces -- West Java, Central Java, Yogyakarta, East Java, South Sulawesi, Bali, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), Maluku, and Papua -- with affected areas spread across 90 districts and cities.

Agricultural land forecast to be affected by drought in the 10 provinces cover 1.14 million hectares of irrigation areas.

"Hence, steps to mitigate the impact must be thoroughly prepared, so that the stability of food prices is not affected," President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said at the Merdeka Palace, Jakarta, on May 5, 2020, while chairing a virtual limited meeting on "Anticipating the Impact of Drought on the Availability of Staple Food". The meeting was attended byVice President Ma'ruf Amin and ministers.

The impact of COVID-19 and a prolonged drought could deal a double blow to the country by prompting a food crisis, if the problems are not anticipated and managed properly.

To prevent a food shortage, the government has outlined two strategies: encouraging planting of crops earlier, before the 2020 dry season sets in; and, delivering the necessary infrastructure and facilities promptly to support the planting process.

"The planting season should be accelerated. We must capitalize on the rainfall that still exists today. We must ensure that farmers continue to produce and plant by applying health protocols," Jokowi remarked.

The Agriculture Ministry is implementing the Paddy Planting Acceleration Movement in several regions to encourage early planting.

Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto had earlier announced that the government will offer incentives worth Rp600 thousand to 2.44 million farmers to facilitate planting in the next period.

Furthermore, the Public Works and Public Housing (PUPR) Ministry has readied several dams, reservoirs, water retention basins, bore wells, and other facilities to store water, particularly for irrigation purposes.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

REJECTING TO HELP ROHINGYA AKIN TO REJECTING ASEAN COMMUNITY by Fardah


Jakarta, 16/5/2020 (Antara) - The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has again placed the Rohingya under the media spotlight, as several ASEAN members are refusing helpless Rohingyas aboard boats from landing on their lands on pretext of the disease outbreak.
On April 16, 2020, the Malaysian navy had intercepted a boat, carrying aboard some 200 Rohingya refugees, off the coast of Malaysia and prevented it from entering the Malaysian waters.

Bangladeshi coast guards had earlier intercepted another boatload of refugees that, the survivors averred, had been turned away from the Malaysian waters almost two months earlier. A total of 382 starving Rohingya refugees were taken off the boat, and survivors reported that at least 30 people onboard had died before the rescue.

Following those incidents and fueled by misinformation, fake news, and provocations, the rising hostility towards refugees in Malaysia surfaced through several anti-Rohingya petitions and hate speeches on social media.

The COVID-19 pandemic does not create a justification for risking the lives of refugees on overcrowded boats, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated while expressing its concern.

Malaysias claims to support the rights of Rohingya mean shockingly little when they push desperate refugees back to sea, Phil Robertson, the deputy director of HRWs Asia division, affirmed.

In Indonesia, Acehs waters and air police currently intensified patrolling to stop some 500 Rohingya refugees aboard two boats, reportedly sailing nearby while en route to Malaysia, from making transits on Aceh soil.

INDONESIA AIMS FOR SELF-RELIANCE IN MEDICAL DEVICES, PRODUCTS by Fardah


Jakarta, 16/5/2020 (Antara) - The novel coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, has infected 17,025 Indonesians so far, with the number of dead reaching 1,089, including scores of medical workers.
The Task Force for the Acceleration of COVID-19 Response on May 6, 2020 stated that 55 medical workers 38 doctors and 12 nurses have succumbed to COVID-19.
The medical workers got infected due to several reasons, including contact with patients who did not accurately report their condition and lack of proper hazmat suits to protect them while treating patients.
President Joko Widodo has instructed that optimum protection be extended to doctors and medical workers at the forefront of the battle against the pandemic, according to Doni Monardo, head of the COVID-19 task force.
The protection encompasses ensuring the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for medical workers handling COVID-19 patients.
"We do not want to see more doctors die owing to a lack of protection. We need to cooperate with all parties to ensure that doctors receive better protection," he remarked on May 6, 2020.
In addition to lack of PPEs, Indonesia is also facing shortages of other medical devices, such as COVID-19 test kits, ventilators, and medical masks, as well as medicines.

In early April, Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto relaxed a regulation on the export and import of health equipment and PPEs to resolve the problem of their scarcity.
The Trade Minister's Regulation No. 34 of 2020 temporarily bans the exports of antiseptics, mask raw materials, PPE, masks, and ethyl alcohol, until June 30, 2020, as domestic demand has jumped owing to the pandemic.

The Trade Minister's Regulation No. 28 of 2020 on the import of certain products has temporarily scrapped the obligation to submit a Surveyor Report (LS) for the import of masks and PPE products and other health equipment until June 30.

The Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR), however, has urged the government to mass-produce COVID-19 equipment, instead of relying on imports.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

INDONESIA IN URGENT NEED OF LAW ON PERSONAL DATA PROTECTION by Fardah

Jakarta, 13/5/2020 (Antara) - Many Indonesians have shown a preference for online shopping ever since the Indonesian Government imposed large-scale social distancing measures to restrict public movement and curb the spread of the novel coronavirus disease, or COVID-19.
Data provided by ADA (Analytic Data Advertising) indicates a 300-400-percent increase in internet usage by adaptive shoppers last March, while internet use by WFH (work-from-home) professionals has climbed 400 percent.
Amid the jump in online shoppers, the Indonesian public was recently shocked to learn about the leaking of personal data of millions of users of e-commerce platform, Tokopedia.
According to some reports, a hacker put up a database containing the personal data of 91 million Tokopedia users for sale on the dark Web for US$5,000. Some reports say the data of 15 million users was breached.

Concerns over personal data safety have been gaining ground since the past several years, especially in view of the numerous credit and loan offers floating around via telephone and random short messages.
Last year, the Home Affairs Ministry, which is in charge of storing personal data of Indonesian citizens, admitted that at least 1,227 institutions, both government and private, have access to data on Indonesian citizenship.
However, private institutions still have to seek permission from the ministry to access citizens data, the then home affairs minister, Tjahjo Kumolo, said in July, 2019.
The protection of people's data is regulated in Law Number 24 of 2013 concerning Population Administration and the Minister of Home Affairs Regulation Number 61 of 2015, among others, but there is no strict sanction for any institution found leaking personal data.
Therefore, Sukamta, member of Commission I of the House of Representatives (DPR), has suggested that the Bill on Personal Data Protection (PDP) encompass regulations on obligations of data managers and sanctions for data breach.
He pointed to the recent data breach at Tokopedia while sharing his concerns.