Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Year ender - Indonesia stands firmly behind Blue Helmets by Fardah

 Jakarta , Dec 31, 2020 (ANTARA) - At the end of December, 2020, Indonesia completed its two-year term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which saw it assuming the Council's presidency twice.

Indonesia’s UN membership focused on the role of the Blue Helmets in helping maintain world peace.

Indonesia has been participating in UN peacekeeping missions since 1957 and remains committed to contributing to the organization's efforts to maintain peace in conflict-torn parts of the world.

"Indonesia's participation in the UN peacekeeping mission is the implementation of the mandate of the fourth paragraph of the preamble to the 1945 Constitution to create world order and is an integral part of its foreign policy and diplomacy," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi once said.

At present, the number of Indonesian personnel serving in various peacekeeping operations is 2,847, including 159 women (based on data as of 30 April, 2020). This number has put Indonesia 8th among 124 Troops/Police Contributing Countries (T/PCC).

The Garuda Contingent Personnel and Troops have been assigned to nine UN peacekeeping operations: UNIFIL (Lebanon), UNAMID (Darfur, Sudan), MINUSCA (Central African Republic), MONUSCO (Democratic Republic of Congo), MINUSMA (Mali), MINURSO (Western Sahara), UNMISS (South Sudan), UNISFA (Abyei, Sudan), and UNMHA (Yemen).

In 2019, Indonesia targeted to send up to four thousand personnel for various UN missions, but this year, the focus was no longer on quantity, but on the quality of personnel.

Besides, the number of peacekeeping forces globally has also been reduced due to funding difficulties at the UN, according to Grata Endah Werdaningtyas, director of the Foreign Ministry's International Security and Disarmament.

During its 2019-2020 term of the UNSC non-permanent membership, Indonesia assumed presidency in May, 2019 and August, 2020. The theme for the first stint was ‘Investing in Peace’ and the second ‘Advancing Sustainable Peace’.

Speaking at the ‘UNSC Open Debate on Investing in Peace: Improving Safety and Performance of UN Peacekeeping’ on May 7, 2019, Minister Marsudi had said that for decades, the Blue Helmets have been a distinct model of a global partnership, collective leadership, and shared responsibility for peace. However, with today's new political and security realities, the challenges facing the UN peacekeepers are enormous.

They are the guardians of peace, protecting millions around the globe, she said. Moreover, often overlooked, a peacekeeping mission is more efficient than unilateral actions, she added. The Blue Helmet is eight times less expensive than a unilateral mission, she continued.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Year ender - Indonesia takes cautious steps towards mass immunization by Fardah

 Jakarta, Dec 29, 2020 (ANTARA) - With still no emergency-use approval for Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine, it is becoming increasingly evident that the Indonesian government will have to wait until 2021 to kickstart its mass vaccination program.

Initially, the government had hoped to begin the vaccination program in the third week of December, 2020, with healthcare workers and legal enforcers getting first priority.

The government, however, is still waiting for the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) to issue an emergency-use authorization (EUA) for Sinovac's CoronaVax vaccine. 

The delay has been attributed to precautionary measures that are crucial to ensure the vaccine’s safety.

In a recently released on YouTube video, BPOM head Penny Kusumastuti Lukito said the agency is currently observing Sinovac's CoronaVax vaccine, and expects the interim results from the trials of the vaccine in January, 2021.

The observation period for confirming the vaccine's effectiveness usually takes one, three, and six months, hence the EUA cannot be released soon, she explained.

She, however, said Sinovac’s vaccine has met the quality standards for producing medicines.

“There are no critical side effects,” she said of the vaccine that has undergone final stage clinical trials in Bandung, West Java province. 

The trials were held in cooperation with Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac, its Indonesian partner Bio Farma, and the University of Pandjadjaran.

The third phase clinical trials of Sinovac's vaccine in Bandung began on August 11, 2020 with 1,620 volunteers and so far, they have run smoothly.

Indonesia's COVID-19 vaccine inspection team, which comprises the BPOM, the Health Ministry, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), and representatives of Bio Farma, had flown to China on October 14, 2020 to inspect the quality and halal status of the Sinovac and Cansino vaccine candidates.

The BPOM, however, is waiting to check the vaccine’s efficacy, that is whether the vaccine improves antibodies and neutralizes the virus. 

The observational period for the vaccine includes a laboratory test of the subjects’ blood samples.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Year ender - UNSC stint highlights Indonesia's role as bridge-builder , consensus-maker by Fardah

 Jakarta, Dec 26, 2020 (ANTARA) - On December 31 this year, Indonesia will wrap up its stint as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

This is the fourth time Indonesia has occupied a non-permanent UNSC seat, after 1973-1974, 1995-1996, and 2007-2008.

Over the past two years, the country has held the UNSC presidency twice — in May, 2019 and August, 2020. The theme for the first stint was ‘Investing in Peace’ and the second ‘Advancing Sustainable Peace’, both reflecting the nation’s vision and role in the UNSC in promoting world peace.

The Foreign Ministry affirmed the country continues to strive to play a role as a bridge-builder, contribute to world peace amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and safeguard the principles of international law.

Such responsibility is in-line with the mandate of the 1945 Constitution to participate in a world order based on freedom, lasting peace, and social justice.

Despite the pandemic, under Indonesia’s second-term Presidency, the UNSC managed to carry out a total of 50 activities in both virtual and in-person formats, including 12 open meetings, 12 closed meetings, 5 additional agendas, and 12 UNSC Subsidiary Body meetings.

The Council also produced four resolutions, notably on extending the mandate of the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL); extending the mandate of the peacekeeping mission in Somalia (UNSOM); extending the sanctions regime in Mali; and, on female peacekeeping personnel, initiated by Indonesia.

In fact, in the past two years, the United Nations endorsed five Indonesia-initiated resolutions at multilateral forums.

"At the initiative of Indonesia, five resolutions were adopted, both at the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said.

The resolutions are UNSC Resolution No. 2538 concerning Women in Peacekeeping Operations; UNGA Resolutions on ‘International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development 2021’, ‘Global Solidarity to Fight COVID-19’, ‘International Cooperation to Address Challenges Faced by Seafarers as a result of COVID-19 Pandemic to Support Global Supply Chains’, and ‘Global Health and Foreign Policy: Strengthening Health System Resilience through Affordable Healthcare for All’.

In its resolution on the protection of seafarers, the 193-member UNGA urged all countries to designate seafarers and other marine personnel as key workers, immediately implement measures allowing safe ship crew changes, allow stranded seafarers to be repatriated, and ensure access to medical care for all seafarers and other marine personnel. Currently, Indonesia ranks third in terms of seafaring manpower in the world, after China and the Philippines.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Year ender - ASEAN's concrete actions paramount to ending prolonged misery of Rohingya by Fardah

Jakarta Des 25, 2020 (ANTARA) - Some 399 Rohingya boat people, including women and children, were stranded in Aceh, Indonesia's westernmost province, in 2020, after being denied entry into Malaysia, the preferred destination, over concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The refugees, adrift in the middle of the sea for weeks aboard damaged boats, were rescued by Aceh fishermen. 

Currently, 364 of them remain in Aceh, as 31 had escaped in order to reach Malaysia, which shares its marine border with Aceh, while four had died in the Aceh refugee camp.

Indonesia currently hosts over 900 Rohingya human trafficking victims, who have become refugees on the high seas.

The Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic minority in Myanmar that have faced persecution at the hands of the Buddhist majority for decades. In fact, the UN reports show that Rohingya are the most persecuted minority in the world.

In May 2015, the Rohingya refugee crisis had grabbed international headlines when tens of thousands of Rohingya fled from genocide in Myanmar in overcrowded boats heading toward Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

Facing a genocide in their hometown of Rakhine State, Myanmar, nearly one million of them fled to the neighboring country, Bangladesh, in 2017, and were accommodated in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camp, the biggest refugee camp in the world today.

Their tragedy continues unabated, as the Rohingya refugee crisis has become a ripe ground for human trafficking since they were moved to a remote island in the Bay of Bengal, which could be inundated by a single strike from a cyclone. 

Since January 2020, at least 2,400 refugees took to boats in the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR. 

Some 36 percent of the refugees are children. The vast majority are Rohingya people leaving from camps in Bangladesh – many of them victims of human trafficking – who had earlier fled violence and persecution in Myanmar. 

Conditions on the boats are appalling, with a dearth of food and water and zilch healthcare, while survivors spoke of beatings and other abuse by traffickers on board.

Even in Aceh, they remain prone to the human trafficking network. Last November, the North Aceh District Military Command had thwarted an attempt of 14 Rohingya refugees to flee a temporary refugee camp at the vocational training center in Meunasah Mee Kandang Village, Lhokseumawe.

The military personnel also arrested eight suspected members of a human trafficking ring allegedly smuggling Rohingya immigrants into Aceh, according to spokesman for Aceh’s Rohingya Handling Task Force Lieutenant Colonel Am Oke Krisyanto.

The Rohingya misery has lingered on, as the Myanmar Government has allowed the atrocities to continue, while other ASEAN member countries could not stop it due to the regional grouping’s principle of non-interference in the affairs of the 10 member states.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Year ender 2020 - Indonesia firm on Palestine question

 Jakarta, 19/12/2020 (ANTARA) - With several Arab nations agreeing to normalize relations with Israel under an agreement that the Trump administration helped broker, Israeli media has speculated that Indonesia could likely follow suit.

However, Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi has been quick to assert that Indonesia has no plans to normalize diplomatic ties with Israel.

“Referring to several news reports saying that Indonesia will normalize ties with Israel, and as a follow-up of Mr. President’s directives to the Foreign Minister, I would like to convey (the information) that Indonesia has no intention to open diplomatic relations with Israel,” the minister told the press on December 16, 2020.

Indonesia’s support for the independence of Palestine based on a two-state solution and other agreed upon international parameters will consistently be maintained, she affirmed.

The government’s consistent stance was commended by House Speaker Puan Maharani and deputy chairman of the Peoples’ Consultative Assembly (MPR), Hidayat Nur Wahid.

"As long as Palestine is not independent, Indonesia stands against the Israeli occupation," Maharani noted in a statement issued on December 18, 2020.

Indonesia’s staunch support was strongly reflected during its non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council (UNSC) for the 2019-2020 period, particularly during its UNSC chairmanship in May, 2019.

The Foreign Ministry had earlier stressed that the government remained committed to ensuring that its membership of the UNSC would facilitate discussions on the Palestinian issue and drum up support for Palestine at the UNSC.

Indonesia’s diplomats at the UN consistently maintained that the Palestinian issue has had an impact on international peace.

As UNSC president, Indonesia initiated an informal discussion "Arria Formula" on Palestine at the UN Headquarters in New York on May 9, 2019.

Monday, December 14, 2020



Jakarta, 14/12/2020 (ANTARA) - The government believes that national economic recovery will principally hinge on the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine becoming available after which distribution among the public and acceleration of treatment of COVID-19 patients will be conducted.

Indonesia's business community has lauded the arrival of 1.2 million doses of Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine in Jakarta on Dec 6, 2020, from China, as it raises hopes not only for a health solution but also for economic recovery.

Apart from the 1.2 million doses of the vaccine, the government is also working on 1.8 million doses of the vaccine to arrive in early January 2021. The vaccine that arrived has passed the phase III clinical trials in Bandung since August 2020.

In addition to the completed vaccine, there will be bulk raw materials for producing 15 million doses of vaccine in December this year and 30 million doses of vaccine in January 2021 to be further processed by PT Bio Farma Persero.

Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan earlier noted that the government will likely commence the first phase of COVID-19 immunization in the third week of December this year.

However, the government is awaiting emergency-use authorization from Indonesia's Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) to commence the first phase of the program.

The BPOM is still awaiting results of the Phase 3 clinical trials of Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine in Brazil and will collate research data from the Phase 3 clinical trials for the Chinese vaccine candidate in Brazil and Indonesia to determine its safety, efficacy, and immunogenicity, according to BPOM head Penny K. Lukito.

Indonesia has established cooperation with WHO and several countries, including China, South Korea, the UK, and the UAE, for supplying COVID-19 vaccines. Besides this, the nation is also developing its indigenous vaccine called Red and White.

The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) lauded the availability of the Chinese vaccine in Indonesia, as it projected it to boost public confidence and security and dispel current uncertainty.

"Alhamdulillah (thank God), of course, we welcome (the vaccine), because in 2021, the game changers would be first, the (COVID-19) vaccine and second, the job creation law," Kadin Chief Rosan Roeslani stated on Dec 7.

Availability of the COVID-19 vaccine will encourage people to resume their activities and spending, thereby boosting demand, he pointed out.

"We laud the government's fast response, and (arrival of the vaccine) will offer a sense of certainty. Hopefully, it would also boost the health sector and bring about economic recovery," he remarked.

Friday, December 11, 2020



Jakarta, 11/12/2020 (ANTARA) - A long-awaited vaccine against COVID-19 finally arrived in Jakarta on December 6, 2020, and was immediately taken to the headquarters of state-owned pharmaceutical company Bio Farma in Bandung, West Java, where it is now being kept under a tight military and police guard.

Indonesia received 1.2 million doses of the CoronaVac vaccine from Beijing-based biopharma company Sinovac Biotech Ltd, and another 1.8 million doses are scheduled to arrive by January, 2021.

In addition to the finished vaccine, Indonesia will receive raw materials in bulk for producing 15 million doses of the vaccine in December this year and 30 million doses in January, 2021, which will have to be further processed by PT Bio Farma.

Bio Farma conducted the Phase 3 clinical trials of Sinovac's vaccine, in close cooperation with the University of Pandjajaran in Bandung, and the results have been encouraging.

Health Minister Terawan Putranto noted that the delivery of the vaccine was the first phase of procurement of three million doses of the inactivated SARS CoV-2 vaccine candidate.

The Health Ministry has ensured that the refrigerated transport vehicles, provided by Bio Farma for monitoring and maintaining the vaccine's temperature, are in good condition.

The authority has prepared a storage warehouse and chalked out the cold chain management for 1.2 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine before they can be distributed to health offices nationwide.

Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Airlangga Hartarto, who is also serving as chairman of the Committee for COVID-19 Response and National Economic Recovery (KPC-PEN), said that the government will provide the vaccines under two schemes: government-paid and self-paid vaccination schemes.

"Detailed regulation on the two schemes will be issued within the next one or two weeks," Hartarto stated.

The Joko Widodo administration has been eager to begin mass vaccinations by the third week of December, and immunization simulations have been carried out in several locations.

The government, however, will have to wait for emergency-use authorization (EUA) from Indonesia's Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) to commence the first phase of the immunization program.

The BPOM revealed recently that it is still waiting for the results of the Phase 3 clinical trials of Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine in Brazil as it mulls granting the emergency-use authorization.

The agency will collate research data from the Phase 3 clinical trials for the Chinese vaccine candidate in Brazil and Indonesia to determine its safety, efficacy, and immunogenicity, BPOM head Penny K. Lukito stated.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Vigilance crucial as 270 regions head to polls amid pandemic by Fardah

 Jakarta , Dec 9, 2020 (ANTARA) - More than 100 million voters are expected to head to the polling stations on December 9, 2020 to cast their vote in the simultaneous regional head elections (pilkada) in nearly half of Indonesia’s regions amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.

A total of 5,292 fresh cases were recorded in a span of 24 hours on December 8, 2020, bringing the count to 586,842, and the death toll to 18 thousand.

On December 3, 2020, Indonesia reported 8,369 fresh cases, the highest ever recorded in 24 hours, with Papua province contributing 1,755 cases; West Java, 1,648 cases; and, Jakarta, 1,153 cases.

Despite instructions to implement health protocols, polling officers for the 2020 Pilkada have not been spared by the virus. In Tasikmalaya, West Java, the General Election Commission (KPU) confirmed on December 8, 2020 that results of rapid tests conducted on 36,078 polling officers found 220 officials reactive to COVID-19.

“The results of yesterday’s rapid tests declared 220 officers reactive, and they have now been isolated,” Tasikmalaya General Election Office (KPU) Commissioner Isti'anah stated.

The Tasikmalaya KPU has made it mandatory for all election administration officers to undergo rapid tests to confirm they are in sound health, Isti'anah noted.

The Tasikmalaya KPU commissioner stated that officers with reactive rapid test results have been immediately asked to take swab tests and self-isolate while awaiting test results.

“Those found reactive are in good health, and they have now been isolated. If the swab results are negative, then they are being allowed to work. However, if they are positive, they cannot work,” he stated.

Isti'anah said that if swab test results of the reactive officers do not come by polling day, voting would nonetheless be held by optimizing the number of officers available, as it would be difficult to find a replacement.

Earlier, 11 election administration officers in Ngawi, Central Java province, had tested positive for the novel coronavirus disease.

The Ngawi General Election Office (KPU) had conducted COVID-19 rapid tests on 17,636 officers, following which 67 were declared reactive and sent for swab tests, while the rest were still waiting for results. Those infected with COVID-19 will not be able to report for duty on polling day, said officials.

There have also been reports of polling officers and candidates testing positive for COVID-19 in other regions. Despite the confirmed cases, the elections for Ngawi district head and deputy district head will proceed as scheduled, officials said.

Indonesia, the world's third-largest democracy after the US and India, will hold the regional head elections in 270 regions comprising 9 provinces, 37 cities, and 224 districts. The campaign period lasted from September 26 to December 5, 2020.

A total of 734 nominee pairs have registered as candidate pairs for the polls.

On November 11, 2020, Kumparan online media had quoted Saydiman Marto, who is serving on the home affairs ministers staff, as saying that four candidates have succumbed to COVID-19 and other ailments, 24 have contracted COVID-19, while 20 others have recovered from the coronavirus disease.

State Enterprises (BUMN) Minister Erick Thohir earlier reminded the public to remain vigilant to stop the spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia.

"We all have to become more vigilant in the wake of a spike in the number of cases. This means many of us have started to become negligent," Thohir noted in his statement recently.

Thohir, concurrently chief executive of the Committee for COVID-19 Handling and National Economic Recovery (KPCPEN), reiterated that his office remained committed to playing an active role in handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We all know and believe that human life is more valuable than anything," he emphasized.

The government is currently striving to provide safe, effective, and quality vaccines at affordable prices, according to the minister.

"Vigilance and vaccination are concrete efforts and collective struggles to protect ourselves and the country and to end the pandemic, which necessitates support from all components of the nation. Now, let us continue to guard all of us. Do not get tired or be careless. Insya Allah, our efforts are a blessing," he stated.

Strict application of health protocols is being considered key for the successful implementation of the pilkada this year.

Preparations for the simultaneous pilkada have been mainly related to guaranteeing security and strict application of health protocols, Sigit Pamungkas, senior expert of the Presidential Staff Office’s (KSP's) Deputy V, said.

“The regional elections are going to be held in a matter of days, while the number of COVID-19 cases has continued to fluctuate. Hence, election organizers should implement strict health protocols as designed,” Pamungkas remarked.

Pamungkas, former commissioner of the General Election Commission (KPU), stated that pilkada executors must remain firm in ensuring that health protocols are applied strictly during local elections.

"It is necessary to strengthen coordination among all parties involved to ensure that the health protocols are applied strictly," he remarked.

Pamungkas recalled that President Joko Widodo had earlier given four instructions on the implementation of regional elections. The most important part of the President's directive was that the elections be direct, general, free, honest, fair, and safe from COVID-19.

The Indonesian General Elections Commission (KPU) has been implementing health protocols at every stage of the elections, right from the campaigning period to the time of voting.

The agency has also issued the General Election Commission Regulation (PKPU) that regulates the implementation of regional elections in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Friday, December 4, 2020



Jakarta, 5/12/2020 (ANTARA) - The coronavirus pandemic has delivered the largest economic shock the world has experienced in decades by forcing governments to impose lockdowns or social distancing rules that have caused widespread economic damage.

Based on data from, as of December 5, 2020, more than 66.3 million people across the globe have been infected with COVID-19 and more than 1.5 million people have succumbed to the virus since its reported emergence in Wuhan, China in December, 2019.

The June 2020 Global Economic Prospects report has predicted a 5.2-percent contraction in global GDP in 2020. Over the long term, deep recessions triggered by the pandemic are expected to leave lasting scars through decline in investment, erosion of human capital through lost work and schooling, and fragmentation of global trade and supply linkages, it stated.

Indonesia has not been spared by the pandemic. The country has recorded a total of 569,707 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 17,589 deaths since reporting its first infections in March, 2020.

The Indonesian economy contracted 5.32 percent in the second quarter and 3.49 percent in the third quarter.

"Our economy contracted 5.32 percent in the second quarter and 3.49 percent in the third quarter. This means it has passed its lowest point and is moving toward a positive trend," President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said on December 3, 2020.

With economic activities hampered by COVID-19, the government has relied on the State Budget (APBN) to support COVID-19 handling and economic recovery efforts, as well as provide social assistance to those affected economically by the impact of the pandemic.

Earlier, the President emphasized that four areas will be prioritized in the 2021 State Budget (APBN).

Wednesday, December 2, 2020



Jakarta, 3/12/2020 (ANTARA) - With people forced to lock themselves at home to break the chain of COVID-19 spread, pollution has reduced significantly, allowing people in big cities particularly to enjoy fresh air.

The healing seen in nature, however, will be temporary if people do not change the way they conduct businesses once the coronavirus pandemic ends, observers said.

Hence, economic recovery efforts must be used to build momentum to do better in implementing sustainable development and green economy goals, which would entail long-term benefits for a country such as Indonesia.

A new study by the World Economic Forum has found that nature-positive solutions can create 395 million jobs by 2030.

In a press release issued last July, the forum stated that putting nature first is good for business and economic resilience. Nature-positive solutions will create US$10.1 trillion in business opportunities, it informed.

Speaking at the G20 Leaders' Summit, held virtually in November, President Joko Widodo had reiterated Indonesia's commitment to a more sustainable and greener economy.

The government is set to transform the country's economy to offer greater environmental protection, he said.

"Economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic will no longer overlook our responsibility to protect nature," Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi said quoting the President, following the G20 Summit.

Indonesia has made some breakthroughs, including implementing the mandatory B30 biodiesel policy and conducting a trial for pure palm oil-based diesel (D100), in a bid to make its economy more environmentally safe. B30 refers to a fuel blend containing 30 percent biodiesel produced from palm oil.

Furthermore, the President has also ensured that the Law on Job Creation brings certainty in the legal aspect of environmental permits, including the environmental impact analysis document (AMDAL) for any infrastructure projects in Indonesia.