President Joko Widodo: “The people’s safety comes first”

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President Joko Widodo urges all citizens to remain focused on stemming the spread of Covid-19, by reducing mobility between regions. (Photo: Prive. Doc)

 IO, Jakarta – The number of positive Coronavirus cases in our country continues to rise. The latest count is 1414, up to 30 March 2020. Therefore, President Joko Widodo feels the need to exert efforts to control the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the ways to do this is by issuing supporting regulations. “The Government has prepared a Presidential Regulation and Presidential Instruction as the basis for controling the return to home towns and villages for Eid-el-Fitr in the year of Hegira 1441, in order to restrict the spread of Covid-19,” he declared as he opened a closed Meeting on Anticipating Return to Home Towns and Villages for Eid-el-Fitr, which was broadcast live on the YouTube account of the President’s Secretariat on Monday (30/03/2020). 

President urges all citizens to remain focused on stemming the spread of Covid-19, by reducing mobility between regions. This policy is meant to cut the chain of the virus’ transmission. He further strongly requests citizens not to return to their home towns and villages during the pandemic. The people’s safety is the first thing that the Government works for amid the pandemic. “The people’s safety is the highest law,” he said. 

Therefore, Jokowi further orders Regional Governments to be stricter in prohibiting citizens from returning to their home towns and villages. Merely having officials like governors and public figures urge citizens not to return home is insufficient. A number of Regional Governments are known to agree to implement this prohibition during the pandemic. “It is for our own common safety. I notice that some public figures and governors have requested migrant citizens in the Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi (“Jabodetabek”) area not to return to their home towns and villages. I am hereby asking that we pass on and intensify this message, as I think that these requests are just not enough,” he said. 

Jokowi believes that the large number of people returning to their home towns and villages is not just because of cultural habits, but because of economic demands. The citizens who are returning home from Jabodetabek do so because their income has dropped drastically due to the Covid-19 plague, “They are forced to go home because their income dropped or even disappeared outright,” he said. “There are about 14,000 people from Jabodetabek who returned home using buses within the past 8 days, mostly informal workers. They generally originated from West Java, Central Java, Yogyakarta, and East Java. This number does not include the early return flow home using other means of mass transport, such as trains, ships, and airplanes, and those who use private cars. The reports I received from the Governors of Central Java and DIY show that the annual flow of return to home towns and villages has started off earlier than usual. Ever since we announced an emergency response status in DKI Jakarta, this annual flow has occurred early.” 

The number of homeward-bound citizens is expected to increase with the return of 32,192 Indonesian Migrant Workers (Tenaga Kerja Indonesia – “TKI”) coming home from host countries infected by Covid-19. The Indonesian Migrant Workers’ Protection Agency (Badan Pelindungan Pekerja Migran Indonesia – “BP2MI”)’s Deputy of Protection, Anjar Prihantoro, said that they are a part of the 33,503 TKIs returning from the 85 countries where they worked. The majority were in Malaysia (11,566 workers), Hong Kong (9,075 workers), Taiwan (5,487 workers), Singapore (2,799 workers), and Brunei Darussalam (889 workers). The remaining TKIs are coming home from Saudi Arabia (888 workers), South Korea (756 workers), Italy (641), Japan (46 workers), and the USA (45 workers). 

Anjar said that the BP2MI is coordinating with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Affairs, and the National Board for Disaster Management (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana – “BNPB”) as the Head of the Covid-19 Mitigation Acceleration Task Force. “We do this in order to prevent the return of these migrant workers from creating new epicenters for the spread of Covid-19, especially in border areas. BP2MI also continues to coordinate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get data on migrant workers who return from countries affected by the Coronavirus,” he said. 

For Indonesian workers who were deported from Malaysia after the country was locked down, BP2MI provides them with monitoring and services in areas such as Tanjung Pinang, Batam, and Nunukan. Other than taking their data, BP2MI also checks the health of these newly-returned Indonesian workers from Malaysia. 

Currently, the Central Government has not issued any prohibition on returning home to towns and villages, only requests. However, the Ministry of Transportation stated that they are coordinating with the Police, the Army, and other Ministries in preparing a scheme to enforce the prohibition, such as by temporarily blocking and guarding access routes out of Jabodetabek. 

State civil servants prohibited from returning to home towns and villages 

Following up on President Joko Widodo’s decree, the Minister of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reforms Tjahjo Kumolo reiterated that State civil servants are not allowed return to their home towns and villages if these homes are located outside of their region of duty, amid the Corona pandemic. Tjahjo issued this prohibition through the Circular of the Minister of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reforms Number 36 of 2020 concerning the Restriction of Travel Outside the Region or to Return to Home Towns and Villages towards State Civil Servants in the Effort to Prevent the Spread of Covid-19. “The first thing is to request that State Civil Servants not return to home towns and villages for Eid-el-Fitr this year. Once again, this is in order to support Government policy of social distancing, in order to reduce and suppress the spread to a minimum,” said the Secretary of the Ministry of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reforms Dwi Wahyu Atmaji on an online press conference held on Monday (30/03/2020). 

To repeat, the Circular rules that State’s Civil Servants are not allowed to return to their home towns and villages during the specific disaster emergency status of Coronavirus in Indonesia, which lasts until 29 May 2020. Civil Servants are further requested to maintain space when interacting with others, to help ease the burden of needy citizens around their area, and to implement a clean and healthy lifestyle. Tjahjo further issued a Circular of the Minister of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reforms Number 34 of 2020 concerning Amendments to the Circular of Minister of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reforms Number 19 of 2020 concerning the Adjustment of the Work System of State’s Civil Servants in the Effort to Prevent the Spread of Covid-19 within the Environs of Governmental agencies. 

The Circular further explains that the “Work from Home” policy for the State’s Civil Servants is extended until 21 April 2020 in view of the extended duration of the specific disaster emergency status of the Coronavirus plague in Indonesia. In this situation, the Employment Direction Official (Pejabat Pembina Kepegawaian – “PPK”) of each agency works at home. PPKs are requested to adjust the State’s Civil Servant work regulations with the situation of the plague in each region. “Note the situation that applies in each region. We know that the status of each area is different – some are in the Red Zone, others are in Yellow Zone. The implementation of work from home policy should match the situation,” Tjahjo said. 

When they work from home, State Civil Servants must submit reports of their work to their superiors online. The results and proof of their work during the implementation of this policy will be considered in monthly and yearly evaluations. Tjahjo said Civil Servants must comply with the regulation and with directions from their superiors, the president, and the Special Government Spokesman for the Mitigation of Covid-19. There shall be no disobedience allowed. “I specifically request the commitment of our State Civil Servants. We follow the directions of the President, of the Head of the BNPB Task Force in performing our daily duties – including to remind the people not to return to home towns and villages, and to maintain safe distance,” he said.