SBY urges government to get serious about Covid-19

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Indonesia’s 6th President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. (Photo: Prive. Doc)

IO, Jakarta – Indonesia’s 6th Pres­ident Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) has raised his voice about the problem of the corona virus outbreak that is sweeping Indonesia. The for­mer Chairman of the Democratic Party supported the steps taken by the government in handling Corona­virus. However, SBY remarked that the government is also open to cor­rection and not to be tardy in coun­tering corona’s adverse impacts, both on society and on the economy. Based on data, the outbreak of corona vi­rus around the world is increasingly widespread with the number of more than 180,000 infected (as of Tuesday, 03/17/2020). More than 7,000 have died; this figure far exceeds the vic­tims of Avian Flu, SARS and MERS. SBY hopes the number of victims will not be as big as the Russian Flu vic­tims in 1889 which reached 1 million people. “And also, hopefully the num­ber of victims of this outbreak will fall far below the Spanish Flu victims of 1918-1920, which claimed the lives of 50 million people,” said SBY.

The mounting casualties made SBY conclude that the corona virus pandemic is serious, with no end in sight. According to him, if the world wants its destiny not to be as dark as it was with the Russian Flu and Span­ish Flu, the nations of the world must unite and work together to overcome this ferocious Coronavirus pandemic. “For Indonesia, our country, the num­ber of infected has not been classified as large. Alhamdulillah. However, an alarming number of infected patients is increasing. We do not want that when other countries patients have shrunk in numbers, our numbers will increase. Do not let Indonesia become a ‘new epicenter’ after the current shift from China to Europe,” he hoped. “I am happy that now countries around the world are getting more serious and more effective in dealing with the Coro­navirus pandemic. What was done was also more focused, decisive and real,” he continued.

Lock down
A number of cities in various countries, are on “lockdown”, which means that residents are prohibited from leaving their respective homes or severely restricted in their activi­ties. Places that invite or bring peo­ple together, including restaurants, shops and entertainment venues, for example, are closed. Cities and countries that are “locked down” are also declared closed to the arrival of residents from other countries. The goal is one: to save society and the people. Of course, the community will be uncomfortable and this policy also has risks, including economic losses, but those policies and actions must be taken. Safety and survival of hu­man lives is above all else.

“I think the people of Indone­sia welcome the steps taken by the government to increase efforts to deal with the Coronavirus outbreak. More serious, or very serious, steps are needed to be taken. I must hon­estly say that the government must make corrections and improvements to the initial steps taken. Maybe they’re initially too overconfident, underestimating the matter at hand, while the statement of a number of officials I value is incorrect (mislead­ing). But it has already passed. The positive thing is that the actions of the government are now more real,” he explained.

According to him, people will feel calm and will not panic as the gov­ernment always wants, if they be­lieve that their government is taking correct and credible steps, as under­taken by other countries, considered successful. People will also stay calm if they continue to be given neces­sary information, accompanied by what the government expects them to do. What can and must be done, and what can’t. Of course, all in ac­cordance with the internationally ac­cepted corona protocol. This is called “guidance” and “direction”. “People also expect” guidance “received from the government to fit into each oth­er. There is no difference between the central government and regional governments. This is my view. What is clear is that I fully support the government’s steps to increase all ef­forts to prevent the Coronavirus from spreading in our country,” he said.

Economic turmoil
Further, SBY touched on the impact of the pandemic on serious economic turmoil, so that a “policy response” and swift and appropri­ate government action were needed. “For the past month, especially in the past week, I have followed the dynamics and development of the world economy. Including our coun­try. I conclude that this is also a se­rious matter. Consider the collapse of stock prices, oil and exchange rates. Also, the shared blows that shake the pillars and economic fundamentals of many countries. Including Indonesia. I was reminded of the global econom­ic crisis in 1998 and 2008. In 1998 the Indonesian economy was not safe, while in 2008 we survived. In a sense, we could minimize the impact of the 2008 global economic crisis,” he recalled.

According to him, economists, business leaders and even govern­ment elements in many countries are worried that this turmoil could make the world fall into a “deep and long re­cession”. Some are even worried that this crisis is far more severe than the crisis in 1998 and 2008. Yesterday, the central bank of the United States of America (Federal Reserve) carried out monetary policy and “large-scale” actions. Among others, releasing 700 billion US dollars and a number of monetary actions (part of Quantitative Easing). “For those who understand the economy know that if the Fed has ‘fired missiles’ like this means that the situation is already serious. Var­ious central banks around the world have taken similar steps. Even the G7 leaders have asked that the IMF and World Bank help countries in need,” he said.

Against all this, SBY recalled what happened in 2008 and the years after that. How to deal with a large-scale crisis at that time the road was not easy. Do not be mistaken that a vari­ety of “policy responses” carried out collectively by the world, both mone­tary and fiscal, will have the ability to necessarily calm and “tame” the mar­ket. Apparently it’s not that easy. To ease an economic storm, serious and ongoing joint cooperation is needed, certainly including policies and ac­tions taken nationally, in each coun­try. “I just want to remind you that Indonesia is not late in carrying out” policy response “and the necessary concrete actions. Don’t be “too little and too late”. Save our economy, save the people,” he stressed.

Aside from the world economy and the region appearing to with­stand really bad weather, constant­ly volatile, our economy also has a number of fundamental problems. “If our economy were strong, all of its fundamentals were solid and we had no risk, we could be rather calm. A tree that is strong, healthy and has strong roots will survive when ty­phoons and storms come. It might weave, but it won’t collapse. But it will be dangerous if the storm is too strong and the tree we have is not as sturdy as we thought. I am among those who are optimistic. However, I am also a realist. There is always a way when we face difficulties. Every problem has a solution. The import­ant thing is that it’s not too late to do what we have to do. Choose the most appropriate solution. Then run with all the effort. By God’s will, it will work out,” he said.

Without Short-Term Plans
Meanwhile, House of Represen­tatives Commission VIII member Hidayat Nur Wahid considers Joko Widodo’s administration to have no short-term plans in dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak. According to him, the government only tackled the spread of the corona virus on a case by case basis. According to him, this attitude was seen since the govern­ment responded to the plan to return hundreds of Indonesian citizens (WNI) from Wuhan, China some time ago. According to him, the government only took steps to evacuate after a number of the public started to criti­cize the government.

He therefore asked the authorities to improve performance in tackling the spread of the Coronavirus. Ac­cording to him, improving the per­formance and alertness of the gov­ernment is needed so that its spread across Indonesia does not get worse, like in Iran or Italy. “I think the gov­ernment should immediately improve its performance so that no terrible outbreaks, such as the outbreak that occurred in other countries like, for example, in Iran and Italy, which is happening because the government is not ready to solve this problem,” said the figure familiarly called HNW.

The Deputy Chair of the MPR con­tinued saying coordination between the central government and the re­gional government also appeared to be chaotic ahead of the quarantine process for hundreds of Indonesian citizens who were evacuated from Wuhan to Natuna Island, Riau Is­lands. “Natuna residents, regents and DPRDs protested because they had never been invited to coordinate. This is chaotic, (although) finally they accept and agree that the quarantine could be held there for 14 days,” said the PKS politician.

HNW also assesses that the health services provided by the government in efforts to tackle the spread of the co­rona virus are sub-optimal. He ques­tioned the steps that have been pre­pared by the government. In this case, the readiness of hospitals and medical personnel in responding to the surge in the number of patients who test posi­tive for Coronavirus, as revealed by the Corona Handling Spokesman, Achmad Yurianto. “The government spokesman for the corona problem has stated that it is believed that the amount of coro­na exposure will be very large, meaning that the government has to take effec­tive measures regarding the availability of hospitals, doctors and other medical personnel, including the effectiveness of communication and information about the dangers of corona to the public,” he said.

HNW said the government’s read­iness in anticipating the possibility of a surge in the number of patients with Coronavirus has not been seen until now. In fact, the government does not provide health protection to a number of doctors and medical personnel who deal with the matter, so that some doctors and medical personnel in Indonesia have also been exposed and are experiencing stress. “They (the government) are not backed up by adequate medica­tion or health insurance, so many doctors are exposed to corona, also thinking of stressed nurses and med­ical personnel. If this continues it will be very dangerous for corona man­agement measures,” he said.

Furthermore, the Deputy Chair­person of the Syuro’ Council of PKS questioned the disbursement of the budget which was allocated for over­coming the corona virus, in which Jokowi stated that it would be al­located from the State Civil Service (ASN) official travel budget. According to him, Jokowi should immediately disburse the budget to provide health and safety guarantees or produce personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks for the community. “The state must be reminded that they have obligations and it turns out according to Jokowi they have a very large budget of more than IDR 10 trillion that can be used and that should be done in a focused manner,” he concluded. (Dan)