What has the coronavirus pandemic “told” President Jokowi so far? #2
2. Lack of coordination between the central government and local government
As we all know, the decentralization system in Indonesia has allowed local leaders to have more authority in their region and to do what they think necessary for their populations. Before the COVID-19 Mitigation Task Force is established, the local governments from many cities in Indonesia take their own approaches and measures in responding to the coronavirus cases. One case I can tell was the announcement of the first death caused by the coronavirus in Indonesia.
The central government announced the first case is a foreigner and signed as the case 25, meanwhile at the same time Bali officials tell the public on the suspected infection of this foreign national by the coronavirus who was also died. The local officials were not told by the central government that the person was tested positive for coronavirus. There is a lack of communication, again, in this case.
Then, the issue of lockdown policies. There has been concerns and different point of view between the central government and local leaders in seeing the option of locking down the region to stop or limit the spread of coronavirus. However, President Jokowi has made a clear statement on this:
“A policy on lockdowns on the national scale or the regional scale is the central government’s to make. Regional governments cannot make a decision [on lockdowns]. Up to now, we are not thinking of locking down,” Jokowi said.
Yes, his position might be changed in the near future. Hence, the statement of President Jokowi came up after many local leaders prefer to take lockdown approaches (either full or partial). Tegal Mayor, (Tegal, one of the cities in Central Java) has announced to close the border as the best way in fighting the virus after just a few cases found in his region. And of course, Jakarta’s Governor Anies Baswedan pleaded to the central government to consider lockdown move. He mentioned that the cases in Jakarta is in a very worrying rate and it’s the best option to stop the community transmission besides the physical distancing approach.
Some other regions have taken partial or total lockdown like Tasikmalaya in West Java, Papua, and Makassar in South Sulawesi. We understand these local leaders were voted and trusted by the local citizens to lead them, so the political demands of their own populations is a priority.
Many experts said the main consideration of President Jokowi to not taking lockdown policies is to safeguard the Indonesian economy. Even though we can see the coronavirus outbreak has made a huge impact on the economy, to the informal workers, etc already.
One economic-based point of view stated by the Indonesian Ministry of Finance on this regard:
Indonesia is not ready to impose a lockdown to limit the spread of the deadly coronavirus as the measure will disrupt the distribution of basic commodities to rural and densely populated areas, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani has said.
The disruption over the distribution of basic commodities will lead to high inflation. You might have understood the impacts of high inflation. The government’s economic stimulus package has purposely made to counter this issue. President Jokowi has even got supports from the Parliament over the rising national budget deficit to cover the economic stimulus.
To continue, the lockdown policies also have been supported eventually by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Puan Maharani.
“The House of Representatives supports [taking] the measure to mitigate [the spread of] the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing social distancing and localized quarantine policies as stipulated under the 2018 law on health quarantine,”
Finally, the government on March 31 announced the Presidential Decree №11/2020 (Keppres №11/2020) on the declaration of National Public Health Emergency Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-2019), which obliges all relevant authorities to take measures to secure the health of the public in accordance with the existing laws. This Presidential decree made to legally protect all the measures taken by central or local government in protecting the populations.
Is it enough? of course not.
Just yesterday, the Governor of West Java, Ridwan Kamil conducted an online meeting with our Vice President, KH. Ma’ruf Amin. He highlighted the lack of coordination between the central government with the local gov especially the surrounding region, Jabodetabek. It made him in a position to take any necessary and rapid measures in protecting 50 million residents of West Java, the most populated province in Indonesia. One of his initiatives is purchasing the coronavirus test kits from South Korea, and just recently made a deal with the Sweden Government to get a donation from the Swedish businesses.
“These three provinces have not engaged in technical communication. It needs to be facilitated. I understand that the Jakarta and the Banten governors are busy, which is why we urge [Pak Ma’ruf] to instruct state ministers to conduct routine coordinations,” said Ridwan to VP Ma’ruf Amin.
That is West Java, a relatively more resourceful province (along with an active governor) compare to other provinces. You could imagine how other provinces would be. I am also a little bit wondered after listening to the briefing of President Jokowi that involves Indonesia’s State Intelligence Body (Badan Intelijen Negara/BIN) in handling the coronavirus outbreak. It’s normal to come with a conclusion than that the collection of data in Indonesia is a problem that even the government is involving the spy agency to gather more information about the coronavirus cases. The estimation of the growing rate of coronavirus infection announced by BNPB (Badan National Penanggulangan Bencana) even relied on the data by BIN.
According to the forecast, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Indonesia will rise gradually in the coming months — to up to 27,307 cases by the end of April, 95,451 cases by the end of May to 105,765 cases by the end of June — and is estimated to reach up to 106,287 cases by July.
Finally, I am not going to give any points on the quality of our health care system. I don’t really understand on that part. However, I must say that the lack of coordination between the central government and local leaders is not something new. We have seen a lot of cases in other sectors; foreign investment, law enforcement and so on. This coronavirus pandemic has opened President Jokowi’s eyes on the importance of improving the coordination. The problem is not far, it’s even occurred in Jakarta. Many said the political aspect is playing a significant part in this issue. I hope the coordination is getting better, Pak Jokowi!
Later in Part #3, I will discuss the action by other ministers who have worsened the situation.
Notes: These writings are my personal observation towards the issues around the Indonesia’s government responses in fighting against the coronavirus pandemic.