Indonesian citizens are not satisfied with the performance of the central government in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent survey.
Local media reported that Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (INDEF) conducted a survey of the public regarding government performance, which found that 66.28 per cent of those surveyed gave a negative response.
This survey uses analyst data collected from Twitter to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic posted by 145,000 people and six of the largest online news portals. The data was observed from January to March 2020.
Majority of the posts slammed President Joko Widodo and his Minister of Health Terawan Agus Putranto, saying that intergovernmental communication regarding the handling of the COVID-19 is extremely poor.
Jokes on the COVID-19 by some ministers
Many of them recalled how the government spoke in jest when the international community questioned
why there were no positive cases reported yet by the Indonesian government.
Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi once joked in mid-February about Indonesia’s immunity against COVID-19.
“But, (this is) a joke with Mr President, by the power of God, the COVID-19 virus does not enter Indonesia because every day we eat nasi kucing, so we are immune,” Mr Karya said when delivering a scientific speech at the commemoration of Higher Education Day 74th Engineering (HPTT) on Monday (17 February).
Nasi kucing is rice with small portions and very simple side dishes such as anchovies sauce, eggs, tempeh and various other variations. The rice dish, usually wrapped in banana leaves, is popular in many parts of Indonesia.
Earlier on March, the health minister expressed his confusion on why the citizens were so worried over the virus, saying that “it was just another flu and wonder why this particular virus has an incredible uproar.”
“It must be remembered that this is a self-limited disease. This is the same as any other viruses,” he added.
Mr Putranto also blamed citizens when he was asked about the soaring price of the mask.
“You have only yourselves to blame. Why do you even buy the masks?”
Supposedly, he said, masks are only used by people who are sick so as not to transmit the disease to the others.
Illogical comments about COVID-19 also came from Vice President Ma’ruf Amin.
A few days before President Jokowi announced the first two COVID-19 patients in Indonesia, Mr Amin said that Coronavirus did not dare to come to Indonesia as blessings from God.
Hesitation on the numbers of the confirmed cases
Many citizens also expressed their hesitation on the released number of positive cases reported by the government.
On Friday (10 April), the government reported that there are 3,512 positive cases confirmed in Indonesia.
However, researchers predict that the figure actually reaches five times higher than the announced figure.
In a statement published on Sunday (29 March), a simulation, led by the Data Scientist Sharing Vision team led by Senior Data Scientist Budi Sulistyo in collaboration with a lecturer at STEI ITB Full and Computer Expertise Group, Dimitri Mahayana, revealed the confusion on the confirmed cases.
Mr Sulistiyo said that one of the assumptions made in the simulation was that of a delay in announcing confirmed cases. The team assumed a very moderate delay of an average of three days.
“The longer the actual delay, the greater the gap confirmed case that was announced with the actual conditions,” he continued.
Approximately 40 to 50 per cent of actual outbreaks found in the Sharing Vision simulation are thought to be infected with only mild symptoms, even without symptoms, making it difficult to detect.
The confusion of central and regional government policies
Central and regional governments in Indonesia also appear to clash in terms of executing policies during this pandemic, causing confusion amongst the public.
One of such clashes is related to the purported extension of driving licenses.
Authorities told a TOC correspondent based in Bandung — in response to queries on whether people are allowed to postpone the renewal of their driving licences after the pandemic is over — that people can renew their licences after 29 May.
The deadline extension applies nationwide, according to the authorities’ response via the police app.
A regional traffic police officer, however, told the West Java TOC correspondent that “there is still no valid information on the matter”.
Another regional police officer, in response to the TOC correspondent’s queries at a police station, said that local police have not received any orders from the central authorities regarding the suspension of driving license extensions.