Covid-19 One Year On; 5 Times State Officials Downplayed the Pandemic

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Petir Garda Bhwana

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  • Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud MD was the keynote speaker at a national seminar to commemorate the 6th Anniversary of the Maritime Security Agency (Bakamla) in Jakarta, Tuesday 15 December 2020. The seminar discussed the theme of the Management of the Maritime Border of the Republic of Indonesia. ANTARA PHOTOS / Aditya Pradana Putra

    Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud MD was the keynote speaker at a national seminar to commemorate the 6th Anniversary of the Maritime Security Agency (Bakamla) in Jakarta, Tuesday 15 December 2020. The seminar discussed the theme of the Management of the Maritime Border of the Republic of Indonesia. ANTARA PHOTOS / Aditya Pradana Putra

    TEMPO.CO, JakartaIt has been a year exactly to the day since President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced the first Covid-19 case in Indonesia on March 2, 2020, and since then the country has been battling with the virus outbreak that first spread from Wuhan, China. 

    Indonesia has recorded a total of 1,334,634 cases since March 2, 2020, up to February 28, 2021. However, there was a sense of pessimism from State Officials which is evident in the public statement they made which either downplayed the severity of the pandemic or even ridiculed it. Here are several of them Tempo gathered. 

    1. Indonesia’s clustered bureaucracy prevented the pandemic

    On February 15, 2020, the Coordinating Minister of Politics, Law, and Security Mahfud MD once made fun of the lack of cases recorded in Indonesia as other countries had started to officially record coronavirus-related cases.

    At the time, Mahfud MD posted an image in his social media account with an accompanying caption quipping that the lack of cases in Indonesia was due to Indonesia’s clustered bureaucracy after announcing that the 243 Indonesians repatriated from overseas at the time were cleared of any signs of Covid-19.

    1. Indonesians are immune because of ‘Nasi Kucing’ consumption 

    In February 2020, Transportation minister Budi Karya Sumadi once quipped that the coronavirus was unable to be found in Indonesia as the people’s strong immune were developed from years of consuming ‘nasi kucing’ or a name for a traditional small portion of rice / food wrapped in banana leaves. However, he maintained that it was just a joke with the President he once said. 

    1. ‘Wild horse milk’ able to cure Coronavirus 

    On March 11, 2020, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) Governor Zulkieflimansyah stated that ‘wild horse milk’ is believed by locals to be an antidote for the virus 

    He said this after he recalled visiting villages in NTB and was met with locals casually responding to the Covid-19 pandemic which at the time had just started to spread across the globe. He claims he asked the locals who said “We are immune and have stronger stamina for consuming wild horse milk everyday,” the NTB governor recalled. 

    This statement was surprisingly acknowledged by Vice President Ma’ruf Amin. 

    1. The Covid-19 virus cannot survive Indonesia’s climate 

    In April 2, 2020, coordinating minister of maritime affairs and investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan once claimed that the virus is likely not able to survive under Indonesia’s climate which he claims is due to the high humidity and the equator’s hot nature. 

    1. Coronavirus is ‘like a wife’

    Coordinating MInister Mahfud MD on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, went public to clarify the debate about the ‘new normal’ way of living which he said is an attempt to ‘make peace’ with Covid-19 that the government is planning to introduce. To put it simply, he reckoned that the new normal phase is a way where people live their lives adapting to the pandemic. 

    And in a failed attempt to seem humorous, during an event with the Sebelas Maret State University he said “I received a meme about pak Luhut that reads ‘Corona is like your wife. If you try to control it, then you realize that you can't. Then, you learn to live with it’,” said Mahfud MD. 

    Also Read: Indonesia Needs Two More Years to Fight COVID-19: Epidemiologist

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