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A Solemn, Low-Key Ceremony to Mark Indonesia's 75th Independence Day amid Covid-19 Scourge

August 17, 2020, 07.06 PM

JAKARTA, KOMPAS.comIndonesia celebrated its 75th independence day in Merdeka Palace in a low-key ceremony in the capital amid the Covid-19 pandemic on Monday, August 17.

The national ceremony was modest as the country deals with more than 139,500 Covid-19 cases, the second highest in Southeast Asia after the Philippines. It was a solemn one nevertheless.

Limited guests

In previous years, the Palace had always invited citizens from all walks of life to participate in the ceremony with more invitees from the general public than officials. This year, however, the general public was left out in the invite list due to strict physical distancing measures at the ceremony.

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Everyone was still invited to take part in the virtual commemoration ceremony of the Independence Day. There were 17,845 slots provided to attend the online ceremony of the 75th Indonesian Independence Day.

Livestreaming was also done via YouTube channel and the national television stations. A new tradition was introduced this year as the Indonesian people were called on to take a moment to pause for three minutes at 10:17am and stand up solemnly when the national anthem “Indonesia Raya” was played.

Only six VIPs in attendance

High-ranking officials who came to the Merdeka Palace were also limited as per a circular of the commemoration of the 75th Indonesian Independence Day issued by the State Secretary Pratikno.

Acted as the ceremony inspector was President Joko Widodo, who was wearing traditional East Nusa Tenggara attire. The president came with First Lady Iriana and accompanied by Vice President Ma’ruf Amin and his wife Wury Estu Handayani.

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Also in attendance were People’s Consultative Assembly Speaker Bambang Soesatyo, who was the reader of the proclamation text, Minister of Religious Affairs Fachrul Razi who read the prayers, House Speaker Puan Maharani and Indonesian Military (TNI) Commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto and National Police Chief General Idham Azis.

Other cabinet ministers and heads of government institutions were required to virtually attend the flag hoisting and lowering ceremonies from their respective offices.

Former presidents and vice presidents also followed the ceremony virtually. State dignitaries and foreign envoys were also not invited to attend in person.

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Ceremony participants are limited

Unlike in previous years, the ceremony participants were also limited. They comprised a ceremony commander, a group of eight for the national flag-hoisting team, 20 troops representing military and police, 24 members of music corps, and two people as the master of ceremony. Seventeen members of the Indonesian military conducted the ceremonial salute. In previous years, the national flag-hoisting team alone reached 68 people.

Online entertainment

Various Indonesian singers, traditional dancers, choirs, and orchestra musicians performed online this year. They played folklore and national songs virtually. There was no stage for the performers to comply with health protocols and prevent the spread of coronavirus.

(Writer: Ihsanuddin | Editor: Fabian Januarius Kuwado)


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