JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – The raging coronavirus continues to dominate the headlines with Indonesia’s Covid-19 Task Force announcing that the country's number of Covid-19 cases is nearing 400,000.
Leading off our news highlights is a report on President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo justifying taking a chance with untested Covid-19 vaccines. Also hogging headlines is the story on the General Election Commission (KPU) allowing former graft convicts to run for office. While much of the national attention may be focused on the Covid-19 pandemic, Indonesia isn't one to turn a blind eye on developments that people feel are threats to the environment. We zoom in on a call from one of Indonesia’s top environmental organizations that has rejected a nature theme park built on an island inhabited by the Komodo dragon.
1. President Jokowi: Vaccines Needed to Save Indonesia from Covid-19 Crisis
President Joko Widodo underlined the role of a Covid-19 vaccine in overcoming the pandemic in Indonesia. “A Covid-19 vaccine is not just a health-related matter of saving human lives. It also plays an important role in [Indonesia’s] economy recovery.”
“An effective mass vaccine can release Indonesia from the pandemic and help revive the economy. However, it has to undergo proper clinical tests.” President Jokowi also urged that the public be properly oriented about the vaccines.
He called on Islamic organizations like Nahdlatul Ulama, Muhammadiyah and Majlis Ulama Indonesia to assure the public of its benefit, and that they meet halal standards. He also called for their help in combating hoaxes and misinformation.
The Indonesian government has inked deals with pharmaceutical companies Cansino, G42/Sinopharm, Sinovac, and AstraZeneca to purchase Covid-19 vaccines. The vaccines are currently in the last stage of clinical tests.
2. Indonesian General Election Commission Gives Unqualified Graft Convicts the Go-Ahead to Run for Office
The General Election Commission or KPU has allowed three graft convicts to run for office in the 2020 midterm elections after they changed their status from unqualified for public office [TMS] to qualified for public office.
“We changed the convicts’ status on the recommendation of the Election Supervisory Agency [Bawaslu] local branches in Dompu, South Lampung and Bengkulu where they are running [for office],” said KPU Commissioner Evi Novida Ginting.
“The Bawaslu justified the step on grounds the graft convicts served their time, and so were cleared of their convictions.”
Indonesia Corruption Watch researcher Egi Primayogha disputed Evi’s assertion.
“Bengkulu gubernatorial candidate Agusrin Maryono and his running mate Imron Rosyadi was initially ruled out of the elections, as his conviction was less than five years ago. Graft convicts can only run if their sentence was five years onwards,” said Egi.