JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – Indonesia is set to make a great leap forward in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, as the country aims to vaccinate 70 million people in the first half of 2020.
The government is just as determined to uphold tolerance, as it banned the compulsory wearing of hijabs or other sectarian related attire in Indonesia’s schools.
And the 2020 regional election in parts of Indonesia hit the headlines again, after the winner of the race for regent in East Nusa Tenggara province's Sabu Raijua regency proved to be a US citizen. Read more on these news items below:
Indonesia Aims to Vaccinate 70 Million People in First Half of 2021
Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar announced that Indonesia aims to vaccinate 60 to 70 million people by the first half of 2021.
“We intend to speed up mass vaccinations [in February and March],” said the former Army four star general on Wednesday, February 3.
Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto reiterated Luhut.
“President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo has urged an increase in the volume of Covid-19 vaccinations [across Indonesia] so as to speed up herd immunity [nationwide],” he said.
“The President also called on the time frame [for the vaccinations] to be adjusted so that herd immunity can be achieved.” Indonesia aims to vaccinate 70 percent of its population, or 182 million people, to achieve herd immunity against Covid-19 by March or April 2022.
Joint Ministerial Decree Prohibits Compulsory Religious Attributes in Indonesian Schools
Indonesia is trying to live up to its billing of “Unity in Diversity”, as the government issued a Joint Ministerial Decree [ SKB] prohibiting the compulsory wearing of hijabs and other religiously oriented clothing as a prerequisite to go to school.
The decision comes after a state junior high school in Padang, West Sumatra stirred controversy throughout Indonesia by requiring a non-Muslim student to wear a hijab to the school.
“Provincial administrations or [state] schools [across Indonesia] should not require or forbid [students] from wearing any religious attributes,” said the decree, which was passed on Wednesday, February 4.
Signed by Minister of Education and Culture Nadiem Makarim, Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian and Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, the document covers schools at the primary and secondary level.
The Decree covers state schools, as they “were intended by the government for the Indonesian people, regardless of their creed, ethnicity, and various backgrounds,” said Nadiem.
“The Decree also allows students and teachers alike to choose uniforms and other outfits that reflect their religious beliefs or not.”
Yaqut is just as upbeat about the decree. “The document will prevent any one religion from foisting their belief on other faiths. Instead, it will help the adherents of each religion to understand and tolerate one another.”
The Decree stipulates that provincial administrations or state schools are required to comply with the policy within 30 days after it goes into effect on February 3.
The institutions will face sanctions if they failed to comply with the policy. The sanctions range from verbal and written warnings to guidance on practicing more moderate forms of belief.
The controversy started after a state school in the city of Padang, West Sumatra forced a Christian student to wear the hijab in the end of January. The school has since backed down and apologized over the issue.
US Citizen Elected As NTT Province Regent Throws Indonesian Regional Election in Chaos
The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Law and Human Rights are reviewing the citizenship status of politician Orient Riwu Kore after his election as Regent of East Nusa Tenggara [NTT] Province’s Sabu Raijua Regency, following reports that he is still holding US citizenship.
“[The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Law and Human Rights] are holding the review to determine if Orient is still an Indonesian national or have become an [American] citizen,” said Ministry of Home Affairs official Zudan Arif Fakhrulloh on Wednesday, February 3.
Zudan noted that Orientwas in the Ministry’s records as an Indonesian citizen since 1997. “[Orient] seemed to become a US citizen years ago without giving up his Indonesian citizenship,” he asserted.
“If that were true, then documents pertaining to his [Indonesian] citizenship, including his victory as Sabu Raijua Regent, will be null and void.”
The Indonesian Election Supervisory Body or Bawaslu first broke the news about Orient’s citizenship status. “We have inquired about [Orient’s] citizenship to the US Embassy in Jakarta,” asserted Yudi Tagihuma, the head of Bawaslu’s Sabu Raijua branch.
He added that the US Embassy confirmed the Bawaslu’s findings. “We would like to inform you that Mr Orient Patriot Riwukore is holding US Citizenship," confirmed US Embassy Consular officer Eric M. Alexander.
Orient and his running mate Thobias Uly beat their incumbent rival Nikodemus N. Riki Rehe and Yohanes Yly Kale in the race for Sabu Raijua regent in September 2020.
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