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Tensions between Russia and Ukraine do not seem to show any signs of subsiding even though Russian President, Vladimir Putin gave assurances to ease the tensions after talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Moscow, Monday (7/2) local time. The reason is that Russia remains steadfast in its requests to NATO and the Western world. The first request is that Russia has asked NATO to stop "expansion" by including new members. Second, Russia asked NATO troops to withdraw their troops from Eastern Europe. Third, Russia also asked the United States to promise not to back NATO member countries in Eastern Europe with nuclear weapons.

The Western Alliances did not grant Russia's request. The Western Alliances responded to Russia's request with threats of sanctions. German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock on Monday (Feb 8) urged Russia to defuse tensions and warned Russia to face severe political and economic sanctions if it attacks Ukraine.

British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said sanctions and other measures would be imposed in the event of a Russian attack on Ukraine. The British government will ask parliament to sanction Russian individuals and companies. Amid this threat of sanctions, Russia does not seem to be backing down. Russia has deployed more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border in recent weeks. Recently, Russia has also deployed MiG-31 K fighter jets armed with hypersonic land-attack missiles, Kinzhal in Kaliningrad, Baltic Coast region.

In fact, there is always a solution to resolve the crisis between Russia and Ukraine backed by Western alliances. The threat of sanctions does not solve the current crisis. The diplomatic approach is a way to resolve the crisis or at least avoid the worst. What has been done by French President Emmanuel Macron is one of the diplomatic efforts to prevent heating escalation. Amid rising tensions; Macron flew to Kiev, Ukraine after visiting Moscow on Monday (7/2). In Moscow, he had discussions with President Putin for more than five hours.

According to President Macron, the aim of meeting President Putin is to prevent escalation and to create new perspectives. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave assurances to ease tensions after holding talks with President Emmanuel Macron in Moscow, Monday (7/2) local time. It is hoped that all conflicting parties need to support and continue the diplomatic approach taken by French President Emmanuel Macron. Thus, the worst can be avoided.



This week marks an important commemoration for the mass media in Indonesia, namely National Press Day. The opening of the 2022 National Press Day was held on Sunday (6/2) in Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi. It is planned that President Joko Widodo will give a speech at the Peak of the Commemoration of National Press Day on February 9.

Initially, the President stated that he would attend directly in Kendari. However, the recent increasing number of people exposed to Covid-19 has made all of President Joko Widodo's face-to-face agendas temporarily suspended. Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Heru Budi Hartono explained to the media crew that starting Sunday (6/2), all activities would be followed by the Head of State online.

In fact, President Joko Widodo's online presence has actually answered the wishes of the Indonesian Editor-in-Chief Forum. Quoting the Antara News Agency report on January 28, 2022, the Indonesian Editor-in-Chief Forum asked the government, State-Owned Enterprises, and the private sectors to increase virtual events in order to anticipate the transmission of Covid-19 to journalists. Forum Chair Arifin Asydhad said, according to data, so far many journalists and media workers from various mass media have contracted COVID-19. In fact, the number continues to grow every day.

Amidf the Covid-19 pandemic, journalists are one of the professions at the forefront. The press carries out its duties to explain clearly about Covid-19, starting from the current conditions of the spread of the Covid-19 virus with all its variants to the anticipatory steps that must be taken by the public so as not to be exposed. The press also plays an important role in increasing public discipline in carrying out health protocols and awareness to vaccinate. In addition, the press is also fighting the fake news that is widely circulated about Covid-19.

To carry out their duties, journalists often have to go to the field, such as reporting the actual conditions in hospitals handling Covid-19. Therefore, the journalists are at high risk of being exposed to, even dying from Covid-19. According to a report by a non-governmental organization with special consultative status from the United Nations, the Press Emblem Campaign, as of early January, nearly two thousand journalists in 94 countries had died due to the Covid-19.

The commemoration of National Press Day can be a momentum to make all parties in Indonesia aware of the duties and roles that have been carried out by journalists in overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic. Besides, all parties are reminded to prioritize organizing virtual or online press events or conferences. Thus, important and correct information about Covid-19 can reach the public immediately, but by minimizing the risk of journalists being exposed to Covid-19.

Happy National Press Day 2022!  



North Korea confirmed on Monday (31/1) that they tested their intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), Hwasong-12 on Sunday (30/1). Therefore, Pyongyang had made a record of seven missile launches in just a month -January 2022. This was the biggest missile launch since 2017 and caused concern among the international communities, mainly the US, South Korea, Japan, and other countries, including the United Nations.

This concern was not baseless. With their full power, this missile can fly across thousands of miles, reaching beyond South Korea and Japan, even to Guam that belongs to the US military base. Therefore, the US - supported by England and France - had requested the UN Security Council to have a closed meeting this Thursday (03/02) to discuss the IRBM launch by North Korea.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres on Tuesday (1/2) condemned the launch and urged North Korea to stop taking the counter-productive act further. According to a UN spokesperson, Farhan Haq, the act by Pyongyang violated the moratorium announced by the country in 2018 about similar launchings and a resolution of the UN Security Council.

Since 2006, North Korea has been given sanction by the UN, which was strengthened by the Security Council for years in a bid to target the funding of Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programs. But why does North Korea still dare to continue their missile test?

According to Prof. Kim Dong Yup –a former South Korean Navy Commander - the launch by North Korea was a show that the country is moving fast to an effective and total nuclear defense capability. After the missile tests on January 5 and 10, Pyongyang claimed to successfully test hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) and maneuverable reentry vehicle (MARV).

He affirmed that North Korea is developing a technology that can defeat the expensive and complex missile defense system of the US and Japan in the Korean Peninsula. However, the main target of North Korea is not oriented to other countries, but to their own defense.

We can only hope that this view is right and in line with what is planned by North Korea. Otherwise, the crisis in the Korean Peninsula can get worse.

Peace is always beautiful. Although not without conflict, peace is an ability to handle a conflict in a peaceful way.



President Joko Widodo assessed that Omicron cases in Indonesia will continue to increase in the next few weeks. Daily cases of the CovidD-19, especially the Omicron variant, continue to experience a spike. Until Sunday (30/1), the government reported daily positive cases of Corona, although most were not the Omicron variant, as many as 12,422. This brings the total active cases to 61,718.

In a press statement last Friday (28/1), he said that the government had made a lot of preparations to deal with this surge by improving various health facilities which are adapted to the character of the Omicron variant.

President Joko Widodo also remarked that all cases of Omicron require health services. The symptoms do seem less serious than the previous variant, but they are still dangerous. Therefore, the most important thing is to minimize contacts with other people. In addition, the President also appealed to the public to always implement health protocols and reduce unnecessary activities.

He emphasized that if the PCR test results are positive even though there are no symptoms, the patients can self-isolate at home for 5 days. If there are symptoms of cough, runny nose, and fever, the patients can access telemedicine services to get free services, including medicines. Thus, health facilities can focus more on treating the patients with severe symptoms as well as the patients with other diseases that require intensive services.

The government did take a different strategy in dealing with the Omicron and Delta variants. In dealing with the Delta variant, the government focuses on providing high hospital capacity, while in dealing with Omicron, the government focuses on self-isolation with telemedicine services. This is because the level of treatment and severity of cases of the Omicron variant is lower.

However, people still need to be vigilant. In Indonesia until last week, it was recorded that three patients died due to this variant. Therefore, the public should follow the President's call to strictly implement the health protocols, and avoid crowds, including on the Lunar or Chinese New Year which is a national holiday on February 1st tomorrow.



The tension between Ukraine and Russia increased. Even based on the latest news, Russia added more troops near the Russia-Ukraine border. This made many worried if Russia could easily invade their neighbor.

Reuters reported, the US and its allies kept echoing threats against Russia that have placed their soldiers and artillery in the border area. Besides a threat to give a sanction for Russian President Vladimir Putin, the US had sent some weaponry, such as anti-tank javelin, launchers, and other military hardware to strengthen the Ukrainian defence system.

But what is the real reason for the tension between Russia and Ukraine? As reported by Al Jazeera, Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus were founded around the Dnieper River 1,200 years ago. However, Russia and Ukraine are still different in language, history, and politics. Still, Vladimir Putin kept claiming that Russia and Ukraine are one part of the Russian civilization and of course, Ukraine rejected that claim. Ukraine had two revolutions in 2005 and 2014 to reject Russian supremacy. Ukraine then kept looking for paths to join the European Union and NATO.

The call for the NATO allies to share one view on the latest situation in the Russia-Ukraine border kept coming. The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and French President Emmanuel Macron asked for a dialog with President Vladimir Putin, as requested by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy so that four nations namely France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine can begin a negotiation.

However, the US as the engine of NATO should keep supporting peace between the two conflicting countries. Dialogue must be the first choice in anticipating further military escalation that can bring big effects for the two sides economically, politically, and strategically, which can bring about a war crime and human rights violation.



The spread of the Sars-Cov2 corona virus that causes Covid-19 of the Omicron variant in Indonesia enters a new phase. On Saturday (22/1), The Ministry of Health announced two Covid-19 patients infected with the Omicron variant died. This is the first time an Omicron case patient has died in Indonesia. According to Spokesperson of the Ministry of Health, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, both patients who died suffered from comorbidities. One case was a local transmission, and another one was an overseas traveler. They died in different hospitals.

The Omicron variant, although it is said to be lighter than the previous variants, is still fatal for certain people. The transmission no longer comes from people who have just arrived from abroad. Local transmission has also occurred. Thus, the spread of the Omicron variant cannot be underestimated. Seeing these developments, some epidemiologists ask the government to improve vigilance and make arrangements that are in accordance with the current development of the pandemic.

Indeed, various efforts have been made by the government to anticipate the spread of Omicron, such as intensifying testing, tracing and treatment or 3T, especially in Java and Bali. The government has also enhanced the tracing ratio, ensured the availability of centralized isolation rooms, intensified access to telemedicine and increased the bed ratio for handling Covid-19 in hospitals. /Meanwhile, third or booster vaccinations are also being intensified.

Several epidemiologists suggested the government review the level 2 of Implementation of Community Activity Restrictions in Java and Bali. They also suggested canceling off-line seasons in schools, and returning to online learning.

On one hand, the government is required to immediately take mitigation actions in a bid to prevent the fall of many victims. But on the other hand, people must also take precautions for their own safety. Strict health protocols must continue to be carried out by wearing masks, keeping a distance, and avoiding crowds. Vaccination must also be encouraged; both the third stage (booster) as well as the first and second vaccinations for those who have not received. Thus, mitigation efforts are carried out by all parties. Last year, Indonesian people experienced the bad consequences of the widespread transmission of Covid-19. This experience is expected not to reoccur.



People's markets have an important role in Indonesia, namely developing and growing people’s economic growth and creating jobs. People's markets are also a place for social and cultural interaction. 

Currently, according to Statistics Indonesia (BPS), some 16,235 people's markets are not able to compete with modern markets. Even amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the people's market became even more sluggish.

Data from Indonesian Market Traders Association, as quoted from (20/07/2021) showed some 5 million of 12 million or 43 percent of people's market traders in various regions were forced to close because of lacking customers during the pandemic.

In such a condition, people's market development and revitalization programs receive serious attention from the government. The government kept trying to revitalize the people's market. One of the aims is to enable the people's market competitiveness against modern retail so that people's economy can grow.

Trade Ministry's Domestic Trade Director General Oke Nirwan as quoted from Antara (18/01) said that the main problem in revitalizing people's economy is limited literacy or understanding about digital market implementation for traders and people's market management.

Educating the traders and people's market management from market digitalization implementation is not easy. Therefore, it needs synergy cooperation by both the government institutions and the private sector as done by the Trade Minister and Education, Culture, Research, and Technology Ministry.

On Tuesday (18/1), the Education, Culture, Research, and Technology Ministry signed a cooperation agreement on People's Market Strengthening and Empowerment through Independent Campus Program as witnessed virtually by Minister of the Education, Culture, Research, and Technology, Nadiem Makarim, and Minister of Trade, Minister M. Lutfi.

Through this cooperation program, students are invited to improve the management and manpower capacity of the business-people in the people's markets by optimizing digitalization to support the national economy.

It is expected that the cooperation will give an important experience for students about working at people's markets and improve the competitiveness of traders and people's market management.



The Indonesian government has begun to allow the departure of Umrah pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. In Indonesia where the majority of the population is Muslim, Umrah is one of the important worships that many people covet. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the implementation, which involves a trip to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, has been forced to stop. However, with the development of Covid-19 cases that are sloping around the world, especially in Indonesia, the Umrah service has begun to be carried out again. This year’s first Umrah pilgrims left Indonesia on January 8, 2022. There are 1,731 pilgrims who have departed using the One Gate Policy (OGP) scheme.

Director General of Hajj and Umrah at the Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs, Hilman Latief said that the One Stop Policy scheme requires all Umrah pilgrims to undergo quarantine for one day before flying to Saudi Arabia via Soekarno Hatta Airport. They must carry out health screening and complete documents, including standard PCR examinations from the Ministry of Health.

However, more recently, the Ministry stated that it was temporarily suspending flights for Umrah pilgrims starting January 15, 2022. This decision was an effort to evaluate the One Gate Policy (OGP) scheme, including monitoring the development of the Omicron variant in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.

According to the schedule, the Umrah pilgrims who departed on January 8 will return to Indonesia today, January 17, 2022. The Directorate General of Hajj and Umrah will observe the health conditions of the pilgrims upon arrival in the country, including in the context of the development of the Omicron virus.

Given the increasing number of people who have been exposed to the Omicron variant recently, the policy of temporarily stopping the departure of Umrah pilgrims must be understood by prospective Umrah pilgrims and Umrah Travel Organizers. The circular letter of the Directorate General of Hajj and Umrah Organization of the Ministry of Religion mentions that there are various rules for Umrah pilgrims after traveling abroad. It is mandatory to carry out quarantine in accordance with the provisions of the Covid-19 Task Force at hotels that have obtained legality. The quarantine period stipulated for Foreign Travelers entering Indonesia is 7 x 24 hours.

The temporary suspension and evaluation of the organization of the Umrah pilgrimage is, of course, for the good of many people. Director General of Hajj and Umrah, Hilman Latief has also emphasized that this evaluation is carried out in line with the development of Omicron in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. Prevention is always better than cure, including comprehensive prevention of the spread of the Omicron virus that could occur from the Umrah pilgrimage.

The steps taken by the government and followed by all parties are expected to prevent Indonesia from experiencing a peak in cases of the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus, which is predicted to occur in mid-February to early March 2022.

Hopefully, no Umrah pilgrims are exposed to the Covid 19 virus with all its variants, especially the Omicron variant. May the evaluation that will be carried out by the Ministry of Religion will be successful. So, the departure of Umrah pilgrims can be carried out again.



The total number of people infected by Covid-19 kept increasing, as if it was unstoppable. Many countries kept reporting new omicron cases. 

In Europe, for instance, WHO stated there were more than 7 million new cases of Omicron across the continent in the first week of January. The number rose twofold within two weeks. 

WHO Director for Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge said on Tuesday (1/1) there were 26 countries reporting more than 1 percent of the population infected every week. He quoted the estimation from Institute of Health Metrics at University of Washington which projected half of the West European population would be infected in the next six or eight weeks. 

Kluge was worried that when Omicron moves to the East, crossing Europe, that variant will take more victims much more in countries with low vaccination rate. In Denmark, he recorded, Covid-19 inpatient rate was six higher on those who were not vaccinated than the vaccinated ones. Similar high cases also happened in the US, Poland, and Japan. 

The Omicron also infected Indonesians. Data from the Health Ministry until Monday (10/1) showed 506 Omicron cases in Indonesia. The ministry's Director for Infectious Disease Prevention and Control, Siti Nadia Tarmizi said that Omicron infection was still dominated by international travelers and 84 of them were local infections. Therefore, she affirmed that the people must be ready in facing the Omicron, considering how easily it spreads.

Although Omicron has lighter symptoms, the people must stay on alert. More infection can burden health facility capacity and operational capacity of other sectors. Health protocols are a must, including wearing maskers, keeping distance, and washing hands. Preventing is better than curing.



The Indonesian Ministry of Health reported that until Sunday, January 9, 2022, the number of infection cases with the Omicron Covid-19 variant in Indonesia had increased to 414 people. There are additional cases of 75 people. Of these, 31 people have cases of local transmission. The rest are from  travelers from  foreign countries.

These data indicate that Omicron transmission in Indonesia is still increasing. In total, 99% of Omicron cases have mild or no symptoms. They are mostly travelers who came from Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Spokesperson for Vaccination of the Ministry of Health, dr. Siti Nadia Tarmizi in her statement said that several areas that experienced an increase in cases were Jakarta, West Java and North Sulawesi. As of January 5, Indonesia was in the third position of the highest Omicron cases in Southeast Asia after Singapore and Thailand. Singapore still occupies the top position with 2,251 cases detected, while Thailand has 2062 cases.

These facts are certainly quite worrying. Amid the government's incessant call for Indonesian citizens not to travel abroad, there are still those who go abroad, giving rise to new cases in Indonesia.

The government has also adjusted the rules for foreign travelers who will enter Indonesia. Recently, the Government has issued a Circular regarding Health Protocols for Overseas Travel, Entry Points, Quarantine Places and Obligation for Health Tests, such as RT-PCR for Indonesian Citizens Traveling Overseas.

Spokesperson for the COVID-19 Handling Task Force, Prof. Wiku Adisasmito through the Presidential Secretariat's YouTube channel said that one of the things that is continuously monitored and evaluated is regulations for foreign travelers. Naturally, travel between countries opens up opportunities for case imports, especially if they are not controlled properly.

It is a challenge for the government and the people of Indonesia to control Covid 19, which is currently tending to rise, after sloping down over the last few months. Thereby, the best way is to continue to implement health protocols as an easy, inexpensive and effective pandemic control strategy in preventing transmission. In addition to being asked to obey wearing masks, washing hands and maintaining distance, the public are also asked to play an active role in preventing the entry of more Omicron variants. The trick is not to travel abroad unless it is very urgent. For the people who return to Indonesia, they should strictly adhere to the rules, including the applicable quarantine policy.

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