New Zealand is one of the countries that has successfully coped with the Covid-19 pandemic. Various events with a large number of participants have been carried out as usual there. On the other hand, other countries such as Singapore, for example, stated that they would close all school activities from Wednesday 19 May to 28 May 2021. In general, Singapore has decided to lock down from 14 May to 13 June 2021. This decision was taken as a result of the worsening spread of Covid-19, especially the number of communal cases since April 27. The spike marks the start of the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Singapore. This is related to the spread of the corona virus variant B1617 India which is endemic in the Asian region.
Malaysia is still implementing a national lockdown until June. Meanwhile, Indonesia still hopes that there will not be an explosion in the number of Covid-19 cases post-Idul Fitri festivity.
The description mentioned is the condition experienced by countries that have been quite successful in dealing with Covid-19 (in this case New Zealand) and the countries that are still in the process of handling Covid-19 (Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia). Of course, it is unfair to compare the efforts of one country to another in overcoming the Covid-19. Because, the size of the area that must be faced, the number of people with different cultures and compliance and the response of one country are different from each other.
A book edited by Professor Elizabeth King, a global health researcher at the University of Michigan in the USA, as quoted by BBC Indonesia earlier this year, reveals findings about a comparison of the efforts of several countries to tackle the first wave of the coronavirus in early 2020. It states that the demographic composition in each country will affect its handling. For example, Italy, more than a fifth of the country's population is over 65 years old, making it more vulnerable to Covid-19. It’s in contrast to Africa's younger population. Public health policy is also influenced by other factors, such as the system of government (democracy or autocracy), formal political institutions (federalism or presidentialism), and state capacity (control over the health care system and public administration). All of them contribute to each government's response to the Covid-19.
It takes solid cooperation and synergy within each country to overcome this pandemic. In addition, there is a need for togetherness in steps in various regions. Without common awareness, it seems that it will be difficult for Covid19 to completely disappear from the face of the earth.
More than 200 Palestinians, 63 of them children, have died as a result of the Israeli attack on the Palestinian Gaza territories. The attack between Israel and the Palestinian militias living in Gaza has resulted in the loss of Palestinian civilians far more than the Israelis. At least 217 Palestinians including children were killed by Israeli air raids on Gaza and 1400 injured. While on the Israeli side those who died from rockets of the Hamas militia numbering 12 people.
Since the conflict began on May 10, there has been no sign of Israel easing its attacks on Gaza on the west bank. The AFP news agency reported that more Palestinians died and were injured as a result of air raids on the Gaza Strip throughout Tuesday, May 18, 2021. The conflict, resulted from attacks by Israeli soldiers on Palestinians praying at the Al Aqsa Mosque a few days before Eid, hasn't shown any signs of abating. Israel has intensified its air strikes, while the Hamas militia also continues to launch rockets toward Israeli territory.
The reason Hamas launched the rocket attack was to retaliate against the Israeli security forces who obstructed and attacked Palestinians who were praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem. Seeing the escalation of the conflict, the European Union called on a ceasefire between the two sides. With the exception of Hungary, European Union countries see the importance of ending the war in order to avoid more casualties, especially among civilians. The majority of European Union countries are in support of Palestine. This is in contrast to the United States, which has made Israel its main ally in the Middle East. Although seems to be different from Donald Trump in terms of aggressiveness in supporting Israel, Joe Bidden does not immediately withdraw his support for Israel, which has bombed the populated area of Gaza and caused hundreds of civilians to become victims. China has criticized the United States' stance on the war that has raged since May 18.
In this regard, the Palestinian struggle to create a state that is truly independent and safe from Israeli threats and interference is still far ahead. Support and pressure from Muslim countries through diplomatic channels are now much needed. There must be concrete efforts to stop Israeli actions which have caused hundreds of Palestinians to die. In line with this, the role of the United States is very decisive. As long as the United States is not in a neutral position by supporting Israel, a solution to the Palestinian Israeli conflict is difficult to realize. Therefore, the European Union stance which calls for a ceasefire to stop the war is an important note that needs to be realized. The international community certainly cannot allow the increasing number of Palestinians to become victims, either dead or injured.
Indonesia's economic growth in the second quarter of this year will be on the positive track. Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Airlangga Hartarto, in a press conference on Saturday (15/5) estimated that Indonesia's economic growth could reach 7% this year. According to Minister Airlangga, the economic recovery has been seen from the Purchasing Manager's Index -PMI which reached 54.6. The Consumer Confidence Index -IKK is also close to normal figures. Currently, it has reached around 90 to 100. He also said that Indonesia's export and import performance growth has returned to a positive direction. The government spending also experienced the same thing. Several sectors, such as information, communication, health services, agriculture, property and industry, with the Luxury Value Added Tax (PPNBM) borne by the government and other policies, made quite a high increase. Gross Fixed Capital Formation (PMTB) is close to 0% or now minus 0.23%. Meanwhile, exports reach 6.74%. In fact, this is higher than before Covid-19. Imports of capital goods and production were recorded at 5.27%.
Meanwhile, the ASIAN Development Bank -ADB at the end of last month estimated that Indonesia's economic growth in 2021 would reach 4.5%. Economic growth will also increase in 2022 to 5% amid the national and global economic recovery. According to ADB's Director for Indonesia, Winfried Wicklein, with the continued recovery of trade, the revival of the manufacturing sector and a large national economic recovery budget for 2021, ADB is also optimistic that Indonesia will return to its growth track next year. This can be realized as the Covid-19 vaccination program progresses and more sectors of the economy are back in operation. In addition, investment is also expected to increase, along with improving economic prospects. However, the pace of recovery in financing or credit will still lag behind due to the uncertainty of investor sentiment. Inflation, which reached an average of 1.6% last year, is estimated to rise to 2.4% in 2021, or before falling again to 2.8% in 2022. This inflation rate is still within Bank Indonesia's target range, due to inflationary pressures, currency depreciation and higher food demand.
There are, of course, some significant risks to this estimate. Economic recovery can slow down if there is a spike in Covid-19 cases during Ramadan and Idul Fitri holidays. From the news in the media, the government has tried hard to ban people from going home in a bid to reduce the rate of transmission of the Covid-19. But in fact, there were millions of people who went to their hometowns or villages. In addition, delays in vaccination efforts, especially during Ramadan and the government’s weak revenues can also bring about a significant impact on achieving economic growth forecasts in the second quarter of this year.
Ramadan, which is the holy month for Muslims around the world and this year falls from April 13 to May 13, closes with escalating conflicts between Israel and Palestine. Bloody clashes took place at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Jerusalem on Friday evening local time (7/5/2021) after Israeli police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at Palestinians armed with stones. This incident is related to the threat of expulsion of Palestinians from their territory which is claimed by the Israeli settlers. The situation in Jerusalem has heated up following clashes between Palestinian residents and Israeli security forces in recent days.
The clashes were triggered by a police blockade of places where residents gathered after fasting, which is an obligation of Muslims to be carried out every day during the month of Ramadan. In addition, Israel also threatened to expel dozens of Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah area.
Refering to history, the Palestinian - Israeli conflict, especially in relation to the Seikh Jarrah area in East Jerusalem, began when 28 Palestinian families who were expelled by Israel from their hometowns in 1948 settled in that neighborhood. The expulsion is widely known as the Nakba (disaster) which resulted in hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fleeing their homes.
Various tug-of-war processes continue between Israel and Palestine regarding the Sheikh Jarrah area. However, what is in the world spotlight is the violence that often occurs to the point of casualties. Since Friday last week, Israeli forces have continued to launch relentless attacks and injured hundreds of Palestinians praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque - the third holiest site for Muslims - as well as in Sheikh Jarrah, a settlement in the East of Jerusalem. This has certainly sparked global concern that the unrest could spread further. The violence around the Al-Aqsa mosque complex, which was generally at night, was declared the worst violence since 2017.
It is hoped that the Organization for Islamic Cooperation countries -OIC, as well as the United Nations -UN can act immediately to find the best solution for resolving the open conflict between Israel and Palestine, which is feared to worsen. The most important thing to do now is to stop acts of violence of both sides. Because the most disadvantaged and often become victims are civilians, especially women and children.
Hopefully, peace in this region can be achieved sooner.
After the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, the situation in Myanmar did not show any improvement. Attacks between the military and anti-coup groups have even tended to increase. The mass media in Myanmar is also polarized between the military junta media, the anti-coup media and the media that contains information about the various violence that occurred.
A few days after the ASEAN Summit discussed Myanmar's crisis following the military coup, the atmosphere in several regions there became increasingly tense. The bomb that exploded in the residential area made people even more afraid and worried. Local media reported that a parcel bomb exploded in the West Bago area that killed, among others, a former member of parliament who supported Aung San Su Kyi. Five people, including a policeman, were reportedly killed in the explosion that happened Monday, May 3. Naturally, people are increasingly fearful because neither party feels responsible for the bomb explosion that occurred more than once.
Ethnic armed resistance groups supporting the demonstrators have begun to step up attacks on Myanmar's military. Along with that, came attacks from unknown parties on Myanmar air bases and military bases.
The situation became increasingly unclear due to confusing news and information. The domination of news from the military is countered by the reporting of the opposing parties. Meanwhile, provoking information appears which is only reporting acts of violence. The closure of the media supporting the resistance action and the blocking of the internet and social media did not solve the problem or stop the resistance.
The people of Myanmar live in uncertainty due to the military coup. If the situation gets more chaotic and out of control, there is great concern that there will be civil war in that country.
In fact, the commitment to carry out the results of the ASEAN summit in Jakarta recently is very important to be realized, especially by the military junta government. The presence of the Myanmar Senior General then, should not be used by the military junta only to legitimize its existence and actions.
The points of the Summit results in Jakarta need to be realized immediately. ASEAN leaders, can and need to take further steps to prevent a civil war in Myanmar. The country is a member of ASEAN. Myanmar's increasingly chaotic situation will certainly have an impact on the existence of ASEAN and other member countries.
Although there is no clear timeline, Indonesia has set a number of scenarios to achieve a low-carbon development or net zero emission. Thereby, there is a need for synergy or connectivity between sectors. Director of Environment at the Ministry of National Planning and Development / National Planning and Development Agency, Medrilzam said that low-carbon development has been included in the 2020-2024 National Medium-Term Development Plan and has become one of the priority programs. This was revealed in a webinar entitled "Indonesia's Opportunity to Achieve Carbon Neutrality Before 2070" on Wednesday (28/4).
Based on a study conducted by the National Planning and Development Agency, the calculation of the zero-emission scenario must refer to a number of principles. For instance, zero emission policies must be in line with the targets in Indonesia's 2045 vision, while still pursuing emission reductions by 29 percent in 2030. In addition, the approach taken must be comprehensive across sectors.
Estimates of greenhouse gases in the land and energy sectors for zero-emission policies from 2045 to 2070 have also been calculated. This requires an additional area of 300-350,000 hectares per year and an increase in the reforestation of 250 hectares from the existing policy. Meanwhile, in the energy sector, this is carried out through the use of new renewable energy accompanied by an increase in energy efficiency to reach 6-6.5 percent in 2050. In addition, efforts to reduce waste are also being carried out starting from the circular economy through the efficiency of natural resources to reducing the production of liquid waste. On the fiscal aspect, the elimination of fuel subsidies and application of a carbon tax are needed.
So far, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector has been on target and will be increased to achieve the national contribution target of reducing emissions by 29 percent by 2030. The main contribution of mitigation actions is the new renewable energy program and energy efficiency. However, efforts to increase it are still constrained by investment costs which tend to be expensive and lack of mastery of technology.
Whatever the reasons are, Indonesia must continue to pursue the target as set out in the Climate Change Conference of the Parties, known as the Paris Agreement in December 2015. If this is not achieved, it will certainly have a negative impact on Indonesia, such as increasing temperatures, changes in rainfall, and rising sea levels. Indonesia will also be hit by extreme waves that increase by more than 1.5 meters.
To realize the scenario created by the government, each individual can contribute by reducing the use of fossil energy, reducing land and garbage burning, and replanting trees. If this is done, it is possible that Indonesia will be able to realize the national contribution to reducing emissions by 29 percent even before 2030.
Probably, recent days have been tough for Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The sharp increase in the spread of Covid-19 in the country has forced President Erdogan to take the decision to close or lock down his country completely until mid-May. This is aimed at avoiding crowds of people when celebrating Idul Fitri on May 13, which could be a source of the spread of the Covid-19 virus. With this lockdown, someone can imagine that the country's economy will slow down again.
In addition, Turkey is also facing threats from Saudi Arabia to close 8 of the 26 Turkish-language schools in Saudi Arabia. Recently, communication between Turkey and Saudi Arabia has deteriorated as they became involved in various conflicts. It started with the case of Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the Saudi government, who was killed by a team of Saudi agents inside the country's consulate building in the Turkish City of Istanbul in 2018. Previously, the Turks wanted those involved to be tried in Istanbul, but the Saudis refused. Turkey was eventually forced to follow Saudi Arabia's decision regarding the sentence for the accused murder of Jamal Khashoggi. But the impact of the problem is an unofficial boycott of many Turkish products by Saudi Arabia. The trade rate for Turkish products in Saudi Arabia fell by 98 percent. It is not a simple number and the follow-up action is the closure of Turkish schools in Saudi Arabia. It is not clear what steps President Erdogan will take in response to this matter.
It is only logical that President Erdogan would then seek to improve Turkey's relations with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. With Egypt, for example, next week a meeting is scheduled to establish new cooperation. Relations of both countries have deteriorated since the Egyptian military ousted President Mohamed Morsi, who was close to Turkey in 2013. In time, Turkey started working to re-establish ties with Egypt and other Gulf states, while overcoming differences that left Turkey isolated in the Arab world. Since February this year, Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu has made a series of visits to all of the Gulf countries. During his visit to Qatar, he held a press conference with his Qatari counterpart, and promised that both countries would continue to cooperate to further develop relations in all fields. Minister Cavusoglu also hopes that Turkey's relations with the Gulf countries will return to normal sooner, starting with the lifting of the embargo and restrictions.
Hopefully, the Turkish negotiation and communication team can approach Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries with the right strategy. Thus, peace and cooperation among the Gulf countries can be created well.
Countries in the world still need to be vigilant and alert to the threat of the Corona virus which has hit for more than a year. Now vigilance must even be increased by the spread of a new variant of Covid 19. India, one of the most populous countries, is currently suffering greatly from the Covid 19 attack, both old and new variants. When the calamity caused by the old Covid 19 virus has not been resolved, now the situation is exacerbated by a new variant attack that has been detected more vicious. The second wave of the Covid pandemic has indeed hit the country.
In India, hospitals are unable to accommodate the number of infected and there is a shortage of medicine and oxygen. Even the crematorium is no longer able to burn the bodies of the victims. As a result, empty parking lots and fields have to be used to cremate corpses who died from Covid. Besides being sad, the sight can certainly cause horror, especially for foreigners.
The tragedy in India has now penetrated its closest neighbor , Nepal. This small country in the Himalayan region must fight hard to escape from this invisible virus attack. But the vigilance isn't just for India's closest South Asian neighbor. The new Covid variant has now been detected in 17 countries. The World Health Organization, WHO, noted this development in light of the 1,200 case reports on the GISAID global science initiative data. Without mentioning details, WHO in its weekly report cited by various media said that samples of new Covid infections uploaded to the GIASID website mostly came from India, UK, United States and Singapore,
This information certainly makes a number of countries even more alert. Australia, for example, has banned the entry of flights from India. Indonesia also does not want to be off guard due to the undetected entry of Indian citizens. Vigilance at airports, which are the entry points for passengers of foreign nationals, especially India, is increased.
The catastrophe caused by the Covid 19 pandemic is not over yet, in various countries it is even increasing. In India, for example, the government and its people, who had previously experienced a decrease in cases, are now panicking because of the soaring number of infected and dead, and the very minimum health services.
The world does not only have to be vigilant, but must try together to overcome this pandemic. Developed countries must provide assistance to those in need, such as India, which is currently hit by the crisis. The multilateral effort for cooperation in the procurement of the Covid19 vaccine is one of the efforts that must be increased.
Myanmar senior general Min Aung Hlaing is rumored to be attending the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta on April 24. If so, this will be Min Aung Hlaing's first overseas visit since the military's takeover of power in Myanmar on February 1. General Min Aung Hlaing is chairman of the Myanmar State Administration Council, or the de facto government leader. He is also the Commander in Chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces. Many then concluded that General Min Aung Hlaing was the mastermind behind the coup that led to the prolonged demonstrations in Myanmar at this time.
Will the plan for the General's arrival be realized? Of course, this is yet to be seen, although not for long.
But on the other hand, pressure from human rights activists has strengthened to ASEAN leaders. Asia Justice and Rights, for example, assessed that Hlaing's presence needed to be criticized because his bloody maneuvers had claimed many victims. Hlaing's coup against the elected government led by pro-democracy group Aung San Suu Kyi left at least 737 people dead as of last Monday (19/4), according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners Burma.
The question is, will the upcoming meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) end the bloodshed in Myanmar?
However, this could be an opportunity for ASEAN member states to urge military rule in Myanmar to stop violence against civilians and restore the democratic process. As part of ASEAN, the forcible takeover of power by the military that took place in Myanmar is certainly of concern to the international community. ASEAN's response is very significant in the context of maintaining the continuity of democratization in Myanmar. How ASEAN maintains politics in the Southeast Asian region is eagerly awaited. It's just that there is a principle of non-interference which has been a hindrance. Even so, it is said that this principle can still be flexible within the boundaries of other ASEAN principles, especially those related to national sovereignty and consensus. It is hoped that ASEAN can propose diplomatic initiatives in the form of dialogue and communication with the military junta in Myanmar. Not to interfere in domestic affairs, but to maintain security in the region.
ASEAN leaders should be able to make the most of this opportunity and produce an important agreement that will lead to peace in the Southeast Asian Region.
The world is still being shaken by the Covid 19 pandemic. If previously African countries seemed not to be in that problem, recently several countries there, including South Africa, began to be hit. In some places like Europe, as well as China. where the pandemic started, the number of infected and dead is on the rise. In South Asia, India is seriously trying to overcome the Covid19 outbreak which continues to increase sharply.
Data from Woldometers cited by various media shows that the number of people infected and dying from a virus that has now even mutated continues to increase. As of April 21, 2021, the number of Covid 19 cases has reached more than 143 million. At least 3 million people in various countries have died from the disease caused by viruses and there is no cure. Even so, it was recorded that the number who recovered from Covid 19 was much higher than those who died. As of April 21, nearly 122 million people have been declared cured of Covid 19,
The United States is still struggling to reduce the number of cases and to prevent more people from getting infected and dying. The country is listed as the top in the number of cases and dead from Covid19 among the 10 other countries with the highest transmission rates. In the United States until April 21, nearly 33 million cases were recorded, with a death toll of more than 580 thousand people. India still has to deal with a spike in cases after experiencing a decline and relaxing restrictions.
Due to a new mutation of the Covid virus, a number of countries have returned to lockdown. In Europe, Britain is the country that is doing it again. China, which was originally reported to have been relatively free of Covid, has returned to implementing lockdowns in certain areas of the country.
In order to prevent transmission and casualties, vaccination is being intensified. This step is very costly, but must be done. If this year Covid 19 still cannot be controlled, the impact will further burden the economic growth of countries affected by the pandemic.
Covid 19 has indeed had a significant impact on economic growth. Including the increase in the unemployment rate because of layoffs due to losses and the closure of a number of companies. So, there is no other way, efforts to overcome Covid 19 pandemic must be done globally and together. It seems that the rules restricting human movement in the form of lockdowns and prohibitions on traveling abroad or receiving visits from other countries, are still needed and must be obeyed.