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Editorial (921)

15
November

 

Last weekend, the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that Indonesia and the Philippines succeeded in passing a resolution related to "Violence Against Women Migrant Workers" at the United Nations. This resolution is a biennial one, supported by 50 countries, and all members of the United Nations ratified it by consensus.

This year's resolution is focused on protecting female migrant workers amid the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes ensuring the state's commitment to protecting their health rights, access to health services and Covid-19 vaccines. This is very important, considering that many migrant workers are engaged in important sectors who continue to work during the pandemic. Ambassador/Chargé d'Affaires of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia to the United Nations, Mohammad K. Koba said that migrant workers have a very important role in the essential sector. In addition, the foreign exchange contribution they generate is also important for economic growth and recovery after the pandemic.

This resolution itself has been initiated by Indonesia and the Philippines since 1993. The aim is to raise the awareness of UN member states about the importance of respecting the rights of women workers and their families, especially protection from violence and human rights violations.

The Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website states that in 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the flow of remittances to Indonesia from 22 countries decreased by 17.3 percent. In addition, many migrant workers have been laid off due to the pandemic. This has an impact on the livelihoods of migrant workers' families and the economy in rural areas. In addition, termination of employment also has an impact on a number of immigration and consular issues.

The Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website also said that the ratification of this resolution strengthens global recognition of Indonesia's leadership in international forums, especially in the field of protecting migrant workers.

Hopefully with this resolution, the receiving countries are increasingly aware of their obligations to protect migrant workers. Indeed, it is not only countries receiving migrant workers who have an obligation to protect them, but it’s also the country of origin of workers having to first protect migrant workers before leaving, at the time of departure, and at the time of placement. They must be fortified with legal documents; their placement destinations are ensured safe and they are monitored during deployment.

12
November

 

A nice surprise came from the COP26 Summit on climate change in Glasgow, Scotland. Two big competing economies: the United States and China announced an agreement to work together in dealing with climate change. The efforts   include cutting methane emissions, stopping consumption of coal and protecting forests. Both economic giants are known to be the world's largest emitters of carbon dioxide. In addition, they account for nearly 40 percent of all global carbon pollution.

Quoted from Reuters, this deal was announced by the US climate envoy, John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua at the UN climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland last Wednesday (10/11). Kerry said that the United States and China have set their sights on the success of COP26. Meanwhile, according to Xie Zhenhua, the deal will see China strengthen its emission reduction targets. Both China and the United States will cooperate with other parties to ensure a successful COP26 and facilitate an ambitious and balanced outcome.

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres welcomed the agreement between China and the United States. As EU climate policy chief Frans Timmermans said to Reuters Timmermans, it was heartening to see the two countries known to be at odds on many fronts and have found common ground on the biggest challenges facing humanity today.

The agreement between the United States and China can indeed be said to be rare and unexpected. After a long time, both are now joining many other countries, realizing that   climate change is a common problem surpassing others. They also seem to understand more now that even big countries will not be able to avoid the negative impacts of climate change. It is proven that both of them have also experienced various quite devastating natural disasters due to climate change.

Indeed, only with the cooperation of all nations, the problem of climate change can be tackled. Now, the world is waiting for concrete actions from the agreement between the United States and China. The media noted that however, the agreement does not have details on how and when actions will be taken. Meanwhile, climate change continues to affect the life of all mankind.

09
November

 

The implementation of Community Activity Restrictions (PPKM) which is continuously carried out and evaluated by the government every week has brought about positive impacts. The number of active Covid-19 cases remains under control and continues to improve. The reproduction number (Rt) of Indonesia and Java-Bali is also still below one which indicates that the Covid-19 pandemic is under control. In addition, based on epidemiological reports, the death rate from Covid-19 has now decreased dramatically. In fact, the current number of funerals is equivalent to the number of funerals prior to the pandemic. This was revealed by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, concurrently Coordinator for the Implementation of the Java-Bali Community Activity Restrictions (PPKM), Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan in an online press conference monitored in Jakarta, Monday (8/11).

However, on the same occasion, he also disclosed that there was an increasing trend of Covid-19 cases, especially in 43 districts/cities in the Java-Bali region, including in Jakarta. Over the last few months, the number of active cases of Covid-19 has continued to decline to 99 percent, which peaked last July. The news about the upward trend in the number of cases was certainly worrying at the time.

Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan further explained in a limited meeting that President Joko Widodo urged all parties to learn from the experiences of European countries. A number of countries in Europe have experienced a large daily spike in cases due to people's negligence in implementing health protocols.

How is the behavior of the Indonesian people according to the observation of the COVID-19 Handling Task Force? Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said that last week, his side sent a team to observe the implementation of health protocols in a number of tourism destinations in Bali and Bandung, West Java. Visitors to malls and tourism attractions have been monitored for implementing health protocols properly, in this case wearing masks. However, keeping distance is still weak, especially in tourism attractions. It's even been found that some bars and clubs violated the rules of opening hours and the number of visitors.

Based on these observations, the government can immediately make an evaluation. It is time for stricter action to be taken against violators of the health protocols, especially the management of entertainment and tourism venues. If there is no decisive action, Indonesia can experience another spike in Covid-19 cases and this time, it is worried that the government will face it with increasingly limited resources.

11
November

 

Malaysian Prime Minister, Dato Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob visited Indonesia. This was his first visit after being inaugurated in August 2021. There were four issues being discussed in a bilateral meeting at the Bogor Palace in West Java. Also, he is scheduled to visit the Indonesian defense industry in Bandung, West Java.

In a press meeting after the bilateral meeting on Wednesday (10/11), President Joko Widodo said they discussed migrant workers, national border, post-pandemic economic recovery, and regional issues.

Related to the migrant workers, President Joko Widodo affirmed that there is a protection for Indonesian citizens in Malaysia. He also encouraged the MoU on Indonesian migrant worker protection to be finished soon. This is important, considering many Indonesians work in Malaysia.

On the border areas, they discussed the shifting boundary stakes of the two countries. This is a priority since it concerns both countries' stability.

Meanwhile on the economy, trade was being discussed since it is hampered amid the pandemic. Both heads of states agreed to open a Travel Corridor Arrangement. Then, they also discussed the current situation of Myanmar and South China Sea. 

The visit of the Malaysian PM is a wise move since the issues of discussion were crucial. Hopefully, the visit of Prime Minister Dato Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob results in a right solution and strengthens the neighboring countries' relations amid the uncertain global situation. Therefore, mutual understanding and respect are necessary in living as neighbors.

08
November

 

Commission I of the Indonesia House of Representatives -DPR in charge of Defense and Foreign Affairs approved the nomination of Army Chief of Staff General Andika Perkasa as Commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces -TNI, replacing Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto who gets retired from his duty on November 8, 2021.

The approval was given by all factions in the Commission I in an internal meeting following a fit and proper test, last Saturday (6/11). The meeting also approved the honorable discharge of Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto as Commander of the Military, and gave appreciation for his dedication. The results of the internal Commission I meeting were then brought to a plenary meeting on Monday, today (8/11) for approval from the Indonesian House of Representatives. General Andika Perkasa is the sole candidate for the TNI Commander who was proposed by President Joko Widodo to the House some time ago.

The vision he carried as a candidate for TNI commander was: "TNI Is Us". General Andika wants the Indonesian Armed Forces to be seen as part of the Indonesian and international community.

Under his leadership later, the TNI will focus on several matters related to war military operations and military operations other than war. According to General Andika Perkasa, the first and most important thing is to restore the TNI's duties according to the law and not take on the duties of other ministries or institutions.

General Andika Perkasa will also increase security for land, sea and air borders, including increasing TNI preparedness in various fields, such as cyber operations and intelligence synergy, especially in conflict areas. Other programs are to combine the operations of the three dimensions within the TNI (land, sea, and air), to organize and integrate the organization and the role of military diplomacy within the framework of Indonesia's foreign policy.

General Andika Perkasa will only serve as Commander of the TNI for one year because he will get retired in 2022. Hopefully in a fairly short time, General Andika Perkasa can realize his work programs as the new Commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces -TNI.

05
November

 

Regional Director for Europe of the World Health Organization (WHO), Hans Kluge in a virtual press conference from Copenhagen, Denmark, Thursday (4/11) said that Europe is now the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic. The continent is reported to account for 59 percent of all cases globally. According to Kluge, the speed of transmission in 53 European countries is currently very alarming. He even said that if this continues, there will probably be half a million deaths from Covid-19 in February.

The day before, WHO had reported a steady increase in the confirmed cases across Europe. Most of the case reports came from the UK, Russia, Turkey and Romania. But sharp increases also occurred in the Czech Republic, Poland and Germany. According to AFP, the number of new cases in Europe increases about 250,000 per day for almost six consecutive weeks. Meanwhile, the number of deaths for more than seven weeks also increases with 3,600 deaths per day.

Hans Kluge also cited that uneven vaccination rates, the loosening of public health protocols, and social activities throughout the region are the cause of the spike.According to Kluge, in Europe only 47 percent of the total population has been fully vaccinated. The fact is that vaccines are most effective when used along with other precautions, such as social distancing and wearing of masks. Kluge added that through the use of masks,188,000 lives will be saved between now and February.

For the world community outside Europe, this fact is also concerning. Rich countries in the region that are able to provide sufficient vaccines without cost constraints apparently have not been able to convince all their citizens to get vaccinated. In the name of individual freedom, many European citizens refuse to wear masks and keep distance. They even held demonstrations against the rules for wearing masks. As this continues, the pandemic in the continent will be difficult to control. As Hans Kluge said, the key is vaccination, including wearing masks and social distancing. Three points seem difficult to implement in a society that is said to prioritize individual freedom. Whereas in individual freedom amid this pandemic, there is a responsibility for the safety of others, especially to prevent transmission.

What happens in Europe will certainly bring about a serious impact on other regions, considering the mobility of the world's population starts increasing in line with the decline in Covid-19 cases outside Europe.

Take for example; Indonesia experiences a significant decline in the Covid-19 cases. This country starts opening its international doors. Given the current situation in Europe, the Indonesian government should vigilantly and immediately take appropriate policies regarding the arrival of European citizens so that there will be no more spikes in the Covid-19 cases across Indonesia.

04
November

 

Currently, some countries are meeting at the COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland until November 12 2021. This conference aims to accelerate the Paris Agreement in a bid to suppress climate change impact caused by greenhouse gas emission.

The latest report in 2021 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as quoted from wri-indonesia.org revealed that greenhouse gas emission, including carbon dioxide, is the main cause of climate change that results in a chain reaction, such as extreme weather, rising sea level, and disasters like drought and flood.

The global greenhouse gas emission, which has risen by 43% over the last two decades, indicates that a worse climate crisis will happen sooner. All efforts to suppress greenhouse gas emission need to be done right now.

All countries, including Indonesia must join hands in reducing the greenhouse gas emission. Otherwise, there will be a great impact, including the economy.

Indonesia set the 29% greenhouse gas emission reduction target by itself and 41% with international support in 2030. The Indonesian government is committed to achieving that target. The commitment has been written in the Nationally Determined Contribution document.

The Indonesian government is very serious in implementing its commitment to achieve the greenhouse gas emission target. The Indonesian government had implemented various policies and taken strategic moves. One of which was Carbon Economic Value policy.

President Joko Widodo in the COP 26 stated that he had ratified the Presidential Decree on Carbon Economic Value.

Head of Fiscal Policy Agency at the Finance Ministry, Febrio Kacaribu in his official statement, as quoted from kontan.co.id explained that the Presidential Decree on Carbon Economic Value ratification was an important milestone in deciding Indonesian policy towards the NDC target in 2030 and Net Zero Emission in 2060.

The efforts by the Indonesian government in reducing greenhouse gas emission needs cooperation with other countries. It is surely a great work that needs cooperation and a huge fund.

02
November

 

President Joko Widodo explained that with its rich natural potential, Indonesia continues to contribute in handling climate change. This was stated by President Joko Widodo when speaking at the World Leaders' Summit on Climate Change or COP26 at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow, Scotland, Monday (1/11). He added that the rate of deforestation fell significantly, the lowest over the last 20 years. Forest fires decreased 82 percent in 2020.

On that occasion, President Joko Widodo also pointed out concrete actions that have been taken, starting from the rehabilitation of mangrove forests with a target of 600 thousand hectares by 2024 until the rehabilitation of 3 million critical forests from 2010 - 2019. Other actions that have been taken by Indonesia are the development of an electric car ecosystem, the construction of the largest solar power plant in Southeast Asia, the use of new and renewable energy, including biofuels, and the development of clean energy-based industries, as well as the construction of the world's largest green industrial area in North Kalimantan.

What's interesting about what President Joko Widodo stated at the summit which was attended by nearly 200 countries was that President Joko Widodo loudly questioned how much contribution and technology transfer of the developed countries could be shared with Indonesia. He also emphasized the need for immediate concrete action and implementation.

The concrete action must be shown immediately by all parties. On various occasions, this was also pointed out by Indonesia to the leaders of developed countries, such as in a bilateral meeting with U.S.  President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the COP 26 Summit. As reported by VOA, President Joe Biden supported Indonesia's proposal to urge rich countries to assist poor countries in mitigating climate change for their climate action plans.

The statement and question disclosed by President Joko Widodo at the World Leaders' Summit on Climate Change are the consistency of the commitment. Indonesia has been working hard to fulfill that commitment to achieve its zero emission target by 2060, not just rhetoric. Of course, it can't work alone.

01
November

 

Christmas and New Year's holidays are still less than two months away. However, the Indonesian government has begun to urge people, especially those living in the cities, not to travel to their hometowns as customary at the end of this year. This is to prevent a spike in Covid-19 cases after the 2021 Christmas and 2022 New Year holidays. The government also controls community mobility and tightens health protocols.

Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture, Muhadjir Effendy stated last week that the collective leave which is usually applied on days close to official holidays, such as Christmas, New Year or Eid al-Fitr this time will be abolished, including the day before Christmas, which is Friday, December 24, 2021. The abolition of collective leave is to limit the mobility of people, which usually increases towards the year-end holidays. The goal is to reduce the potential for the spread of Covid-19. Moreover, a number of epidemiologists have warned about the possibility of a third wave of Covid-19 attacks.

To prevent an increase in positive cases of Covid-19, the Ministry of Transportation through the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, issued the latest rules regarding the requirements for boarding a plane. For flights on Java-Bali, passengers are required to show a vaccine card (minimum first dose) and negative Covid-19 information via RT-PCR (maximum sample 3x24 hours), before departure. Meanwhile, outside Java, the requirements are also the same.

Some regional governments even enforce an odd-even system policy for private-vehicle numbers to limit people's movement.

The United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has indeed lowered the level of Covid-19 for Indonesia. After being judged to have succeeded in carrying out good Covid-19 control, Indonesia was given a Level 1 or "low for Covid-19 transmission". However, this does not mean that Indonesia is completely free from the pandemic. Neither the government nor the public should be careless about the transmission of the virus. Experience shows that Indonesia always experienced an increase in the number of Covid-19 spreads at the end of the long holiday period. The August 2020 holiday season, for example, resulted in an increase in cases of up to 119% and the weekly death rate to 57%. Meanwhile, in May-June 2021, Indonesia endured the Covid-19 wave due to a combination of delta variant factors and neglected health protocols during the long Eid al-Fitr holiday.

Currently, a number of countries, including the UK and Singapore, are experiencing an increase in daily cases.

So, it is very natural for the Indonesian government to issue various policies to prevent any potential return of the Covid-19 storm, especially ahead of the long Christmas 2021 and 2022 New Year holidays.

29
October

 

Military tensions between China and Taiwan are at their worst since 40 years ago. This condition comes after China sent a record number of military jets to Taiwan's air defense zone for four consecutive days.

AFP in its report on Thursday, October 28, 2021, said that relations between Beijing and Taipei continued to heat up, especially after Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen took office.

Regarding the escalation of tension in Taiwan-China relations and the attention of foreign countries towards Taiwan, it can actually be seen from the geographical position of the country.

The island of Taiwan, which is not far from mainland China, has become a strategic point in terms of Indo-Pacific geopolitics. For China, reunification is an ideal choice because by unifying Taiwan, Beijing will have a strategic point in the Pacific for its defense.

As for the United States, as well as Japan, the existence and independence of Taiwan is important. At least to reduce China's power related to the security and geopolitical strategy of the Pacific region.

The threat of armed conflict between China and Taiwan will always exist. This is in line with the increasing tension in relations related to the sovereignty of the two countries. However, although the situation seems often alarming, military experts say, China is not yet ready to launch a military campaign to occupy Taiwan.

One consideration is the response of the United States, which has been known to support Taiwan from the start. Although military planners in Beijing feel that Chinese troops have many advantages, it is not yet known how the United States will react if there really is an open armed conflict, especially regarding military assistance to Taiwan. In addition, any Chinese military intervention to force Taiwan's unification with the mainland could potentially pose its own risks related to China's broader economy and foreign policy.