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04
August

 

Closing to  the complete withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, China began to exert influence in Afghanistan. Among other things, by receiving a visit from a Taliban delegation led by one of its founders, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, to meet with high-ranking Chinese officials, last week. The official website of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs posts a photo of Foreign Minister Wang Yi with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and his delegation in Tianjin before starting the talk. Meanwhile, the conflict between the Afghan government military and the Taliban was still ongoing. The Taliban continues to spread its wings, especially in northern Afghanistan. On the other hand, the government forces, apart from defending themselves, also retaliated against attacks.

The diplomatic narrative emerged from a meeting between the Taliban leadership and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who stated that his government was adhering to a policy of not interfering in Afghanistan's internal affairs. The Taliban said via twitter that Afghanistan would not be a hotbed for terrorists.

The United States has responded to the Taliban meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on the sidelines of his visit to India, Thursday, July 29, stated that China's involvement could be a good thing, if Beijing could seek a peace resolution.

Meanwhile, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani responded to the visit of Taliban to China. In essence, he doubts the Taliban's statements or narratives regarding a political solution in Afghanistan.

Whatever the implications, the Taliban's visit to China has happened. The friendly reception by Foreign Minister Wang Yi could at least imply that the Taliban were politically recognized by China. It seems that China sees the strategic position of the Taliban after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. China recognizes that the factor of the Uyghur Muslim minority in its country is a sensitive matter, especially for countries with Muslim majority populations. Including Afghanistan, especially the Taliban, who are known as hard-line Muslims. In addition, China does have a special interest in Afghanistan because parts of the territory of the two countries are bordering each other.

03
August

 

The bronze medal gained by the men's singles badminton player, Anthony Sinisuka Ginting on Monday (2/8) completed the task of the Indonesian contingent at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Previously, the Indonesian people also enthusiastically welcomed the gold medal from the badminton branch by the women's doubles: Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu. Thus, the Indonesian contingent has won 1 gold medal from Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu in women's doubles badminton, 1 silver medal from Eko Yuli Irawan in weightlifting, and 3 bronzes from Windy Cantika Aisah, Rahmat Erwin Abdullah in weightlifting and Anthony Sinisuka Ginting in the men's singles badminton. On Monday (2/8), the Indonesian contingent ended their duties at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In regard to this achievement, the Indonesian team can be said to be successful at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, considering that only 8 sports were participated in by Indonesia in the global competition. The Indonesian nation should be grateful to all the athletes who have competed in this international match. It seems that the Covid-19 pandemic, which has haunted Indonesia for about a year and a half, has not reduced the determination and enthusiasm of Indonesian athletes and officials to participate in the Olympics.

It is conceivable how the Indonesian athletes did prepare for the Olympics with all the limited space for selection, training and even financial limitations. Because the fight against the pandemic has drained the country's resources.

The Indonesian people should also be grateful to government administrators who did not put aside Indonesia's participation in the Olympics by reason of focusing on addressing the pandemic. Full moral and material support was given to the athletes and officials. Thus, they could show proud achievements.

Now, the people of Indonesia are waiting for the 20th National Sports Week -PON, which will be held in Papua next October. The pandemic may not completely shake off in the month. The condition of human resources and the economy is also certainly not fully recovered. However, the same support is expected from government administrators so that the national sporting event can also run smoothly. Indonesia can learn from the Tokyo Olympics how to organize a sport event with super-strict health protocols. Thus, all participants of the 20th PON can compete with a sense of security and show their best quality.

02
August

 

The Indonesian government is accelerating a vaccination program to address the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic and reduce the severity of the Covid-19 outbreak. However, the distribution of vaccination programs in a number of regions in Indonesia faces problems. In fact, vaccination is one of the major keys in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. Based on experience in a number of countries, the higher the ratio of the population gets vaccinated, the lower the fatality rate is.

The government has also intensified the vaccination program to achieve the target of at least 70% of the total population in order to create herd immunity.

Based on data from the Ministry of Health (Kemenkes), which was released on the Kemenkes.go.id on Thursday (29/7), only 44.6 million people have been vaccinated. This number is equivalent to 16.5% of Indonesia's total population of 270.2 million people in 2020. Meanwhile, 17.9 million people have received the second vaccination or 6.6% of the population.

Logistics problem is also another factor of inequality, because not all Public Health Centers or Puskesmas throughout Indonesia have logistics that support the vaccination program. The limited number of vaccinators is also the reason why the vaccination coverage in Indonesia is uneven. Until now, the Ministry of Health has not specifically released data on the number of corona vaccinators in all provinces. However, the distribution of the number of vaccinators can be estimated from the current data on health workers, considering that health workers are the main profession recruited to carry out the vaccination program.

Based on the Ministry of Health's release, Spokesperson for Vaccination of the Ministry of Health, Siti Nadia Tarmizi admitted that the supply of vaccines was limited, only 30 percent or 151.9 million of the total need for around 462 million doses and there were still various obstacles, especially related to vaccine distribution. Thus, all stakeholders need to join hands and work hard to overcome this.

Hopefully, all of the problems, ranging from vaccine distribution and logistical readiness, especially the limited number of vaccinators, must be addressed and minimized to ensure that corona vaccination is evenly distributed throughout Indonesia. In addition, the determination of the priority scale for regions that receive vaccines, namely in areas with a high number of transmission cases can be resolved. Thus, the herd immunity target set by the government can be achieved immediately.

30
July

 

Relations between South Korea and North Korea are slowly recovering. As a first step, both countries reopened all direct lines of communication or hotlines  last Tuesday (27/7).  The relations deteriorated last year after the failed meeting of North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump, facilitated by South Korean President Moon Jae-in.  However, since last April, President Moon Jae-in and Leader Kim Jong-un have continued to seek improvement by exchanging letters.

Reuters as quoted from Kompas on Thursday (29/7) reported, Spokesperson for the Presidential Palace of South Korea, Park Soo-hyun in a press statement explained that from the exchange of letters, both leaders agreed to reopen direct lines of communication between the two countries. He also remarked that the opening of this line of communication is the first step in the process of repairing relationships, regenerating mutual trust and reconciliation.

For both countries, this communication line is actually an important tool to prevent misunderstandings, especially along the heavily guarded joint border area of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). This direct line of communication is also used to arrange diplomatic meetings, coordinate sea and air traffic, facilitate humanitarian discussions, minimize the impact of natural disasters and establish cooperation in the economic field. South Korean President Moon Jae-in also said that the restoration of communication lines with North Korea could open up opportunities for the resumption of talks between North Korea and the United States regarding North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

Hopefully, the opening of direct lines of communication between the two countries this time will not break up as before. Thus, it can really begin to restore relations and reconciliation efforts between the two Koreas. As a result, the reconciliation mission to unite two Koreas comes to be realized.

29
July

 

Cooperatives in general have given a positive contribution to Indonesian economy. Based on Cooperatives and MSMEs Ministry's data as per December 2020, 127,124 active cooperative units in Indonesia contributed 5.2 percent of the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) and absorbed 0.45 percent of total national workforce. 


In Indonesian's five-year economic development plan, the government targets 5.5% national GDP contribution from the cooperatives and 500 modern cooperatives units development by the end of 2024.

The Covid-19 pandemic becomes a great challenge to achieve the 5.5% GDP contribution target. Minister of Cooperatives and MSMEs, Teten Masduki said that 1,785 units of cooperatives were affected by the pandemic. He further mentioned that the main issues faced by cooperatives amid the pandemic are capital (47%), sales decline (35%), and production decline (8%).

With those issues, cooperatives must be creative to make more sales online amid the pandemic. In addition, the cooperatives can stay productive and achieve the GDP contribution target. 

The Indonesian government, as stated by Coordinating Minister for Economy, Airlangga Hartarto on Wednesday (28/7), is encouraging cooperatives modernization to improve their quality in order to stay productive and be able to compete offline and online. With Good Cooperative Governance (GCG), the cooperatives will be able to improve their competitiveness values because of being adaptive towards changes in marketing and technology.

The government also needs to involve the millennials since they are very familiar with technology. This will help in accelerating the modern cooperatives’ growth, which are ready to compete nationally and internationally.

28
July

 

After a long feud, the United States is trying to improve relations with China through a diplomatic approach. At least, that's what the latest developments in Washington-Beijing relations show.

Efforts to overcome the disharmony of relations between the two countries should be marked by the visit of the United States Deputy Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman to China this weekend.

Recently, there has been an escalation of tensions between Washington and Beijing regarding various sensitive issues. The United States, for example, has again questioned the Chinese government's human rights violations against the Uygur Muslim minority in Xinjiang. The United States Senate has even decided to ban imports from Xinjiang because there are suspicions that the Chinese government has carried out forced labor for Uygur Muslims.

The visit of Wendy Sherman, came from  an agreement with China on July 21, 2021 on the basis of consideration of the need for stability in relations between the two countries. The Chinese government, as said by its foreign ministry  spokesman, Zhao Lijian, welcomed the visit and talks as a forum for consultation on various issues. However, Beijing has indicated it will resolutely refuse to discuss its internal affairs, particularly on policies in Xinjiang and principles regarding Taiwan.

On Monday (26/7) China's Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng urged the United States to stop cursing and demonizing China. Xie made this remark during talks with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who is on a visit to the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin from July 25 to 26. Xie even said, relations between the two countries are at an impasse and face serious difficulties, basically because the US considers China a “shadow enemy.” (https://www.tribunnews.com International Asia)

Based on that statement, it can be estimated that the restoration of good relations between China and the United States will still require time and further approaches. However, tensions and conflicts should indeed be addressed. This is important because the feud of two big countries that have an impact on geopolitics and the world economy, can have an impact on other countries.

27
July


The Indonesian government keeps streuggling to fulfill the increasing need for Covid-19 therapeutic drugs along with the increase in Covid-19 cases occurring in Indonesia. As quoted from the setkab.go.id page, in a virtual press conference on Monday afternoon (26/7), Minister of Health, Budi Gunadi Sadikin said that currently, there are three types of therapeutic drugs that cannot be produced domestically. They are  Remdesivir, Actemra, and Gammaraas. He added that these three types of drugs around the world are also in short supply.

According to Minister Budi Gunadi, at the end of July, 150 thousand vials of Remdesivir will arrive, then 1.2 million will arrive next month. Then for Actemra, a thousand vials are planned to arrive this month. Minister of Health Budi Gunadi added that in August, the government will import 138,000 from several countries. To obtain the drugs, the Indonesian government must find them to all corners of the world. As for Gammaraas, the Ministry of Health will import 26 thousand this July and 27 thousand in August.

The scarcity of therapeutic drugs has indeed been a complaint of the families of Covid-19 patients in Indonesia recently. This drug is hard to find in the market, if any, the price is doubled. Many people convey chain messages about the search for these therapeutic drugs. They raise funds to buy, because the therapeutic drugs are not covered by the Indonesian government. The families of Covid-19 patients will certainly try to provide the best for sick families, even though they have to spend a lot of money. Unfortunately, the scarcity of therapeutic drugs is not due to the treatment of patients, but because there are people who want to buy them to be kept as reserves.

This therapeutic drug procurement system has to be managed well. Moreover, these drugs can only be given in hospitals, as stated by Minister of Health Budi Gunadi. He explained that Gammaraas, Actemra and Remdesivir have to be injected and could only be done in hospitals. Perhaps, the distribution of this Covid-19 therapeutic drug does not need to be spread to many parties. It’s enough in the hospitals. Thus, there is no opportunity for people who want to buy as reserves.

The hope is that there are no Indonesian people anymore who have to take the therapeutic drugs. This means that no Indonesian people are exposed to the Covid-19 virus in all its variants. Of course, this is not a grandiose hope, if all Indonesian people protect themselves and loved ones by wearing masks, diligently washing hands, maintaining distance, avoiding crowds and reducing mobility. It is no less important to vaccinate. Because protecting oneself from exposure to the Covid-19 virus means protecting many people.

26
July

 

President Joko Widodo appreciated the initiative of private entrepreneurs to create a Gotong Royong or Mutual Cooperation Oxygen House to accommodate patients infected with the Coronavirus. The facility is expected to reduce pressure on hospitals, especially in a number of provinces with high bed occupancy rates.

When directly inspecting the first Gotong Royong Oxygen House located in Pulo Gadung area, East Jakarta, last Saturday (24/7), President Joko Widodo stated that the construction of the Oxygen House which can accommodate 500 patients will be 100 percent completed in early August 2021. On this occasion, he hopes that similar initiatives can be carried out not only in Jakarta, but also in other areas. According to President Joko Widodo, the addition of this capacity will reduce the hospital bed occupancy rate.

The Gotong Royong Oxygen House itself is a semi-permanent health facility specifically equipped with oxygen supply devices and treatment beds for Covid-19 patients with moderate symptoms. The facility was established adjacent to the oxygen plant so as to ensure the availability of oxygen with direct access via a pipe from the oxygen plant to The Gotong Royong Oxygen House.

The presence of the oxygen house is expected to help Covid-19 patients who need access to medical oxygen. While hospitals can be used for those who require more intensive care,

The Gotong Royong Oxygen House does require comprehensive cooperation among all parties, both the government and the private sector. This is in order to provide health facilities to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, which is currently still having a high rate of spread. It is hoped that the construction of The Gotong Royong Oxygen House in Jakarta will be followed by similar steps, especially in areas where the positive number of Covid-19 infections is still high.

In addition, public awareness to continue to adhere to strict health protocols is also very necessary to contain the spread of Covid-19 in Indonesia. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure.

23
July

 

 

The Olympic Games are a four-year international sporting event that competes in sports in both summer and winter. Thousands of athletes from various countries compete in various sporting events here. The Olympics is the largest and most prominent sporting competition in the world, with more than 200 countries participating.

In its history, the Summer Olympics has been canceled twice, namely, because of the first world war in 1916 and the second world war in 1940-1944. In 2020, the Tokyo Olympics had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and can only be held in 2021.

From time to time, the Olympics has always been colored by the bustle of participants from all over the world, various record-breaking, star-studded and thousands of enthusiastic spectators who come to witness the prestigious event.

But it's different this year. At the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the Opening Ceremony is planned to be held at the Olympic Stadium on Friday July 23, 2021 at 8 p.m.  Tokyo time, and without spectators. Even though it is being  held in 2021, this Olympics is still referred to as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and runs from July 23 to August 8, 2021.

The theme this time  is, "United by Emotion". This has to do with the fact that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is being  held amid the coronavirus pandemic. It is hoped that this sports event can become a unifying medium for the world to come together and feel joy amid the difficult situation facing the coronavirus pandemic.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics President, Hashimoto Seiko was quoted by Antara News Agency as saying that the opening ceremony would take place solemnly, despite concerns over the emergence of the Covid-19 delta variant. So far, the organizers along with the World Health Organization –WHO have designed and introduced a number of measures to reduce the risk of Covid-19 and ensured that the Olympics remains safe.

There are parallels in the Olympic spirit in the Japanese government in particular and people around the world are working together to defeat the virus.

May the Olympics be a moment that unites the world, and ignites the solidarity and determination needed to end the pandemic together. In line with the Olympic torch as a symbol of hope that traverses the planet, hopefully, the ray of hope from Japan, which is often called the land of the rising sun, is able to illuminate a new dawn for a healthier, safer, and fairer world.

22
July

 

Indonesian government officially extended the emergency restrictions (PPKM Darurat) until July 25 and will reopen gradually on July 26. The decision was made based on the unconducive situation because of the spike in Covid-19 infection. Many business sectors are affected by the restriction extension, especially the industry as one of the national economy drivers. The government’s policy to overcome the impact is by providing funds for the workers.

In a virtual press conference on Wednesday (21/7), after discussing the latest situation with Minister of Manpower -Ida Fauziyah, Minister of  Finance, Sri Mulyani Indrawati will increase the fund up to Rp10 trillion for social security of 8.8 million workers affected by the emergency restrictions. The Rp10 trillion will be allocated for wage subsidy (BSU) up to Rp8.8 trillion and additional funds for Pre-Employment Cards up to Rp1.2 trillion.

The wage subsidy for the workers targets the laid-off workers or those whose working hours are cut. Meanwhile, the pre-employment card is for terminated workers. So with the fund, the government hopes that the employers will not need to fire their workers.

Essentially, many saw the restrictions extension as dilemmatic. On one hand, the economy must keep moving. On the other hand, Covid-19 and its Delta variant still haunt the people. Still, this difficult decision must be made. Wishfully, the fund for the workers can sustain the economy. 

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