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14
December

 

President Joko Widodo received two honorary visits: the courtesy visit of the U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony J. Blinken and the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, Nikolay P. Patrushev at the State Palace in Jakarta, Monday (13/12). During the meeting, President Joko Widodo pointed out Indonesia's priorities in the G20 presidency.

Quoting presidentri.go.id, Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Retno Marsudi in her statement after accompanying President Joko Widodo revealed that during the meeting, Indonesia hopes that the United States can become one of its partners in the economic sector, including in the investment. She added that Indonesia also hopes to become a part of the global supply chain for the health sector.

Meanwhile, in a meeting with the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, President Joko Widodo said that in 2023, Indonesia will chair ASEAN.Therefore, he hopes for cooperation with Russia as long as Indonesia is the chairman of ASEAN.

Minister Retno Marsudi further pointed out that the United States and Russia are two of Indonesia's good partners. At the end of her statement, Minister Retno Marsudi emphasized that Indonesia will continue to develop strategic trust with all countries and all Indonesian partners.

The spirit of strategic trust has been kept being prioritized by President Joko Widodo. In international meetings, such as the November 2020 APEC Summit, the 4th ASEAN-Russia Summit and the 24th ASEAN-Japan Summit at the end of October 2021, President Joko Widodo often emphasized the importance of the strategic trust.

As remarked by Minister Retno Marsudi, this strategic trust is also needed to build a peaceful, stable, and prosperous world. The visit of high-ranking officials from the world's two superpowers that are also members of the G20: the United States and Russia at the end of 2021, is an important note for Indonesia. Indonesia will keep strengthening the strategic trust with all countries and partners. This proves that Indonesia is strongly committed to contributing and creating a peaceful, stable and prosperous world.

15
December

 

The United States is trying to forge better relations with countries in the Southeast Asian Region. Diplomatic efforts were made through the working visit of the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. The visit, which was the first time since Joe Biden formed his cabinet, was certainly not without purpose.

On Monday, December 13, 2021, Anthony Blinken officially met and held talks with President Joko Widodo at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta. The next day, Tuesday, December 14, 2021, the US Secretary of State delivered his speech at the University of Indonesia, which is a leading university in Jakarta. Anthony Blinken said that his working visit to Southeast Asia was intended to strengthen cooperation and partnerships to maintain the international rules-based order.

Although he did not explicitly mention it, Blinken's statement is very likely intended to allude to the steps taken by China both in Southeast Asia and in the South China Sea Region.

In a speech in front of the University of Indonesia academic community, the US Secretary of State reiterated his government's determination not to recognize China's claims to parts of the South China Sea.

For China and the United States, the South China Sea is a strategic area, both geopolitically, especially for the Indo-Pacific Region, as well as economically. China views the South China Sea in terms of the strategy of reviving its defense strategy, and the Silk Road through the sea. The United States views the strategic position of the marine area from a defense perspective as well as the position of international trade routes.

Both China and the United States, therefore, are trying to exert their influence through countries that have an interest and still have territorial claims in the waters of the South China Sea.

Regarding the attitude of Southeast Asian countries to the struggle for influence of the two big countries, namely China and the United States, of course it will depend on the foreign policy of each country, especially those who have interests in the South China Sea. It is very possible, with regard to the interests of China and the United States, whether in terms of defense, security or economics, in the future there will still be escalation or an increase in tension in the South China Sea area.

For Indonesia in particular, the attitude and policy of anticipating this, of course, refers to the national interest and territorial sovereignty, as well as the free and active foreign policy that has been adhered to so far.

13
December


Indonesian Government has canceled the plan to implement Community Activity Restrictions level 3 during the upcoming Christmas and New Year 2022 holidays.

Even though it was canceled, the Government asked all levels of stakeholders not to be careless in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, including preventing the entry and spread of the new variant of Covi19, Omicron.

ANTARA News Agency reported that one the one hand, the Government has issued special rules during the Christmas and New Year holiday period through the Instruction of the Minister of Home Affairs regarding the prevention and control of Covid-19.

On the other hand, the government will also tighten health protocols, in collaboration with the police by directly monitoring the implementation of health protocols in tourism objects and public places, including the use of increasingly strengthened pedulilindungi applications.

Like it or not, this government policy must be supported. Because it is  made  solely for the benefit of the community so that it must be fulfilled and obeyed.

The community and all relevant stakeholders should be able to accept this policy. It is hoped that all will have the same frequency, especially in implementing the mobility restriction policy, which will be applied during the  holidays.

As President Joko Widodo hopes, to maintain the currently low level of Covid-19 cases in Indonesia, it is necessary to implement a tightening policy. This is done to prevent an increase in cases after the Christmas and New Year holiday period, as well as to prevent the entry of the new variant,  Omicron.

10
December

 

Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yair Lapid paid an official visit to Egypt Thursday 9 December 2021. Quoting the Israeli Foreign Ministry, AFP reported that one of the important talks on the agenda of the meeting was strengthening bilateral relations, especially in the security sector.

Minister Lapid's visit is a follow-up of Israel's foreign policy to strengthen Israel-Egypt relations for regional stability.

The meeting in the security sector has not brought about a concrete agreement, yet. Both Israel and Egypt need to formulate a strong strategy and find solutions to the emerging issues discussed at the meeting, particularly the issue of hostages and the bodies of Israelis  detained by the Hamas group in the Gaza Strip since Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

According to Minister Lapid, Israel has an economic recovery plan for Gaza. This is expected to end the frequent rocket attacks by Hamas against Israel. It seems that the issue of settlement construction carried out continouesly by Israelis in the Palestinian territories was not discussed at the meeting.

Egypt has indeed been Israel's main mediator with Hamas. Minister Lapid's visit may be an important step that is expected to consolidate stability and peace in the Middle East, and reach a permanent solution for the Palestinian struggle to become a fully sovereign state.

If Israel is seriously committed to restoring Gaza's economy, significant concrete steps are needed towards an era of security and prosperity as well as an expansion of the scope of strong cooperation in various fields. Egypt's role as a mediator in the Israel-Gaza conflict is highly awaited.

07
December

 

Ahead of the 2021 Christmas and 2022 New Year holidays, the Indonesian government is preparing to anticipate a spike in the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic due to increased community mobility. Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs as Chairperson of the Covid-19 Handling Committee and National Economic Recovery, Airlangga Hartarto in a press statement, Monday (6/12) said that the government would limit community activities during the 2021 Christmas and 2022 New Year (Nataru) holidays.

Airlangga further pointed out that the community activities in public spaces, such as restaurants and shopping centers are limited to 75 percent. Gathering activities for various activities are limited to a maximum of 50 people. Besides, vacation activities or traveling during the Nataru holiday period are allowed for those who have been vaccinated. People who have not been vaccinated are not allowed to travel. This was stated by Airlangga Hartarto in a press conference related to the Virtual Evaluation of the Implementation of Community Activity Restrictions (PPKM). He also stated that Minister of Home Affairs, Tito Karnavian will immediately issue a Minister of Home Affairs Instruction, specifically for Nataru's holidays. The rules will follow the level adjusted to the World Health Organization -WHO. In a limited meeting, Monday (6/12), President Joko Widodo also ordered his aides to prepare booster vaccines early next year.

The Indonesian people should be grateful for the active cases of Covid-19 which have continued to decline in recent weeks. The latest data on Monday afternoon recorded that 130 cases were confirmed with 9 deaths. This number shows that although Covid-19 cases continue to decline, the pandemic does not shake off, yet. Vigilance must remain, especially with the spread of the Omicron variant which has spread to 45 countries. With the development of Covid-19 cases that continues to improve, the Indonesian people must not be careless ahead of the Nataru holidays.

The government has been working hard to control the pandemic. Thereby, the community should support the government's hard work by complying with the regulations to be issued. The restrictions that apply are only temporary. The 6M-health protocol is very important to follow during holidays. The 6M health protocol in question is wearing a mask, washing hands with soap through running water, maintaining distance, staying away from crowds, reducing mobility and avoiding eating together.

06
December

 

Mount Semeru, also known as Mahameru, erupted again on Saturday afternoon (4/12) with a plume of ash rising upwards. The highest mountain on the Java Island and located in the Lumajang area, East Java has actually erupted with incandescent lava and roaring sounds since Friday afternoon (3/12).

According to data from the National Disaster Management Agency, as of Sunday morning (5/12), there were 14 casualties and dozens of others suffered burnt as a result of this eruption.

What happened to Mount Semeru has received serious and immediate attention from the Indonesian government. Vice President, Ma'ruf Amin in his press statement during a working visit in Bali, Sunday (5/12) issued a number of instructions to ministries/agencies related to the eruption of Mount Semeru. He asked the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Health, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, and the East Java Provincial Government to immediately take action. He also asked Minister of Social Affairs, Tri Rismaharini to provide assistance. To the Minister of Health, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, the Vice President requested that assistance to the victims be carried out by preparing medical treatment. The victims who experience the impact of the eruption are expected to be immediately treated by medical personnel. Meanwhile, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency was asked to immediately provide shelter for the affected people, as well as to search for victims. The Governor of East Java and all regional heads and ranks of the Regional Leadership Communication Forum in the East Java region, were also asked to move quickly to provide assistance.

In addition, Vice President Ma'ruf Amin also requested that the disaster early warning system always work well in order to minimize casualties. According to the Vice President, early warnings are not only for mountain eruptions, but also for other disasters, such as floods and landslides. In addition, early warning must also be followed by disaster prevention efforts.

Indonesia is known to be prone to natural disasters, both tectonic and geological, such as earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions, as well as hydrometeorology, including floods and droughts. To minimize the impact of disasters, the increase in the number of early warning tools in places that have the potential for disasters must continue to be intensified. In addition, public knowledge about disasters, especially how to deal with disasters, needs to be improved. If not, the impact of the ordeal, that befell Indonesia towards the end of 2021, could happen again.

03
December

 

Namibia regrets the decision of a number of countries to impose travel bans on southern Africa,  following the discovery of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus. Namibia, one of the countries in southern Africa, considers the move unacceptable and discriminatory.

The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism of Namibia on Thursday 2 November 2021, as reported by the Xinhua News Agency, expressed its dissatisfaction with the travel ban decision, which was  taken by a number of countries in Europe, as well as in Asia. According to him, the ban goes against the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) and is a severe blow to the tourism industry. This is because many people depend on this sector for their livelihoods.

Previously, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said WHO only asked and advised anyone who felt unwell, aged 60 years and over, and had not been vaccinated,  against traveling, Not closing the borders of countries in Africa, which actually exacerbates economic inequality.

WHO appealed,  to prevent serious illness, citizens should vaccinate. Because the vaccine is believed to still be effective to fend off Covid-19.

The travel ban step that has been taken by dozens of countries around the world to prevent Omicron from entering, may indeed be a decision that must be taken. Especially when it is felt very worrying and life-threatening. But it takes a long thought to make a decision, when there are other alternatives to fight Covid-19.

The option provided by WHO is a more improved method of testing travelers. In addition, more vigorous vaccination for every citizen. WHO assesses, Omicron appears because the level of Covid-19 vaccination in African countries is still low. But they are also not to blame, because the low vaccination rate is related to various factors including resources. They shouldn’t  be punished. Instead, they deserve to be appreciated,  for being quick to identify and share information about Omicron. An important discovery for science and world health.

The world needs to take stricter and more precise steps after the appearance of this Omicron. Travel bans are not the only answer to the problems that arise. Health protocols must still be put forward. For example, the use of masks is mandatory when shopping or when using public transportation and facilities. Likewise with washing hands and avoiding crowds. The mandatory vaccine program and the provision of additional vaccines must also be realized immediately in order to achieve the WHO target. Which is,  each country must vaccinate at least 40 percent of its population. It is estimated that, by the end of this year, the world will need an additional 550 million doses of vaccine. Something to think about together, especially for some poor countries like the ones in Africa.

30
November

 

The Constitutional Court -MK has ruled that Law No.11/2020 on Job Creation or better known as the Job Creation Law is conditionally unconstitutional. The MK also officially ordered the House of Representatives -DPR and the Government to revise the law within 2 years.

What is the government's response to the Constitutional Court's verdict which is final and binding? President Joko Widodo in a press statement at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, Monday (29/11) stated that as part of a democratic country based on law, the government will respect and immediately implement the Constitutional Court's verdict.

However, President Joko Widodo assured both domestic and foreign investors that investment will continue to run safely. In his view, he believes that nothing has been canceled by the MK regarding the Job Creation Act. President Joko Widodo also emphasized that with the Constitutional Court stating that the Job Creation Law is still in effect, all the material and substance in the Job Creation Law and the rules will remain in full force and effect without any article being canceled or declared invalid. President Joko Widodo also expressed the government's commitment and his commitment that the agenda of structural reform, deregulation and de-bureaucratization will continue to be implemented.

For investors, especially foreign ones, President Joko Widodo's commitment is important. For the business world, the most important thing is legal certainty in running their business in Indonesia. Now, the government and the DPR must immediately work hard to revise the Job Creation Law so that it is constitutional. Meanwhile, the government still has to maintain its commitment to investors. If not, the government will lose not only trust, but also probability to be sued internationally.

Hopefully, the government and the DPR can immediately revise the Job Creation Law without incurring loss for domestic and foreign investors. Ease of doing business is an absolute requirement for a country to be able to attract as much investment as possible. More investment means more jobs are available and the economy continues to grow. The ultimate goal of investment should be towards the welfare of the people.

29
November


The Indonesian government has issued a quick response in the face of the new variant of Covid-19, Omicron which is now spreading in various parts of the world.

Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan said at an online press conference in Jakarta on Sunday (28/11) that the variant contains 50 mutations that affect the speed of transmission and its ability to evade antibodies. With so many mutations, World Health Organization -WHO has upgraded the status of the variant to a variant of concern.

Citing the ANTARA news agency, to date, 13 countries have announced the presence of the Omicron variant which was initially detected in South Africa and Botswana. Omicron is also  found  in Germany, Belgium, England, Israel, Australia and Hong Kong.

The Indonesian government immediately implemented the policy that took effect as soon as it was announced namely, firstly by prohibiting entry of foreigners who have a history of traveling for 14 days to countries, such as South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Eswatini, Malawi, Angola, Zambia and Hong Kong. Second, Indonesian citizens who return to Indonesia and have a travel history from the countries in the first point will be quarantined for 14 days. Third, the government will increase the quarantine time for foreigners and Indonesian citizens traveling from abroad outside the eleven countries listed, to 7 days from the previous 3 days. Finally, this quarantine policy is enforced starting Monday morning (29/11).

The Government of Indonesia's quick response needs to be appreciated. Given the distribution of this Omicron variant, one cannot rule out the possibility that it has already spread to more countries.

Minister Luhut Panjaitan reminded that although Indonesia has handled the Covid-19 case to the maximum and the spread of cases has begun to be controlled, the public should not be careless. Control efforts must continue to be encouraged by continuing to implement and improve health protocols and accelerate vaccination.

Most importantly, people do not need to panic in response to this new variant, but remain vigilant. The government needs to increase cooperation with the international community in observing the development of the Omicron variant. Meanwhile, strict supervision of health protocols, such as washing hands, wearing masks, maintaining distance, staying away from crowds, and reducing mobility must continue.

26
November

 

A number of European countries reported new records related to additional Covid-19 cases on Wednesday (24/11). They are also preparing to carry out a limited lockdown and considering booster vaccine injections for residents aged 40 years and over. According to Channel News Asia, Germany, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Hungary all reported new highs in daily infections.

The spike came as winter hit Europe and people gathered indoors ahead of Christmas. Germany saw its highest new daily case addition earlier this November, touching nearly 34 thousand. The Czech Republic for the first time reported additional Covid-19 cases above 25,000, the Netherlands more than 23,700 while Hungary around 12,600.

Amid a surge in cases, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), recommends a booster vaccine for all adults. Priority is given to those over the age of 40. This will be a change from previous guidelines which suggested additional doses be considered, especially for those who are vulnerable, such as the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.

Then, the question is what about countries whose vaccine coverage has not been comprehensive and complete? The World Health Organization -WHO is actually more emphasizing on global vaccination than providing for a third vaccine alias booster. The fact is that there are many countries in the world whose citizens have not been vaccinated, even for the first dose. However, the spike in cases is due to  the development of new variants, and the attitude of people in developed countries, such as in Europe, who began to ignore health protocols, made booster administration necessary.

The booster is expected to enhance protection and prevent additional hospitalizations and deaths in December and January 2022.

Indonesia, with a population of more than 270 million people, has managed to overcome the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic in the middle of this year. The daily number of new cases on Thursday (25/11) was 372, far below Europe. However, Indonesia must not be careless because the spike could happen again at any time, especially related to the Christmas and New Year holidays. Therefore, the government plans to start giving booster vaccines early next year after a series of clinical trials.

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