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Editorial (784)

19
November

 

The Indian government reportedly temporarily closed five coal-fired power plants on Wednesday 17 November, after more and more children were hospitalized due to worsening air pollution in New Delhi, India.

According to a Reuters report, November 17, 2021, some hospitals in New Delhi also experienced a sharp increase in the number of children with respiratory complaints, raising concerns among parents and doctors about their health in the short and long term.

According to what is happening in the National Capital Region (NCR), the metropolitan area that includes the satellite cities of Delhi that have prolonged exposure to pollutants has tripled over the last seven to 10 days. This is certainly worrying.

Meanwhile, Europe also reported that air pollution caused the premature death of more than 300,000 Europeans in 2019. The European Environment Agency (EEA) says, three main pollutants: fine particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, ground-level ozone, are the main elements that worsen health.

WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge said that in anticipating the death toll that fell both in India and Europe, the choice is to invest, especially in heating systems, mobility, agriculture and industry which are cleaner for health. This will result in better productivity, and a better quality of life for everyone, especially for the most vulnerable. These investments save lives and also help accelerate progress towards carbon neutrality and strong biodiversity. Dr Kluge also remarked that prolonged exposure to pollutants, including lead, can lead to more severe complications.

Breathing clean air should be a fundamental human right. This condition is necessary for a healthy and productive society. The improvement in air quality over the next few years will serve as a guide to achieving the levels in the new WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines.

The world must also agree on consensus guidance at the 2021 COP26 summit to phase out coal-fired power plants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and direct increased funding to climate finance to reduce the health impacts of air pollution.

18
November

MSMEs Digitalization Needs Faster Acceleration

Digital economy is one of many saviors of the Indonesian economy amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Data from the Indonesian Trade Ministry showed that the national digital economy contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2020 was 4 percent. The government then projects that the digital economy contribution to GDP will soar up to 18 percent by 2030.

To reach that goal, the government has done some efforts, such as accelerating the digitalization of the Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

The Cooperatives and SME Ministry's data showed, as quoted from ekon.go.id, there are 64.2 million MSMEs in Indonesia. According to Indonesian E-Commerce Association's data, per September 2021, some 16.4 million or 25.6 percent of the 64.2 million MSME have joined digital platforms. This number has grown more than 100 percent since the Covid-19 pandemic began. Therefore, the Indonesian government targets some 30 million MSMEs to join digital platforms or market their product digitally by 2030. Gradually, the targets are 19 million MSMEs in 2022 and 24.5 million in 2023.

There are some benefits from the involvement of MSMEs in the digital economy. One of which is a greater financial profit through online sales increase. A study by Universitas Indonesia's Economy and People Study Body with an online platform - Tokopedia showed that the use of digitalization by MSMEs had increased the sales volume.

MSMEs digitalization is very promising, in increasing the profit. However, it requires perseverance in preparing and ensuring the MSMEs can be involved in the digitalization process.

The lack of understanding about digitalization and technology potential as a business development platform is one of the reasons why many MSMEs stay with the conventional style. Therefore, Minister of Cooperatives and MSMEs, Teten Masduki, as quoted from Antara (16/11) said that MSMEs’ understanding about digitalization must be comprehensive so they can grow and level up.

The MSMEs need guidance to have that comprehensive understanding. This is not only the government's responsibility, but also all related stakeholders. All the related stakeholders need to be actively involved in providing guidance for MSMEs to join the digital platform. A similar guidance is also necessary to make MSMEs keep innovating and staying in the digital ecosystem.

16
November

 

Since the Indonesian government has implemented restrictions on community activities –PPKM to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the community has been waiting for something at the beginning of the week. That is the announcement of the PPKM period. On Monday (15/11), the Government announced that the PPKM for Java and Bali is extended for the next two weeks. This means that community activities in districts and cities are still limited.

Take for example, Jakarta whose status is at level 1. At this level, 75 percent of non-essential jobs work from the office if they have been vaccinated. Shops or markets for daily needs, traditional markets in addition to daily needs, shopping centers, such as malls and plazas can be opened with a capacity of 75 percent. The mall has been allowed to close at 9 pm. Restaurants in closed spaces are allowed to open with a capacity of 75 percent of visitors. Meanwhile, 50 percent of teaching and learning activities are online and 50 percent face-to-face.

For more than one year and a half of being limited by the Covid-19 pandemic, it is very natural for many people to hope to be able to carry out their daily activities without restrictions. Moreover, knowing the number of Covid-19 cases is also decreasing.

During a press conference in evaluating the implementation of restrictions on online community activities, Monday (15/11), Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Airlangga Hartarto stated that the current Covid-19 reproduction number is below one. He also stated that the current Covid-19 case in Indonesia is 1 per 100,000 people. This is far below neighboring countries, such as Thailand with 89 cases and Singapore, which is still 454 per hundred thousand inhabitants. Minister Airlangga Hartarto also said that the overall decline compared to the peak of cases fell between 89% to 98%.

Although it has decreased significantly, fear of a spike in Covid-19 cases still remains. As quoted from the official website of presidentri.go.id, President Joko Widodo asked a number of regions to be closely monitored to avoid a spike in cases, especially before Christmas and New Year 2022. The president also directed strict supervision of schools that conduct face-to-face learning. So, if there are indications of cases, they can be handled immediately. 

Concerns also arise because people start slacking off wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and avoiding crowds. In addition, in some places, supervision and enforcement of discipline to comply with health protocols has also begun to loosen.

Of course, Indonesia hopes that it will not face the next wave of Covid-19 attacks. This hope must be shared by all Indonesian people. Expectations must be accompanied by strict adherence to health protocols. In line with the government's efforts to achieve the target, 78 percent of the population has received the first injection and 60 percent has fully got vaccinated by the end of the year. Although there may be people who are tired of complying with the health protocols, they should not be ignorant. Because apart from vaccination, compliance with the health protocols remains the key to preventing Covid-19.

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.

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