As COVID-19 escalates in Indonesia, responses are fractured and fractious
Melbourne Asia Review
Just over six months after the first COVID-19 case was officially confirmed in Indonesia, it is clear that it has failed to control the pandemic. As of early October 2020, infection numbers have yet to peak and continue to rise at more than 4,000 new cases per day. Testing rates, at 12,272 tests per million of population, are amongst the lowest in the world; and positivity rates, of more than 19 percent, are amongst the highest. The national government's pandemic response has been characterised
... been characterised by an overall rejection of coordinated large scale movement restrictions and apathy towards the responsive capacity of public health services. Globally, assessments of pandemic responses have largely focused on bureaucratic capacity and competency, trust in government, and the quality of leadership. However, in Indonesia, the national government's inaction sits in stark contrast to sub-national governments-at the provincial, district, and municipal levels-who responded relatively quickly, initiating large-scale movement restrictions and social safety nets. Alongside this, the earliest frontline responses to the social, economic, and health crises caused by the pandemic, came from independent community initiatives. At different levels of governance there has been considerable variance in responses (including conflicts) between the national and sub-national governments, and also between different sub-national governments. These observations expose tensions and rivalries at different levels of governance that mainstream pandemic analyses do not examine.