Indonesia open to accepting S'pore aid to fight virus: Jokowi

Indonesian President Joko Widodo did not elaborate what kind of help and the amount would be given. PHOTO: REUTERS

Indonesia is open to accepting aid from Singapore in its fight against the coronavirus, President Joko Widodo said yesterday.

Speaking at a press briefing at the State Palace in Bogor, Mr Joko said that he had spoken to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong about the assistance, but did not elaborate on what kind of help and the amount that would be given.

"I spoke with PM Lee last week on the phone. Singapore wants to help us with much aid," he said.

He added: "If they want to help us, we will accept it."

Indonesian Ambassador to Singapore Ngurah Swajaya told The Straits Times that he will soon meet representatives from related institutions in Singapore. "We do appreciate assistance offered by Singapore and we will follow up."

Mr Ngurah underlined that the assistance will be "in accordance to what Indonesia needs most", but provided no details.

Singapore had earlier donated safety equipment and ventilators to hospitals in Batam to support treatment of patients with Covid-19. Last Friday, Singapore Consul-General in Batam Mark Low handed over 50 personal protective equipment sets and two ventilators to Batam Mayor Muhammad Rudi as the city is tackling a rising number of infections.

The world's fourth most populous nation of more than 260 million people has 134 confirmed cases and recorded five deaths caused by Covid-19 as of yesterday.

Indonesia has stepped up efforts to combat the virus in the vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands by implementing social distancing measures, which include closing schools in the capital Jakarta for two weeks starting yesterday, while urging middle-and low-ranked civil servants to work from home.

Footage and images on social media showed a large number of people stranded at bus shelters, train stations and MRT stations across the capital after the Jakarta government began to limit public transport service yesterday.

At the press briefing, the President assured the public that the public transport service would be provided by the government, pointing out the necessity of reducing the queues and density of passengers.

Indonesian leaders, including the President and his wife, have undergone tests for the coronavirus after Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi was infected. The results are expected to be released in two to three days.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2020, with the headline Indonesia open to accepting S'pore aid to fight virus: Jokowi. Subscribe