Coronavirus: Tighter restrictions to contain spread

Indonesia vows to take drastic steps against Covid-19 rule breakers

Government workers carry a mock-up of a coffin to warn people about the dangers of Covid-19 in Jakarta on Aug 28, 2020.
Government workers carry a mock-up of a coffin to warn people about the dangers of Covid-19 in Jakarta on Aug 28, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA • The Indonesian government will take drastic steps, including detaining those who refuse to practise safe distancing and wear masks, Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan has told The Sunday Times.

"We will deploy police and soldiers to enforce discipline. People must be penalised," he said by telephone.

The central government, as well as regional governments, have received flak for failing to get people to toe the line, resulting in a rapid surge of Covid-19 cases in the country.

Mr Luhut, who also sits on the supervisory board of the national Covid-19 task force, stressed that enforcing discipline among the public and punishing rule breakers were more effective than reimposing tighter restrictions.

He said: "The problem lies with the levying of penalties on people who breached health protocols."

"Even if you implement PSBB 10 times, it's useless without discipline," he added, referring to the local acronym for the restrictive measures.

Mr Luhut's remark seems to further indicate that the government of President Joko Widodo was not consulted when the Jakarta city administration decided to reimpose tough restrictions from tomorrow.

Mr Joko has hinted that he disagreed with the move, saying it should be "well and cautiously calculated". "We need to calculate how pulling the emergency brake will affect people's activities and other concerns. Jakarta is, after all, the country's capital," he was quoted as saying by The Jakarta Post on Friday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 13, 2020, with the headline 'Indonesia vows to take drastic steps against rule breakers'. Print Edition | Subscribe