When floods inundated several regions of Indonesia in early 2020, many people took it as granted that they faced an old enemy. Little did they know about the ultimate adversary of the year until the government admitted its existence in the country in March: COVID-19. Indonesia, it turned out, is not pandemic-proof.
Quarantines and movement restrictions were applied to keep the virus from spreading. These measures forced people to adapt to new ways of working, studying, praying, relaxing and interacting. Most of these activities are conducted virtually. The pandemic, however, got out of control. More people were infected, hospitals became overwhelmed, medical workers fell victim, burial space has become scarcer. More than 9 million workers lost their jobs, propelling Indonesia into a recession.
The trials and tribulations for Indonesia did not stop there, as the country suffered from a regression of democracy.
Those who are critical of the government have had gadgets and social media accounts hacked. Controversial laws such as those on the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and on job creation created turmoil in society, with police using a repressive approach to quell demonstrations. Repression also happened in Papua with the death of a priest, Yeremia Zanambani. Law enforcement authorities colluded with corrupt officials while regional elections made way for new political dynasties.