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Jakarta Post

Public decries 'elite privilege' as lawmakers, relatives get tested first for COVID-19

  • Ghina Ghaliya
    Ghina Ghaliya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, March 23, 2020   /   03:37 pm
Public decries 'elite privilege' as lawmakers, relatives get tested first for COVID-19 Members of the House of Representatives sit in session. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

Members of the House of Representatives and their families are to be tested first for COVID-19, with or without symptoms, triggering an outpouring of anger on social media.

House secretary-general Indra Iskandar told reporters on Monday that all 575 lawmakers and their immediate families - as well as their domestic workers and chauffeurs - would be tested for the virus using the rapid test kits that are expected to arrive on Tuesday.

"Every House member wants to ensure that they and their families are clear [of the virus] as it has spread everywhere, including government circles," he said.

Indra estimated that as many as 2,000 people would be tested on Thursday or Friday at the House's housing complexes in Kalibata and Ulujami. 

“The test kit is funded by donations from several House members and leaders. Our doctors and paramedics will conduct the tests," he said.

The public has criticized the plan, noting that there are still many sick people across the country struggling to get tested.

A Twitter user and cardiologist @berlianidris, called for the House to cancel the plan, saying there are many doctors who have been treating COVID-19 patients and still need to be tested because they have no symptoms and test kits were limited.

"It's really mean if those without symptoms are being tested just because they are members of the elite," he said.

"What a sickening privilege," wrote Twitter user @efenerr.

"So, again, the political elites take precedence over the people," wrote @funkybukkyo.

As of Monday morning, Indonesia had 514 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 48 deaths.