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Jakarta Post

PKS, PAN, Dems oppose prioritizing lawmakers for COVID-19 tests

  • Ghina Ghaliya
    Ghina Ghaliya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, March 24, 2020   /   06:11 pm
PKS, PAN, Dems oppose prioritizing lawmakers for COVID-19 tests A Health official is showing blood samples during the health examination of members of the Bogor City DPRD in the multipurpose room, Bogor City DPRD Building, West Java, on Thursday (3/19/2020). The health examination of the members of the Bogor City DPRD along with journalists covering blood pressure, body temperature and blood checks was an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Bogor City. (Antara/Arif Firmansyah)

Three parties outside the government coalition, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Democratic Party are opposing the plan for members of the House of Representatives and their families to be prioritized for COVID-19 tests.

The three have demanded the House cancel the plan, saying that the free tests that are funded by donations from House leaders and members, should be given to citizens who cannot afford them and medical workers who are working every day in hospitals.

The PKS is the first party to reject the plan since it was announced on Monday by House secretary-general Indra Iskandar. As many as 2,000 people are due to be tested on Thursday or Friday at the House's housing complexes in Kalibata and Ulujami in Jakarta.

The plan has also been widely criticized by the public as there are still many sick people across the country struggling to get tested. Thousands of people have signed online petitions on Change.org, calling for the plan to be canceled.

"We recommend the House cancel a rapid test for lawmakers and their families this week. We are against the plan because there are many citizens and medical officials that have a more urgent need to be tested,” PKS spokesperson Pipin Sofian said in a written statement on Monday.

Read also: West Java to conduct COVID-19 rapid tests at three soccer stadiums

"It is better to show our empathy toward them. Give priority to those in need," Pipin added.

Dems faction chairman at the House Edhie “Ibas” Baskoro Yudhoyono said on Tuesday that lawmakers should show empathy and humanity toward people infected with the coronavirus and who were struggling to be tested.

"Put people first," Ibas said in a written statement on Tuesday.

PAN lawmaker Zainuddin Maliki voiced the same concern as Ibas, saying that amid this situation, all politicians must be wise in setting priorities, and lawmakers should not put themselves first.

"I was surprised to hear of the plan. How come lawmakers and their families come first? When it is clear that many medical workers and people are vulnerable to being infected. They are more important," Zainuddin said.

Read also: With low test rates, COVID-19 spreads in shadows

He said it would be best for the House to cancel the plan, saying there must be many lawmakers who also disagreed with it.

"I'm sure they are feeling bad. This is the House secretariat policy, not ours," he said, adding that the lawmakers should focus on handling the coronavirus outbreak.

"If you want to do a test, please do it individually. Not collectively.”