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Jakarta Post

Experts disapprove of govt's COVID-19 handling, survey says

  • Alya Nurbaiti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, August 21, 2020   /   01:26 pm
Experts disapprove of govt's COVID-19 handling, survey says Commuters wearing face masks wait for their train at the Tanah Abang railway station in Central Jakarta on Tuesday. (AFP/ADEK BERRY )

Experts from various fields are dissatisfied with the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, urging it to prioritize health care in tackling the crisis, a recent survey reveals.

Pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia conducted the survey in July involving 304 opinion leaders in 20 cities, including academicians, business people, journalists and NGO activists.

Among them are Nadhlatul Ulama’s (NU) Mustofa “Gus Mus” Bisri, former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chairman Busyro Muqoddas and Persahabatan Hospital pulmonologist Erlina Burhan.

Indikator executive director Burhanuddin Muhtadi emphasized the importance of the survey, saying that experts tended to be more critical of the government’s efforts as they have better knowledge and understanding of relevant details that the general public may not be aware of.

Released on Thursday, the survey revealed that 36.8 percent of respondents approved of how the government is dealing with the pandemic — less than 51.5 percent of members of the public surveyed in May.

A majority of respondents, or 64.4 percent, were of the opinion that COVID-19 transmission in Indonesia was not under control.

Read also: Public trust in Jokowi’s COVID-19 response declines, survey finds

The reasons behind the government’s inefficient response, they said, were ineffective rapid antibody tests, insufficient funds to help those affected, poor identification of affected patients, slow distribution of aid, non-integrated regulations, inconsistency at implementing regulations and poor coordination among different sectors.

However, the level of trust toward President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto was not much different between the public and the surveyed opinion leaders.

The majority of the public (60.9 percent) and opinion leaders (57.6 percent) trusted Jokowi, according to the survey. Terawan, meanwhile, had the trust of 37.2 percent of surveyed opinion leaders and 38.9 percent of the public.

The survey also revealed that the majority of expert respondents (71.1 percent) believed health care should be the government’s number one priority in solving the crisis rather than the economy.

“This is in contrast with the measures taken by the government lately, which seem to focus on economic recovery, with 47.9 percent of the public supporting the approach,” Burhanuddin said.

Surabaya-based Airlangga University political expert Kacung Marijan said the disparity between these opinions resulted from the different impacts felt by the public and the opinion leaders, who were part of the elite.

“Most of the elite have not been not hit [economically] by the pandemic, unlike the public. After three months of the outbreak, the public has lost its patience.”

He added, however, that the elite group urged the government to prioritize health care in order to revive the economy in the long term.