The Jakarta Post
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan is in hot water for holding a final tribute to Jakarta secretary Saefullah, who died after contracting COVID-19, by bringing his body in a hearse to City Hall before the burial on Wednesday.
Public policy observer and Jakarta Residents Forum (Fakta) chairman Azas Tigor Nainggolan questioned Anies’ decision, saying that Saefullah's body should have been taken directly to a public cemetery in accordance with COVID-19 protocols.
“If Anies really wanted to pay his last respects, why did he not, as the governor, come see the body of the deceased at the hospital?” Azas said in a statement on Wednesday.
Azas argued that Anies had shown a superior attitude toward his subordinates, while also risking the lives of people gathering at City Hall on Wednesday.
“Anies’ attitude showed that he did not care and had no commitment to protect the people of Jakarta. He only made the pandemic a stage of power and arrogance, as well as a stage for imaging,” he added.
He asked the Health Ministry and the national COVID-19 task force to reprimand Anies for violating health protocols and order all attendees to get tested and undergo a two-week quarantine.
Saefullah, who had worked as the Jakarta secretary since President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s time as governor, died at noon on Wednesday after previously testing positive for COVID-19.
He had received treatment at the MMC hospital in South Jakarta since Sept. 8, before being transferred to one of the city’s COVID-19 referral hospitals, Gatot Subroto Army Hospital, on Sunday.
Prior to his burial at the Rorotan cemetery in North Jakarta on Wednesday, Anies welcomed the hearse in the City Hall yard to pay final respects. Jakarta Legislative Council (DPRD) chairman Prasetio Edi Marsudi and other working unit (SKPD) officials were present.
The funeral prayer took place at Al-Khoiriyah Mosque, which is located right next to the late Saefullah’s house, and was attended by dozens of residents, tribunnews.com reported.
Jakarta Personnel Agency (BKD) head Chaidir said the process for paying respects to Saefullah at City Hall had been carried out in accordance with COVID-19 health protocols.
“Everyone followed health protocols. The body was in a coffin in a tightly closed ambulance. There was no problem,” Chaidir said on Thursday.
Chaidir said paying final respects to officials who died before retiring was a common practice. Moreover, he said, Saefullah had died while helping the city fight against the pandemic.
“We have a procedure for [paying tribute] to active officials [who die]. He was an authorized and active official, did not retire and was still took part in a plenary meeting when he got sick,” he said.
“If you, as a leader, are let go offhand, how would you feel?” he added.
Chaidir argued that those criticizing the event at City Hall did not understand bureaucratic ethics and eastern customs.