An Open Letter addressed to the President of The Republic of Indonesia Joko Widodo from The President of The Prosperous Justice Party Sohibul Iman.
To Your Excellency Mr. Joko Widodo President of the Republic of Indonesia,
First of all, I would like to present our prayers for the well being of your family and yourself, may Allah SWT keep you under His constant protection and guidance in leading our nation in these extremely difficult times.
I would also like to extend my deepest condolences once again for the departing of your beloved mother. May Allah SWT accept all her good deeds in the hereafter, Amen.
Dear Mr. President Joko Widodo,
Allow me in this letter to convey several points of my view regarding the handling of our nation’s current and worst predicament, the Virus Covid-19 Pandemic. I sincerely hope that these points may contribute to the expediency of this government in reaching a much needed solution.
First, we as the people of this nation should be united and aligned in our agreement that saving human lives should be our topmost priority above all else, including the interests of our Economy.
Experts have agreed that both global and national economic conditions are determined by the level of success in how we manage to control or eliminate altogether this Covid-19 Pandemic. The quicker and more efficient we are in providing the correct response, the quicker the economy will recover as well.
While it is true that our economy at the present is teetering precariously and seemingly in a course toward a potential downturn, it is not hard to see that the root cause is the Covid-19 crisis itself. The looming threat of an economic crisis is much like a big, dark menacing smoke, with the Pandemic as the fire creating it. If we concentrate our efforts in eliminating the smoke without extinguishing the fire first, it is not hard to imagine the futility of this endeavor, as the fire will simply continue to spread and expand its area of destruction.
Second, we all also have to agree that while sooner or later both global and national Economy will rebound and recover, the same cannot be said of the lives that we lost of our fellow citizens and our heroic medical workers that fell victim to this virus.
Let us not look at every life lost of our fellow countrymen as mere statistics. They are our family and loved ones, and think of the pain and suffering from their passing that their family members have to endure, and try to imagine if such a terrible misfortune befall ourselves.
Please do not see these casualties and infected people as numbers that represent a cost of crisis. Or a necessary cost for Economic Recovery. Sir, Economic recovery is very important but far surpassing that importance is saving the lives of our fellow Indonesians!
Third, I would like to express that I can understand the extremely difficult position that you are in, Mr. President. To be a leader in such a difficult time such as this is far from easy. In times of crisis, please heed the advice and support from people with expertise and experience in fields relevant to the crisis itself. If you agree that saving lives should be prioritized over the safeguarding of the economy, then listen to the voices from the medical community, the scientists, Epidemiologists, the doctors and nurses who risk their own safety to be in the frontline in combating this virus and preventing more casualties.
On their backs they carry our hopes that we as a nation can get through this Pandemic, sooner rather than later. Please take into account their expert advice, make them your inner circle and your closest support system.
They are the ones who possess the credibility, integrity and competency in giving you the best and clearest input, free from any self-interest. They are the warriors who are giving their bodies and soul purely to combat and defeat the virus, without any political or business strings attached! Mr. President, please heed their honest advice!
Please ignore those in your circles with their personal agendas and will only say what they think you like to hear! Beware also of those among your assistants who may have hidden business or political ambitions. Do not listen to the whispers of those whose objective is nothing but financial profit and investment returns! Choose your closest advisors wisely at these times! The fate of 260 million Indonesians hang in the balance!
Fourth, I request that you put the option of declaring a Civil Emergency out of your consideration. This option will only put an end to democracy and human rights in our country as we know it. There are other laws that can be implemented such as The Health Quarantine Law and The Disaster Response Law that in my opinion are still sufficient for utilization in facing this Covid-19 Pandemic.
At this time, what the government needs to do is to 100% support and provide the much needed Protective Gear, Swab Test Kits, Ventilators, medicines, Hospital or sight facilities, housing and financial compensation for medical team members who have become casualties themselves.
Swab Testing needs to be carried out rapidly and massively. This should be the number one priority for the government in the effort to mitigate the spreading of Covid-19.
The Government needs to step up and firmly establish Quarantine areas within cities and regions that have been categorized as red zone such as Jakarta and its surroundings. Without a Quarantine area policy it will be very difficult to contain Covid-19. And without it, it is also difficult to contain the spread of Covid-19 from red Zone category areas to other areas.
The Prohibition of the Homecoming Tradition around Iedul Fitri holidays have to be implemented firmly and without compromise. The Cabinet needs to rally behind this decision as a united front. A second Outbreak that may be caused by this Homecoming tradition should be absolutely avoided at all cost. A massive movement of people from Red Zone area such as the Capital to various points around the country can spell a major disaster as they can potentially carry the virus to their respective hometowns.
Fifth, I appreciate the Government’s policies in improving Social Welfare with Programs such as the PKH (Hope of Family Program) and the BLT (Direct Cash Assistance) that are intended for providing assistance to those living below or on the poverty line. However, we should also not forget the daily workers, informal sector, and small-to-medium enterprises workers whose number amount to 59 million people. There needs to be a satisfactory support program that can provide a fiscal incentive for them.
Lastly, I would like to make several commentaries on the Government Regulations in lieu of Laws for Financial Policy and Financial Stability that you recently signed, also known as Perppu no.1 year of 2020.
1) This regulation or Perppu no.1 is heavily emphasized on the intervention of a potential economic crisis caused by the Pandemic. Again, by concentrating the effort on the economic impact it is not addressing the root cause of the problem, which is the Pandemic itself, but on the symptoms caused. The government should instead implement an extraordinary measure targeting on the elimination or containment of the virus.
In order to solve the economic crisis that may occur as a consequence of this Pandemic, the government can utilize the mechanism of the already existing Financial System Crisis Prevention and Management Act (PPKSK) that had been signed off by President Joko Widodo as Law no.9 of the year 2016. By introducing a new mechanism in the Perppu no.1 in actuality the government creates the risk of allowing similar scandals as the infamous BLBI case and the crisis of 1998 to re-occur. The potential moral hazard and the cost of crisis this Perppu no.1 may bring about is too high.
2) This regulation or Perppu no.1 has a huge Power Abuse risk that will endanger the future of our nation as well as potentially paving a way for financial resources abuse of extraordinary proportion.
I am concerned that you are not aware of these dimensions, Mr. President. I am concerned that your closest advisors do not provide you with the accurate picture hence you fail to see that signing off this Perppu can actually threaten the quality of your leadership and the future of the nation.
The last thing we would like to see is for history to bear witness of your leadership being tainted by the faultiness of this regulation. As re-election is no longer a concern for you for the next term, this is the time to come forth and lead us with that great statesmanship that we long for. Give the next generation of this country something to look back on and be proud of, your sound leadership.
3) Perppu no.1 year of 2020 also contradicts many stipulations within other laws (Omnibus Law). These laws are among others: Keuangan Negara (State Finances Law), MD3 (Parliamentary Law), Perbendaharaan Negara (State Treasury Law), Perpajakan (Taxation Law), Perimbangan Keuangan Pusat-Daerah (Financial Balance between central and regional government Law), Bank Indonesia (Central Bank of Indonesia Law), OJK (Financial Services Supervisory Law), LPS (Deposit Insurance Agency Law), Pemerintah Daerah (Regional Government Law), Kesehatan (Health Law), Desa (Municipal Government Law), APBN 2020 (2020 State Budget and Revenue Law), Pencegahan dan Penanggulangan Krisis (Crisis Prevention and Intervention Law). This Perppu contains within it a significant centralization of power on the Executive branch therefore opening the door for temptations of power and monetary exploitation. Please be mindful with this Perppu, Mr. President.
4) This Perppu is not grounded on the principles of Good Governance, whereby the fiscal deficit becomes unlimited, causing the national debt to soar, and the central bank losing its independency in monetary stabilization, and the control and budgetary functions of the parliament are reduced, while bestowing immunity and unlimited discretion on the KSSK (Financial System Stability Committee) so that it is above the Law. All these factors combined become a recipe for disaster that will threaten the integrity of politics, economy and law enforcement in our country.
5) The Perppu regulates beyond the crisis intervention effort related to Covid-19. It encompasses anything that is perceived by the government as a potential threat to the nation’s economy. This unlimited authority is very dangerous. There has to be limitations that confine it within a particular issue or period of time.
Without any boundaries that limit its power within a certain parameters of issues or period of time, this Perppu can endanger our system of governance and finance. It is a blank check that creates a shortcut toward authoritarianism. It is a lethal injection to our democracy.
I hope that the brief commentaries above will become useful as points of consideration during the coming discussion between the Government and the Central Parliament.
Our disposition as Prosperous and Justice Party will be presented officially by our Fraction in the Parliament.
We from the Prosperous Justice Party family on our own initiatives have participated and join hand-in-hand with the people of our nation in combating this Covid-19 Pandemic from the beginning.
I have instructed to all members of the Prosperous Justice Party on all corners of the nation to actively play a role in doing whatever they can to alleviate the suffering of the people and help check the spreading of Covid-19 in their respective areas.
Crisis can be like a vaccine; a painful process in the beginning, but managed properly, it will turn into a valuable strengthening tool!
May Allah SWT protect the people of Indonesia so they may rise above this crisis, Amen.
I thank you for your attention.
Mohammad Sohibul Iman
President of PKS