As the current wave of infections was gathering pace, a national poll by the non-partisan Indonesia Survey Institute, or LSI, revealed that public opinion was narrowly in favour of prioritising the economy over public health measures when considering lockdowns, with 69 per cent reporting their household incomes had declined during the pandemic.
Add to this the pressure from the business sector, which has lobbied hard for the government to soft-pedal restrictions.
With the public and business onside, there is little sign that President Widodo’s political dominance is under threat — indeed, his allies have reportedly been sounding out political powerbrokers about amending the constitution to allow him to extend his term beyond 2024, when he is currently term-limited.
Time will tell whether these designs are hubristic. But it’s clear that the government thinks it has judged the politics of the pandemic well.
VACCINE PROGRAMME WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE
A decent vaccine programme will further safeguard the president’s political standing. Between Indonesia’s extensive network of puskesmas (community health clinics), and a scheme allowing private employers to buy doses to vaccinate their workforces, there are solid foundations for competent vaccine rollout.
Progress will be aided by the number of citizens who gain immunity the hard way through infection. With so many mild or asymptomatic cases going undetected by the testing regime, it’s likely that the number of Indonesians with some natural immunity dwarfs the number of vaccine recipients at present, though there’s not enough national-level serological data to say for sure.
Source: Channel News Asia