Indonesian ministers get flak after photos show them posing without masks in Bali

Risking coronavirus infection isn’t a very “thumbs-up” thing, but what do we know. Screengrab: Twitter
Risking coronavirus infection isn’t a very “thumbs-up” thing, but what do we know. Screengrab: Twitter

A number of Indonesian ministers are drawing ire from social media users in the country, after several photos from a ministerial meeting in Bali last week showed them posing close to one another with no masks on. 

The ministers appeared to have taken part in a meeting held on Aug. 21-22, which was hosted by the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs.

Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto, Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto, Research and Technology Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro, and Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Minister Teten Masduki are among those seen in the photos. 

Recently, photos from the weekend that have been popping up on our social media timelines have increasingly shown more people violating health protocols and hanging out as if the pandemic is over, which has led some people into wondering if they are the only ones staying at home. Perhaps the carefree attitude coming from our peers ought to be expected, but it’s even more concerning when the country’s top officials are among those who don’t seem to think that social distancing and masks are important amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another tweet from Lapor COVID-19 (Report COVID-19), a civil society coalition that crowdsources coronavirus information from throughout the country, called on President Joko Widodo to punish the officials who attended the meeting, in line with sanctions for health protocol violators laid out on a Presidential Instruction (Inpres) issued earlier this month.

Minister Teten has since responded to the controversy, saying that all the officials present had followed the health protocols throughout the event, and only briefly took off their masks the moment the photo was taken.

“We are also afraid of being exposed to COVID-19,” Teten said today. 

As to why the meeting itself was held all the way in Bali, the minister said it was part of an effort to stimulate tourism in Bali. 

“It was to stimulate tourism to Bali. Bali has entered recession, and the economy in Bali is very dependent on tourism,” he said. 


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