Indonesian regent may face charges for calling press conference to announce COVID-19 diagnosis

Ilyas Panji Alam, the regent of Ogan Ilir, South Sumatra, held a press conference announcing that he tested positive for the coronavirus. The event, held at his home on Monday evening, saw members of the press in attendance. Photo: Istimewa via Kumparan
Ilyas Panji Alam, the regent of Ogan Ilir, South Sumatra, held a press conference announcing that he tested positive for the coronavirus. The event, held at his home on Monday evening, saw members of the press in attendance. Photo: Istimewa via Kumparan

Ilyas Panji Alam, the regent of Ogan Ilir, South Sumatra, may potentially face legal consequences for holding a press conference announcing that he tested positive for the coronavirus this week.

The event, held at his home on Monday evening, saw members of the press in attendance. They reportedly stood 2 meters away from Ilyas, who sat on his sofa with a face mask on and whilst getting an IV drip. Kompas reported that their reporter received a Whatsapp message about the press conference at the last minute, which didn’t specify the details of the announcement

Alvin Lie, a commissioner from the Indonesian Ombudsman, said yesterday that there was no urgency warranting the regent to announce his diagnosis by meeting the reporters face to face, especially when it could’ve been done through a press release or live broadcast.

“It’s very regrettable for a public official to behave like that. [He] didn’t show any sensitivity and concern for the health of the media crew,” Alvin said.

Additionally, he also suspected that Ilyas had done similar things to his staff and subordinates, urging any concerned officials to investigate the matter.

“If he intentionally endangered the safety and health of others, it’s not impossible [for this case] to enter the criminal domain. Not merely maladministration.”

Alvin’s stern statement contrasted those coming from South Sumatra Governor Herman Deru and the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Regional Autonomy Director General Akmal Manik, who applauded Ilyas on Tuesday.

“We acknowledge his announcement as sincere, honest. But of course [he had to observe] physical distancing,” Herman said.

“We appreciate his move. The context was that he announced his condition so that the public became aware. He could serve as an example for the public on the steps one should do when they’re tested positive for COVID-19,” Akmal was quoted as saying.

Ilyas made headlines in late May for dishonorably firing at least 109 medical workers from the Ogan Ilir General Hospital for holding a five-day strike. Among the things they protested were the low incentives and pay ⁠— the latter of which reportedly only amounted to IDR750K (around US$51) per month for temporary health workers ⁠— and the absence of a temporary shelter while they worked to care for COVID-19 patients.

 

Also Read:

Coronavirus spreading in Jakarta churches, mosques as officials urge health protocol compliance

West Java getting tough on health protocol violators with fines

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