No mask in Jakarta? Lie in this coffin and think about your deadly life choices

A face mask violator told to go inside a coffin and think about his wrongdoing in East Jakarta. Photo: Kalisari Public Vigilance Forum
A face mask violator told to go inside a coffin and think about his wrongdoing in East Jakarta. Photo: Kalisari Public Vigilance Forum

Indonesia has taken its obsession with deathly elements in its fight against COVID-19 to another level after Jakarta introduced a new punishment for mask violators.

Yesterday, public order officials in East Jakarta’s Kalisari sub-district, Pasar Rebo had several violators go into an open casket coffin and told them to contemplate their wrongdoing.

The punishment was introduced as an alternative to community service, the latter of which usually involves cleaning public facilities.

“Many people were queueing [for community service], and it so happened that officials in Pasar Rebo brought along an open casket coffin. So we asked the violators if they wanted to go into the coffin or wait for community service,” East Jakarta Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) Head Budhy Novian said.

“[In the coffin the violators] count from one to 100, so at least a minute, and they were told to contemplate their actions because with COVID-19 there is a risk of them being laid inside a real coffin.”

According to a Gubernatorial Regulation (Pergub), failure to wear a mask in public in Jakarta is punishable by an IDR250K (US$16.90) fine or 60 minutes of community service. Budhy said that officials in Pasar Rebo are going to enforce the coffin punishment for at least a few more days, and will recommend for its enforcement city-wide should it deter the public from unmasking.

Jakarta’s newfound coffin obsession does not end there. Several municipalities and districts have erected mini coffin monuments, often featuring the area’s caseload and death rate data, to remind the public about how deadly COVID-19 can be.

“This is a warning to all of the threat of COVID-19 so, hopefully, we can all be more disciplined in observing health protocols,” Governor Anies Baswedan said during the inauguration of a coffin monument in North Jakarta on Tuesday.

At this point, any policy, however absurd, to convince the public to observe health protocols is welcome, given that Jakarta leads other provinces in confirmed COVID-19 cases and is second behind East Java in deaths. Despite recent record daily counts in the capital, a lot of people are living as if we’re not in the middle of a pandemic, to the point that there’s already talk of reopening movie theaters. 

And who knows, as we have seen with the haunted house quarantine and the pocong street patrols in other parts of Indonesia, the coffin punishment may just be crazy and spooky enough to work.


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