The Livid Ones: Public freakouts in the time of the 2021 mudik ban

A woman freaks out after officers told her car to turn around at a traffic checkpoint in Cilegon, Banten. Photo: Video screengrab
A woman freaks out after officers told her car to turn around at a traffic checkpoint in Cilegon, Banten. Photo: Video screengrab

One man slaps away a camera while the woman in the backseat behind him calls an officer a dog. Elsewhere, a woman screams profanities at a bunch of officers. Welcome to mudik 2021.

To be fair, these are isolated incidents that occurred at traffic checkpoints during the enforcement of this year’s mudik ban, but the virality of the videos go some way into capturing the frustration of millions of Indonesians who have been told by a government panned for inconsistent policies that they cannot perform the traditional annual homecoming to prevent another wave of COVID-19.

In case you missed the videos, here they are shared by one of the country’s most popular viral content aggregators:

The videos follow the common theme of profanity-laden public freakouts following an order to turn around and head home at traffic checkpoints.

As has become customary for viral incidents in Indonesia, all those involved have apologized publicly after police got involved. It doesn’t appear that any of them are facing charges, and it’s an absolute wonder that none of them have been made ambassador of mudik yet.

The government enforced its mudik ban from May 6 to 17, with another week of tightened domestic travel restrictions set to go into effect starting tomorrow. Despite the ban, an estimated 18 million people traveled to their hometowns anyway during the Eid holiday period, which is only a fraction of 81 million people police predicted would have traveled had there not been a ban.

We know that COVID-fatigue is real and inconsistencies in government policy can be frustrating, but why can’t we all be civil when caught violating a rule designed for the greater good? If nothing else, we should all know better by now that cameras are everywhere.

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