A video of an Indonesian politician talking tough against the coronavirus has gone viral in the latest of outrageous incidents the pandemic has brought about in the country.
Edi Saputra, a councillor in the North Sumatra capital of Medan, was filmed bickering with a police officer over the funeral of a colleague, who was a patient under observation for a possible novel coronavirus infection, and arguing against government protocol for the burial of COVID-19 patients.
In the video, Edi, a politician from the National Mandate Party (PAN), is seen snapping at two police officers. The officers can be heard informing Edi that the burial of his deceased colleague, a fellow PAN politician identified as SA who died at a hospital in Medan on Monday, was off-limits to the public to prevent a possible spread of the virus.
The quarrel took place in front of SA’s house on Air Bersih Street in Medan, throughout which Edi, who wore a blue batik shirt in the six minute-long video, kept on insisting that he has the right to give his fallen colleague a proper send-off while making sure to point out that he is a member of the Medan City Council (DPRD).
“The [Medan] City Police Chief just phoned me. The way you’re doing it is wrong. I’ll sue you. There’s no such procedure,” Edi told the police officers at the scene.
“I’m a DPRD member, I’m not afraid to die. The state has me covered. Where’s the virus so I can swallow it now? Where’s that corona so I can swallow it, where?”
Edi seemed to grow more desperate as time passed, eventually asking the police officers to just shoot him dead.
“People are already sad, stressed, and yet you’re all adding the nonsense,” he said.
The chairman of PAN’s North Sumatra chapter, Yahdi Khoir, expressed regret over Edi’s behavior toward the police officers, saying that the councillor was not aware of any protocol regarding the burial of patients suspected of having COVID-19.
“[There was] no need to take advantage of the frills of [being a] DPRD member,” Yahdi told Tribun on Monday.
Yahdi added that the party will look into the incident, with Edi potentially facing disciplinary sanctions.
As of yesterday, North Sumatra has 26 confirmed COVID-19 cases and two deaths. The province declared a state of emergency yesterday, which will last until May 29.
Previously, videos of a family in Southeast Sulawesi insisting on carrying out Islamic burial rites for a woman who died after she was suspected of having COVID-19 went viral. The videos led government and religious officials to consider issuing exemptions for burial rites amid the outbreak so government protocol on the handling of dead bodies can be observed.