So Long, PSBB. Hello, PPKM Darurat

Arya Wiguna
4 min readJul 3, 2021

The Government have come up with a new name for their latest ‘lockdown’ measures. But have things changed at all?

Jokowi announcing PPKM Darurat. Source: Presidential YouTube Channel

If I have to spoil the answer now, they have not. As far as I can tell, they somewhat have made it even worse than last year’s PSBB. Even the name sounds worse now. PPKM Darurat what? I just don’t get it.

First of all, they somehow focus only on Java and Bali and give other states a leeway, depending on the level of their infections. There are red, yellow, and green zones. I mean, why not just lock them all down completely, so the green won’t become yellow, and the yellow won’t become red, and the red won’t have its people piling up dying at the hospital?

And then, what does constitute red, yellow, and green anyway if the testing isn’t accelerated enough just yet? We simply don’t have enough data to actually believe the colours are correct. It’s simply worse than last year’s rate because we’re dealing with a deadlier Delta variant now. Also, no matter how long this ‘lockdown’ is, it’ll be a waste of time if we can’t track the infected in the first place.

Speaking about how long, it’s only for about two weeks. Last year’s PSBB lasted for months if I’m not mistaken, as it kept being extended. Of course, the effectiveness of it was highly questionable, but again, we have Delta variant now, and yet they began it with shorter length than they did when the virus hadn’t mutated just yet last year.

Yes, there’s the effectiveness. At first, it went quite well last year. People didn’t really go out, and they adhered to all the restrictions. But then the government kept extending PSBB, the people were getting more tired and agitated, eventually dismissing any restrictions in place. The government also grew more tired and simply stopped caring.

How about now? I went to the grocery store this morning to buy some food, and some people are still not wearing masks properly or at all, not wearing the right kind of masks (double layer, or the N95 variant), and living their lives quite ‘normally’. Two weeks, a month, heck, a year? Doesn’t matter at all. People are already stupid even at the beginning now!

What really makes whatever-this-is worse than PSBB is still the same old culprit. The government are still stuck with their economic mindset. The fact that they only focus on two islands really puts the emphasis on how afraid they are of halting the economy in its entirety. They waited for too long, and when they finally did it, they did it half-heartedly. And by waiting too long here is waiting for weeks after hospitals are already full across the country.

They even did a lip service, saying they knew covid should be a priority now, and the economy would only get worse if covid got worse. Trust me, they don’t believe in that. As cynical as it sounds, I’m sure they’d still prefer sacrificing people’s lives for the good of economy. They believe in playing it ‘safe’, and 50,000+ dying is certainly worth the price.

But for the love of God, it is not ‘safe’, and it never works. We’ve seen many countries doing that, even America, and they only failed miserably. Heck, look at India now. The thing is that it seems ‘safe’ at first, but when the covid wave gets too big, it will be way worse than suffering through almost zero economy in long lockdown. One step forward, two steps backwards, they say.

And some argue that this is for the sake of the poor. Yes, they can get back their (low paying) jobs and income without lockdown. But when the virus gets worse, just like the economy itself, it will be worse for them. When people start dying, they’re the ones dying first. Most importantly, the ones getting better are still the rich. The poor stay poor or get worse, lockdown or not. That’s it.

Vaccine is also a hot topic in this whole economic mindset. I still remember how Jokowi looked so ‘giddy’ when the first batch of Sinovac arrived at the airport. He really believes vaccine can magically solve all his problems. But our full vaccination rate is still below 10 percent. The supply itself is dwindling now. Worse, there’s a report that Sinovac needs a booster, or a third dose, in order to keep it effective against new variants. Nothing magical about it, really.

For now, we can only hope this will work out fine (which it won’t) and try not to act stupid. Stay at home every single day until it dies down if you have the privilege. Remind all of your stubborn family members, friends, and colleagues about how dire the situation is. Ultimately, find an available vaccination spot near you and get a jab right away.

The government won’t take care of you. Ever. They might even kill you if they have to. All in the name of economy (which, again, is only getting worse anyway).

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Arya Wiguna

25-year-old freelancer making op-eds about life and politics in general.