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Jumat, 27 November 2020

College neighbourhoods are 'like ghost towns' as Jakarta university remains shut amid COVID-19 - CNA

College neighbourhoods are 'like ghost towns' as Jakarta university remains shut amid COVID-19 - CNA

JAKARTA: With the majority of their occupants studying remotely from home, the neighbourhoods near one of Indonesia’s most prestigious universities appeared quiet and desolate.

Outside the gates of University of Indonesia – a vast, 320ha campus located just south of the Indonesian capital Jakarta – dormitories and houses for rent have been mostly vacant since the university decided to cancel all in-person classes in March following the COVID-19 outbreak.

“This place has been vacant for months,” Ahmad Fathony, a keeper at an all-male dormitory in Kukusan area, told CNA. “I only come here twice a day, in the morning to turn off the lights and in the afternoon to turn the lights back on.”

Before the pandemic, the sub-district of Kukusan in the Jakarta suburb of Depok was buzzing with students who frequented its many restaurants, shops, mini marts and cafes.

Thousands, mainly students from the university’s engineering and economics faculties nearby, lived in hundreds of dormitories, rented rooms and houses which occupy almost every corner of Kukusan down to its labyrinthine alleyways.

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Shops and dormitories in Kukusan have been left vacant since University of Indonesia moved classes online due to the pandemic. (Photo: Nivell Rayda) 

That number had dwindled to just a few hundred, locals and students estimated.

“In my dormitory, out of the 29 rooms available, only three are occupied,” Faundra Ikhsan, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student told CNA.

Ikhsan’s dormitory, known locally as “kost”, sits right at the edge of the University of Indonesia campus. The further the dormitories are from the university gates, the lower the occupancy rate. 

READ: As yearly floods loom, Jakarta residents fear shelters are potential COVID-19 ‘breeding grounds’

Many dormitories have shuttered doors and padlocked fences with tall unkempt grasses and shrubs on their front lawns, an indication that not a soul was inside. Cafes and laundromats have also closed with little signs of reopening.

(ni) Kukusan 02
Shuttered shops and restaurants in Kukusan area in the suburbs of Jakarta. The area's economy is largely dependent on students from University of Indonesia. (Photo: Nivell Rayda) 

While shops and restaurants still opened during the day to cater to university staffers, security guards and students, all economic activities ceased after dark. This is despite the fact that a new semester has begun, after a break in July and August. 

“It can get really quiet at night. After 8pm no one is outside and Kukusan resembles a ghost town,” 22-year-old Ikhsan said.

UNCERTAIN TIMES

“Do you know when the campus will reopen?” 

Mulyadi, who runs a tiny restaurant and a stall at the engineering faculty’s cafeteria, asked the same question every time a student or campus security guard dropped by for a meal. 

It is a question which has been lingering in his mind for months, but no one has an answer.

(ni) Kukusan 08
Food vendor Mulyadi said his income has dropped by 80 per cent ever since students from University of Indonesia began studying remotely due to the pandemic. (Photo: Nivell Rayda) 

The 47-year-old, who like many Indonesians goes with one name, had closed down his business earlier when the university decided to cease all in-person classes indefinitely. He laid off two of his workers and went back to his village in West Sumatra province.

READ: Paying the penalty - COVID-19 hits Indonesian footballers hard

“There was nothing to do back in my village. After a few months, I decided to return even though I knew the students were gone,” he said.

He returned to Kukusan in July and to his surprise there were still students from outside Jakarta who decided to stay put because of better Internet access. There were also staffers who work every other day on campus. The campus cafeteria is still closed.

(ni) Kukusan 05
The cafeteria at University of Indonesia's engineering faculty has been closed since the university decided to cease all in-person classes to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Photo: Nivell Rayda) 

“My daily income has dwindled. I used to make 2 million rupiah ($142) a day. Now I make 400,000 rupiah a day. After rent and other expenses, I barely break even,” Mulyadi said.

Other businesses in Kukusan are also suffering.

Nina Rahman, 55, said her 15-room dormitory has been a money pit since the pandemic began and she is considering selling the property.

“I have tried slashing down the rental but no one is interested. My dormitory is a bit secluded and it is an old building. I cannot compete with newer and fancier dormitories who sit right in front of the (campus) gates,” she told CNA.

READ: Indonesians collect old phones to help students get online

“The cost to maintain the place, the bills, the property tax, it’s just too much for a widow like me. I hope the campus reopens or someone would just take the property off my hands. Whichever happens sooner.”

The Ministry of Education has said that only schools and universities located in the green and yellow zones are allowed to reopen. A green zone is an area with zero new cases in a 14-day period while a yellow zone is an area with only a handful of imported cases and no local transmission.

The city of Depok, where the university is located, is considered a red zone with a high number of local transmissions.  

SOME FIND REMOTE LEARNING CHALLENGING

The University of Indonesia campus grounds felt even more deserted than Kukusan. Aside from a few security guards and janitors roaming around as well as a handful of students who needed to use the laboratories, there was hardly anyone else there.

“Before (the pandemic), it's only ever gotten this quiet during school breaks,” Ova Candra Dewi, an architecture lecturer told CNA.

(ni) Kukusan 07
The main lobby of University of Indonesia's engineering faculty has been largely quiet ever since students began studying remotely due to the pandemic. (Photo: Nivell Rayda)

Her department used to be filled with students staying until late – sometimes overnight – building architecture models, making technical drawings and getting ready for their presentations.

That all changed in mid-March when the university announced that it was ceasing all in-person classes to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The announcement, Dewi said, was made on a Friday on Mar 13 and was effective next Monday.

READ: 'We don't have fixed income' - Returning migrant workers in Indonesia call for targeted aid

“We only had one weekend to devise ways to conduct classes, how students should submit assignments and do consultation for their thesis and final presentation. We scrambled to get the system ready,” she said.

“No matter how much preparation we did, there were always glitches and unforeseen issues. It was a struggle for both students and lecturers. It took time to get used to the system in place today.”

(ni) Kukusan 06
A view of the mechanical engineering department building at University of Indonesia. (Photo: Nivell Rayda)

But studying remotely is not for everyone.

“Online learning is for those privileged enough to have a steady Internet access,” 19-year-old geophysics student Syauqi Muhammad told CNA.

When the university decided to put in-person classes on hold, Muhammad returned to his parent’s home, a two-and-a-half-hour bus ride away from the University of Indonesia. But the Internet connection in his small town is patchy at best.

“That’s why this semester I decided to live near campus again. I can get a steady Internet connection here. I can also go to the campus to get free Wi-Fi,” he said.

(ni) Kukusan 10
Geophysics student Syauqi Muhammad said he chose to stay at a dormitory because the Internet connection in his hometown is patchy. (Photo: Nivell Rayda)

But even with good Internet connection, remote learning is not completely effective. 

“On one hand we are happy that learning becomes more flexible. But on the other hand, some subjects require us to do lab work. If lab work is performed by others on a live stream, how are we able to understand?” industrial engineering student Ananda Pasha told CNA.

Although Pasha’s house is just a short train ride away from University of Indonesia, the 22-year-old said that he has only been to campus twice to do some lab work during the pandemic.

“I miss going to campus, but none of my friends are there so I see no reason why I should go there more often.”

A QUIET PLACE

Mechanical engineering student Ikhsan said he chose to stay in Kukusan because he needs to spend a lot of time in the lab for his thesis.

Ikhsan said he was initially quite scared about going to campus as Depok, where the first three COVID-19 cases in Indonesia were reported, is still considered a hotbed for COVID-19 infection. 

The condition is a far cry from his native city of Serang, three hours away from the campus. On Nov 18, Serang reported just 11 new infections, while Depok had 120 new cases. 

“In August, I started to come to campus and stayed at a friend’s place. In September, I started coming more frequently. In October, I decided to again rent my own place in Kukusan,” he said.

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Mechanical engineering student Faundra Ikhsan chose to live near University of Indonesia because his thesis require him to spend a lot of time at the laboratories. (Photo: Nivell Rayda)

Ikhsan said the majority of those who chose to stay in Kukusan are final year students and those who are from outside of Jakarta. He is both.            

“Internet connection in my hometown is fine. But it is just more practical for me to stay in Kukusan. Because of my thesis, I need to use the labs, I need to visit the library and most importantly, there is less distraction here,” he said.

But staying in Kukusan made him feel quite isolated.

“Before the pandemic, there can be dozens of people using this one lab. We can ask each other questions, discuss ideas and consult lab technicians and lecturers about our findings. Now, there is only four of us here, two undergrads and two graduate students,” he said.

“At night, the whole campus and the surrounding neighbourhoods are very quiet. All the restaurants and shops are closed. The students who live in Jakarta have all gone home.”

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Individually-run dormitories in Kukusan area have been largely deserted ever since students from University of Indonesia began studying remotely due to the pandemic. (Photo: Nivell Rayda)  

Muhammad, the geophysics student, also shared the feeling of loneliness.

“Before this, I could hang out with my friends, go to campus together, dine out together. The neighbourhood was pretty much alive even at midnight,” he said.

“Now, I do everything on my own. It’s quite sad actually. I hope everything returns to normal soon.”

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2020-11-27 22:20:51Z
https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/indonesia-university-jakarta-depok-kukusan-ghost-town-covid-19-13592120

Depok to Limit Face-to-face Learning Hours - News en.tempo.co - Tempo.co English

Depok to Limit Face-to-face Learning Hours - News en.tempo.co - Tempo.co English

TEMPO.CO, JakartaThe Depok Education Agency will limit the hours of face-to-face learning as schools will be reopened amid the COVID-19 pandemic beginning January 2021.

“After the learning activities, the rooms must be sterilized with disinfectants. The number of students in one room is also limited to 18 students at maximum,” said the agency head, Mohammad Thamrin, in Depok, Friday, November 27, 2020.

The Education Agency is preparing to reopen schools following the central government’s decision regarding face-to-face learning in 2021.

“Even so, we also continue to prepare online learning, because it cannot be fully implemented as before the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

According to Thamrin, the agency will not allow direct learning for other than main subjects to minimize the risk of coronavirus transmission.

In a bid to prevent crowds, the school canteen will not be opened and students will be obliged to bring their own food.

The Education Agency also asked schools to prepare supporting facilities for implementing health protocols prior to reopening. “Such as portable hand washing stations, thermal guns, and the School Health Unit (UKS) room. [The schools] must also ensure the teachers’ health,” said Thamrin.

Read: Jakarta Schools Asked to Prepare for Classroom Learning in 2021

ANTARA



2020-11-27 12:14:15Z
https://en.tempo.co/read/1409455/depok-to-limit-face-to-face-learning-hours

Sabtu, 21 November 2020

Situ Cilodong lies quiet during pandemic - Sat, November 21 2020 - Jakarta Post

Situ Cilodong lies quiet during pandemic - Sat, November 21 2020 - Jakarta Post

As a new tourist destination in Depok, West Java, Situ (lake) Cilodong used to be crowded with visitors, especially on weekends. Placid water: A visitor and her child enjoy the scenic view of Situ Cilodong. (JP/Arief Suhardiman) The number of visitors has, however, decreased drastically because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The cheers and laughter of children playing on the edge of the lake are rare now. Day's catch: Ido shows off a catfish. Situ Cilodong is a popular fishing destination. (JP/Arief Suhardiman) With an area of ​​about 6.4 hectares, Situ Cilodong has become a popular recreation place for residents of Depok and outside. The locals take advantage of the low-cost tourist destination, which offers various games, such as water balls, carts, mockup robots, ball pools and water bikes known as “bebek-bebekan”. Tickets for the games cost between Rp 5,...



2020-11-21 11:43:00Z
https://www.thejakartapost.com/paper/2020/11/21/situ-cilodong-lies-quiet-during-pandemic.html

Selasa, 17 November 2020

Depok recruits healthcare workers for isolation hospital - Tue, November 10 2020 - Jakarta Post

Depok recruits healthcare workers for isolation hospital - Tue, November 10 2020 - Jakarta Post

The Depok city administration in West Java is seeking healthcare workers to treat COVID-19 patients at the University of Indonesia’s Makara isolation hospital.

Depok City Health Agency head Novarita said the open positions were for medical school graduates, nurses (with nursing diplomas), administrative employees (with diplomas), call center employees, surveillance and health promotion officers (public health graduates), nutritionists and psychologists.

In addition to the degree requirements, applicants have to be registered healthcare workers or members of a certain profession, be ready to work on three-month contracts and be available for shifts on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. 

“The applications can be sent directly to [email protected],” said Novarita, adding the submission deadline was Tuesday at 9 a.m. Jakarta time.

On Sunday alone, Depok confirmed 63 new COVID-19 cases for a total of 7,701 cases. The city has recorded 214 fatalities.

Last month, the West Java administration sought people with medical backgrounds to volunteer to help mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 in Depok. 

“The health agency and Depok proposed the recruitment to improve the handling of COVID-19,” West Java Communications and Information Agency head Setiaji said in a statement on Oct. 14. The recruitment was open until Oct. 31. 

The required medical personnel were experienced pharmacists, radiographers, physiotherapists, teleconsultants, doctors, nurses, environmental sanitation workers, nutritionists, general physicians and laboratory technology workers.

Depok, along with Bogor and Bekasi, account for the majority of the new COVID-19 cases in West Java.

West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said he had proposed the prioritization of Depok in future COVID-19 vaccination efforts.  

“I have proposed that Depok be among the regions getting the first vaccines. But it will still be done gradually, starting from the most vulnerable groups of people,” he said Oct. 13, as quoted by kompas.com. 

Presidential Regulation (Perpres) No. 99/2020 on vaccine procurement and vaccination signed on Oct. 5 details priority groups for vaccination: frontline workers, such as health workers and contact-tracing personnel; military and law enforcement personnel; religious and community leaders; authorities at the district, village, community and neighborhood unit levels; teachers at various levels of education; government officials and legislative council members and members of the Healthcare and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan). The vaccinations of these groups will be paid for by the government. 

According to Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto, the government has secured commitments for the delivery of 271.3 million doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines from China. Of that number, 30 million doses are expected to be ready by the end of this year. (nkn)

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2020-11-09 18:00:00Z
https://www.thejakartapost.com/paper/2020/11/09/depok-recruits-healthcare-workers-for-isolation-hospital.html

Minggu, 08 November 2020

Depok recruits healthcare workers for isolation hospital - National - Jakarta Post

Depok recruits healthcare workers for isolation hospital - National - Jakarta Post

The Depok city administration in West Java is seeking healthcare workers to treat COVID-19 patients at the University of Indonesia’s Makara isolation hospital.

Depok City Health Agency head Novarita said the open positions were for medical school graduates, nurses (with nursing diplomas), administrative employees (with diplomas), call center employees, surveillance and health promotion officers (public health graduates), nutritionists and psychologists.

In addition to the degree requirements, applicants have to be registered healthcare workers or members of a certain profession, be ready to work on three-month contracts and be available for shifts on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. 

“The applications can be sent directly to [email protected],” said Novarita, adding the submission deadline was Tuesday at 9 a.m. Jakarta time.

On Sunday alone, Depok confirmed 63 new COVID-19 cases for a total of 7,701 cases. The city has recorded 214 fatalities.

Last month, the West Java administration sought people with medical backgrounds to volunteer to help mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 in Depok. 

“The health agency and Depok proposed the recruitment to improve the handling of COVID-19,” West Java Communications and Information Agency head Setiaji said in a statement on Oct. 14. The recruitment was open until Oct. 31. 

The required medical personnel were experienced pharmacists, radiographers, physiotherapists, teleconsultants, doctors, nurses, environmental sanitation workers, nutritionists, general physicians and laboratory technology workers.

Depok, along with Bogor and Bekasi, account for the majority of the new COVID-19 cases in West Java.

West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said he had proposed the prioritization of Depok in future COVID-19 vaccination efforts.  

“I have proposed that Depok be among the regions getting the first vaccines. But it will still be done gradually, starting from the most vulnerable groups of people,” he said Oct. 13, as quoted by kompas.com. 

Presidential Regulation (Perpres) No. 99/2020 on vaccine procurement and vaccination signed on Oct. 5 details priority groups for vaccination: frontline workers, such as health workers and contact-tracing personnel; military and law enforcement personnel; religious and community leaders; authorities at the district, village, community and neighborhood unit levels; teachers at various levels of education; government officials and legislative council members and members of the Healthcare and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan). The vaccinations of these groups will be paid for by the government. 

According to Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto, the government has secured commitments for the delivery of 271.3 million doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines from China. Of that number, 30 million doses are expected to be ready by the end of this year. (nkn)

Editor’s note: This article is part of a public campaign by the COVID-19 task force to raise people’s awareness about the pandemic.

2020-11-09 03:39:00Z
https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/11/09/depok-recruits-healthcare-workers-for-isolation-hospital.html

Jumat, 06 November 2020

Dozens of Houses of Worship Closed, Vandalized in Indonesia: Rights Commission - benarnews

Dozens of Houses of Worship Closed, Vandalized in Indonesia: Rights Commission - benarnews

At least 23 houses of worship in Indonesia were forcibly closed or vandalized over the past three years, as religious minorities in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation continued to face discrimination, the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) said Friday.

The cases recorded from 2017 to 2019 are likely the tip of the iceberg as many such incidents are not formally reported to Komnas HAM, according to its chairman, Ahmad Taufan Damanik.

Only 21 cases were reported to the commission in the previous period of three years, mostly in greater Jakarta, he said.

"Although statistically the increase in the number of complaints submitted to Komnas HAM is not too high, these were actual events that occurred in our communities," he said in a video conference.

Incidents reported to Komnas HAM included the forced closure of an Ahmadiyah mosque following complaints from the local community in the city of Depok, near Jakarta, in 2017, he said.

Ahmadiyah congregations have often been targets of persecution by authorities and hardline Islamic groups. In 2011, an attack by a group of men armed with machetes on a house where about a dozen Ahmadis were gathering in the town of Pandeglang, West Java killed three people.

In 2017, authorities sealed off a building being constructed by the As Sunnah Islamic foundation in Gresik, East Java, saying it did not have a permit. Police took action after complaints by local Muslims who accuse As Sunnah of adhering to Wahhabism, an austere form Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia.

In February 2019, the government of North Lombok on Lombok island stopped the construction of a Hindu temple ostensibly to “maintain peace and order” in the mainly Muslim community.

In the same year, the local government in Bantul, Yogyakarta revoked a construction permit for a Pentecostal Christian church following a rejection from local Muslims.

Taufan said a decree on religious harmony and places of worship issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Religious Affairs in 2006 was partly to blame for the discriminatory acts, and urged the government to revise it.

The decree stipulates that a religious congregation must obtain signatures of support from 60 local households of a different faith before building a house of worship.

"If there is no clear and firm action on the 2006 decree, freedom of religion and beliefs will continue to face hurdles," said Taufan.

Paulus Tasik Galle, an official at the Center for Religious Harmony at the Ministry of Religious Affairs, said the regulation was based on an agreement among councils of different religions.

“If we want to review it, we have to leave it to the religious councils,” he said at the discussion with Komnas HAM.

‘Veto power’

Earlier this week, a senior official at the Religious Affairs Ministry said the 2006 regulation should be elevated to the status of a presidential decree, to get regional officials more involved in resolving interfaith disputes, as well as more funding for government-backed forums that promote interfaith harmony.

"This increase in the level of the regulation could strengthen ... the commitment of regional leaders to religious harmony and moderation," Nizar Ali, the secretary-general of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, was quoted as saying in an article on a ministry website.

Human Rights Watch said in May that the regulation allows the majority religious group in each area to have veto power over religious minorities.

“As a result, most minorities in predominantly Sunni Muslim Indonesia have difficulties establishing or renovating their houses of worship,” it said.

“The veto power has empowered Muslim extremists to take the law into their own hands, pressuring local governments to close down houses of worship of minority religions,” it said.

Despite a pledge by Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to scrap the regulation during his campaign for the presidency in 2014, it remains in force. The vice president Jokowi chose for his second term – Ma’ruf Amin – was one of its authors.

The Tirto.id news website said at least 32 churches were closed during Jokowi’s first five years in office.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its 2020 annual report recommended that Indonesia be placed on “the U.S. Department of State’s Special Watch List for engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom pursuant to the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).”

“In 2019, religious freedom conditions in Indonesia generally trended negatively compared to the previous year,” the report said in its chapter on Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

Citing reports from local NGOs, the commission listed “discrimination, hate speech, acts of violence and rejections of permits to build houses of worship for minority religious communities” as types and examples of intolerance.

USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act. The commission monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad and makes policy recommendations to the U.S. president, secretary of state, and Congress.



2020-11-06 23:07:27Z
https://www.benarnews.org/english/news/indonesian/tolerance-11062020170903.html

Minggu, 01 November 2020

39 percent of virus clusters in Jakarta are families: Anies - Jakarta Post

39 percent of virus clusters in Jakarta are families: Anies - Jakarta Post

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has warned residents of the capital to be careful of COVID-19 transmission from family members as they enjoy a five-day weekend.
 
In a video address on Wednesday, the governor said transmission within families made up around 39 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the capital, with 4,684 clusters infecting more than 36,600 people. 
 
“This means there are a lot of infections that actually occur in our families, often because when we feel like we know [the other people], we don't use masks properly, don't keep a physical distance and don't wash our hands routinely,” Anies said. 
 
With increased activities and interactions expected during the long holiday, Anies urged residents to comply with health protocols to ensure their safety. 
 
“Remember, being with someone we know doesn’t mean that transmission stops,” he added. 
 
As Muslims all over the country celebrate Prophet Muhammad’s birthday on Thursday, the government has declared Wednesday and Friday collective leave days, making a five-day weekend.
 
Last week, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo reminded Cabinet members to prevent an increase in COVID-19 cases during the long weekend, given that the previous long weekends in August had caused a spike in transmission in some regions. Regional leaders in some cities and provinces, including in Jakarta, have advised their residents against taking trips.
 
Early this month, Bekasi city, Bekasi regency, Depok city, Bogor city, and Bogor regency in West Java reported a rising number of COVID-19 family clusters that forced West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil to pay extra attention to the five regions.
 
According to the results of contact tracing, the family clusters were connected to office clusters, as breadwinners of the family mostly work in and commute to Jakarta on a daily basis.

“Many of them work in office buildings, such as banks and hospitals. New clusters at such offices created new family clusters in Depok,” said Depok COVID-19 task force spokesperson Dadang Wihana.

The Depok administration revealed that roughly 60 percent of its residents commuted daily to Jakarta — the hardest-hit city in the country — for work. Jakarta itself had reported at least 90 office clusters by the end of July amid the gradual reopening of businesses and the economy. 

As of Sunday, Indonesia has recorded 412,784 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 13,943 fatalities. Jakarta remains the epicenter of the outbreak with 105,597 cases and 2,251 deaths.  (mfp/iwa)

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2020-11-01 18:00:00Z
https://www.thejakartapost.com/paper/2020/11/01/39-percent-of-virus-clusters-in-jakarta-are-families-anies.html