Indonesia to keep 75th Independence Day celebration modest as COVID-19 rages

Kiki Siregar

JAKARTA (CNA) – Indonesia will celebrate its 75th Independence Day on a smaller scale this year as it is still grappling to contain the spread of COVID-19, said State Secretary Pratikno yesterday.

This is in contrast to an elaborate celebration that President Joko Widodo had envisioned in November last year to demonstrate Indonesia’s economic, social and political prowess, he said.

The country’s Independence Day falls on August 17.

“Indonesia’s Independence Day was planned to be big (this year). We’re a big country, we cannot lose to other countries.

“But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, everything has changed … We had to work hard to adjust the programmes which we had planned and so the international carnival has been cancelled,” Pratikno, who is in charge of administrative support for the office of president, said.

Women wearing protective face masks pass an advertisement promoting awareness of the coronavirus outbreak at a shopping mall in Jakarta, Indonesia. PHOTO: AP

The carnival would originally involve the international community and dozens of countries, he added. Celebrations will still take place this year, albeit in a modest way with strict health protocols. Most of the events will be moved online, the state secretary said.

The annual flag-hoisting ceremony will take place at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta as usual on August 17, but with limited guests.

Only the President, Vice President and a few officials on duty will be present, while ministers and state officials will attend the function virtually.

“We will introduce a new tradition at the ceremony. When the national anthem ‘Indonesia Raya’ is played, we invite the Indonesian people to stop their activities and stand up straight solemnly,” Pratikno said.

While the majority of Southeast Asian countries are starting to see a decline in new COVID-19 cases, Indonesia is still battling the disease. On Sunday, it reported 82 COVID-19 deaths, its highest single-day fatalities.

Last week, it recorded its biggest single-day jump in new cases with 1,624 infections, mostly in new epicentre East Java.