The role of evidence in the COVID-19 large-scale social restriction policy in Jakarta
The multi-dimensional aspects of COVID-19 pandemic require the government to develop a comprehensive and coherent policy framework. Yet, in the context of a large archipelagic country with diverse cultures like Indonesia, COVID-19 policy also needs to accommodate the existing variations at the sub-national level. In the case of Indonesia, the government adapted the well-known lockdown policy into the so-called ‘large-scale social restriction’ policy (LSRR).
In contrast to the lockdown policy in other countries that is usually applied nation-wide, the implementation of LSRR in Indonesia allows the government to consider contextual COVID-19 situations in each region. With these in minds, the head of the local government or the head of the national COVID-19 task force may propose to implement LSRR in an area to the Minister of Health. Nonetheless, the regulation states that LSRR status can be implemented only after the Minister of Health provide approval.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the implementation of LSRR in the province of Jakarta has always been at the centre of public attention. This happens not only because Jakarta is the capital of the country, but also because the diverging priorities between the Governor of Jakarta that has set public health as its utmost concern and the National Government that see the need to keep and maintain the economic activities in the capital. Furthermore, it is known that there has been a strong political competition between the Governor of Jakarta and the President of Indonesia in the past. Therefore, the dynamic implementation of LSRR in Jakarta provides an interesting case to ponder the role of evidence in the context of diverging priorities and political rivalry between national and sub-national government.
The diverging priorities and political rivalry could render the role of evidence in the LSRR implementation either even more important or become meaningless. In the former, evidence play a crucial role to bridge and settle the diverging priorities and set aside the existing political rivalry. Whereas in the later, the evidence becomes irrelevant because it is degraded into merely a product of political interest. Nonetheless, the meanings of each evidence could also be differentiated. Certain kind of evidence may invoke disagreements but other kinds of evidence may facilitate convergence.
Against that background, this research aims to explore the role of evidence (or lack thereof) and the values of different types of evidence in the context of political rivalry by studying the LSRR policy implementation in Jakarta. This research will scrutinize the influencing factors that contribute to the development of LSRR proposal and its approval or rejection as well as the changes of LSRR status in Jakarta since March 2020.
At the end of the research, I will produce a research report and policy paper to the relevant stakeholder. Furthermore, this research may generate discussion among policy-makers about the role of evidence and the influence of political factors into the use of evidence for policy-making at the time of crisis.
Muhammad Djindan teaches at the Department of Politics and Government in Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), Indonesia. He holds a political science bachelor from UGM and a master degree in Environmental Sciences with a major in Environmental Policy from Wageningen University in the Netherlands.
Prior to the position at UGM, Djindan worked with international development organizations such as Oxfam, UNDP, and GIZ in the field of women’s rights, disaster risk reduction, and disaster emergency response in Indonesia.
Currently he is a part of the Resource Governance in Asia Pacific (RegINA) project – a cooperation project between UGM and Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI). Djindan’s research interest includes science-policy interface, natural resources governance, and local politics.