A coalition of civil society groups, academics and social organizations has started an online petition urging President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to fire Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto for his alleged incompetence in handling the worsening COVID-19 pandemic.
“We think that Terawan Agus Putranto has failed to carry out his duties in handling the pandemic as health minister,” the coalition wrote in a petition filed through change.org. “Therefore, we demand that President Jokowi dismiss Terawan from his position as health minister and replace him with someone more competent.”
The petition was started on Wednesday by the National Network on Domestic Worker Advocacy (Jala PRT), the head of students’ executive board of Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN Jakarta) Sultan Rivandi, the head of the University of Indonesia’s Student Executive Body (BEM UI) Manik Marganamahendra, Irma Hidayana of LaporCOVID-19 (Report COVID-19) community and Supinah as a labor representative.
As of the time of writing, 5,772 people have signed the petition.
“From the beginning, the minister has taken the pandemic lightly. He has not been serious in handling [the pandemic]. He is also unable to overcome issues such as protecting health workers and containing the spread of COVID-19,” the petition said.
According to the World Health Organization, as of Sunday, Indonesia ranks 23rd among the countries with the highest rate of COVID-19 infections, with 299,506 cases, only second to the Philippines in Southeast Asia. Indonesia also has one of the highest death tolls in Asia, with more than 11,000 deaths.
In September, Amnesty International also listed Indonesia among the countries with the highest estimated numbers of health workers who have died from COVID-19.
Calls for Terawan’s removal have been made as early as March when another civil society coalition consisting of human rights watchdogs KontraS and Amnesty International Indonesia, among other groups, said he had “an arrogant and antiscience attitude”.