Thursday, June 1, 2023

Iftar Party Ban Only Applies to State Officials: Gov't

Jayanty Nada Shofa
March 24, 2023 | 11:19 am
Muslims wait for iftar at Sheikh Zayed mosque in Solo, East Java, on March 23, 2023. (Antara Photo/Mohammad Ayudha)
Muslims wait for iftar at Sheikh Zayed mosque in Solo, East Java, on March 23, 2023. (Antara Photo/Mohammad Ayudha)

Jakarta. Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung recently clarified that the ban on iftar gatherings only applied to government officials, meaning that the public is free to host or attend Ramadan dinners.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo recently prohibited civil servants from iftar gatherings. This ban immediately made headlines as group iftar has been synonymous with Ramadan. 

“The president's instructions are only for the coordinating ministers, ministers, heads of government agencies. It does not apply to the public. So the public is free to have or host iftar gatherings,” Pramono said in a recorded press statement video.

"Civil servants and state officials are currently under heavy scrutiny," Pramono said, alluding to the many state officials that got exposed for their lavish lifestyles.


He added, “the president has asked officials and civil servants to break their fast with a modest lifestyle, by not hosting or inviting officials to these gatherings.”

In short, government officials ought to follow Jokowi’s example of leading modest lives, according to Pramono.

Endemic Transition and Helping the Poor
Lawmaker Saleh Partaonan Daulay told the public to not misinterpret the policy as a ban on religious activities. 

The circular on the iftar gathering ban also wrote that Indonesia was still transitioning to the endemic phase of the Covid-19 outbreak.

According to Saleh, Indonesians should keep in mind that there are people that are currently being treated for Covid-19.

The ban can also help the government put the gathering budget into good use such as helping the poor and orphans.

“The ban only applies to the internal government. That would mean that we can save the iftar gathering budget. So I would say the ban can be a boon, from health and budget efficiency standpoints,” Saleh said on BTV night talk show Obrolan Malam on Thursday.

Griffith University epidemiologist Dicky Budiman attributed the public confusion on the group iftar prohibition to the complete removal of Covid-19 curbs. In Dec. 2022, President Jokowi lifted all Covid-19 restrictions nationwide nearly three years after they came into effect.

“The government at the time should have just lowered the curb level rather than removing them altogether. So any policy changes [such as this iftar gathering ban] will not spark public confusion. Government programs must be consistent and clear,” Dicky told the same talk show. 

Civil servants are susceptible to Covid-19 interactions due to their high mobility. Civil servants also can set an example to the public in making sure the endemic transition phase runs smoothly, according to Dicky.

“The public has already built a strong immunity. But remember, when we speak of Covid-19, it is not just about the severity or fatality risks. But there are long Covid-19 risks, especially among those who have been infected more than twice. Research shows that people who have had Covid-19 reinfections are at higher risk for suffering from the damaged immune system," Dicky said.

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