A representative of the people doesn't seem to want representatives to truly represent the people's suffering in the current COVID-19 crisis, as he demanded a guarantee for lawmakers to receive intensive care should they be infected with the disease.
Saleh Daulay, a National Mandate Party (PAN) politician who has a seat in the House of Representatives (DPR) Commission IX, which oversees national health-related matters, said he laments the death of his colleague, John Siffy Mirin.
"I don't want to hear another DPR member not getting admitted to an ICU, like what my fellow PAN faction member, my brother John Siffy Mirin, experienced," Saleh said during a meeting with Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin yesterday.
According to reports, Papua-born John had severe COVID-19 symptoms but struggled to find an available ICU in Jakarta as the capital's hospitals were over capacity. He was eventually admitted to an ICU at the Gatot Subroto Army Hospital, but died just three hours into his treatment.
Following his death, PAN Deputy Secretary General Rosaline Irene Rumaseuw called on the government to set up a hospital specifically to ward politicians and officials with COVID-19 – a suggestion that attracted widespread public scorn toward her, her party, and lawmakers in general.
"It was an emotional response [from Rosaline]; it didn't come from the heart. It's because she witnessed first-hand how difficult it is for people to stay alive without the support of medical equipment amid this devastating COVID-19 attack," Saleh said in defense of his party colleague.
For what it's worth, the Health Ministry dismissed Saleh and PAN's demand for a hospital for politicians.
While one shouldn't be too surprised that lawmakers can be this self-serving, Rosaline is correct that COVID-19 patients are dying due to lack of immediate medical care.
A recent report found that in Jakarta alone, an average of 45 self-isolating patients die each day as hospitals prioritize treatment for severe cases due to overcrowding. Nationally, as many as 450 self-isolating patients have died in a day.
Indonesia recorded 47,899 new cases yesterday, the country's all-time high for daily infections, taking the total infections tally to top 2.6 million. More than 68,000 people have died from the disease.