【Report】The 52nd AJI Frontier Seminar was held!: Dr. Fahlesa Munabari, “The Gas and Brake Policy: Indonesia’s COVID-19 Securitization Dilemmas”

On February 14, 2023, the 52ndAJI Research Frontier Seminar took place online. This time, Dr. Fahlesa Munabari of the International Relations Department, Faculty of Social Sciences & Global Studies, Universitas Budi Luhur, Indonesia gave a presentation entitled “The Gas and Brake Policy: Indonesia’s COVID-19 Securitization Dilemmas.”

Dr. Munabari reported on how the Indonesian governments securitization process worked during the Covid-19 pandemic and the dilemmas that it caused. While a social restriction policy was required to prevent further coronavirus infection it posed significant challenges to people’s daily lives and the economy. In the beginning, the government delayed their response, and the virus spread rapidly, bringing complaints from CSOs and activists who called for more transparency in disclosing information about the disease. This led to the implementation of strict securitization that the military called a “War on Covid”, which was effective in containing the virus but devastated the economy. Jokowi’s administration was forced to review the strict restrictions, and decided that smaller-scale social restrictions were necessary to contain the spread of COVID-19 in a more targeted manner. This “Gas and Brake’ policy was successful, as it gave more leeway to the government when dealing with local surges in infections, while allowing other areas to function normally.

Having suffered from various restrictions themselves, the audience were extremely interested in Dr. Munabari’s report and asked questions about comparisons with other Asian countries’ securitization measures, how the epidemic was monitored in Indonesia, and whether the “Gas and Brake” method was suitable for dealing with pandemics in other S.E. Asian countries. We hope that in the event of another surge in infections, governments worldwide will apply such strategic methods to avoid the dilemmas caused by blanket lockdowns.

Dr. Munabari delivering the presentation