white flag in malioboro

With the COVID-19 pandemic still causing chaos in Indonesia, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recorded 12,444 deaths caused by COVID-19 in a single day. This brings a total of over 3.5 million confirmed cases and 102,375 deaths since the pandemic begun. With this in mind the Government has announced that Indonesia will be going into an extended stage 4 lockdown (PPKM Level 4) until at least the 9th of August 2021.

With PPKM in full effect very strict rules have been put in place for the Indonesian population. Non-essential sectors are to work from home while essential workers (the financial industry, capital markets, information and technology industries, and the hospitality industry – this not including quarantine handling) are able to operate with strict guidelines. Most can operate with a capacity of 50% of staff and customers. On the other hand, supermarkets and traditional markets have been highly impacted by these regulations. While supermarkets are usually open to around about 22:00 sometimes even later, PPKM restrictions require them to be shut at 20:00 local time with only a 50% capacity rate. While Traditional Markets are forced to shut their doors at 15:00, 5 hours earlier than local supermarkets.

Yogyakarta, Indonesia is one of the cities to be placed under PPKM Level 4, with a population of 446,076 this has caused many economical issues for this City’s people. With such strict regulations in place Traders from Malioboro, Yogyakarta have suffered due to the lack of financial support from the Government and being shut. In response to this they have waved white flags as a sign of surrender. These white flags were installed from the start of the Malioboro all the way to the Yogyakarta Special Region Governor’s office.

The white flags were not a way to antagonize the Local Government but a way to express the people’s deep sadness with the severe difficulty in current economic conditions. It was a way of expression and an appeal to get others to understand the current troubling situation for street venders. Usually places like this open at 18:00 and now they are forced to close at 20:00, these white flags were not a way of protest but a way to appeal for support from the Government.

All over Yogyakarta you can find the same situation street vendors, angkringan, and other small businesses are closing because of such strict regulations and no support from the Government. This is only one reason why the Emergency Covid Relief Indonesia fund is so crucial in Yogyakarta and other parts of Indonesia right now to help these people in vulnerable lower socio-economical areas.

As of the 4th of August 2021, $5000 Australian dollars has been distributed to more than 70 families and four community organizations to support them and others in such hard times without Government support. Harapan Fian along with other representatives will be meeting with 10 other organizations to design a two-track mechanism to speed up distribution to people like the street vendors in Malioboro. Continued support for this campaign will be crucial to the continued support of many others. Hopefully, with this support we can help more vulnerable groups and keep Indonesia just a bit more secure in such troubling times.