Mudik? Stay Put, Case Update, Singapore Ties, Artificial Intelligence
Mar 26, 2021 | AmCham Indonesia
1,482,559 Cases, Death Toll Hits 40,081
Indonesia’s cumulative number of Covid-19 cases hit 1,482,559 today, March 26, with 125,279 active cases, 1,317,199 recovery cases, and a death toll of 40,081. Some 6,107 new cases, 4,656 recoveries, and 98 deaths were recorded within the past 24 hours.
A spokesperson for the Covid-19 Task Force Wiku Adisasmito said the rate of Indonesian Covid-19 deaths had fallen consistently in the last three months, in contrast with the rising global trend, in particular in countries such as Brazil, India, and Italy.
He said Indonesia saw its highest monthly death rate in January at 7,860, decreasing to 6,168 in February, and fell again as of March 21 to 3,340. Brazil has seen an increase in deaths by 75.84 percent, from 1,275 to 2,242, while India saw an increase of 130 percent, and Italy an increase of 35 percent.
It has been widely suggested that Indonesia’s cases have gone down due to lower rates of testing.
To try and curb the spread of Covid-19, the government has banned homecoming travel or mudik for Eid Al-Fitr, based on President Joko Widodo’s instruction dated March 23. Coordinating Minister of Human Development and Cultural Affairs Muhadjir Effendy said further regulations on the Eid travel ban will come from the National Police and the Ministry of Transportation. Regulations on religious activities will come from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, which will also consult with religious organizations. The travel ban will be in effect from May 6 until May 17.
A similar ban last year was widely circumvented by people leaving for their home areas ahead of the holiday period.
Singapore and Indonesia Leaders Look for Face-to-Face Meeting in 2021
The leaders of Singapore and Indonesia will meet in person during a retreat to be held later this year, said the foreign ministers of both countries yesterday (Mar 25).
Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said, "The Leaders' Retreat will proceed this year, watch out for the date. Our two leaders will meet in person," he said, noting there will be a full agenda.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi added, “We agreed to propose to our leaders to have the in-person Leaders' Retreat in 2021. The key theme of our cooperation is how we recover together from the pandemic.”
Retno said three key areas of discussion will be investment cooperation, preparation for reviving the travel and tourism sector, and digital economy issues.
Balakrishnan said it was time for the two countries to start planning and collaborating on post-Covid-19 recovery.
The two foreign ministers also discussed the official view that Singapore has been Indonesia’s largest foreign investor for six years in a row. (AmCham research has shown that much of Singapore’s investment in Indonesia is passed through from other jurisdictions like the United States.)
"Last year, despite the challenges, FDI (foreign direct investment) into Indonesia from Singapore went up almost 50 per cent,” Balakrishnan said. He also touched on bilateral projects including the Kendal Industrial Park in Central Java, which he said has been progressing well.
He also discussed a “digital bridge” between Batam and Singapore. "I see great prospects for that bridge to become a vibrant connector."
Balakrishnan also met Indonesia's tourism minister Sandiaga Uno earlier in the day. "We are looking at, as the situation improves... gradual and safe reopening of travel arrangements. And again we are looking at areas of mutual interest,” he said.
Over the weekend, Sandiaga said preparations can begin for a safe travel corridor between Singapore, Batam, and Bintan islands.
Sandiaga said the details of the travel arrangements were still being finalized. He had earlier suggested April 21 as an opening date. He also said discussions are underway about a possible travel corridor between Singapore and Bali for Singaporeans who may want to work from Bali.
After the 6.2 magnitudes January 15 earthquake 6 kilometers northeast of Majene, West Sulawesi, Trakindo Utama (Caterpillar) provided assistance to post-disaster efforts through the provision of the Hydraulic Excavator Cat® 320D and 320GC.
The earthquake had a massive impact in Majene and Mamuju, resulting in damage to dozens of public facilities such as government offices and more than 1,100 homes.
Together with the government and other institutions, the Trakindo Makassar Emergency Preparedness and Response Team (TKTD) and the Emergency Response Team Tiara Marga Trakindo Group (ERT TMT Group), took part in an emergency response period of 14 days from January 15-28, based on a decree from the Governor of West Sulawesi. Two excavator units were actively operating in several affected locations to assist in the evacuation and cleaning of debris after the earthquake.
This assistance is part of Trakindo’s efforts to restore community life after a disaster.
YP Committee Looks at Artificial Intelligence
Irzan Raditya, CEO and co-founder of Kata.ai, was the guest speaker on artificial intelligence and technology at AmCham Indonesia’s Young Professionals Committee meeting on March 25. The discussion moderated by Retno Dewati of Access Ventures.
Kata.ai describes itself as “an Indonesian conversational artificial intelligence company focused on understanding human conversation. We aim to empower people by giving them a more human way to interact with technology.”
Irzan spoke on AI in Indonesia from his experience with a business startup that focuses entirely on using AI for customer engagement and the many gaps in people’s lives that can be bridged and filled with AI. Many common applications, such as Spotify and Instagram, already use artificial narrow intelligence (ANI) that personalizes experience based on user interests. But more than that, AI can be used to cut costs and maximize efficiency in many sectors, including his startup, which has collaborated with more than 100 enterprises in Indonesia to utilize AI for customer service.
Questions from the audience revolved around the government’s response to AI. Irzan explained it is more reactive on the issue, as AI has not yet massively influence people’s lives in general. He said there is already an AI roadmap from the government that involves five AI-based enterprises, including his own company. The roadmap includes five sectors in need of AI attention: healthcare, education, smart city, food security, and finance. Of the five, Irzan said, education has huge potential in Indonesia and could be utilized to help Indonesian children.
To conclude, Irzan underlined that AI usage will be a goldmine in Indonesia with such a large population. The growth of AI is exponential, and he believes many Indonesian entrepreneurs and engineers will take advantage of this.
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AmCham Update is AmCham's regular newsletter on developments related to the pandemic crisis and other issues in Indonesia. It is edited by AmCham Managing Director A Lin Neumann and written by the AmCham Staff. Paul L Goddard is the Managing Editor