Martha (not her real name), believes that the Covid-19 vaccine should not be compulsory and that wearing masks will not make a difference in reducing infections. According to her, the disease has “a 99.9 percent recovery rate”.
She also claims that the majority of expatriates in Bali were both anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers, and that they would leave Indonesia if mandatory vaccinations were imposed.
“Surely there will be doctors you can pay to give you a [vaccination] certificate if [the authorities] make it mandatory, no?” she said.
The Covid-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 5,767 within one day to 1,373,836, with the death toll adding by 128 to 37,154, the Health Ministry said on Saturday.
According to the ministry, 6,823 more people were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 1,189,510.
The virus has spread to all the country's 34 provinces.
Specifically, within the past 24 hours, Jakarta recorded 1,616 new cases, West Java 1,094, Central Java 586, East Kalimantan 396, East Java 393 and South Kalimantan 171.
The pandemic has ravaged the country’s top holiday destination of Bali since the government banned international travel to the resort island last year.
Bali’s provincial economy relies heavily on tourism, yet it continues to see many foreigners, both residents and visitors, breaking the central government’s Covid-19 public health protocols.
In June 2020, provincial authorities deported Syrian national Barakeh Wissam for organising a yoga gathering in Ubud. Around 60 people, mostly foreigners, attended the event in the village, which is known as the island’s cultural and spiritual center.
In January, Bali deported American national Kristen Gray after she published a Twitter post that encouraged foreigners to come to Indonesia during the pandemic, despite the international travel ban.
Other tweets she posted caused uproar among Indonesian netizens, who lambasted her over “passport privilege”.
That same month, Russian influencer Sergey Kosenko was also deported after he held a party in Canggu, a popular beachfront destination in southern Bali.
Back to “Martha”, who says she isn’t concerned about a backlash from Indonesians over her controversial views.
“I personally wear my mask [in public], even though I do not agree with it. I do this out of respect for those who are in fear, since it makes them feel more comfortable,” she said, stressing that she was a guest in another country and would abide by the local rules.
She also revealed that she contracted Covid-19 in January and complied with the government’s 14-day quarantine in Jakarta, even though she felt it was “wildly unnecessary”.
When asked about her relationship with Indonesians, Martha mentioned her volunteer work and how she personally employed three Indonesians with “generous salaries” and provided them with money and food when they were struggling.
Regardless, she is adamant about her anti-vaccination stance, which she shared frequently with her neighbors and friends in Bali.
“Bali would really be shooting themselves in the foot [if vaccination was mandatory for foreigners], since the majority of their expats are holistic health folks,” she said.
“The real issue is the mass fear and agenda the media is pushing.”
Separately, Julie, a 26-year-old Frenchwoman residing in Bali who asked to be referred to by just her given name, said that protecting public health was more important than any personal views.
While she personally preferred not to get the vaccine, she said the pandemic was an unprecedented event that had impacted not only public health, but also the global economy.
"This is why I am thinking about getting vaccinated, but I hope to have the choice to go back to Europe to be vaccinated in my home country with the vaccine of my choice," said Julie. - The Jakarta Post/ANN