The controversy surrounding a report that Mulan Jameela, a lawmaker from the Indonesia Great Movement Party (Gerindra), her musician husband Ahmad Dhani and their family were given privilege of self-quarantine and then breaking it when they were seen to have visited a mall during which they were still in quarantine obligation have confirmed what we knew all along: the quarantine is only for ordinary people, not for state officials, the rich and elite groups.
In other words, laws and regulation are mostly applied for the very people who vote these figures to office, or those who bought products sold by these rich families, but these elites themselves are mostly exempted from the same laws and regulations.
This inequality before the law becomes tragic in this time of pandemic because just a day after the Mulan controversy became a national headline, Indonesia confirmed its first case of the Omicron coronavirus variant while experts pointed to a possibility of the virus’ third wave attack within the country. The following days, the omicron variant have infected more people in Indonesia.
Mulan was exempted from centrelised quarantine, and could do a self-quarantine because she is a member of the House of Representatives who returned home from an official visit to Turkey. But actually we never know if she was really on an official mission or was just there for a picnic because what we saw from photos circulating was that she, her husband and her family members were enjoying amusement centers in Turkey. We have reasons to doubt if the announcement from the House secretary general that she was in an official mission was only to save face after the controversy becomes viral.
There are 575 members of House of Representatives, 126 members of the Regional Representative Council, and around 25,000 councilors at the provincial and city levels. If they and their family members all get exempted from quarantine, or violate the regulation all together, or bribe quarantine officials like what Rachel Vennya has done, there will be hundreds of thousands of people walk away from quarantine, and become threat to society, from the official exemption alone.
It just so happens that Mulan and Dhani are so popular that people were quickly recognized them in public. Other officials were lucky that not many people know their faces.
What about other people with money? There are thousands of families with money are able to pay officials to get themselves free from quarantine. If Rachel Vennya could bribe officials, there is no reason that thousands of others who have much more money than her can also pay.
Rachel Vennya is just unfortunate that she was very popular on social media that she was busted while on the run. Other rich people simply played it cunningly.
With tens or even hundreds thousands of people arriving from abroad on the loose without any assurance that they were free from the virus, who is going to guarantee that the omicron variant which now enters Indonesia does not come from them?
The condition that endangers the whole nation starts with unequal treatment to some people over the others. They have received treatment as if they were above the law. Once one gets exemption, others will follow, and the regulation becomes useless.
This apply for many other issue in Indonesia. The police only serve those who have money, or the legal system allows the guilty riches to avoid punishment, while handed down stern verdict to those who can’t pay. Soon, any crime can’t be punished, and we return to the situation where only the strong will survive similar to situation in the wild, or the jungle.
We must not allow anybody whoever they are gets exemption – however small it is – before the law.
Inequality before the law is a recipe for destruction. This explains why Indonesia is becoming a country for the haves only.