PETALING JAYA, Sept 29 — Indonesian newscaster Najwa Shahib hosted an “interview” with an empty chair last night after the country’s Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto snubbed her invitation to discuss the Covid-19 situation in the republic.
The segment, which appeared on the popular news programme Mata Najwa, has resonated with social media users for giving a sarcastic depiction of government transparency and accountability amidst the pandemic, which has infected 278,722 people and killed 10,473 in Indonesia.
Najwa stated in a Twitter post that she had repeatedly extended an invitation to Terawan to appear on the show but received no reply.
During the segment, Najwa brought up several questions that she and viewers had been meaning to ask Terawan, including his dismissal of the pandemic in its early stages and the escalating number of positive Covid-19 cases in the nation.
Najwa didn’t miss the chance to take a swipe at Terawan’s absence either, calling him the “most low-profile health minister” in the world.
In the replies to her Twitter post, Najwa said that Indonesia’s Health Ministry owes the public clear solutions to prevent the pandemic from spiralling out of control even further.
She noted that other government officials had previously appeared on Mata Najwa to talk about Covid-19 but lamented that the health ministry was seemingly reluctant to speak to journalists about the ongoing situation.
“This invitation (to Terawan) is not a challenge or the like, but it is a hope that the information and policy of handling this pandemic can be obtained directly from the authorities.
“The public needs to listen to the government's plan to address the pandemic that has been going on for the past six months.
“There is a lot of work to be done, but it can all start with showing up. Mr Terawan, you can decide the place and time,” Najwa wrote.
Najwa’s Twitter post about Terawan has racked up more than 19,500 retweets and 45,600 likes so far.
The hashtag #MataNajwaMenantiTerawan (#MataNajwaAwaitsTerawan) also climbed up to the top of the Twitter trends list for Indonesia following Najwa’s tweet last night.