STRENGTHENING INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION DURING THE PANDEMIC OF COVID-19
The pandemic case of COVID-19 pushes countries, especially Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, to be more capable and innovative. Ministry of Foreign Affairs in conjunction with Universitas Syiah Kuala along with 25 other partner universities from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, hold a virtual conference titled Strengthening IMT-GT Cooperation on Covid-19, Monday 22 June 2020 through an online platform.
There were several speakers presented at the conference, Prof. Marwan, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs, and the Head of Unsyiah Covid-19 Mitigation Task Force, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sazzli Shahlan Kasim from Universiti Teknologi Mara, Prof. Dr. Virasakdi Chongsuvivatwong from Prince Songkla University, Mr. Kazunobu Onogawa, the Director IGES/CCET, Japan, and IMT-GT Pilot Project Covid-19 Medical Waste Management, and Mr. Gary Krishnan, Senior Country Specialist of Asian Development Bank.
The conference was officially opened by Rector of Universitas Syiah Kuala, Prof. Dr. Ir. Samsul Rizal, M.Eng, IPU. In his statement, he stated that Covid-19’s impact is not only deadly toward countries in the world but also a great decreasing in the flow of the supply chain and their economy. “We have to fight this pandemic by supporting and helping each other”, he added.
On the forum, the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs keeps driving its solid consistency and international partnership in handling the pandemic currently happening. Overall, according to the virtual conference presented by the experts and academicians of UNINET (University Network), it can be concluded that it is a must for countries on the world to cooperate in handling the spread of the virus. Thus, four points can be done which are tracing, testing, isolating, and caring.
Moreover, all speakers assume that if these four can be conducted effectively by each country, the virus spread can be stopped and the pandemic curve can be reduced. When the pandemic is resisted, thus the economic cycle will move again.
Besides, Indonesia consistently stretches its solidarity and international partnership in the pandemic mitigation, covering the international cooperation forum on sub-regional Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT). These three countries have cross-border territories so that it is important to strengthen cooperation during COVID-19 mitigation because the countries are located in strategic areas.
Desra Percaya, the Directorate General of Asia Pacific and Africa from of Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the cooperation of IMT-GT already gives some contributions in developing the economy of Indonesia such as raising the partnership, trade value, tourism, and investment. Furthermore, he stated that this collaboration is recognized as an effort to foster concrete cooperation among intellectuals in overcoming the pandemic.
Thus far, the cooperation opportunity that can be identified during this meeting is joint research, entrepreneurship training for youth, strategy development, and action plan on waste management in handling COVID-19, information exchange, and improvement of technology using in the economic sector.
The IMT-GT recently working on the cooperation program of Covid-19 mitigation that includes in its framework of COVID-19 Medical Waste Management System Project for the regional governments of IMT-GT member countries. As information, currently, Bangka Belitung province became a pilot project in the protocol improvement in Indonesia. The IMT-GT secretariat also has done such an effort to facilitate the discussion on Covid-19 mitigation in several sectors that will be the IMT-GT priorities to participate in implementing the health protocol and prepare the readiness of the regions incorporated as members of the IMT-GT in carrying out new normal. While ADB facilitates the economic recovery efforts in several regions, such as preparing a database that can be accessed by stakeholders in a certain region and highlighting the importance of sharing information.