An Indonesian bishop has hit out at individuals and groups he says have exploited the Covid-19 chaos for economic and political benefits.
Sacred Heart Bishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi of Amboina in Maluku province said he could not believe that amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has caused so much misery worldwide there are people and groups wanting to profit from it.
His criticism came during a livestreamed Pentecost Mass at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Ambon on May 31.
“They are now becoming richer,” he said, adding that they did not want to see a decline in the number of new cases, “because if the pandemic subsides their income will also drop.”
Bishop Mandagi told UCA News that he spoke out because he could not stand people profiting from other people’s suffering.
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"I was saddened because as the nation struggles to stop the virus, some individuals, politicians and groups want the pandemic to continue," he said on June 2.
The bishop did not name any groups or individuals who he thought were guilty of profiteering.
He said they wanted the economic situation in Indonesia to get worse, and more people to become jobless and poorer, so that the government would be blamed and they can demand a new government.
“They are power-hungry people and want to maintain wealth gained through corruption. They are against the Holy Spirit,” he said.
Stanislaus Riyanta, an intelligence analyst at the University of Jakarta, agreed with the bishop, saying there were groups using the pandemic for their own political interests.
Besides extremist groups wanting to establish a caliphate, there are also political groups spreading discontent and inviting people to weaken a legitimate government.
Riyanta said they are part of opposition groups who lost out in the 2019 presidential election. They are a group of people that want to take power but cannot do it through democracy.
"They realize they don’t have enough power to overthrow the president, so they use Covid-19 to try and seize power,” he told UCA News.
Riyanta said the government should not be distracted by their activities and focus on handling the coronavirus. However, at the same time the government should not underestimate them and called for them to be monitored to prevent actions that could undermine the state.