In the midst of the worsening viral outbreak of Covid-19 in Indonesia, photos of the use of bastardised English terms connected with the pandemic by ordinary Indonesians can serve as comic relief. One shows the entrance to what looks like a village with a makeshift bamboo barrier bearing a sign that proclaims “Lockdont”.  Elsewhere, the word “lockdown” is spelled as “lauk daun”. Other variants include “download” and “slowdown”.

While it is easy just to laugh off Indonesia’s malaprops, mostly hailing from the less educated and lower socio-economic classes, it is important to recognise that these new-fangled foreign terms were first imposed on them by the government and the local media.  The Indonesian authorities have failed to communicate the containment policy of Covid-19  to ordinary Indonesians, and instead have highlighted the stark inequality that characterises Indonesian society.

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Johannes Nugroho

Johannes Nugroho is a writer from Surabaya. He is currently working to get his first novel on the May 1998 Riots published. He can be contacted at johannes@nonacris.com

Charis Loke

Charis is an illustrator based in Penang, Malaysia. Drawing upon literature and visual culture, she makes pictures that evoke wonder and curiosity. As a member of Arts-ED, she also works on community arts and culture education programmes for youth. Her work can be found at http://charisloke.com.

Charis is Comics Editor and Illustrations Editor for New Naratif. Reach her at charis.loke@newnaratif.com