Dr Herdiyan Maulana discussed the importance of developing a well-being model that also incorporates the social and cultural context of Indonesia. It would offer a more comprehensive measurement and understanding of well-being, particularly in the advent of a national crisis such as the Covid-19 coronavirus.
REGIONAL SOCIAL AND CULTURAL STUDIES PROGRAMME WEBINAR
Well-Being in Southeast Asia Webinar Series
Thursday, 1 October 2020 – ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute organised a webinar on “Well-being During the Covid-19 Pandemic in Indonesia”, the second of the series on “Well-being in Southeast Asia” supported by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) on Thursday. The webinar was delivered by Dr Herdiyan Maulana, Lecturer at the Faculty of Psychology, Universitas Negeri Jakarta, Indonesia, and moderated by Dr Kevin S Y Tan, Visiting Senior Research Fellow of ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute.
The webinar opened with remarks by Mr Christian Echle, Director of the Regional Programme Political Dialogue Asia of KAS who commented about how the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has affected the social and economic landscape of Indonesia, particularly its tourism sector, and subsequently looked forward to learning more about the state of well-being within the Indonesian population amidst the pandemic.
Dr Maulana began his talk by noting the rising interest among Indonesian policymakers in gaining a deeper understanding of well-being among its citizens. He noted the increasing effort in Indonesian policy circles to align national infrastructural development projects with people’s levels of happiness and life satisfaction. Situating his presentation within this context, Dr Maulana then turned his attention to unpack the conventional definition of well-being, which tends to be understood in terms of cognitive and affective components premised upon one’s life satisfaction and emotional balance. He argued that applying this understanding to Indonesian policies has limitations due to the importance of social relations in shaping individual well-being in Indonesia. This is because Indonesians’ experiences of well-being are largely shaped by social relationships such as being part of religious communities, family and friendship networks. In addition, certain contextual nuances in language and culture tend to be excluded from the application of conventional measures of well-being. For example, when the term ‘well-being’ is translated literally, it is interpreted as one’s financial condition in Bahasa Indonesia. This subsequently limits the understanding of well-being to its material (or financial) dimensions, neglecting other aspects such as social, emotional and mental dimensions of well-being.
Given the immense impact on people’s mental well-being during the pandemic, Dr Maulana argued that it is now even more important to develop and apply a contextually sensitive measure of well-being that could better enhance policy knowledge of population well-being in Indonesia. This is in view of how over a quarter of a million Indonesians have been infected along with a death toll of more than 10,000 to date. Indonesia is now ranked as the country with the second highest number of infections in ASEAN, with the situation being exacerbated by misinformation and confusion regarding the severity of the outbreak. He noted, however, that there has been ongoing efforts by the government to understand population well-being in Indonesia by shifting attention from one dimension in the 2014 Census to multiple dimensions that include affective conditions (i.e. happiness) and perceptions on meaning of life. Nevertheless, a key challenge has been how the concept of well-being still lacks a broad consensus within Indonesia. Moving forward, Dr Maulana suggested that other dimensions such as social relations, self-acceptance and spirituality should be considered in developing an Indonesian Well-being Scale.
The webinar was attended by more than 50 participants from both Singapore and abroad. Issues that were discussed during the virtual Q&A session included the cultural validity of the Indonesian Well-being Scale; the role of spirituality and religion in achieving well-being among Indonesians; questions of well-being among healthcare sector personnel given the increased working hours and levels of fatigue experienced during this Covid-19 pandemic.