Basuki Tjahaja Purnama . Gubernur DKI Jakarta
Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (born 29 June 1966) is an Indonesian politician and former governor of Jakarta. He is also known by his Hakka Chinese nickname Ahok (Chinese: 阿学).
Basuki was a legislator in the Indonesian People’s Representative Council and Regent of East Belitung. He was elected to the House of Representatives for the 2009–2014 term but resigned in 2012 to make a successful run for the deputy governorship of Jakarta. In November 2014, he became governor of Jakarta, as his predecessor Joko Widodo had become president. Allegations of blasphemy were commenced in October 2016 during which, he was defeated by Anies Baswedan in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election and was then controversially jailed for insulting Islam.
Basuki was the second governor of Jakarta with Chinese ancestry and also the city’s second Christian governor, following Henk Ngantung, who was governor from 1964-65.
- 1 Personal Life
- Early life
- Political Career
- Early involvement with politics
- 2007 Bangka-Belitung governor election
- Parliamentary career (2009–2012)
- Jakarta’s deputy governor (2012–2014)
- Governorship (2014–2017)
- Jakarta governor election, 2017
- Racism against Ahok
- Allegations of religious blasphemy
- Awards and Achievements
- Eviction of illegal squatters
Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (EYD: Basuki Cahaya Purnama; Chinese: 钟万学; Tjung Ban Hok; pinyin: Zhōng Wànxué; Hakka Pha̍k-fa-sṳ: Chûng Van-ho̍k) was born on 29 June 1966 and grew up in Manggar, East Belitung. He is the first son of Buniarti Ningsih and the late Indra Tjahaja Purnama. Basuki has three siblings: Basuri Tjahaja Purnama, Fifi Lety, and Harry Basuki.
Basuki attended Trisakti University, majoring in mineral resources and technology. He graduated with a bachelor of science degree in geological engineering in 1989 and returned to his hometown in Belitung to build a company that dealt in mining contracts.
After two years of working in the company, he decided to pursue a master’s degree in financial management at Prasetiya Mulya Business School in Jakarta. He graduated with a Master of Business Administration.
Basuki married Veronica Tan on 6 September 1997, and the couple has three children: Nicolas Sean, Natania, and Daud Albeneer. He divorced her in 2018, gaining custody of the two younger children.
Early Involvement with Politics
Basuki entered politics in his home region of Belitung. He contested the 2005 East Belitung regent election with Khairul Effendi as his running mate and was elected with 37.13% of the vote. He was hopeful Indonesia was breaking with its long and often violent history of prejudice and resentment. He is nicknamed “The Father” and “The Law” for strong actions against corruption. After a month in office, Basuki confronted key issues related to traffic congestion, labor, corruption and bureaucracy. He mediated a minimum wage increase, proposed incentives for street vendors to move to designated markets in order to reduce congestion, migrated poor villagers to new flats, launched sudden inspections of government offices, and proposed installing closed circuit cameras to improve accountability.
2007 Bangka-Belitung Governor Election
Basuki resigned from his position as East Belitung regent on 11 December 2006 in order to run in the 2007 Bangka-Belitung gubernatorial election. He later credited former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid, for convincing him to run for public office. Wahid supported Basuki’s candidacy and praised Ahok’s healthcare reforms. Basuki was defeated by Eko Maulana Ali.
In 2008, Basuki wrote a biography titled Merubah Indonesia (Reforming Indonesia).
Parliamentary Career (2009–2012)
In 2009, Basuki was elected to the House of Representatives, as a Golkar politician. He was elected with 119,232 votes, and was assigned to the Second Commission. In 2011, he created a controversy during a visit to his local constituency. He was recorded by the local media condemning local tin mining businesses for causing environmental damage. The comment was regarded as an insult by a local youth NGO, who reported him to the House Ethics Committee.
Jakarta’s Deputy Governor (2012–2014)
An election flyer from the campaign of Joko Widodo and Basuki during the 2012 Jakarta gubernatorial election.
In 2011, Basuki considered running for Jakarta governor as an independent candidate. However, he opted not to run, as he was pessimistic about his chances of receiving 250,000 signatures, a requirement for running as an independent gubernatorial candidate in Jakarta. He then became the running mate of Joko Widodo in the 2012 election. Jokowi and Basuki won 1,847,157 (42.6%) votes in the first round, and 2,472,130 (53.82%) in the second round, defeating incumbent governor Fauzi Bowo. The ticket was nominated by the Indonesian Democratic Party – Struggle (PDI-P) and the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra). On 10 September 2014, Basuki left Gerindra because he opposed the party’s proposal to scrap direct elections for local leaders. Since then, he has been politically unaffiliated.
When Joko Widodo took a temporary leave from his post as Jakarta governor to campaign for President, Basuki became the acting Governor of Jakarta from 1 June to 22 July 2014. Following Jokowi’s victory, he succeeded him as governor and was sworn into office on 18 November 2014.
Jakarta Governor Election, 2017
Basuki initially had declared to run for the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election as an independent candidate with Teman Ahok (Friends of Ahok), a group of volunteers responsible for collecting over one million Resident Identity Cards, representing over one million supporters required by Indonesian law to be eligible to run from independent ticket. Due to a new state regulation that stricken independent candidate’s requirements to run for gubernatorial election, Basuki is set to run from political party ticket from three political parties, who previously declared endorsements earlier in 2016. The three political parties consisting Golkar, People’s Conscience Party, and Nasdem Party. On 20 September 2016, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) declared its support for Basuki.
In the first round of voting on 15 February 2017, Ahok secured passage to the second round run-off between two candidates, having secured approximately 43 percent of the vote, ahead of Anies Baswedan on 40 percent, and well ahead of Agus Yudhoyono on 17 percent.
Quick counts for the 19 April runoff indicated that Anies Baswedan was elected as governor; Ahok conceded defeat hours after the polls closed. The official results of the runoff was published by General Elections Commissions (KPU) in May, and Anies Baswedan was elected as the new governor of Jakarta.
Racism against Ahok
A candidate and a member of a minority ethnic group, Basuki has become the subject of occasional racist comments. During the 2017 gubernatorial campaign, he was regularly targeted by ultra-conservatives and supporters of rival candidates for being of Chinese descent. Furthermore, Basuki’s “double minority” background, being both a Christian and of Chinese descent, makes him a target of the hardliner Islamic Defenders Front (FPI). The group called for the revision of the Jakarta constitution to remove some of the governor’s responsibilities for government-affiliated Islamic organizations.
On 15 March 2016, for instance, Indonesian Army General Surya Prabowo commented that Ahok should “know his place lest the Indonesian Chinese face the consequences of his action”. This controversial comment was considered to hearken back to previous violence against the Indonesian Chinese.
Allegations of religious blasphemy
Islamist protests against Basuki in Jakarta, 31 March 2017
On 27 September 2016, while introducing a government project through a speech in front of citizens of the Thousand Islands, Basuki realized and acknowledged that it is understandable if some citizens would not vote for him because they are being “threatened and deceived” by some groups using Verse 51 of Al-Ma’ida and variations of it,” referring to a verse that some groups have cited as grounds to oppose him.
The provincial government of Jakarta uploaded the video recording to YouTube in a channel which often feature Basuki’s activities. The video was later edited by Buni Yani and one word was omitted from that video to create a misinterpretation of Basuki’s statement, and went viral as some citizens were considering it an insult on the Quran. The video became viral, Basuki was receiving threats to be lynched, and widely criticized in social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
There are Change.org petitions about his case. Petitions initiated by alumni of Harvard, Stanford, Washington, Berkeley, Michigan, etc. and the general public supporting him garnered tens of thousands of signatures, while those criticizing him also gained tens of thousands of signatures.
Some groups, like several extremist organizations including the Islamic Defenders Front (Front Pembela Islam), or the local chapter of the Indonesian Ulema Council, reported Basuki to the police, accusing him blindly of having violated Indonesia’s Law on Misuse and Insult of Religion.
On 10 October 2016, Basuki publicly apologized to those he offended with his statement, stating that it was not his intention to do so, and that some of his policies that he said had benefited Muslims, such as granting permits for Islamic schools, providing Jakarta Smart Cards (KJP) to the students, and building a mosque in the City Hall complex.
He also pointed out that during his September 7 speech in the Thousand Islands in which he mentioned Surah al-Maidah, verse 51 of the Quran, the residents were not insulted, and even amused during his recitation.
Imam Mohammad Tawhidi of Australia made a request to defend Jakarta Governor Basuki during his blasphemy trial. Tawhidi argued that the aggrieved Islamic groups had incorrectly interpreted the verse of the Quran that Basuki had allegedly referenced in a blasphemous manner. Tawhidi stated that there is nothing wrong with non-Muslims leading a Muslim-majority country. Tawhidi said he has received death threats from Indonesia’s extremist Islamic Defenders Front.
On 9 May 2017, Ahok was sentenced to two years in prison by North Jakarta District Court after being found guilty of blasphemy and inciting violence. The panel of judges rejected Basuki’s defense that he made reference to a Quranic verse to highlight political discrimination.
Based on the court hearing, the panel of judges said that the speech by Basuki in Thousand Islands, North Jakarta on 27 September 2016[ contained elements of blasphemy. The chief judge maintained that Ahok’s statement considered the Al-Maidah verse as a tool to deceive or a source of lies. He said the verse is part of the Koran, and that anyone who quotes it should not have any intent of deception. The judges took into consideration a book Basuki had written in 2008 titled Changing Indonesia. His book was judged as proof that he understood the verse in question. They determined the word aulia in the verse could be defined as leader, thus declaring that Basuki’s remarks to be degrading and insulting to the Koran. They also agreed with expert witnesses in the trial that Basuki’s remarks were a blasphemous offense.
Because of this case, Basuki was unable to finish his term as governor of Jakarta and was replaced by his deputy, Djarot Saiful Hidayat, who was acting governor until the administration completed its term in October 2017. Basuki and his lawyers decided not to appeal against the verdict. In an unusual move, the prosecutors filed an appeal against the verdict, arguing the sentence was much heavier than the 1-year imprisonment they had requested.
The verdict delivered by the panel of judges was met with scrutiny, condemnation and heavy criticism by many Indonesians and observers in the international community, in a case widely seen as a test of religious tolerance and free speech. Many said the verdict was politically driven, retaliatory in nature, and the judges had succumbed to pressure from: extremist Islamic groups, disgruntled corrupt business groups, and politicians and officials who were previously criticized by Basuki’s administration. The promotion of three judges from the panel a few days after the verdict also raised suspicions and spurred criticism from many Indonesians.
The singing protest for Ahok arranged by Addie MS.
Basuki’s jailing has been condemned by several human rights groups, including Amnesty International. Several civil society groups protested his imprisonment. Renowned music composer and conductor Addie MS conducted a singing protest in front of the Balai Kota. Candle-lit vigils were lit in various cities. Many observers and individuals both inside and outside of Indonesia have also petitioned the Indonesian government to amend the blasphemy law on the basis that it is discriminatory and targets minorities.
Basuki initially wished to appeal his sentence, but withdrew his appeal on 22 May 2017. He is currently incarcerated at Cipinang. In February 2018, he filed a case review request to the Supreme Court, with his lawyers citing a conviction for tampering with the video footage which was used as evidence against him. On 26 March, the Supreme Court rejected his appeal.
Before his arrest, Ahok had said that one day he wanted to be president of Indonesia. Although a parole was possible in August 2018, Ahok stated that he would serve his entire sentence before leaving prison. Ahok is scheduled to be released in early 2019 because of a parole at the Indonesian Independence day.
Awards and Achievements
Eviction of Illegal Squatters
Basuki was accused by various human rights group and academics to have violated human rights in implementing his public housing programs by employing forced evictions to the illegal squatters who had been occupying public facilities & government lands, and moving them to newly-built modern public housings, improving their livelihood & living standards. Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation noted that at least 16,000 illegal squatters families have been displaced in the two years during his administration. There were 193 forced evictions alone in 2016, compared to 113 in 2015.
Human rights groups noted that Basuki’s forced evictions were not done in accordance to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (Ecosoc) convention. The covenant is ratified by Indonesia with the issuance of Law No 11/2005. One of the conditions of the covenant requires a dialogue prior to an eviction and compensation for any damaged property. Basuki also deployed police and military personnel in most of its evictions.
Basuki claimed that his policies only evicting illegal squatters to uphold Rule of Law, but human right groups have argued that according to Indonesian land policy, the so-called illegal squatters should have received land certificate instead for living there more than 30 years. Basuki relocated the evicted dwellers to the privately funded public housing, but the relocation has drawn criticism for not meeting basic standards of living and having a very expensive living expense. Living expenses jumped from the equivalent of about $10 to $20 a month to $70 to $100.
Basuki was also accused of employing double standards in the evictions. Rujak Center for Urban Studies researcher Dian Tri Irawaty said, Basuki’s harsh evictions did not apply to commercial areas and elite neighborhoods in Jakarta. She cited the Taman Anggrek mall in West Jakarta, the neighborhoods and commercial areas in Kelapa Gading and Pluit in North Jakarta. Those areas were also built on water catchment areas.
When confronted, Basuki firmly brushed it off. He claimed that he had a different concept of human rights. The leader of human rights group KontraS, Haris Azhar, criticized Basuki for this statement, claiming that his anti-corruption image was “nothing but a publicity gimmick” for Basuki’s lack of awareness in human rights.