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Basuki Tjahaja Purnama

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama Indonesian politician

Indonesian politician
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Indonesian politician
A.K.A. Ahok, Zhong Wanxue
Is Politician
From Indonesia
Type Politics
Gender male
Birth 29 June 1966, Manggar, Indonesia; Bangka Belitung Islands, Indonesia
Age: 53 years
Star sign CancerCancer
Politics Golongan Karya Party, Great Indonesia Movement Party, Indonesian Democratic Party – Struggle, New Indonesia Party of Struggle
Height: 1.8 m
Basuki Tjahaja Purnama
The details

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (born 29 June 1966) is an Indonesian businessman, politician and former governor of Jakarta. He is also known by his Hakka Chinese nickname Ahok (Chinese: 阿學).

Ahok was a legislator in the Indonesian People's Representative Council (DPR) and Regent of East Belitung. He was elected to the House of Representatives for the 2009–2014 term but resigned in 2012 to run for the deputy governorship of Jakarta, to which he was elected. In November 2014, he became governor of Jakarta, as his predecessor Joko Widodo had become president. During the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election, Ahok was struck by allegations of blasphemy in October 2016 and criticism of his policies on forced evictions. He later lost the election to former Education Minister Anies Baswedan and was then imprisoned for blasphemy.

Ahok 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.

Early life

Family and personal life

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Chinese: 鐘萬學; 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. He has three siblings: Basuri Tjahaja Purnama, Fifi Lety, and Harry Basuki.

Ahok married Veronica Tan on 6 September 1997, and the couple has three children: Nicolas Sean, Natania, and Daud Albeneer. They divorced in 2018, with Ahok gaining custody of the two younger children. In 2019, Ahok married Puput Nastiti Devi, a police officer who previously served as the aide of his ex-wife.


Ahok 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.

Political career

Early involvement with politics

Ahok 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 his firm stance against corruption. Ahok confronted vital issues related to traffic congestion, labour, 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 CCTVs to improve accountability.

2007 Bangka-Belitung governor election

Ahok 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 Ahok's candidacy and praised his healthcare reforms. However, Ahok was defeated by Eko Maulana Ali.

In 2008, Ahok wrote a biography titled Merubah Indonesia (Reforming Indonesia).

Parliamentary career (2009–2012)

In 2009, Ahok was elected to the DPR as a member of Golkar. He was elected with 119,232 votes, and was assigned to the Second Commission. In 2011, he generated controversy in a visit to his local constituency, during which 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 Ahok during the 2012 Jakarta gubernatorial election.

In 2011, Ahok 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. The pair 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 of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra). On 10 September 2014, Ahok left Gerindra because he opposed the party's proposal to scrap direct elections for local leaders. Since then, he has been politically unaffiliated.

Governorship (2014–2017)

When Joko Widodo took a temporary leave from his post as Jakarta governor to campaign for President, Ahok 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.

2017 reelection bid

Ahok 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 supporters required by Indonesian law to be eligible to run from an independent ticket. Due to a new state regulation that stricken independent candidate's requirements to run for this election, Ahok is set to run from political party ticket from three political parties, who previously declared endorsements earlier in 2016. They are Golkar, the People's Conscience Party (Hanura), and the Nasdem Party. On 20 September 2016, the PDI-P declared its support for Ahok.

In the first round of voting on 15 February 2017, Ahok secured passage to the second-round between two candidates, having secured approximately 43% of the vote, ahead of Anies Baswedan with 40%, and well ahead of Agus Yudhoyono with 17%. 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 were published by General Elections Commissions (KPU) in May, and Anies Baswedan was elected as the new governor of Jakarta.

Target of racism

A candidate and a member of a minority ethnic group, Ahok has become the subject of occasional racist comments. During the campaign, he was regularly targeted by ultra-conservatives and supporters of rival candidates for being of Chinese descent. Furthermore, his "double minority" background, being both a Christian and of Chinese descent, makes him a target of the hardliner and sometimes violent Islamic Defenders Front (Front Pembela Islam, FPI). The group called for the revision of the Jakarta constitution to remove some of the governor's responsibilities for government-affiliated Islamic organisations. In 2016, 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 Chinese Indonesians.

Blasphemy allegations and imprisonment

Islamist protests against Ahok in Jakarta, 2 December 2016

On 27 September 2016, while introducing a government project to citizens of the Thousand Islands, Ahok said some citizens would not vote for him because they were being "threatened and deceived" by those using the verse Al-Ma'ida 51 of the Qur'an and variations of it. The provincial government of Jakarta uploaded the video recording to YouTube in a channel which often featured Ahok's activities. The video was later edited by a university lecturer, Buni Yani, and one word was omitted from that video, creating a misinterpretation of Ahok's statement. The video went viral, with some citizens considering it an insult to the Quran. Ahok received threats of lynching and was widely criticised in social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Several Change.org petitions were filed, initiated by both his supporters and critics, garnering tens of thousands of signatures.

Some groups, such as the FPI, or the local chapter of the Indonesian Ulema Council, reported Ahok to the police, accusing him of having violated Indonesia's blasphemy law. On 10 October 2016, Ahok publicly apologised to those he offended with his statement, stating that it was not his intention to do so and that some of his policies 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 Thousand Islands speech, the residents were not insulted, and even amused during his recitation. Imam Mohammad Tawhidi of Australia requested to defend Ahok during his blasphemy trial. Tawhidi argued that the aggrieved Islamic groups had incorrectly interpreted the verse of the Quran that Ahok 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 had received death threats from FPI.

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 his defence that he referred to a Quranic verse to highlight political discrimination. Based on the court hearing, the panel of judges said that his Thousand Islands speech 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 Quran, and that anyone who quotes it should not have any intent of deception. The judges took into consideration a book Ahok 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 ("friends and protectors", or "allies") in the verse could be defined as a leader, thus declaring that Ahok's remarks to be degrading and insulting to the Koran. They also agreed with expert witnesses in the trial that Ahok's remarks were a blasphemous offence.


The verdict 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 criticised by the Ahok administration. Several civil society groups protested his imprisonment, including Amnesty International. Renowned music composer and conductor Addie MS conducted a singing protest in front of the Balai Kota (city hall). Candle-lit vigils were held 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. The promotion of three judges from the panel a few days after the verdict also raised suspicions and spurred criticism from many Indonesians.

As a result of his imprisonment, Ahok was unable to finish his term as governor and was replaced by his deputy, Djarot Saiful Hidayat, who served until the administration completed its term in October 2017. Ahok initially wished to appeal his sentence but withdrew his appeal on 22 May 2017. 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. 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 parole was possible in August 2018, Ahok stated that he would serve his entire sentence before leaving prison. In 2017, Foreign Policy included Ahok in its list of Global Thinkers 2017 "for standing up to Indonesia's creeping fundamentalism."


He was released on 24 January 2019 due to remissions granted at Indonesian Independence Day and Christmas. Soon afterwards, he joined the PDI-P. He has requested to be called as 'BTP', rather than 'Ahok' by which he is more known.

In 2019, Ahok stated that he "could no longer become a government official". During Jokowi's second term of presidency, Ahok was appointed as the president commissioner of the state-owned oil and gas firm Pertamina.

Awards and achievements

No Award from Award category / Award name Award Information
1 WWF National Earth Hour Capital 2015 High commitment to low-carbon development in a number of significant sectors
2 WWF National Earth Hour Capital 2016 High commitment to low-carbon development in a number of significant sectors
3 PT. Telkom Indonesia Smart City Nusantara Condition of infrastructure connectivity, content presented and collaboration with the community
4 Indonesia Green Award 2016 The Most Inspiring Increasing Green Open Space (Ruang Terbuka Hijau) in DKI Jakarta
5 Bappenas Best MDGs Achievement of the Highest MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) of 2015
6 Bappenas Best I Provincial Category (2016) Best planning
7 Bappenas Best I Provincial Category (2016) Innovative planning
8 Bappenas Best I Provincial Category (2016) Progressive planning
9 Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) Families Gus Dur Awards 2016 Brave, assertive, anti-corruption and clean figure just like Gus Dur
10 Bappenas MDGs Best achievement
11 Bappenas MDGs Most indicator achievement
12 Bappenas and LKPP National Procurement Awards Success and leadership in electronic procurement transformation
13 Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi Anti Gratification Awards Succeeded in encouraging gratification control within Jakarta Provincial Government
14 Basarnas Honorary Citizens of Basarnas Have the privilege to use special facilities from National SAR Agencies (Basarnas)
15 Alzheimers Disease International Champion Alzheimer's Disease Support and care for various awareness raising activities of Alzheimer's disease, dementia and caring for the elderly
16 Bung Hatta Anti Corruption Awards Anti Corruption Figures Integrity and innovation in campaigns achieve budget transparency
17 Democracy Awards Democracy Awards Successful regional heads play the role of strengthening regional autonomy within the framework of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia (NKRI)
18 Serikat Perusahaan Pers SPS Political Figures Awarded in the event of Indonesia Public Relations Awards & Summit
19 MNC Group Controversial Figures Awarded in the event of Anugerah Seputar Indonesia
20 MURI Record of the PTSP Service Within a year managed to publish more than 4 million licensing services
21 MURI Record of the Terrorism Socialization Socialization of terrorism prevention involving 7,200 peoples with National Agency for Counter-Terrorism (BNPT) and Coordination Forum on Terrorism Prevention
22 MURI Record of the Robot Assemble As many as 1,000 students of kindergarten in West Jakarta were busily to assemble the tree robots together
23 LEPRID Record of Achievement Receiving the appreciation of congratulations, sympathy and gratitude in the form of the most flower boards from the citizens who send it for him and his deputy governor, Djarot Saiful Hidayat
24 MURI Record of the Longest Flower Boards Parade Receiving the longest flower boards starts from Jakarta City Hall to Monas and surrounding areas , even declared as a world record by MURI
25 Bappenas Best II Provincial Category (2017) Best planning
26 Bappenas Best I Provincial Category (2017) Best innovation in planning
27 Foreign Policy Global Thinkers 2017 For standing up to Indonesia's creeping fundamentalism
28 Roosseno Award IX – 2019 Work Ethic, High Integrity and Creative Ideas for the Public Indonesian figures who are considered to have a work ethic, high integrity, consistently applying inspirational creative ideas for development and can be used as inspiration for the Indonesian people.


Eviction of kampung residents

Ahok was criticized by various human rights groups and academics to have violated human rights in implementing his public housing programs by employing forced evictions to Jakarta's urban poor kampung residents. Ahok accused the residents as squatting government-owned lands and as a result move them to newly-built public housings. Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation noted that at least 16,000 urban poor families had 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 these evictions were not done under the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) convention, which Indonesia ratified in 2005. One of the conditions of the covenant requires a dialogue before eviction and compensation for any damaged property. Ahok also deployed police and military personnel in most of its evictions, which is considered as violating Indonesian law on military organization.

Ahok claimed that his policies only evicted illegal squatters in order to uphold the rule of law. Human rights groups have argued that according to Indonesian land policy, the so-called illegal squatters should have received land certificates instead for living there for more than 30 years. Ahok 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 costly living expense, which jumped from the equivalent of about $10 to $20 a month to $70 to $100. Ahok was also accused of employing double standards in the evictions. Rujak Center for Urban Studies researcher Dian Tri Irawaty noted that the evictions did not apply to commercial areas and elite neighbourhoods in Jakarta. She cited the Taman Anggrek mall in West Jakarta, the neighbourhoods and commercial areas in Kelapa Gading and Pluit in North Jakarta, which were also built on water catchment areas. Ian Wilson of Murdoch University argued that Ahok's policies that affected Jakarta's urban poor was overshadowed by his status as ethnic and religious minority, especially since at the same time he was accused of blasphemy. Many lower and middle-class citizens feel that without hearing the aspirations of the people, he caused hundreds of residents to lose their homes.

When confronted, Ahok firmly brushed it off, claiming that he had a different concept of human rights, saying, "I would kill two thousands people in front of you to save ten millions". The leader of human rights group KontraS, Haris Azhar, criticised Ahok for this statement, claiming that his anti-corruption image was "nothing but a publicity gimmick" for his lack of awareness in human rights.

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