Ahok apologizes for offending
former deputy governor

Prijanto. JP/Nurhayati
Prijanto. JP/Nurhayati

Outspoken Deputy Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama has apologized to former deputy governor Prijanto after he apparently offended his predecessor in a statement, insinuating that Prijanto had not been useful.

The statement was made recently when Ahok was asked what he would do if Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo should leave City Hall to run in the presidential election.

Ahok replied that he was ready to work with anyone, as long as the person was committed to the people.

“I can work with anyone willing to work for the people. If the person does not want to cooperate, we can just ‘Prijanto’ him,” Ahok said, referring to a period when the relationship between Prijanto and former Jakarta governor Fauzi Bowo soured, and Prijanto was sidelined and given no significant involvement in City Hall.

Ahok’s statement triggered a reaction from Prijanto, who is a retired Army general.

“I immediately called Ahok. What did he mean by that statement?” Prijanto said on Sunday as quoted by kompas.com.

“He made a statement implying that I didn’t work for the people. He thought he was like Fauzi Bowo, so whoever works with the deputy governor [...] should be ‘Prijanto-ed’,” he said.

Prijanto also asked Ahok to take down all the news reports quoting his statement.

Ahok said on Monday that he had apologized to the former governor.

Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama. JP/P.J. Leo

Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama. JP/P.J. Leo

“I have apologized for offending him. I didn’t mean to undermine him. I have promised him that I will never use that term again,” Ahok told reporters at City Hall.

He added, however, that he could not grant Prijanto’s request to take down all the news reports quoting his remark.

“It’s about reporters interpreting my statement and I can’t control them. The term, including the other one, ‘JK-ed’, had been used on the Kompasiana [blog] before,” he said, referring to former vice president Jusuf Kalla.

A blogger, Go Teng Shin, used the term “JK-ed” to describe a vice president whose role is toned down by the president, as Kalla’s was when he was vice president under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2004-2009.

Since then, Kalla has often been described as the driving force behind the President, who has a reputation for being indecisive.

Ahok said the incident had taught him a valuable lesson.

“I know now not to offend people, even if a term is widely known by the public,” he said.

Ahok has become known for his sharp tongue. During his short tenure, he has lashed out several times against people who displease him, including squatters.

If Jokowi runs for president, he would have to step down from his post as governor, while Ahok, a member of the Gerindra Party, would assume the governorship and be paired with a new deputy governor approved by both the PDI-P and Gerindra.

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