The new head of Lenteng Agung subdistrict in South Jakarta, Susan Jasmine Zulkifli, 43, whose replacement on sectarian grounds was demanded on Monday, has won the support of many residents.
A group of people calling themselves the Forum of Lenteng Agung Residents for Reformation (Formala) said on Wednesday that they were supporting Susan as part of their support for the city administration's efforts to develop good governance.
A member of the forum, R. Nio Soeprapto, said that his forum would gather together residents who wanted improvements in Lenteng Agung to discuss a solution to the opposition by some residents.
'We strongly suggest the subdistrict head check out the people who drew up the petition because no resident has rejected her appointment,' he said. 'If such a rejection was true, we would consider it as intolerance related to ethnicity, religion, race and group affiliation and, therefore, report it to the police.'
Susan, a Protestant, was among 311 of Jakarta's subdistrict and district leaders who were inaugurated by Governor Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo in June.
However, more than a month after her inauguration, some Lenteng Agung residents went to the City Hall to deliver a petition demanding that the city administration replace her.
The representatives of the residents submitted a list of 2,300 names and 1,500 photocopies of ID cards to support their petition. They said that it did not make sense that they had a non-Muslim leader, as their previous leaders had all been Muslims.
They argued that it would be awkward for Muslim residents to have Susan as their leader, because she would not be able to join religious activities held by the 22 mosques, 59 musholla (houses of prayer) and hundreds of majelis talim (Islamic teaching groups) in their subdistrict.
They said they would stage a protest should the governor fail to accommodate their request.
Naser Nasrullah, a representative of the residents said on Monday that they only wanted the city administration to transfer her to a more heterogeneous subdistrict.
Resident Laeli, 35, said that she did not see Susan's religion as a problem. 'I don't care about her religion as long as she serves the residents, such as facilitating them to get cards for free health services and cards for their children's free-of-charge education.'
Susan responded to the petition by saying that she would not join religious events because she would respect the Muslim majority in the subdistrict.
'I would definitely join such events if the residents allowed me, but some residents told me that in Islam a non-Muslim is prohibited from entering a mosque or musholla,' she said. 'However, I will always send my deputy head or another official to join such events.'
'The first priority for us is to create more effective public services by establishing one-stop services for ID cards and health cards on one floor of our office,' she said, adding that her other priorities were cleaning the Ciliwung River in the subdistrict and relocating street vendors to reduce traffic congestion. (ian)