The Jakarta Post
It is just a matter of a few days before Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama becomes the first Chinese-Indonesian and the first Christian to take the helm as governor of the capital. He is now set to make another record: he will become the first governor to be sworn in personally by the country's head of state ' or at least, the first in four decades.
'Long live Ahok,' cried dozens of legislators and guests after City Council Speaker Prasetyo Edi Marsudi, at the end of a 10-minute plenary session, stated: 'I hereby announce and propose the endorsement of the inauguration of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama as governor.'
Prasetyo said the inauguration recommendation would be immediately sent by the City Council to the President via the Home Ministry.
'The Council speaker will send the letter,' said Prasetyo, a member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), to loud applause from the audience.
Of 106 councilors, only 47 attended the session. The absent councilors are from parties united in the Red-And-White Coalition: Golkar, Gerindra, the Democratic Party, the National Mandate Party (PAN), the United Development Party (PPP) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS). Ahok was supported by the PDI-P, the National Awakening Party (PKB), Nasdem and Hanura.
The sharp-tongued Ahok claimed after the plenary session that his appointment in fact had nothing to do with the City Council.
'Even without a plenary session, I could still be sworn in by the President,' he said.
Ahok added, however, that the plenary session was conducted as a gesture of good faith from the executive to the legislative. 'However, that doesn't mean that they can block the process of my appointment,' he said.
Ahok admitted that without support from a majority at the Council he could face stumbling blocks from the opposition, although he was quick to stress that he was capable of overcoming any problem in order to provide good services and development to Jakartans.
President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo reportedly intends to inaugurate Ahok on Nov. 18, as mandated by the law. The President has a special relationship with the new governor, who was his running-mate in the 2012 Jakarta governor election. The governorship has remained vacant since Jokowi officially became the country's seventh president on Oct. 20.
Born in Manggar, East Belitung regency, on June 29, 1966, Ahok was one of a small number of Chinese politicians who threw themselves into public life after the fall of president Soeharto in May 1998. During Soeharto's era, it was almost impossible for Indonesians of Chinese descent to rise to top government positions.
Ahok's Chinese name is Zhong Wan Xie. He served as East Belitung regent from 2005 to 2006. He was then a member of the House of Representatives with the Golkar faction.
He is famous for his outspokeness and often confrontational behavior. He is among very few politicians to have dared to openly propose the banning of the violent Islam Defenders Front (FPI).
'The President has instructed me to work and work; we just want to work, we no longer want to talk about politics,' Ahok replied when asked about his program as the new governor of Jakarta.