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Jakarta Post

Editorial: Ahok the Bold

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

  /   Sat, November 15, 2014   /  08:15 am

Acting Jakarta governor Basuki '€œAhok'€ Tjahaja Purnama has proven himself to be a fearless figure when it comes to defending his principles.

He recently filed a recommendation with the home and law and human rights ministers to disband the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) on the grounds that the group had acted in violation of the Constitution in its opposition to his appointment as governor because of his ethnicity and religion.

Ahok is widely known for his guts. He broadcast on YouTube a video of his meeting with officials of the city'€™s Public Works Agency in which he demanded budget efficiency. He openly criticized Gerindra and later quit the party in protest against its support for the law that ended direct elections for regional leaders.

The FPI has relentlessly protested Ahok'€™s promotion to the governorship; one rally last month ended in violence, leaving a number of police officers wounded.

'€œThey are an embarrassment to their own religion. The organization does not deserve to exist. I have written a letter recommending the FPI be banned, and will send it to the [minister] tomorrow, because the group'€™s actions violate the Constitution,'€ Ahok said on Monday.

Ahok is right. No one can stop the process of his inauguration as governor; under the existing law, he is the only figure who holds the right to fill the post left vacant by Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo, who is now President.

That'€™s why the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), unlike the FPI, has called on Jakartans to accept Ahok as their legitimate leader.

It is regrettable that the FPI receives backing from local elites, namely city councilors from the Red-and-White Coalition '€” Gerindra, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the United Development Party (PPP), the Democratic Party and the National Mandate Party (PAN). The councilors opted to boycott the City Council'€™s plenary session on Friday held to approve Ahok'€™s governorship.

Despite their opposition, however, Ahok'€™s inauguration looks imminent. After the approval by the City Council, President Jokowi, who will return from his trip overseas on Monday, is set to swear in Ahok as the governor soon, although the Home Ministry has not set a date for Ahok'€™s induction.

When Ahok assumes power, uncertainty over the city'€™s leadership will end and the municipal administration will be able to immediately focus on the tasks at hand. As acting governor, Ahok has no authority to approve government projects or allocate the budget for 2015.

The prolonged political squabbling will only jeopardize efforts to address lingering problems facing the capital, including annual flooding, which may strike soon now that the rainy season has come. Certainly, Jakarta'€™s people will fall victims to the political brouhaha. The elites have become embroiled in a power play, which has nothing to do with their voters'€™ interests.

It is the right of any Jakarta citizen to disagree with Ahok'€™s inauguration as governor. But they cannot ignore, and have to accept, like it or not, the law which justifies his ascent to Jakarta'€™s top executive post.

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