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Jakarta Post

Ahok’s brother sends open letter to Yusril, explaining father’s citizenship

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, April 3, 2018   /   03:42 pm
Ahok’s brother sends open letter to Yusril, explaining father’s citizenship   An open letter written by Harry Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the youngest brother of former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama. (

Harry Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the youngest brother of former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, has addressed an open letter to a constitutional law expert, Yusril Ihza Mahendra, stressing his father was an Indonesian citizen.

The letter was written in response to Yusril’s statement saying that Ahok was born a foreign citizen because his father, Tjoeng Kiem Nam, chose to be a Chinese citizen during the period of citizenship determination in 1962.

During the period, Indonesians of Chinese descent were required to choose whether they wanted to be Chinese or Indonesian citizens. Should they pick the latter, they had to change their Chinese names to Indonesian names.

Even though many of them wanted to be Indonesian citizens, the procedures were quite complicated, thus hampering them from acquiring Indonesian citizenship.

Yusril said because his late father was a Chinese citizen, Ahok, who was born in 1966, automatically became a Chinese citizen, until he decided to become an Indonesian citizen in 1986.

Considering the matter, Yusril said it was impossible for Ahok to be nominated as a president or vice president, referring to the 1945 Constitution saying the presidential and vice presidential candidates must be Indonesian citizens by birth and never accept other citizenship out of their own free will.

In his letter, Harry questioned Yusril about why he should mention his late father in Ahok’s political career.

“If this relates to Ko [Chinese for 'brother'] Ahok, it’s business between Bang Yusril and Ko Ahok. However, if you mention my father, I’m sorry, but this will be my business,” Harry said according to

Harry said his father’s name was Indra Tjahaja Purnama, an Indonesian citizen. During his life, he always upheld nationalism and taught his children nationalist values.

Harry added his father even sent his children to a public school in Gantung, Bangka Belitung.

He then asked Yusril how he knew the citizenship of his father.

“How do you know my father preferred to become a foreign citizen while you are still a young man yourself? Did my father tell you, your family, or it was only your conclusion? I don’t know whether the procedure to become an Indonesian citizen was complicated in the past,” he added.

Harry said his father was born in Desa Air Tangga/Simpang Pesak in East Belitung and had a great reputation as he always helped locals who were in need.

He closed the letter by saying he was born as an Indonesian citizen as written on his birth certificate. 

“Was it possible if my father was a foreign citizen but had an Indonesian child?” Harry said. (cal)