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Jakarta Post

‘Call me BTP, not Ahok’

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, January 24, 2019   /   08:43 am
‘Call me BTP, not Ahok’ Former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama waits to hear the verdict of his blasphemy case at the North Jakarta District Court on May 9 2017. (JP/Sigid Kurniawan/Pool)

Former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama has hinted at the entirely different person he has grown into during his time in prison, even asking his supporters – the self-dubbed “Ahokers” – to refrain from using Ahok, and to instead call him “BTP” upon his scheduled release on Jan. 24.

“Ahok” is the Hakka Chinese name his father gave him, and foresees the bearer’s success.

Currently completing his two-year sentence for blasphemy, Ahok said in a handwritten letter that his time in jail had allowed him “to learn to take full control of myself for the rest of my life”, something that he would have been denied had he retained the Jakarta governorship in the April 2017 election against challenger Anies Baswedan.

Ahok said he was grateful to God for allowing him to lose the gubernatorial election and serve his prison term at Mako Brimob, the National Police’s Mobile Brigade Command headquarters, in Depok, West Java.

If he could turn back time and was asked to determine his own fate, Ahok wrote, he would still choose to serve his prison sentence over “ruling City Hall for five [more] years”, which would have only made him “more arrogant, ruder” to hurt the feelings of many others.

Known for his bold and straightforward remarks while in office, Ahok said he had penned the letter to express his gratitude and to apologize for the turn of events that he had been facing over the last three years.

His legal team uploaded pictures of his two-page, handwritten letter to his official Instagram account (@basukibtp) on Jan. 17, the same day it was dated.

The caption reads: “The following is BTP’s latest letter to address his supporters’ well-intentioned plans to welcome him at Mako Brimob upon his release and other messages.”

He has asked his supporters not to wait at Marko Brimob for his release so as not to bother people during the workday, and encouraged them to vote in the 2019 presidential election.

Ahok also apologized to the Jakarta civil service corps and even his haters for “all [my] words and actions, whether incidentally or not, that have hurt their feelings”.

Ahok’s scheduled release from prison is Jan. 24, seven days from the date he wrote the letter, and three months and 15 days less than the two years he began serving on May 9, 2017.

The former governor was sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy following a speech he made in Thousand Islands regency in September 2016 that referred to Al-Maidah verse 51 in the Quran. Ahok said that the verse –believed to ban Muslims from choosing a non-Muslim leader – had been used to deceive people into voting against him.

The case played a major role in Ahok's defeat in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election. (ars/ggq)