Former Jakarta governor Basuki “BTP” Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok, has officially joined the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), ending speculation of whether the Chinese-Indonesian politician would ever return to politics after being convicted of blasphemy nearly two years ago.
Ahok announced his decision in Bali on Friday following a meeting with leaders of the party’s chapter on the resort island, tribunnews.com reported.
Wearing a red jacket, the PDI-P’s signature colour, Ahok told reporters: “I have (thought about this). I have always been a sympathiser.”
The PDI-P is the party of Ahok’s former partners at the Jakarta administration, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Djarot Saeful Hidayat.
Ahok was Jokowi’s deputy governor when the latter served as Jakarta governor.
Djarot took Ahok’s job when Jokowi was elected president and left his position to Ahok.
The former governor said that he had chosen the PDI-P because the party “fits my ideology”.
PDI-P executive Hendrawan Supratikno said that Ahok had long been considered a PDI-P member as he was someone who both understood and accepted the party’s ideology.
“I heard that he already has a party membership card, so there are no administrative issues anymore,” he said.
Ahok’s decision to join the PDI-P is hardly surprising, with Djarot insinuating weeks before his release that the former governor would join his party.
Few thought that Ahok would announce his decision to join the PDI-P this early.
Jokowi’s political rivals have repeatedly attacked the president’s alliance with Ahok.
The latest anti-Ahok rally in Jakarta saw a call made by an Islamist leader who told Muslims to shun parties that backed “the blasphemer”.
Ahok 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. — The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network