Before he was released from prison in January, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the former Jakarta governor formerly known as Ahok, requested that people call him BTP instead as prison had changed him. And, indeed, we haven’t seen any signs of his once-famously explosive outspokenness since he got his freedom back.
That was until a new video of BTP trying to vote while in Japan emerged yesterday — as it turns out, it only takes someone threatening his voting rights to bring the old Ahok back.
BTP was among the millions of Indonesians who cast their votes for the presidential and legislative elections abroad yesterday as he’s currently in Osaka as part of a months-long multi-country trip. But, BTP’s path to the voting booth was allegedly not straightforward, leading to one of his classic rants being captured in a viral video.
The video below begins with BTP telling some of his supporters that several election officials initially told him that he had lost his place in the voting queue and thus he could not vote. Ahok tells his supporters, “I tried not to get mad after I left prison, but seeing people (the officials) like that I must get angry so that they get scared.”
The video then cuts back to BTP’s rant, in which he yells at the election officials arguing that those who had only brought their passports to be eligible to vote on the day should not take priority over those, like him, who had applied to vote ahead of time and been included in the DPT (final voters list). BPT says that DPT voters, who have officially transferred their voting rights abroad, could be at risk of losing their votes if the ballots are used up by those who only applied to vote on the day. At one point, he yells at the officials, “If you have proof that passport holders can vote before DPT voters, I want you to crawl [to me].”
BTP seemed to relish releasing his anger at the officials, at one point goading them, “My hobby is creating scenes like this.”
Thankfully, everything seemed to work out for BTP in the end as he posted this photo on his Instagram account:
Anung Wibowo, head of the Osaka Election Committee (PPLN), told Detik that BTP’s rant was the result of a misunderstanding. Anung said that BTP had initially lined up according to his DPT, but he momentarily stepped out of the queue to take photos with his fans.
“When [BTP] returned to the queue [the officials] thought he was cutting in. [BTP] did not appreciate being accused like that and he and [the official] both spoke loudly… It was over in five minutes,” Anung said.
During his time as governor, BTP was seen by many as an incorruptible, no-nonsense figure who didn’t mince his words when attacking his enemies nor pull his punches when carrying out policies he believed were of the greatest benefit to the capital’s citizens.
While that endeared him to many of his supporters, it also ultimately led to his imprisonment for blasphemy against Islam. It was in a speech he made mentioning that his enemies had used a certain verse in the Quran to convince others not to vote for him — a Chinese-Christian — that triggered the massive protests that led to his conviction and defeat in the 2017 election.
BTP has not returned to Indonesian politics in any official capacity except for joining PDI-P, the party of President Joko Widodo. He has also expressed his support for Jokowi’s reelection despite the president picking Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI) Chairman Ma’ruf Amin, who issued the fatwa (religious edict) ruling that BTP committed blasphemy against Islam, as his running mate.