Residents support Ahok during Car Free Day

Residents support Ahok during Car Free Day
City Deputy Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.

Hari Baskoro, 39, said he was on a mission when attending Car Free Day on Jl. Sudirman and Jl. MH Thamrin on Sunday morning.

"I intentionally came here to give my support to Ahok," he said while showing off a caricatured face of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama on his T-shirt.

The resident of Pejompongan in Central Jakarta said he wanted to take real action to show his stance because he believed Ahok was trying to protect the city budget from unnecessary allocations like the procurement of uninterruptible power supply (UPS) device for schools and offices.

"I want Pak Ahok to know that many people support him. I also represent my extended family members who also support him," he said.

Hari was not alone. Hundreds of other Jakartans gathered at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle to express their support for Ahok.

Aditya Yogi Prabowo, the coordinator of the event, said the movement started on social media when around 500 followers of his account twitter @temanahok (friends of Ahok) agreed to gather more support during the Car Free Day event. As of Sunday evening, the account had gained 14,700 followers.

"Ahok does not have any political party that supports him but he has us, the residents of Jakarta," Aditya said, adding that around 1,500 people had signed a petition to support the governor on Sunday.

Ahok has not held political party membership since he left the Gerindra Party last year.

Support for Ahok was also seen in an online petition on Change.org to disperse the City Council. More than 40,000 people had signed the petition as of Sunday evening.

The governor has been at odds with the council since the submission of the administration's e-budget version of the 2015 city budget to the Home Ministry.

The council drafted its own budget after stating that the one submitted by the city administration to the ministry was "illegal", claiming it had been drafted without approval from councilors.

In response, Ahok said he only wanted to have a transparent working culture, which was not shown in the council's version of the budget, where Rp 12.1 trillion (S$1.27 billion) of approved programs and projects had been erased and replaced with questionable allocations by councilors.

The governor reported the irregularities in the 2015 and 2014 city budgets to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) last Friday. Documents on the city's version of the 2015 budget and the council's version were also available for download on his personal website Ahok.org.

Meanwhile, an opposing group also tried to rally people against Ahok during Car Free Day. Members asked passersby to sign white banners bearing the words Cabut Mandat Ahok sebagai Gubernur (Retract Ahok's mandate as governor).

Most comments on the banners, however, were not related to the city budget saga. Riska Destianti, a Pasar Minggu resident, said she was not familiar with the city budget problem, but she agreed to Ahok being unseated because he was arrogant. "I just do not like the way he leads the city," she said.

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