JAKARTA. Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama ought to be running on all cylinders to catch up to his rival Anies Baswedan after losing his first day of the runoff campaign period tangled up at court in his blasphemy trial.
Instead, the embattled governor decided to skip all his Wednesday campaign stops to tag along with his godmother Megawati Soekarnoputri.
Ahok, along with his running mate Djarot Syaiful Hidayat, arrived at the residence of the former president and Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle chairwoman in Menteng, Central Jakarta, where they hosted South African President Jacob Zuma. After the meeting, Ahok was seen leaving the house along with Megawati in the same car.
Ahok said Megawati had asked him to accompany her to meet with a senior official from the Singaporean Embassy after meeting with Zuma.
“We went for lunch at the Singaporean Embassy. Ibu Mega [Megawati] met the deputy [ambassador]. I was only told to accompany her,” Ahok told reporters.
Ahok has said his relations with Megawati go beyond political ties. It was Megawati and Gerindra Party patron Prabowo Subianto who paired Ahok with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to run in the 2012 Jakarta gubernatorial election.
Commenting on Ahok’s abrupt change in schedule, Ahok campaign team spokesperson Merry Hotma claimed the meeting with Zuma had been scheduled.
“We already planned that in our schedule and our whole campaign should not be seen merely from the first couple of days,” Merry told The Jakarta Post.
She added that the team was not worried about the flying start made by Anies and Sandiaga to gain support in the first two days of the campaign period. “No worries at all. We each have our strategies to win this election, and we will focus on ours,” she asserted.
Having edged out Anies by a whisker in the first round, Ahok still has a long way to go to secure victory on voting day on April 19. A recent poll by Survey Indonesia Institute (Median) even puts Anies ahead of Ahok in popularity.
Separately, Hendri Satrio, a political communications expert from Paramadina University, said as an incumbent candidate, Ahok was well positioned for the race, adding that Jakartans often associated improvements in Jakarta with Ahok’s performance.
“And don’t forget that Ahok has also gained a lot of media coverage during his meeting with Zuma and Megawati, even more than the coverage received by Anies and Sandiaga,” he said.
The Anies camp started its campaign with Islamic group Syarikat Islam on Tuesday. Anies continued on Wednesday by holding a meeting with ethnic groups from Madura and West Kalimantan living in the capital at his residence in Lebak Bulus, South Jakarta.
During the meeting, Anies told his guests that he expected them to supervise the election to prevent any potential fraud.
“We need to work together to create a better Jakarta and monitor this election closely,” Anies said.
Anies said earlier he was trying to win support from those who had voted for Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono. Agus finished in third place in the first round of the election. Anies claims that Agus’ supporters share similar views to his own and want to see a change of leadership in Jakarta.
Editor: Barratut Taqiyyah