Indonesia: Governor Ahok gets rockstar treatment with flowers and trophies
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Indonesia: Governor Ahok gets rockstar treatment with flowers and trophies

MORE than a thousand people and even more flower boards appeared at Jakarta city hall yesterday, as supporters flocked to thank outgoing governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama.

He and running partner Djarot Saiful Hidayat were defeated in the Indonesian capital’s gubernatorial election by Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno last Wednesday, after an election campaign defined by the country’s sensitive religious and racial divides.

But as Ahok arrived to work on Wednesday after the end of his long-running blasphemy trial, he was greeted by a huge group of well-wishers.

SEE ALSO: Indonesia: Ahok – Polarising as ever despite being voted out

Throughout the day, more than one thousand karangan bunga or flower boards were placed outside city hall. Karangan bunga are commonly used in Indonesia to mark significant events like weddings, funerals or the opening of a business.

The hashtag #GombalinAhok, roughly translating as “sweet-talking Ahok,” went viral on social media accompanied by photos of people attending city hall throughout the day.

Recognition of Ahok-Djarot’s work didn’t end there, with Indonesia’s National Development Planning Ministry (BAPPENAS) praising good governance in the province of DKI Jakarta (special area of the capital city of Jakarta) with two awards on Wednesday.

Ahok accepted an award for best innovation in city planning and the second-best province in planning after the Special Region of Yogyakarta, reported CNN Indonesia.

Whilst voted out last week, the governor has long been praised for efforts to clean up corruption and reform the civil service, and combatting the Indonesian capital’s systemic problems with traffic and flooding.

DjarotAhok

Ahok (R) and his deputy Djarot Saiful Hidayat received two awards for good governance on Wednesday, 26 April 2017. Source: Twitter @basuki_btp

Ahok has enjoyed approval ratings of more than 70 percent whilst in office, yet hardliners have rallied to have Ahok unseated and imprisoned since last September when he made comments regarding the Quran, which were perceived by some to insult Islam.

Prosecutors last week, however, announced the downgrading of his charges from blasphemy to harassment, calling for two years’ probation rather than prison and citing his “huge contribution” to Jakarta.

SEE ALSO: It wasn’t just religious hatred that cost Ahok the Jakarta vote

“Thanks for all the encouragement,” tweeted Ahok on Wednesday. “Let us look to the future to make Jakarta and Indonesia better.”

He and Djarot are widely tipped to take positions in the administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who is closely politically aligned with the pair.

The court will issue its verdict regarding Ahok’s blasphemy trial on May 9. Anies will take office as Jakarta governor in October.