Jakarta governor's supporters apologise for threatening to protest at Singapore Embassy

A political support group that aligns itself with Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama has issued an apology for threatening to stage a protest at the Singapore Embassy in Jakarta.
A political support group that aligns itself with Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama has issued an apology for threatening to stage a protest at the Singapore Embassy in Jakarta. PHOTO: TEMAN AHOK

JAKARTA - A political support group that aligns itself with Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama has issued an apology for threatening to stage a protest at the Singapore Embassy in Jakarta over the "detention" of two of its members in Singapore.

"We apologise to all our friends who felt upset over our statements," said Teman Ahok spokesman Singgih Widyastomo at a press conference on Sunday (June 5) night.

Teman Ahok, or Friends of Ahok, is a group of Indonesians who support Mr Basuki's bid for re-election in 2017 but has no official affliation with the governor.

One of its founders, Ms Amalia Ayuningtyas, and Mr Richard Handris Saerang, were denied entry into Singapore on Saturday after they told immigration officers that they were in the country to conduct political activities.

But group coordinator Aditya Yogi Prabowo claimed Ms Amalia and Mr Richard were being detained and that "the Indonesian Embassy (in Singapore) was unable to meet with them".

The claim went viral. A news report on the beritasatu.com website said the two supporters were "isolated from the outside world".

 

Mr Aditya reportedly threatened to use "all of its resources" to swarm the detention centre if the Singapore authorities continue to hold Ms Amalia and Mr Richard.

The Singapore Embassy in Jakarta refuted the claims that Ms Amalia and Mr Richard were detained. It also said Singapore does not allow foreigners to use the Republic as a platform to conduct any political activities.

The Indonesian Embassy in Singapore also said it was informed of the matter and allowed consular access to the two supporters. It also confirmed in a statement on Sunday that both Ms Amalia and Mr Richard had returned to Indonesia.

On Sunday Mr Singgih said the group was sorry for being "emotional".

"We apologise for being emotional," said Mr Singgih. "The important thing is that our friends are back... and this be a lesson and an experience for us and we will be more cautious in every step as we move forward."

Teman Ahok was set up in 2015 and majority of its volunteers are under 30 years old.

One of its main activities is to collect copies of identity cards of eligible voters who support Mr Basuki as he seeks to be re-elected as an independent candidate next year.

To run for office as an independent, Mr Basuki needs the endorsement of at least 523,000 people, or about 7.5 per cent of the total number of eligible voters in Jakarta. Teman Ahok has already collected more than 930,000 endorsements as of Sunday.

Teman Ahok had received an initial funding of 500 million rupiah (S$50,500) to kickstart their activities from survey institute Cyrus Network founder Hasan Nasbi. It has also raised funds by selling Ahok-themed merchandise.

Ms Amalia recently told the Jakarta Globe in an interview that Teman Ahok has no official affiliation with either Mr Basuki or the Jakarta administration.

She also added that the group does not have a leader or an official structure, and its day-to-day activities are run by a secretariat.