Singapore denies detaining Jakarta governor's supporters

Singapore has refuted reports on social media that two supporters of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama were detained during a visit to the city-state.

"The two members of 'Teman Ahok' were not detained while they were in Singapore," said the Singapore Embassy in Jakarta, in a Facebook post yesterday.

Teman Ahok, or Friends of Ahok, is a group of Indonesians who support Mr Basuki's bid for re-election.

Ms Amalia Ayuningtyas and Mr Richard Handris Saerang had arrived in Singapore on Saturday.

According to the Singapore Embassy in Jakarta, they were denied entry after they told immigration officers that they were in Singapore to conduct political activities, including raising campaign funds.

"They were aware that they were not allowed to conduct any political activities in Singapore but nevertheless still decided to travel to Singapore," said the embassy.

"Singapore has always taken a strong stand against the importation of foreign politics into Singapore. We will not allow foreigners to use Singapore as a platform to conduct any political activities. Any contravention of this by any individual will be dealt with in accordance with our laws."

News of Ms Amalia and Mr Richard allegedly being held in Singapore and denied contact with Indonesian embassy officials went viral on Saturday.

The Indonesian Embassy in Singapore, however, said it was allowed consular access to the two supporters and confirmed that both Ms Amalia and Mr Richard had returned home yesterday.

Ms Amalia, 24, is said to be one of the founders of Teman Ahok, a volunteer group set up last year primarily to collect copies of identity cards of eligible voters in Jakarta who support Mr Basuki.

To run for office as an independent candidate in the election next year, Mr Basuki needs the endorsement of at least 523,000 voters, or about 7.5 per cent, in Jakarta.

The group, made up mostly of volunteers under 30 years old, has collected more than 930,000 endorsements as of yesterday.

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

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore denies detaining Jakarta governor's supporters'. Print Edition | Subscribe