Ahok confirms he and 21-year-old girlfriend to wed

Former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (left), with his girlfriend Puput Nastiti Devi seated next to him, at a thanksgiving service after being released from prison on Thursday in this photo taken by Antara Foto.
Former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (left), with his girlfriend Puput Nastiti Devi seated next to him, at a thanksgiving service after being released from prison on Thursday in this photo taken by Antara Foto.PHOTO: REUTERS

Former cop Puput has been a fixture at ex-Jakarta governor's side since his release

A wedding is indeed on the cards for former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.

Rumours about his impending marriage to his ex-wife's former aide had been making the rounds weeks before his release from prison on Thursday.

But the first confirmation from Mr Basuki himself came in videos that have swiftly gone viral since they were uploaded on YouTube on Friday night.

In the clips of his meeting with Hanura party chairman Oesman Sapta Odang, the former governor was asked whether the rumours about an upcoming second marriage were true.

He replied: "Yes, because my mother said 'Hok, I can't take care or live with you any longer. I'm already in my 70s'... She also said 'Your wife should be my replacement to cook, make cakes and take care of you. That last one didn't want to.'"

Mr Basuki, popularly known as Ahok, divorced his former wife of more than 20 years, Madam Veronica Tan, last year. Details about her affair with married businessman Julianto Tio were revealed in court during divorce proceedings.

NEW WOMAN TO CARE FOR AHOK

Yes, because my mother said 'Hok, I can't take care or live with you any longer. I'm already in my 70s'... She also said 'Your wife should be my replacement to cook, make cakes and take care of you.'

MR BASUKI TJAHAJA PURNAMA, former Jakarta governor popularly known as Ahok, when asked if the rumours about an upcoming second marriage were true. He has confirmed that his future wife is former policewoman Puput Nastiti Devi, 21.

In the clips, Mr Basuki, 52, added that his mother advised him to get married soon, before he turned 55.

He confirmed that his future wife is former policewoman Puput Nastiti Devi, 21, who has been a fixture at his side since his release from prison.

His mother, he said, has been healthier since his relationship with his new girlfriend began.

Ms Puput, who is also seen in the video clips, said: "She knows there's somebody to take care of her son. She trusts me."

Local media reported that marriage forms have been submitted for the wedding, and some of Mr Basuki's close friends and allies have said a marriage was impending.

But, responding to the widespread reports, Mr Basuki's sister and lawyer said his family was unaware of any wedding plans.

Mr Basuki told Mr Oesman that Ms Puput had long helped his mother with cooking, and also shed some light on how they first met.

Ms Puput became a familiar sight after full police protection was ordered for the former governor's family following an anti-Ahok rally in Jakarta in 2016, which saw thousands of Muslim hardliners - who believed he had insulted the Quran - take to the streets.

 
 
 

"It's a funny story," he said, adding: "I never thought I would date a female police officer."

Ms Puput resigned from the police force on Jan 9.

The candid conversation between Mr Basuki, Mr Oesman and Ms Puput also saw them discussing terms of endearment - Ms Puput calls her future husband "yeobo" (honey in Korean) - and even palm lines.

"One of my friends told me I should marry somebody with the same lines on the palms of our hands," said Mr Basuki, inviting Ms Puput to compare the lines of her palms with his.

Mr Oesman said: "They really are a match."

While speculation over his personal life may have been put to rest after the YouTube videos, many are also still curious to know more about Mr Basuki's future plans.

But those looking forward to the former governor's first media interview since his release, which was initially set for yesterday evening, will have to wait a while more.

Hours before the scheduled interview, Metro TV said Mr Basuki's side had requested a cancellation "due to his busy schedule". A spokesman for the station said the interview would be rescheduled, but gave no date.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 27, 2019, with the headline 'Ahok confirms he and 21-year-old girlfriend to wed'. Print Edition | Subscribe