JAKARTA - More than a thousand people gathered at Indonesia's City Hall on Wednesday (April 26) to greet outgoing Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, as he arrived for work the day after the end of his blasphemy trial.
As Basuki, who just a week ago was trounced at the polls by rival Anies Baswedan, arrived at about 7.30am local time (8.30am Singapore), they started chanting his Chinese nickname, "Ahok, Ahok!"
Many had gathered there as early as 6am, hoping to pay tribute to him with flowers and decorated balloons.
Hundreds of others sent massive flower stands with messages of gratitude and encouragement for him and his running mate Djarot Saiful Hidayat.
A groundsman said there were more than 700 flower stands, which started arriving at City Hall from last week. They had been sent by families, individuals, schools, and groups across the capital.
Many contained messages such as, "You are the best governor Jakarta had and will ever have", or "We hope Ahok will continue to contribute in whatever position he may later have."
"We trust him and we believe he will always fight for what is right and fight against corruption," said Mr David Silano, an East Jakarta resident who works at a property firm. He was at City Hall at 7.30am.
Mr Danny Oei Wirianto, a prominent digital business entrepreneur, said: "I have never seen a public official being praised and cheered at like that."
Basuki has endured a tough year, going from being a shoo-in for re-election as Jakarta governor to being charged for blasphemy and subsequently losing the Jakarta gubernatorial election to Mr Anies a former culture and education minister.
The court is set to rule on his case on May 9, but the prosecution has recommended that he be sentenced to two years' probation in lieu of a suspended jail term.
Mr Anies is set to take over officially as governor in October.