While Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama is known for being outspoken, occasionally emotional and with a temper but the man is a reasonable and pragmatic governor with a lot of wisdom. He always looks beyond the mere formalities of law, focusing instead on justice and the values which matter the most to the public, a rare trait among Indonesia’s public servants.
When he defends religious minorities, it’s not just because they — like himself — are a minority but because it’s just and right.
The Chinese-Christian governor intervened on Sunday to stop demolition of a church which has for three decades served its parishioners. Basuki said that the demolition order was based on a frivolous technicality which was not enforced for countless of other houses of worship throughout the capital, most of them mosques.
He insisted it can’t be demolished because the church has a long and established presence in the community. Throwing the book at them, he said, would only serve to rupture the capital’s social and religious cohesion.
Going a step further than any leader has before, Basuki said his administration would provide some leeway for churches and other houses of worship to get their paperwork in order.
In another unprecedented move which shows his statemanship, Basuki offer his help to the Ahmadi Muslim community in Tebet — who have been living and praying in the area since the 1970s — from possible attack by radical groups. He vows to provide protection for this group to pray inside their own homes.
Basuki clearly risks his popularity further among Muslim radicals — and to some extent, among Muslim in general — with all these moves, considering that he will seek reelection in 2017.
Remember, this is the same man who constantly fights against power corrupt politicians and save trillions of state money in the process.
If any Indonesian leader can solve problems of the capital and nation in general, it is only a man with with Basuki’s qualities.