Yusril Ihza Mahendra, left, has praised President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo for not intervening in the legal process involving blasphemy allegations against Jakarta Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama. (Antara Photo/Widodo S. Jusuf)

Ambassador Yusron Reported to Police Over 'Racist' Tweet


APRIL 01, 2016

Jakarta. Indonesian Ambassador to Japan Yusron Ihza Mahendra was reported to police on Friday (01/04) over his tweet criticizing Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, which the Jakarta governor said is both threatening and racist.

Yusron tweeted on Monday, urging Basuki, better known as Ahok, to drop his no-nonsense, outspoken leadership style, suggesting his attitude could spark a repeat of the sectarian riots of 1998 targeting ethnic Chinese in the capital.

"Ahok must not be so arrogant as a leader. Have pity on other Chinese who are poor, kind and innocent, who might become victims yet again," said Yusron, the brother of Yusril Ihza Mahendra, a law professor and former minister who has announced his ambition to challenge Basuki in next year's Jakarta gubernatorial election.

In response, a group of supporters of the governor filed a report with the National Police's criminal investigations unit against Yusron for allegedly committing discrimination against ethnic Chinese.

"Our arrival here is to remind public officials to be careful when speaking about issues related to ethnicity, religion, race and intergroup relations," said Reinhard Parapat, the lawyer for the group known as the Volunteers Community for Basuki Tjahaja Purnama Mania.

The governor filed a complaint against the ambassador on Wednesday with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which in response called on all Indonesian diplomats to focus on their jobs.

"We expect all envoys to do their jobs overseas and focus on performing their diplomatic duties entrusted to them by the Indonesian government," foreign ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said.

Supiadin Aries Saputra, a lawmaker for the National Democratic Party (NasDem) at the House of Representatives also demanded that Yusron follow the right ethics, as he is still a representative of the Indonesian government.

Family Feud

The rivalry between Basuki and the Yusron brothers goes back years and it follows a feud between the Purnamas and the Mahendras in their hometown, East Belitung.

Several months ago, Basuki's youngest brother, Basuri Tjahaja Purnama, was defeated by Yusril's oldest brother Yuslih Ihza Mahendra in the 2015 East Belitung district head election. Yuslih's triumph also ended the Purnama family's decade-long regime in East Belitung politics. However, the fight will continue in Jakarta's gubernatorial election and sparks between the two families are bound to fly.