APRIL 21 — Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok)’s defeat in the Jakarta mayor election has disappointed his supporters, even the Chinese on this side of the shore.
Many thought if Ahok won, it would mean there is still opportunity for the minorities in mainstream politics.
Democracy is about giving majority support to the capable candidate. Ahok has lost but not because of his incompetent or poor performance, but because majority of the voters gave emphasis to their racial and religious identity.
In other words, it is about race and religion and not about performance. And Ahok’s defeat should be taken as a lesson for the minorities in their political struggle.
Ahok has been charged with insulting Islam. The allegation may be exaggerated but many of his speeches lacked sensitivity and had caused a backlash from the Muslims.
He is a non-Javanese and his Chinese background seems jarring to the Javanese culture.
He failed to listen to the advise of a Chinese community leader to tone down and not hurting the local people. Ahok is also ambitious and does not bother to hide his presidential ambition.
He has the capability and enjoys the support of President Jokowi. However, he has over-estimated himself and judged the voters wrongly which leads to his defeat.
The election has stirred up a religious storm and widen the racial and religious conflicts, even damaging Indonesia’s moderate and plural society.
It is worth pondering whether Ahok’s approach has been right or wrong.
* Tay Tian Yan is the deputy editor-in-chief of Sin Chew Daily.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.