Jakarta’s ex-governor, who was jailed for nearly two years on controversial blasphemy charges, was tapped Friday to oversee executives at Indonesian energy firm Pertamina, media reports said, after it was hit by graft scandals.
Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, will reportedly serve as head of state-owned Pertamina’s six-member board of commissioners. The appointment comes two months after a former managing director of the company was named a suspect in a corruption case, while its ex-CEO was jailed for eight years on graft charges this summer.
“President Joko Widodo has decided that (Purnama) will be the new Pertamina president commissioner,” State-Owned Enterprises minister Erick Thohir was quoted by local media as saying Friday. Purnama, a political ally of Widodo, was Jakarta’s first non-Muslim governor in half a century and its first ethnic Chinese leader.
He had been a popular politician who won praise for trying to clean up the traffic-clogged megacity and clamp down on rampant corruption. But his downfall came quickly after comments he made on the campaign trail during a re-election bid saw him accused of insulting Islam.
The filmed remarks, which went viral online, sparked mass protests in Jakarta, spearheaded by conservative groups opposed to a non-Muslim leader and encouraged by his political rivals. In 2017, he was sentenced to two years’ jail, having lost the election to a Muslim challenger.