The former Christian governor of Jakarta, who was jailed on false charges of blasphemy has been released from prison, intends to marry his ex-wife’s former aide, who is half his age.
Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known by the name “Ahok,” was released from prison last week after serving most of a two-year sentence on charges that he insulted the Indonesian majority religion of Islam.
According to The Guardian, Purnama walked out of the Mako Brimob detention facility in West Java a free man on Thursday morning. He was released three months early as he was rewarded remissions for good behavior.
Purnama was jailed in May 2017 after he was found by a judge to have “legitimately and convincingly conducted a criminal act of blasphemy.” In Muslim-majority Indonesia, blasphemy is a crime punishable by a maximum five years in prison.
As Jakarta’s first Christian governor, Purnama was in the middle of a close re-election campaign in 2016 when he was wrongly accused of insulting Islam during a speech to residents of the Thousands Islands regency that September.
However, the allegations of blasphemy stemmed from a video of his speech that was doctored to make it seem like he was insulting Islam. The video was shared online and enraged thousands of Muslims who took to the streets to call for Purnama’s arrest. The man who doctored the video even admitted to doing so and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Despite this, Purnama was forced to serve the majority of his two-year sentence.
“If we could go back in time and someone asked which would you choose [Going to prison or winning the election] I would say I choose to be imprisoned at Mako to study for two years, so that I could maintain self-discipline for the rest of my life,” Ahok wrote in a letter posted to his social media page before his release, according to The Guardian. “If I were re-elected, I would have become more arrogant, rough, and I would have hurt people.”
While in prison, however, Purnama filed for divorce from his wife, Veronica Tan, who he accused of having an affair with another man. More details of her affair with a married businessman emerged in court filings last year.
Following his release from prison, the 52-year-old Purnama confirmed rumors that he soon plans to marry again.
"Yes, because my mother said 'Hok, I can't take care or live with you any longer,’” Purnama reportedly responded. “She also said 'Your wife should be my replacement to cook, make cakes, and take care of you. That last one didn't want to.’”
Purnama added that his wife-to-be is a 21-year-old former policewoman named Puput Nastiti Devi. Puput was also featured in the viral video.
"She knows there's somebody to take care of her son,” Puput was quoted as saying. “She trusts me."
Purnama explained that his future wife has been helping his mother “cook for a long time now” and that his mother’s mental health has improved because of it.
Purnama stated that they first met when he was given police protection in 2016.
“A friend of mine came and said that I should marry somebody with 'the same palm lines,’” Purnama explained. “My ex-wife, in Chinese beliefs, could not accept her luck and that is why we parted. It doesn’t mean [my future wife] has to have the same lines on her palms as I do, but it means that our fate is the same.”
After the talk with his friend, Purnama arranged to meet with Paput, who was at the time his ex-wife’s aide, according to The Jakarta Post. As it turned out, Paput’s palm lines matched those of Purnama’s.
A wedding between the two may already be planned. Jakarta City Council Speaker Prasetio Marsudi allegedly told Tempo.co that Ahok and his bride-to-be planned to get married on Feb. 15.
“He [Ahok] will be married in Jakarta, and I will be a witness for them,” the speaker reportedly said.