Jakarta – A video of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's running mate, Ma'ruf Amin, saying he regretted taking part in former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama being jailed for blasphemy went viral, sparking various public responses.
"Yes, of course [I regret it]. I was forced to do it. I didn't want to imprison someone. I don't want it. But I have to. At that time, I was in the process of enforcing the law. I couldn't do anything even with sympathetic feelings toward him. I apologized right after that because I also didn't want to bother people," Amin said in the 48-second interview with the IDN Times.
His statement, on a touchy topic that is still controversial years after the fact, sparked a public debate on social media.
Commenting on the video, historian JJ Rizal said Amin's confession showed how dangerous the political play in Indonesia was.
"I'm sad and devastated watching this. This is an example of a loss of integrity, a failure to defend what is right, and the loss of dignity and moral honesty. It's a very clear confession of how dangerous our political world is," he said in a tweet, which got 1,600 retweets and 1,200 likes since it was posted on Wednesday.
However, some people disagreed. "He said he was sorry. It was a law enforcement process and he had to do it. The analogy is the same as an executor who regrets killing people, but because it is law enforcement process, it still had to be done," Twitter user @Budipr4y1tn0 tweeted.
Amin's son, Ahmad Syauqi, said his father's confession was to make his position clear as chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) when he testified at Ahok's blasphemy trial.
"The essence of his statement is that it was not his personal desire but a part of law enforcement, and he does not personally oppose Ahok. At the time, the law had to be enforced because of the violations, not Ahok as an individual," he said as quoted by tempo.co.
A member of Jokowi's coalition, Hasto Kristiyanto, said Amin's statement was to make his position as MUI chairman and as a cleric clear. "His statement really showed that he is a cleric who always answers journalists' questions, while [the Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno pair] has always been suspicious of reporters," he added. (ggq)