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Even so, Kamdani, an ethnic Chinese Indonesian, is not blind to the campaign’s religious and racial overtones. Accounting for just 2 per cent of the population, ethnic Chinese are among the country’s richest, controlling an outsized share of its wealth.
Kamdani says her company wants proof the next administration won’t play to racial and religious sentiment in office. “This potential for segregation worries us going forward,” Kamdani said. “We want to see what they do on the gap between rich and poor, and not play on the differences between religious and ethnic groups.”
During the campaign, Baswedan, previously seen as a moderate, seized on claims by hardliners that Basuki, a Christian, insulted the Koran. During a campaign stop on the string of islands off Jakarta’s coast in September, Basuki joked with locals that Islamic conservatives were lying when they claimed that Muslims were forbidden from voting for non-believers. To many it was an innocuous quip. But hardliners insisted Basuki meant the Koran lied.
Basuki had been riding high in the polls. But when Baswedan appeared at mosques and other rallies to make the case that a non-Muslim had offended the faith, his fortunes waned and never recovered. Police charged Basuki with blasphemy days after an estimated 500,000 took to the streets of Jakarta in December demanding his arrest.
Baswedan’s win fanned media coverage that Indonesia’s reputation for religious tolerance was under threat.