Remember Manohara Odelia Pinot? Or Mano as she refers to herself in the third person nowadays? OK, unless you come from Indonesia or Malaysia there’s absolutely no reason why you would have heard of her, but she caused quite a stir in the part of the world last year.
The American-Indonesian teen model famously married Tengku Temenggong Mohammad Fakhry, the prince of Malaysia’s Kelantan state, only to run away from him soon after with tales of abuse and torture.
The 18-year-old socialite became a media sensation with her salacious accusations about drugs, sex slavery and nipple torture. None of the allegations have been proven, but all were eagerly lapped up by Indonesian journalists who love nothing more than stories about celebrity sex and crime, and preferably both.
Unimpressed, the 32-year-old prince sued his wife for defamation in Malaysia and won. Then in November an Islamic court in Malaysia ordered her to return to her husband and repay a $326,500 debt. She has ignored the rulings, of course. So much for Islamic law!
That’s about where “Mano” dropped off my radar. In fact, she had disappeared long before that. Around July 17 last year, to be precise. That was when Islamic terrorists bombed two Jakarta hotels, killing seven people and reminding everyone who might have forgotten that militant religious fanaticism is alive and kicking in Indonesia.
“Mano” no longer made such big news.
Enter another young Indonesian woman, Putri Munawaroh. Only two years older than Manohara, she was also a teenager at the time of the bombings, but in fact they are polar opposites. Together they embody the two extremes of modern Indonesia – the hedonistic, materialistic, corrupt Indonesia that has flourished with rapid modernisation and the booming economy, and the backward, fanatical, jihadist Indonesia that emerges from the shadows every now and again to remind everyone not to get too carried away with secular, liberal democracy.
While Manohara was being “Mano” and making herself “famous for being famous” in the style of a tortured Paris Hilton, Munawaroh was allegedly on a very different path. According to police and prosecutors, she was harbouring the mastermind of the hotel attacks, Malaysian terrorist Noordin Mohammed Top, in her Central Java home as he prepared the hotel attacks.
Prosecutors on Tuesday demanded Munawaroh be sentenced to eight years in jail for hiding and supporting one of Asia’s most wanted terrorists.
Covered frmo head to toe in a chador, she said nothing in court but has previously claimed she did not know who Noordin and his accomplices were. She also says she had no knowledge of the weapons and explosives he brought to her house.
(Photo courtesy of Remon Rijper via flickr)