A tale of two women, and a torn country

Young students in Java - which way will they go?

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)


34 responses to “A tale of two women, and a torn country

  1. Wow, this is a very interesting story. I never heard of her before now.

  2. at first, i thought you were going to draw some sort of connection between the two women.

    i would be lying if i didn’t say i was disappointed. i was geared up for quite an interesting post…

  3. This is the tragedy of most Islamic nations. There’s a quest for modernity and progress on the one hand, and there’s a terribly backward looking traditionalism on the other.

  4. Very interesting. It will never cease to amaze me at how small this world really is and how connected we are. Hopefully she’ll receive the requested 8 years and pay her debt.

  5. Interesting. Why did you choose to discuss these two women simultaneously? I must have missed the overlap. Was it just to point out the stark contrast of their stories?

  6. Woah. That’s crazy how there could be two compleatly different lives. It makes you think.

  7. I feel for the one’s that are having the bombing but it also make more proud to be an AMERICAN.LOVE your writing and the picture make it look so peaceful.

  8. Most of men and women adore power and money, they forget other thing. They work so hard, almost all of their time they have, they spent to collect money or to pursue the power. Are they satisfied with what they got? No, they are not, and they will not be, until they die. They are two way to do, the law biding, and the law breaking. What Mano looking for?
    Putri Monawaroh, is on the other of extreme. She does not care of what people say. God Almighty is the only “thing” she trust.
    We should be on the middle, not in the extreme.
    But who know, which one is right. We will find it after we die.

  9. Thanks for your blog.
    Is there proof that Munawaroh did know what the men staying with her were up to?
    Are there penalties for ignoring Islamic law?
    I like the 2 descriptions of the extremes in Indonesia but it left me wanting more information about both sides.

  10. well…that’s a bad..

  11. i like ths posting

  12. Thanks for the info. This is an interesting story 🙂

  13. The best part of traveling is what you learn from each country you visit. Like you said, one would have probably heard this story if they traveled to Malaysia. Great post!

  14. Very saddening : (

  15. Hi I’m Indonesian and I must say what you write is really a good reminder that Indonesia has so complicated issues in security and terrorism, and it has not been completely solved yet by the authorities.

    However I would also like to share that Indonesian people in itself is the kind of people that keep trying to grow themselves to be a respected nation. A lot of our teenagers won science olympic medals in the field of mathematics and physics. Indonesia also has the most exciting cultural heritage in Asia.

    “Torn country” is not correct in my opinion. You can say that “torn country” label to Somalia, Palestine, Afghanistan, who really literally are torn by war.

    But not in Indonesia. We still can see beautiful parks with birds singing and we see a lot of people go to work, school, universities day in and day out in peace.

    God bless Indonesia. Amen.

  16. is it the whole story we have about this country? ofcourse not. what is going on inside is bitter than what we can imagine. well, where does all indonesia natural resources go? to the west. what does indonesian eat then? i dont know. hahaha, isnt it a bitter laugh? we are rich but so poor that no one won’t disagree. whay does it happen? and, then, will we blame all those “mad” happenings?

  17. hI,,,
    they are my friends…..
    in your picture…
    but I’m sorry, i can’t translate your posting…
    pizzss… ^-*

  18. Politics are often confusing
    and people are getting crazier these days

  19. Like my Friends in High School…!

  20. What an interesting read. Two women and such polar opposites.

  21. Mano appeared on several TV programs after she escaped from his abusive husband (that’s what she said). She became a celeb for a while. She’s “invisible” now.
    And Munawaroh, along with Nordin M. Top and his ally, they are also ‘disappeared’.
    The top rating news in Indonesia now is the ‘trilogy’ of celebs video. It’s hot!! :p

  22. so What actually you want to say ,women are oppressed in islam or what ??/ say clearly man!

  23. I really am struggling to comprehend how and why these jihadists can reconcile their actions to their religions. I always thought Islam was a peaceful religion. I’m sure Allah would NEVER condone the killing and bombing of innocent people, whether they be Muslim or not!

    As for the other girl, if she’s disappeared, it sounds like the prince is well shot fo her!


  24. Well media has such that power, to choose something -that may not be too important- to become an important issue to be talked about. We can’t help that. We have to choose our media carefully.

  25. I thought Mano’s case was really sad. People accused her of lying, but the thing is, this woman must have loved her husband when they married, so for it to have taken such a turn must be terrible.

  26. Indonesia has always had an image of being a pleasant tourist spot- at least in my country Bangladesh. That obviously changed after the unrest. However, that is beside the point. Women are suppressed under the weight if religion in most Muslim countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia. Blame it on society or culture, there is little that can be done about this.
    I hope someday, the image if women will improve in conservative Muslim countries.

  27. this blog has a lot of info. but, be careful when you are talking about religious issue. it might hurt others.
    keep it up.
    your writing are pretty smart!

  28. I didn’t hear about any of this. Your article makes me wonder if she really knew what the terrorist was up to, or if she honestly had no clue and is being wrongfully accused.

  29. Indonesia, my beloved country, is being alarmed by the tremendous amount of the traffic accidents and the natural disasters because of the insane condition of morality or whatsoever. I just don’t have any idea of what’s really going on this country. It’s hugely insane for me. Just hope it’s just ‘life’… Btw thank you for the big attention to this country…

  30. How sad. I feel sorry for both women, really. Hope the cute, smiling faces in the photo above fare better than they.

    Congratulations being “Freshly Pressed”!


  31. Great post, very informative. Keep up the good work, Thanks.

  32. Frightening… but your post is very well-written. Thanks for posting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s