02 June 2009

Manohara Odelia Pinot -- Part II

Here I was consciously not writing about the Manohara (photo courtesy of R. Berto Wedhatama / JP) case and I have now written two posts in a row on it. It is a fascinating story as there are so many parallel lines to pursue. For example, how much protection do Indonesian Embassies provide to Indonesian citizens resident overseas and in trouble or more specifically the lawyer for the prince withdrawing from the case and then publicly criticizing the intentions of his former client.

On the embassy front, the reality is that embassies will always be criticized for never doing enough. In this case, the Manohara vs. the Prince is in essence a domestic dispute that has escalated allegedly into violence. I would argue that the violence is extreme if it involves slashing of Manohara with razor blades. Nevertheless, as I noted in the first post, these are issues that will be adduced at trial and with, I am guessing, photographic evidence of the crimes / violence claimed.

However, and despite the protestations of Commission I of the House of Representatives, embassies are sometimes unable to provide the necessary assistance. Yusron Izha Mahendra, Chair of Commission I cites the example of abused foreign migrant workers, particularly maids, however most of this abuse remains unknown until such time as it can no longer be hidden; the migrant worker is so severely abused that they need medical attention or they die. At this point the embassy can really only facilitate the repatriation of the body and family members to and from the country concerned. And, assuming the family wants to take legal action, facilitate that as well by connecting the family to local legal representation.

This is not to say that the Indonesian Embassy's performance in this case was beyond reproach, to the contrary, however Manohara's allegations of being ignored by the embassy is her side of the story. It goes without saying that the Indonesian Embassy in Malaysia is going to have a different take on how the events transpired. Hopefully, there can be good come from this and the procedures can be tightened and improved so that any future occurrences can be better handled and resolved more quickly.

Interestingly, the latest statement from the Kelantan royal family is that Manohara's flight was not so much an escape from evil but an agreed return home. It would seem that some of Manohara's statements would seem to agree. Although, she has not backed of the abuse claims so it remains to be seen how this plays out in this respect. There is also some intrigue as there are claims that not only were Singaporean police involved but there was FBI involvement as well. The FBI involvement is presumably because Manohara retains US citizenship.

On the lawyer front. Todung Mulya Lubis, a highly respected Indonesian lawyer, has withdrawn his services as legal counsel to the Kelantan family. According to The Jakarta Post the reason was that "there was no will from the family to settle the problem amicably." Now, most people would be all for amicable settlements however this hardly seems to be a case where an amicable settlement is ever likely to be achieved in light of the serious charges being levelled at the Prince by his wife.

I wonder whether the public statements attributed to Lubis prejudice the case of his former client. I have no problem with a lawyer withdrawing their legal services when they no longer feel they can represent their client to the best of their ability. It is a different kettle of fish to withdraw your services and then go on the record that your former client has no intention of settling the case. This would seem to suggest that there is merit to Manohara's claims and that the best course of action is to pay out and be done with it. Perhaps The Jakarta Post selectively quoted Lubis and the above quote is not the sum total of what was said.

It would seem that an amicable settlement in this case would be agreement to a quickie divorce (which should not be any trouble) and a financial transaction in order that the aggrieved party feels like they have been taken care of (or their silence is paid for). An amicable settlement might be a good PR strategy, particularly when all signs are pointing to this dragging on and getting even messier in the weeks and months ahead.

Yet, it would be a sad day when domestic violence can be rectified with a swift transfer of funds. People who beat their spouses must not be allowed to get away with paying cash for their crimes. If the abuse is proved then they must be subject to the criminal penalties that apply. If the rich can pay their respective way out of crime then we as a community are moving further away from the ideal of equality before the law.

It seems that the idea of a settlement is intended to avoid any criminal prosecution for the alleged abuse. However, if the Prince maintains that he did not abuse Manohara then a criminal trial where Manohara would be called on to prove the abuse might be in the Prince's best interests. Once again, this assumes no abuse took place.

However, if there was abuse then a settlement agreement with watertight confidentiality provisions and a statement that admits no guilt, may in fact be a good option.

The idea that this is going to be a strain on Indonesian and Malaysian relations is a stretch. There are far more interesting happenings that are likely to strain the bilateral relationship like allegations that an Indonesian warship was within seconds of firing on a Malaysian warship in the area surrounding the contested waters of Ambalat.

The saga continues.


Yd.I said...

Nice photo of Manohara

Anonymous said...


On a legal basis - what is the legal age that a person can get married in Indonesia? While I know early marriages are quite common in this country, what is the exact age? I ask because it seems she seems to have been "married off" at 16, and I also ask because of the case of the cleric who took the young girl as his 2nd/3rd/whatever wife.

S (anonymous, no Google account etc.).

Rob Baiton said...


Freely available and I posted the link (I think).

S (aka Anonymous)...


Although there are situations where consent can be given to a marriage at an earlier age.

The argument surrounding the marriage of Syeik Puji was that it was a marriage based on Islam and that Islam does not prohibit men marrying girls once that girl has menstruated.

The flip side of the argument is that Indonesian law contains clear provisions that the age of consent is 18. Therefore, the girl herself could not have consented. The child protection law would seem to prohibit the parents from marrying off their child if it violated the best interests of the child.

Now, at 16 the arguments in a strict legal sense do not change, but there is a big difference between 12 and 16 and not so much difference between 16 and 18 (well at least this seems to be the argument being put forward in some circles).

The Manohara case is interesting because it is sure to bring out claims that the mother of Manohara was agreeable to the marriage, at least at first. May be it was a simple case of living the fairytale, your daughter marrying a prince. I guess when the alleged abuse began the idea of a perfect fairytale ending seemed no longer a realistic outcome.

Sorry for rattling on.

Anonymous said...


Please do rattle on. I find it fascinating (or rather, frustrating) the way the argument goes. It's against the law of the country, but as it's OK under Islam, then it's OK to do it (i.e. polygamy). I would like to think that it is either legal - in which case there is no argument and were I a sick bastard I could marry a 12 year old girl - or it is illegal, in which case there would seem to be a basis to prosecute the Malaysian prince, or Manohara's mother, and most certainly Syeik Puji. I mean, Indonesian press go apeshit when a westerner is picked up or paedophilia in Bali (not that I condone such a thing, and not that I know the details, ages etc.) but the widespread almost acceptance of the Syeik Puji case made me just about want to hand in my KITAS. I would not like to be accountable for my actions should a 40 year old suggest (in three years time) that my daughter would be an ideal wife for him.

Sorry to go on also.


Anonymous said...

I JUST DONT UNDERSTAND HER MOTHER WHO keeps parading her daughter for press conferences and tv appearances rather than taking her for a medical check up and doing the necessary things !dont you think that shes using her cos she is already considering some acting contracts,etc....rather than help her heal and get some help !well from what i read when the man called her to see her daughter she said she was doing her makeup???and what is this with the interpol thing???shes one screwed mama!!!poor mano!!

Rob Baiton said...


The Interpol issue I discussed in Part III. I also mentioned the entertainment opportunities that have presented themselves recently.

A medical would be a worthwhile exercise if the intent is to pursue criminal or civil action.

The rape in marriage accusations will be difficult to prove but not impossible.

The alleged torture has supposedly left physical scars.

I guess we will see.