THE Indonesian and international press have been extensively covering the story of the teenaged US-Indonesian model, Manohara Odelia Pinot, who has returned to her family in Indonesia with tales of abuse, rape and torture at the hands of a Malaysian prince, following her dramatic escape with the help of the Singapore police.
Manohara has claimed that she was subjected to a “daily routine” of rape, abuse, torture and occasional drug injections that made her vomit blood. She has even alleged that some parts of her body were cut by a razor.
Her mother, Daisy Fajarina, also blamed the Malaysian and Indonesian governments for trying to cover up the alleged abuse. Daisy has also alleged that the Malaysian government ignored her pleas for access to her daughter and blocked her from entering the country.
All of the above are extremely serious allegations, regardless of whether they were made by a local or a foreigner. However, we are even more shocked by the remarks given by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin when AFP reported him as saying that the Malaysian government would not investigate the allegations.
“I think this is more of a personal matter. To date we have not been dragged into it, so we want to leave it as it is,” he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.
The Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Senator Datuk Shahrizat Abdul Jalil or her deputy, Senator Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun, must immediately reprimand the deputy prime minister for such an irresponsible and callous statement on the issue of domestic violence.
While the truth of the matter has yet to be ascertained, the allegations of serious domestic violence must be investigated or Malaysia will be regarded as an international pariah for treating domestic violence as “a personal matter”.
Shahrizat must inform Muhyiddin that domestic violence is a criminal offence under the Domestic Violence Act 521 (1994). Domestic violence includes causing physical injury to the victim by such an act that is known, or ought to have been known, would result in physical injury.
In addition, compelling the survivor by force or threat to engage in any conduct or act, sexual or otherwise, from which the survivor has a right to abstain is also criminal under Malaysian laws. Those found guilty of domestic violence are to be sentenced in accordance with our Penal Code.
To redeem our international reputation, Muhyiddin must immediately apologise and withdraw the remarks he has made. He must instead ensure that a thorough and independent investigation into the allegations is conducted to ensure that Malaysia’s international image does not suffer from this ugly episode.
While no police reports have yet been made on the matter, that is not an impediment for the Malaysian police to commence investigations as the allegations have appeared around the world. The police could also file their own police reports on the matter, as they have done in many recent police investigations.
In addition, Shahrizat must take this critical opportunity to educate Barisan Nasional ministers on issues of domestic violence and crime against women to ensure that such contemptible statements tarnishing Malaysia’s reputation are never ever issued again, especially by the country’s top leaders.
DAP national publicity secretary
MP for Petaling Jaya Utara