PETALING JAYA: A divorcee who has been arrested as one of the suspects in the high-profile murder of North Korean exile Kim Jong-nam was able to speak Korean and had always wanted to go to North Korea.
From the slums of Jakarta, the 25-year-old Siti Aisyah moved to the bright lights of Kuala Lumpur and has now become embroiled in a high-profile murder that gripped the world’s attention.
She had told her friends and family in Indonesia that she had been invited to act in a movie.
“She said the shooting would take place in North Korea,” a friend of Siti Aisyah told Detik.com, an Indonesian portal.
However, she did not give family and friends the details.
“I don’t know the details, she just said it was for a DPR office (North Korea). We ordinary people just listened to what she was saying,” said the friend, identified only as AZ.
Siti Aisyah is one of the two women who allegedly attacked Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, with a deadly chemical.
Siti Aisyah worked as a guest relations officer (GRO) at a spa in Ampang although she told folks in Indonesia that she had a job “selling tickets”.
Her nightlife job was hidden from her family in Indonesia, where she has a seven-year-old son named Rio. Rio lives with her former in-laws.
But one thing that Siti Aisyah’s mother Benah did know was that her daughter could speak English and Korean.
“I never knew she worked in Malaysia,” said Benah, 50, who thought her daughter was selling clothes at a market in Batam after divorcing her husband, Gunawan Hasyin alias Ajun.
She said that the last time Siti Aisyah went back to her village in Serang, near Jakarta, was on Jan 21. Aisyah had been sending money to Benah.
“Usually it’s 500,000 rupiah (RM170). But not every month,” Benah told the news portal.
Siti Aisyah’s mother-in-law Lian Kiong or Akiong, 56, told Indonesian Foreign Ministry officials yesterday that she and her family had no relationship with her since she divorced her husband Gunawan Hasyim.
A sealed handwritten letter of the divorce note dated Feb 1, 2012 was presented to the Foreign Ministry yesterday.
Signed by Siti Aisyah and Gunawan, with her then employer Lian Kiong as witness, the letter said the couple had opted for a divorce as they no longer “had the compatibility and harmony of husband and wife”.
Lian Kiong said that following the divorce, Siti Aisyah hardly visited her in-laws in Tambora in West Jakarta, and only came around once a year to meet Rio.
“After the divorce, she never came around. The last time she came was on Jan 28.
“She came and stayed for the night. She spent the night with my grandson and left the next day,” Lian Kiong was quoted as saying.
She added that Siti Aisyah’s son had previously even refused to meet his mother because he knew she would leave eventually.
According to another Indonesian news portal Kumparan, based on identification records held by her village of birth in Angke, west Jakarta, she had two separate entries, complete with different photos.
In the first one, her name is spelt as “Siti Aisyah” with information saying she was born in Serang, Indonesia, on Feb 11, 1992. In the accompanying picture, her hair is tied in a ponytail.
In the second entry, her name was written as “Siti Aisah” and her date of birth is listed as Nov 1, 1989. In this picture, her hair is worn loose.
The ID (identification) numbers as well as her occupation on both entries differed.
As “Siti Aisyah”, she listed her occupation as entrepreneur; as “Siti Aisah”, she listed her occupation as housewife.
Kumparan quoted Angke village head Dwi Ariyono as saying he did not know why Siti Aisyah had two separate IDs.
Siti Aisyah was arrested at a hotel in Ampang on Thursday after she was identified on CCTV footage from KL International Airport 2 (KLIA2).
Among the items seized by police in the room included three US$100 notes.
She was the second suspect detained for allegedly murdering Jong-nam. The first suspect was a woman who held a Vietnamese passport, identifying her as Doan Thi Huong, 28.
Siti Aisyah’s boyfriend, Muhammad Farid Jalaluddin, 26, was also arrested on Wednesday.
Indonesian deputy ambassador to Malaysia Andreano Erwin said that the embassy in Kuala Lumpur had been unable to meet Siti Aisyah as of yesterday afternoon.
“We are still waiting for permission from the Malaysian authorities to see her,” he said.