Jong-nam murder: Neighbours describe Siti Aisyah as 'quiet and innocent'

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 18 Feb 2017

JAKARTA: For those who have met Siti Aisyah, the notion that the 25-year-old woman from Serang, Banten, might have been capable of allegedly taking part in a vicious plot to murder a high-profile figure in a foreign country is hard to swallow.

Siti, who is believed to have been arrested in Malaysia for her alleged role in the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has been described by her neighbours and relatives as a “quiet and innocent” girl.

Siti once lived in a house located in a small alley in the densely populated quarters of Tambora district, West Jakarta. There she resided with her former husband Gunawan Hasyim and former father-in-law Liang Kiong, known as Akiong.

To her neighbours, Siti is just one of millions of Indonesians looking for job opportunities in neighbouring Malaysia.

“She rarely mingled with others. [But] I’m sure that it is her. I recognise her from the picture and I had seen her often back then,” said one of the neighbours named Anisa Fitri as quoted by Antara news agency. “She is a quiet and innocent person from the region,” she added.

Halimah, another neighbor who has lived in Tambora since 1969, was stunned by the news, saying that “[Siti] is poor; it’s a pity that she has been dragged into the case. She once lived next door to me before she moved [to her then father-in-law’s house],” she said.

The last time Akiong, who runs a home-based clothing business, saw Siti was on Jan 28 during Chinese New Year, when she stopped by from Serang before she went to Malaysia.

“It is impossible [for her to be involved in the murder case]. I know her; she holds Javanese traditional values and was a nice daughter-in-law and wife,” Akiong said.

According to Akiong, Siti is just a junior high school graduate who speaks poor English and once worked in Batam as a clothing vendor. Akiong could not recall when his son married Siti, although he remembered when the two divorced in 2012 following a request from Siti, who, according to Akiong, considered his son to not be a good husband.

Meanwhile, Indonesian authorities have been struggling to attain more information about Siti, including on whether she is really the woman arrested by Malaysian authorities along with a Vietnamese woman and a Malaysian man, who is said to be Siti’s boyfriend.

As of Friday afternoon, the Directorate General of Immigration was still waiting for formal validation of Siti’s passport by the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, immigration spokesperson Agung Sampurno told The Jakarta Post. Although formal validation is pending, the passport shows her last exit from Indonesia was to Johor Baru through Batam, on the morning of Feb 2.

The National Police, through their representative at the embassy in Kuala Lumpur, have also been trying to meet with Siti.

“We want to confirm identification because it is still possible that she is not Indonesian. If she is indeed Indonesian, we need to know her movements in Jakarta,” National Police spokesman Martinus Sitompul said.

Officials in Jakarta have said Indonesia will not meddle with Malaysia’s investigation into Siti, but Deputy Foreign Minister AM Fachir ensures Siti “is getting legal assistance from the embassy”.

Fachir claimed he had yet to receive information that Siti was a North Korean spy.

The Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI) said Siti’s name was not on the list of Indonesian migrant workers living in Malaysia, however many Indonesians work in Malaysia illegally.

It is unclear whether Siti is a foreign agent, but many Indonesians, including Vice President Jusuf Kalla, seem to believe that, like many Indonesian migrant workers, she has been framed and therefore is a victim in the case. - The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

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