Three strangers, including a Singapore cabby, played crucial roles in helping teen model Manohara Odelia Pinot flee from her husband, Kelantan prince Tengku Temenggong Muhammad Fakhry on Saturday.
Pinot's sister, Dewi Sari Asih, 20, told The New Paper that the escape would not have been possible if not for the help they received from these strangers.
- Tip-Off From Inside Kelantan Palace
The first was an informant from within the Kelantan palace. This unnamed person tipped off Pinot's family in Indonesia last Wednesday.
The informant told them that Pinot would be in Singapore that week.
On Saturday, the same caller called again and told them to “better come quick now” as Pinot would be leaving Singapore that night.
Pinot's mother, Daisy Fajarina, and Asih subsequently took the first flight they could get from Jakarta to Singapore that afternoon.
Arriving in Changi Airport at about 8pm, they hailed a cab and made a beeline for Royal Plaza on Scotts.
- The Singapore Taxi Driver
Their cabby is unknown hero No. 2.
On the way to the hotel, the mother and daughter started discussing about Pinot's plight.
The taxi driver overheard their strange conversation.
Said Asih: “The taxi driver said he wasn't trying to listen to our conversation but from what he had heard, he advised us to call the police.”
She and her mother were initially hesitant about getting the police involved.
“We were worried that the police might not help us. So we asked the taxi driver how the police here worked,” said Asih.
“He told us that the police would definitely protect us regardless of who we were, whether we were foreigners or locals, whether we were rich or poor.”
The taxi driver's conviction in the police moved them.
- Singapore Police Got Into the Act
When they called the police, there was finally a glimmer of hope that they would get to see Pinot after allegedly being denied contact with her for close to three months.
Having last seen Pinot on March 9 before she was whisked away on a private jet in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, her mother and sister were excited by the prospect of seeing her again.
But they were unprepared for the drama that was to unfold.
Arriving at the hotel at around 8.30pm, they entered the hotel lobby to find four to five of the prince's bodyguards there.
Asih told The New Paper over the phone from Jakarta: “The bodyguards' faces changed when they saw us. They looked scared and shocked and started speaking into their handphones. We waited in the area around the elevator, hoping to see Manohara as that was where she would come out from. We could not go up as we did not have a pass key (to operate the lift).”
The police arrived less than 10 minutes after they arrived.
- An Indonesian Hotel Lady Guest
Then, unknown hero No. 3 lent a helping hand.
“A lady, who turned out to be an Indonesian guest staying at the hotel, came up to us while we were waiting near the elevator.“She asked my mum if she was Manohara's mum. My mum said yes, and she told us that she saw Manohara on the third floor, but the people upstairs were not letting her come down.Soon after, her mum and the police also went up to the third floor while Asih stayed behind in the lobby.
Then I heard the emergency alarm from the elevator. A woman and a man then came running from the lobby area towards the elevator carrying what looked like a doctor's bag. They (the security guards) told them to go to the third floor.
We tried to follow them up, but they stopped us.”
Said Fajarina: “When I got up to the third floor, I saw Manohara inside the lift, sitting on the floor crying, pressing the alarm button. She refused to get out.When she saw me, she started screaming for me and said, 'Mother, never let me go again'.”
Asih said that she later met her sister and her mother in a hotel room on the third floor belonging to the Indonesian lady who had earlier tipped them off about seeing Pinot on that floor. She had allowed them to use her room.
- American and Indonesian Embassy Officials Came to the Rescue
Asih said that Pinot later contacted American embassy officials who turned up with officials from the Indonesian embassy.
Fajarina said that they stayed in the room from 9pm to 4am and negotiated with the prince, who did not want to let her daughter go.
She added that the prince relented only after his lawyer advised him that he could be in trouble with the law if he refused.
The family then made their way back to Jakarta on an early morning flight on Sunday.
Recounting her experiences that night, Asih said: “I feel relieved to see her in person, but it was bittersweet. I was so happy to see her, but also sad that she had to go through all those painful things. I wished she didn't have to go through that. It was very emotional, we wouldn't let go of each other.”
When contacted, Patrick Fiat, general manager of Royal Plaza on Scotts said: “The matter is a private affair and Royal Plaza on Scotts is committed to honouring our guests' confidentiality hence we are not at liberty to comment.”
When asked what actions the hotel takes when the emergency bell in the elevator goes off, he declined to comment, citing confidentiality for all security measures.
At a press conference in Jakarta after she arrived, Pinot said: “I am still traumatised by all that happened and it has left an impact on me.”
Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said Singapore police had called the US and Indonesian embassies for assistance.
“After Manohara was secured by the Singaporean police, our embassy staff in Singapore processed all her documents at the hotel within only four hours from 12am to 4am on Sunday so she could go back to Indonesia immediately,” the spokesman said.
Pinot said told the press conference that she wanted a divorce and would file a police report against her estranged husband.