PETALING JAYA – The family of Indonesian Siti Aisyah, who is charged with the murder of Kim Jong Nam, have revealed that she had mentioned being offered to work as a model to “spray perfume” on others before the incident.
In a BBC report yesterday, her mother, Benah, said the 25-year-old had told her about the job offer in Malaysia sometime before Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un, was allegedly poisoned at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia2) on Feb 13.
“She said she wanted to go to Malaysia for filming on a show to make people surprised by spraying perfume on somebody else,” Benah was quoted as saying.
“She was offered a job by someone to become an advertisement model for perfume. And she’s an innocent girl that did it because it was good money,” she added in pleading for Siti not to be harmed.
Her father, Asria, was quoted as adding: “I’m asking and begging for help so that my daughter is not punished, as I believe she is innocent.”
The couple, who work as farmers in their hometown of Serang, about 100km west of Jakarta, also insisted that Siti did not speak Korean and had no connection to the country, the report said.
Jong Nam was assassinated at klia2 when two women suddenly appeared before him and allegedly wiped his face with the palms of their hands that contained what was later identified as the deadly VX nerve agent.
On March 1, Siti Aisyah and 28-year-old Doan Thi Huong, a Vietnamese, were charged in the Sepang Sessions Court with murder.
They were charged under Section 302 of the Penal Code, which carries the mandatory death penalty upon conviction.
There have been speculations that the two women were somehow directed to perform the alleged murder by North Korean agents who are believed to have left Malaysia.
Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar had said in February that the suspects had practised the attack at different public places, including a major shopping centre in Kuala Lumpur.
The BBC report said Indonesian migrant groups have insisted that if Siti is found to be involved in Jong Nam’s death, she was duped by sophisticated and powerful influences.
“Her story is very similar to what has happened to many other migrants who were tricked by drug syndicates,” Anis Hidayah, executive director of Indonesian NGO Migrant Care was quoted as saying.
“They are caught and viewed as criminals but they are really victims,” she said.
“Half of the Indonesian migrants now on death row in Malaysia are such victims who were used as couriers by drug syndicates at airports.”
The report also said Doan, who hails from the Vietnamese village of Nghia Binh, was known for dating foreign men, mostly Koreans, after she moved to Hanoi some 90km away.
It said she used to work at a nightclub called The Seventeen, which was frequented by Korean clients.
When the club closed in 2014 she earned an income as a promotion girl and escort.
“One of her numerous Facebook pages indicates that she even made a trip to Jeju island, the popular South Korean tourist destination,” the report said.
It quoted the club’s former manager, Kenny Bui, as saying that she was a good employee.
“She went out once with a bartender who I know very well and she paid for everything: his clothes, his food. She was very generous and never said anything bad even when other girls picked on her,” he said.