Mon, 24 Feb 2003

Confusion in drug case confirms earlier rumor of Hamzah's wives

Novan Iman Santosa, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

As the nation was rocked the past few days by rumors that one of Vice President Hamzah Haz' children was busted by police in a drug-related case last Thursday, the controversy ironically confirmed an older rumor: he has three wives, at least.

A woman going by the name of "Laura", rumored to be one of Hamzah's daughters, was reportedly arrested in a police operation against drug traffickers, along with small-time model and actor Ibrahim Azhari.

The family denied that the arrested woman was Hamzah's daughter, but in a strange twist, they publicly confirmed through inference that Hamzah Haz has three wives.

The denial-turned-confirmation took place on Sunday when Hamzah's third wife, Soraya, held a press conference at her residence in Cinere, Depok, saying she did not have a daughter called "Laura".

Soraya said she only had one daughter, Aziza Kusuma Dewi, and two sons, Edit Suryo Adiputra and Reza Sjafika, when she married Hamzah two years ago.

When rumors of the marriage reached their peak a year ago, a state official told The Jakarta Post that Hamzah was indeed marrying his third wife, although the official declined to identify himself and spoke off-the-record.

The commotion started when police officers stormed a room at the Rajawali guest house in Pancoran, South Jakarta, and caught Ibra, as Ibrahim is popularly known, during a narcotics operation.

City Police chief Insp. Gen. Makbul Padmanegara said that there was only one suspect in the case, Ibra, although other police sources said that there was indeed a "Laura" who was captured with Ibra.

While police openly revealed that Ibra was caught red-handed with 230 ecstasy pills, 16 grams of shabu-shabu (crystal metamphetamine), 5 grams of putauw (low-grade heroin) and 8.5 grams of cocaine, they were unclear about the identity of "Laura". Police have publicly announced that no daughter of Hamzah's was involved in the case.

To date, however, the true identity of "Laura" remains a mystery.

Hamzah said the rumors of his daughter's involvement were base and meant to shake his political standing ahead of the 2004 general elections.

From his first two marriages to Asmaniah and Titin Kartini, Hamzah has 12 children, the oldest at 42 years of age and the youngest, 21.

Under Islamic law, a man may have up to four wives, although there are various marital conditions which must be followed.

Although it has finally been confirmed that Hamzah has three wives, the public are aware that he has a fourth, who is reportedly living in Gunung Geulis, Bogor, West Java. No official, however, would confirm this.