The Jakarta Post
The Immigration Department of Malaysia has detained two “royal members” of the self-proclaimed Sunda Empire for 13 years. In 2007, the two women tried to enter the country with invalid passports and refused to identify themselves as Indonesian citizens.
A lawyer representing the group’s leaders, identified as Erwin, said the two detainees were Fathia Reza and Lamira Roro, daughters of the so-called grand prime minister of the Sunda Empire, Nasri Banks, and a woman who goes by the title “her royal imperial highness”, Raden Ratna Ningrum.
“They were detained because officials deemed they were stateless. When they were asked whether they were Indonesian citizens, they answered no and asserted that they were citizens of the Sunda Empire,” Erwin said on Wednesday, as quoted by kompas.com.
The lawyer added that the two women had been in detention since 2007. The Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur had given him information about the arrest as well as a confirmation of the detention and its circumstances.
West Java Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Saptono Erlangga said the police had not received any information about the case.
Agung Cahaya Sumirat, a spokesperson from the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, said the two women, both in their thirties, were still in detention.
Agung added that the embassy and the Indonesian Consulate General in Kuching had interviewed the detainees to clarify their citizenship. However, both women insisted that they were not Indonesian citizens.
“We have done at least three interviews. They don’t want to claim their Indonesian citizenship status,” said Agung on June 19, as quoted by tribunnews.com.
Earlier this year, many Indonesians became aware of self-proclaimed kingdoms within territories widely considered to belong to Indonesia. Footage of the activities of these groups were circulated on the internet. One of the groups was the Sunda Empire, based in Bandung, West Java, which professed to be on a mission to settle the country’s debt with the World Bank by 2020.
In addition to the Sunda Empire, internet users were surprised by the emergence of “Keraton Agung Sejagat” or the “World Empire”, another self-proclaimed kingdom based in Purworejo regency, Central Java, claiming to be the successor to the ancient Majapahit Empire.
Many of those involved in the establishment of the self-proclaimed kingdoms were charged with fraud.
The emergence of unrecognized kingdoms has concerned academics and historical observers, who fear that the past grandeur of ancient kingdoms could be used for deception and gaining power. (syk)