Lesti Kejora and Rizky Billar win ‘best couple’ award amid domestic violence storm

Lesti Kejora, a hugely popular dangdut singer, and Rizky Billar, a sinetron (Indonesian soap opera) actor, officially tied the knot in August 2021. Photo: Instagram/@rizkybillar
Lesti Kejora, a hugely popular dangdut singer, and Rizky Billar, a sinetron (Indonesian soap opera) actor, officially tied the knot in August 2021. Photo: Instagram/@rizkybillar

An Indonesian celebrity husband-and-wife won a tabloid award for best couple, at a time when practically the whole nation is talking about serious allegations of domestic violence in their household.

On Wednesday, the South Jakarta Police received a complaint from dangdut megastar Lesti Kejora, who alleged that her husband, soap actor Rizki Billar, had assaulted her.

Lesti told the police that she found out about Rizki’s infidelity. When she confronted him, he lost his temper.

“The culprit was angry and tried to push the victim and slammed her on the bed. He then choked her in the neck until she fell on the floor,” Jakarta Metro Police spokesman Endra Zulpan said in a press conference yesterday.

“The victim is feeling pain in her right arm and the left side of her neck.”

Police have performed a medical examination on Lesti, but the result has not been disclosed. The pair, as well as their acquaintances, are being questioned as witnesses.

After the scandal exploded yesterday, major TV station SCTV went ahead with their Infotainment Awards 2022 celebrating their smörgåsbord of popular celebrity gossip shows. In a nutshell, think of it as a popularity contest like the Teen Choice Awards, but in Indonesia.

And the winners for the Best Couple award were: Lesti Kejora and Rizki Billar.

Obviously, neither were in attendance. The show’s host, Ruben Onsu, accepted the award on the couple’s behalf.

Of course, the event’s organizers could’ve opted to show more sensitivity towards a very serious domestic violence case and picked alternate winners. It’s hard to view their insistence on giving the award to Lesti and Rizki as anything more than cynical newsjacking to bring more exposure towards themselves.

The fact that we, as well as countless other Indonesian publications, wrote about the award suggests that theirs is a viable strategy. But we argue that it’s necessary to point out the farcical nature of the entertainment industry so we don’t lose sight of the severity of the case and the human beings suffering behind it.

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