Mistaking armpit powder for drugs, Singapore hotel lands Indonesian guest behind bars

A Singapore-based Indonesian woman and her friends spent her birthday behind bars after a hotel on Sentosa told the police they had drugs.

Sharonia Paruntu said yesterday that she and her friends were staying at the W Hotel earlier this month when the police arrived and arrested them after hotel staff noticed white powder in the bathroom while fixing a cracked glass door.

“At around 10am, someone knocked my room. I haven’t open [sic] the door yet someone just barged into my room. There were seven to nine police officers and two guys from the hotel,” Sharonia wrote on her Instagram account, which has since been made private. Her profile identifies her as having Indonesian citizenship and living in Singapore. 

Though the incident allegedly happened two weeks ago on Nov. 10, Sharonia was understandably still just a bit cheesed about spending 14 hours locked up as they in fact had no drugs in their possession.

The white powder? Its only purpose was keeping her ‘pits fresh. 

When police told her they were informed by hotel staff of a “white substance in a plastic,” Sharonia said she knew it had to be her deodorant powder, called tawas in Indonesia. 

“Then I said to him, ‘oh yeah, that’s mine. It’s tawas, it’s like deodorant,’” she wrote.

Instagram stories by Sharonia Puruntu

The totally unconvinced cops put Sharonia and friends in cuffs and took them to the station. 

Police told Coconuts Singapore they were alerted to the substance in their hotel room at around 9:30 that morning and subsequently arrested a male and three female suspects, all 18 or 19.

“They were released unconditionally at 1:43am on Nov 11 after preliminary testing on the white powder and their urine samples turned up negative for controlled drugs,” police said in a statement. 

Sharonia describes being treated as a “criminal” that day, according to her now-unavailable Instagram stories shared by her father to Facebook on Nov. 12. 

“The police escort us out of the hotel with handcuffs, it was humiliating cuz (sic) some of the hotel guests saw us and assume that we’re criminal … they treated us like a criminal and really rough for 14 hours … they locked us up inside the cell and we slept on the floor like an animal, even my dog has a proper bed and food three times a day,” she wrote. She said they were only fed once while behind bars.

Neither Sharonia nor W Singapore-Sentosa Cove had responded to Coconuts Singapore’s phone and email inquiries as of publication time. 

Sharonia said they were not allowed to contact their families but did manage to text a “mummy, daddy” in a group chat before being taken in, she said in her latest Instagram post. 

Worried, her mother contacted the hotel at around 2pm that day to check on her daughter and was told that Sharonia had “checked out.” When the mother called the hotel a third time, she was told that her daughter never checked out without being given any further information about her whereabouts, according to Sharonia. 

After Sharonia’s release, her mother followed her back to the hotel to claim the items Sharonia had left at the hotel and to complain about the incident.

The cheeky hotel staff had the nerve to demand the family pay for the damaged glass door, the repairs of which instigated the whole sorry tale.

“They just kept saying sorry and asked for S$1,700 for the glass door and then we paid for it,” Sharonia said. The amount was later returned, days after her mother complained to W-owner Marriott International’s customer service and the Singapore Tourism Board. 

More news from the Little Red Dot at Coconuts.co/Singapore.

This article, Mistaking armpit powder for drugs, Singapore hotel lands Indonesian guest behind bars, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!