|This undated combo shows Malaysia's current top star Siti Nurhaliza (L) and veteran diva Sharifah Aini. - AFP|
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysia was agog Thursday with the news that a veteran diva had been charged in court with defaming a young pop princess who dethroned her as the country's most popular singer.
The scandal involving ageing icon Sharifah Aini Syed Jaafar, 51, and pretty popstar Siti Nurhaliza Taruddin, 25, was splashed on the front pages of all the normally straight-laced major newspapers.
Pictures of a beaming and perfectly coiffured Sharifah Aini on her way to court ended months of speculation over the case, which centres on the origin of emails disparaging Nurhaliza which were sent to entertainment journalists and later widely disseminated.
They alleged that Nurhaliza, known for her clean-cut girl-next-door image, had artificially enhanced her beauty and indulged in sex romps.
Sharifah Aini pleaded not guilty to the charge of defamation and was released on 4,000 ringgit (1,050 dollars) bail. If convicted, she could be fined or jailed for up to two years.
Sharifah Aini started singing at the age of seven and released at least 77 albums throughout her 35-year career. Siti Nurhaliza shot to fame in recent years, garnering legions of adoring fans in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore.