Malaysia is going nuts over a retired porn actress’ visit, and some states are more excited than others

Kuala Lumpur’s interest in Maria Ozawa pales in comparison to provincial cities’.
Kuala Lumpur’s interest in Maria Ozawa pales in comparison to provincial cities’.
Image: Reuters/Bazuki Muhammad
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Malaysians erupted with excitement when Maria Ozawa, a Japanese actress best known for her adult films, signaled her presence in the country via Instagram three days ago:

Ozawa, who has also appeared in mainstream films in Southeast Asia, is national news. The 187-year-old New Straits Times noted that Malaysian fans were “going crazy” knowing that she was in the country. Google Trends tells the story:

But some Malaysians appear to be more excited—or curious—than others. Kuek Ser Kuang Keng, a data journalist for Public Radio International in the US who is based in Malaysia, pointed out that Google search interest for Ozawa was highest in states like Kelantan and Terengganu, which are usually seen as deeply religious and socially conservative.

Kelantan has been ruled by PAS, an opposition party that also happens to be the country’s major Islamic party, since 1990. There are gender-segregated lines in shops, and the state government has been pushing for Islamic law. Oil-rich Terengganu was once controlled by PAS and is now a battleground state. Here’s what Google Trends tells us about interest in Ozawa there:

Search interest in Ozawa broken down by cities is even more skewed. Kota Bharu, the capital of Kelantanhas with a population of over 491,000, registers the most search interest. Kuala Terengganu, with a population of about 586,000, ranks second. Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, has a population of 1.8 million, but ranks sixth.

The data show that Malaysia’s most conservative states are turning to Google the most for information about Maria Ozawa. But it may not be evidence of hypocrisy; after all, if you were a porn-avoiding person in Kelantan or Terengganu, how would you know about Maria Ozawa?