JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — First, Indonesian police were angry about a young cop's YouTube lip-synching antics. Then, they championed him for softening the image of an unloved force. Now, after he put stardom over police duty, Norman Kamaru has been fired.
"Who does he think he is?" a clearly frustrated police spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Lisma Dunggio, said Wednesday from his hometown. "What made him famous was his uniform."
But the 26-year-old Kamaru told reporters he wanted to give singing a real shot. And he wasn't afraid of failure.
The video of Kamaru trying to lift the spirits of a heartbroken colleague by shimmying and lip-synching to the Bollywood hit "Chaiyya Chaiyya" went viral in April.
Initially, the top brass was furious.
But that changed when the public rallied to support the charismatic young officer.
Suddenly, Kamaru was being flown from his dusty police outpost of Gorontalo to the capital, flanked by high-ranking officers who smiled broadly as squealing girls begged for his autograph.
As a new, unexpected asset to the force — widely considered one of the country's most corrupt institutions — Kamaru started appearing regularly on TV talk shows in full uniform.
As it turned out, he had a voice.
With a $100,000 record deal in his pocket, Kamaru told his bosses he wanted out. They said no. And he stopped coming to work.
Saud Usman Nasution, spokesman for the national police, said Kamaru was dishonorably discharged on Tuesday.
"He hasn't shown up for two months."
Kamaru, who has a pierced tongue, said it was a relief to be rid of his crisp, khaki uniform.
"I always had to behave," he told the English-language Jakarta Post, dressed casually in jeans, a T-shirt and a jacket, while waiting to appear on a TV talk show.
"I feel free dressing like this. I feel comfortable."
Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter lit up. Some fans wished him well, but critics said he had no real talent, that fame had gotten to his head. Several tweeted the Indonesian expression that he was a "nut who forgot his shell."
Kamaru told reporters he didn't care. He wanted to try to sing.
And, if he fell on his face, "no problem."
"There are many jobs out there," he said. "I could always be a motorcycle taxi driver."
Associated Press writer Ali Kotarumalos contributed to this report.
Kamaru's lip-synching performance: http://tinyurl.com/6ovlou8